Joseph Logan Thompson

I have been called the world’s most selfish person. I could defend myself by becoming less selfish. But instead I did research to find someone more selfish. I have settled on Joseph Logan Thompson. His son Ernest nominated him as “the most selfish man I ever knew, or heard of, in history or fiction.” When Ernest turned 21 in 1881, his father presented him with an itemized bill for $527.50 for all the expenses incurred in raising him, including the doctor’s fee for his delivery. Ernest paid off the “debt” and severed all ties with his father. I like to tell this story by adding that the startling thing is the impact of inflation over the years. That makes it looks like I missed the startling idea of a parent billing a child for his birth. Even so, Joseph’s selfishness probably helped Ernest by keeping the bill low. Few children today could hope to pay off a bill covering the expenses of being born and raised. I do not know if interest was involved nor do I know the father’s side of the story. I am somewhat wary of children telling stories that define their parents! Ernest did well for himself, becoming the famous author and wildlife artist Ernest Thompson Seton. Now I am considered the world’s second most selfish person. So my research continues to find a replacement for that designation.


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