The Virginia Plutarch - Vol. 1

The Virginia Plutarch - Vol. 1

The Virginia Plutarch - Vol. 1

The Virginia Plutarch - Vol. 1

Excerpt

The main purpose which I had in view in the composition of the present work was to produce, not a series of detached character studies, but rather a continuous narrative of deeds running from the beginning of the Colonial age to our own times. I have considered first, not so much what these eminent Virginians were in their personal qualities, as what they, one after another, achieved in the course of their respective careers. In short, what did they contribute in action to the greatness of America? Their individualities are sufficiently disclosed in the general current of their biographies.

It has been impossible, without too great a degree of voluminousness, to bring in all the figures that had at least a fair right to admission to this Plutarchian circle. In several instances the scales had to be used with minute discrimination before preference could be shown. For example, should Robert Carter or William Byrd be chosen to represent the plantation magnate of the eighteenth century? Byrd was selected because he was the more accomplished and versatile man of the two. Light Horse Harry Lee gave way to General Daniel Morgan because Morgan was victor in more important battles. John Tyler was inferior to Henry Clay in ability, but throughout his career he was a typical public servant of the Virginia of those times, while Clay remained Harry of the West to the end. Scott was preferred to Zachary Taylor because it was his campaign, and not Taylor's, which closed the Mexican War and added an empire to the domain of the United States. Maury was preferred to McCormick because the scientist was a more lasting benefactor to mankind as a whole than the inventor. Stuart was preferred to Joseph E. Johnston because he was the more brilliant and chivalrous soldier of the two. There were other parallel careers which could be successfully judged only by like comparative tests in seeking the points of superiority.

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