Bernard Baruch, Park Bench Statesman

By Carter Field | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

WHAT convinced Woodrow Wilson that Baruch was the right man to head the War Industries Board? That question was frequently asked at the time and has been asked many times since. Even some who thought that Baruch turned out to be a very fortunate choice for the job have been inclined to term the selection of Baruch a bit of luck on Wilson's part.

The argument has even been advanced that Wilson knew Baruch had been lucky on the stock market and figured that he would like to have a lucky man handle problems so vital to the war effort. They cite the fact that Wilson believed that the number 13--thirteen letters in his name, etc.--was good luck for him. The words Bernard Baruch contain thirteen letters.

It is of course true that if Baruch had not become one of the close circle about Wilson, he would probably never have been considered for the place, but it is just as true that this friendship, warm as it had become, would not have moved Wilson to make the appointment.

Wilson simply did not make that sort of appointment. He appointed Baruch for two reasons. Baruch was one of the barest handful of men available who could, without tearing up his roots, divorce himself utterly from any private interest, so that he would not be embarrassed in dealing with business interests of every possible variety throughout the country. Wilson had been

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