Magazine article The Human Life Review

"Human Life Now"

Magazine article The Human Life Review

"Human Life Now"

Article excerpt

MR. NOONAN: When this very welcome invitation to say something in tribute to Jim McFadden came to me, I was just reading that marvelous diary of an old New York lawyer, George Templeton Strong, which describes the founding of the Union League Club. And it could not but strike me how appropriate that we should be gathering here to honor Jim in this place. As Strong describes it, it was the winter of 1863, and in his judgment, the war could not be prosecuted 12 months longer. They were "dark, blue days," as he put it. And the idea was to "associate into an organism"-his phrase800 to 1,000 New Yorkians who would support the government of the United States. They were to be vigorously excluded-all the weak-hearted, the vacillating, the secretly disloyal, the compromising, who even then, in the middle of the war, made up a good part of the elite of New York. "The whole dirty crowd," in Strong's words, "of false-hearted back-stump orators and wire-- pullers, all the embodiments of corrupt, mercenary, self-seeking, sham patriotism." I observe that even in 1863 a Buckleyian capability for robust rhetoric flourished in New York.

Well, the cause for which the Union League Club was established prevailed, and the spirit has survived. And it has found its modern shape in Jim McFadden. The irony that the courageous spirit of 1863 should find its modern form in this fashion would not have been lost on Strong. He believed-I don't know whether he was the first to say it-but he certainly believed that the snakes of Ireland had died from biting the Irish. [laughter] And there is no modern New Yorker resentful of recent immigrants as resentful as he was of the Celtic tide of his generation. I doubt if he would have made an exception for the people from Donegal. But he and we, I believe, can put aside the prejudice that was local and contingent and see true principles. And the principles, the unswerving loyalty of those men of 1863 in "dark, blue days" when the war could not be prosecuted another 12 months longer, is as marked today in Jim McFadden. The loyalty is the same. The division in the country is analogous and the causes are similar: human liberty then, human life now.

And there has been the same great need for organization, direction, and projection of opinion on the right side. In the case of slavery, there was really only one organ of public opinion in New York, Horace Greeley's Tribune, which provided a forum in which anti-slavery thinking could find a national audience. …

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