Andrew Johnson: A Study in Courage

By Lloyd Paul Stryker | Go to book overview
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IV
UNITED STATES SENATOR

In great cities such, for example, as New York, one encounters large numbers of well-known, if not of famous men, celebrities whose names form the steady staple of the daily press and whose reputations reach as though by the magic of the radio to the remotest corners of the land. New York thinks she knows these men and yet she does not know them. She only reads about them.

For a long time now New Yorkers have ceased walking to the post office for their mail and it is some while back since they stopped meeting in their strolls upon the Battery, or congregating of an evening in "the Bowling Green." There is no common meeting place, no corner store where they can be natural and get acquainted. No one knows anyone in the cities any more except through the pages of the morning paper. How often, therefore, is the actual encountering of "great men" the source of wondering surprise. On close inspection the astonishing discovery is made that many of them after all are things of lath and plaster thinly cloaked beneath good coats of paint, or sometimes of shellac and varnish. The evidence of their greatness has been hearsay,-- autobiography the record of their accomplishments.

Such things are impossible in the villages and small towns. Your country lawyer who has traveled the circuit, has gained by sturdy character the confidence of judges and stormed the affections of his juries and, through years of honorable and fair dealing with his neighbors, has gradually enlarged the circle of his friends,--if he has won a reputation for ability and strength, you can be sure it is deserved. He is known,--his friends know him, if there is anything they have concealed, his enemies who know him also will reveal it. Even more true is this of those who have borne the heat of the day in public life.

-31-

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