Joseph B. Eastman: Servant of the People

By Claude Moore Fuess | Go to book overview

XVI
The Measure of a Man

UNSPECTACULAR PUBLIC SERVANTS such as Joseph B. Eastman are too often taken for granted and seldom receive the popular acclaim accorded to leaders in other branches of government. Dominant chief executives, such as Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, are inevitably in the public eye and catch the imagination. Generals and admirals, as a matter of course, get rewarded with medals and statues. Has not London reserved two of its most conspicuous centers for the victors at Trafalgar and Waterloo? Strong policy-makers in cabinet and diplomatic positions, such as Elihu Root and Henry L. Stimson, may be ranked as heroic figures. But bureau heads, who coin no startling phrases and are denied the opportunity for soul-stirring speeches, may, even when their work has been productive, be relegated by the historian to the limbo of forgotten men.

It is all the more remarkable, then, that Eastman should have received such widespread recognition. The matters with which he dealt, although vital to the welfare of the country, had few dramatic elements. He himself did no unconventional things and offered no spice to sensation-loving columnists. He was picturesque neither in dress nor in conduct and, although far from being a shrinking soul, did shun publicity. Not through self-advertisement did Eastman build up his reputation as one of the most trustworthy men in Washington. It was because he had been tried and not found wanting, because his character and personality commanded respect, that he was understood and admired by the average American in Albany or Omaha or Dallas.

Of the many estimates of Eastman published after his death, the most thoughtful was written by Mr. Justice Frankfurter and printed

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Joseph B. Eastman: Servant of the People
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword v
  • Contents ix
  • Illustrations xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • I - Yankee Background 3
  • II - Growing Up 8
  • III - An Amherst Education 19
  • IV - Apprenticeship in Public Service 37
  • V - Transition to Power 61
  • VI - From State to Nation 80
  • VII - The Independent Commissioner 96
  • VIII - The Prosperity Era 126
  • IX - Valuation Is Vexation 153
  • X - Problems and Policies 166
  • XI - Federal Coordinator of Transportation 180
  • XII - The Coordinator's Task and Achievements 211
  • XIII - Eastman and the New Deal 245
  • XIV - The Last Big Job 270
  • XV - The End of the Road 297
  • XVI - The Measure of a Man 312
  • Index 345
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