Friday, November 19, 2021

That Name Before He Ruined It

Before Kyle Rittenhouse defamed his family's name, I only knew of it because of Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, which I visited once briefly.

Not wanting to talk about the substance of his trial or today's verdict — since it's obvious what I think of that — I looked up what the name means ("family from a swampy area"), and then thought to investigate why Rittenhouse Square was named as it is.

Here's the answer. The area is named for David Rittenhouse, a Revolutionary War-era scientist and successor of Ben Franklin's in leadership of the American Philosophical Society, who was also the first head of the United States Mint. His German immigrant great-grandfather, William Rittenhouse, was the first person on record to make paper in North America, also in Philadelphia.

I hope the people of the Rittenhouse Square area are embarrassed and even angry to be sharing their neighborhood's name with our latest symbol of white privilege and the misrule of law.

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