Brandeis: A Free Man's Life

By Alpheus Thomas Mason | Go to book overview

a speech or even a sermon. It could leave no man in doubt that he proposes to carry out his promises in letter and spirit -- without fear or favor. It was all simple and conversational, as if he were talking to his intimates, the people of the U.S."


CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE
Marooned, 1912-1913

Wilson'S first task was cabinet-making. And the election returns were hardly in when rumor had Brandeis the new head of the Department of Justice. Lincoln Steffens, a shrewd political observer, wrote early in November: "I think Wilson will take him as attorney-general. If he does, some fur will fly. . . ."1

But public office held little attraction for Brandeis. As early as 1908 Steffens had said he "would make a corking cabinet officer,"2 and in 1911 Collier's had suggested Taft might show a forgive-and-forget broadmindedness worthy of Lincoln by appointing Ballinger's critic to the next cabinet vacancy.3 Nothing came of these suggestions, and when in 1911 rumor had him slated as attorney-general of Massachusetts, he said: "I have never been a candidate for political honors, and I don't expect to be. . . ."4Brandeis had been urged to run for governor or United States senator on the Republican ticket in 1912, but by coming out for Wilson he had "ended that agony."5 In response to suggestions that the Socialists nominate him for President, he stated his attitude emphatically: "Aside from all other considerations, I am quite sure that the little I can do to better American conditions can best be performed as a private citizen, and as one who has no aspirations of any kind for any public office."6

Still his name kept coming up.7 Indeed his appointment as Wilson's attorney-general once seemed so certain that congratulatory letters from friends and admirers began to pour in. He dismissed them, saying, "Don't believe all you hear."8

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