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Published July 03, 2008

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by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize Winning Historian

The only thing I love more than American history is free booze. Every 4th of July, I try to get as inebriated as possible at my friends' barbeques without spending so much as a buffalo head nickel of my own dough.  What some people call "freeloading" is actually my way of honoring a time-worn American tradition. Since 1776, our greatest leaders have skilled themselves at the art of getting blotto for free. Here are a few tips to sneakily drinking all your friends' alcohol this July 4th, along with some fascinating historical context:

TIP #1: Show Up Empty Handed
If you're invited to a potluck, bring nothing. On arrival, use the classic line: "I forgot this was a potluck. I ate before I got here." Wait until your host has forgot who brought what (usually about an hour), and then help yourself to all the food and beer you want.
THE HISTORY: On July 4th, 1776, the signers of the Declaration of the Independence held an "ale festivity" to celebrate the landmark document. John Hancock toted gallons of porter to the Continental Congress. The porter was swiftly imbibed by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, who brought nothing.

TIP# 2: Babysit the Keg
This one always works. A couple years ago, I got wicked hammered at David McCullough's house by standing next to the keg all day, offering to pump it for people.  All I had to do was clutch the tap and pretend to listen to Shelby Foote for three hours- and voila, I was shitfaced!
THE HISTORY: Abraham Lincoln was a master orator not only at the podium, but the open bar. At White House parties, he would so astonish colleagues with his eloquence, they would hardly noticed that he had consumed two bottles of whiskey and peed himself a little bit.

TIP #3: Take One for the Road
As the party starts to wind down, sneak a few beers into your purse (or pockets, gentlemen). No matter where you go next, you can take your drunken stupor with you.
THE HISTORY:  During Prohibition, President Calvin Coolidge would personally supervise liquor raids, confiscating bottles for his private collection and later sharing them with friends. This is how he received the nickname "Cool Cal."

TIP #4: Finagle a Ride
Congratulations, you're plastered! But how do you escape the barbeque? Calling a cab will tip your hand that you drank your host out of house and home. Instead, ask for a ride from the partygoer you most suspect wants to have sex with you. Your request for a "ride" will be irresistibly tantalizing to this pathetic person. Once at your destination, quickly spurn any advances from your temporary (and totally free) personal chauffeur.
THE HISTORY: Richard Nixon used to leave the White House without proper Secret Service protection, passing out drunk on national monuments. Nixon would then hitchhike home, promising oral sex to motorists- an offer on which he never delivered.

TIP #5: If Necessary, Repeat
If you've done tips 1-4 and you're still not blackout drunk, get a ride to another barbeque and try it all over again.
THE HISTORY: From 1965-1986, George W. Bush repeated this process every single day.

Have a safe and happy 4th of July!  And remember, if you don't know your history, life is a MYSTERY.

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