Independent Man: The Life of Senator James Couzens

Independent Man: The Life of Senator James Couzens

Independent Man: The Life of Senator James Couzens

Independent Man: The Life of Senator James Couzens

Excerpt

PROPERLY the story of James Couzens had its real beginning in the fall of 1870, two years before he was born. This was when his father stepped off a train in the windswept little town of Chatham, Ontario Province, Canada.

An immigrant tossed up by economic depression and also propelled by deep-seated inability to get along with his own father, this traveler, then twenty-one, had been en route to the United States from London, England. His goal was a better living than he believed he could achieve at home, for he was convinced that London in 1870 was "finished and had no future."

To be sure, this precise-looking, sober-miened Englishman named James Joseph Couzens was not so dull as to believe with any strong faith that nondescript, tiny Chatham really promised a much better future for him than had London. The fact was that he had not even heard of Chatham in Ontario before arriving there by the slow train he had boarded at Levis, Quebec, where his ship had docked.

But he had rechecked the contents of his purse and concluded that the little funds he had left made it impractical for him to travel the fifty miles farther to Detroit, his original destination. So with British prudence he decided to stay right there at Chatham.

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This was a mistake. Though not a man to admit error readily, he sometimes conceded this in after years, especially since his decision deprived his children, in particular his first son, of something that might have made a great difference: United States citizenship by birth.

However, he did have a sentimental rationalization to justify the error. He asserted later that he had rather fancied the idea of . . .

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