Public Papers and Letters of Oliver Max Gardner: Governor of North Carolina, 1929-1933

By Edwin Gill; David Leroy Corbitt | Go to book overview

Senate, there is a sentence which seeks a self-appraisal that will be universally accepted by the public and will relieve contemporary North Carolinians of all embarrassment in the invidious task of selecting him for this great national honor.

Mr. Aycock had set a date for his formal announcement, but meanwhile had been called to Birmingham to address the National Educational Association. There standing before the teachers of his country and glorifying their cause, he fell dead on the platform with "education" as his last audible word. There was a predestined fitness in this death as there had been in his life; for, despite his rearing in the sweltering domain of politics, he wrought his immortality in his ministry to the child.

In that unuttered address Governor Aycock wrote of himself: "For I am a plain and simple man who loves his friends, and has never been hated enough by any man to make me hate again in return." You see in a moment why North Carolina's devotion perseveres after an interim of 30 years between his public service in office and this good day. "A plain and simple man who loved his friends" and never allowed the hate of an enemy to change the direction of his duty.

Most of our great public men have been victimized by both their enemies and their friends. If friends have not disproportioned our heroes utterly by praise, enemies have deformed them by calumny. To see only the faults, or to see no faults at all, has often been the tragic limitation of this great democracy of ours. And then comes a day when this great whirling chaos turns to order, justifies itself and the faith of all its dreamers, canonizes a man like Charles Brantley Aycock, and in one voice demands that he be placed in the Valhalla of the Nation.

I do not anticipate any development in our national life which can alter the verdict of our own time.

-437-

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