It’s hard to know exactly Patrick Henry’s thinking when he stood in the Virginia House of Burgess and fairly shouted, “Give me liberty or give me death.” Was he totally sold out to overthrowing the current regime or was he “turning a phrase” to further his political career? Do you reckon Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence with an eye towards the exit polls? Could John Hancock have signed the revered document in such a large hand as to assure a future election?
Political motives are hard to figure. It’s like trying to scientifically rectify what Ben Franklin was doing out in such bad weather with a kite!
I’m not dead certain positive that George Washington wanted to be president. You know the story. He’d semi-retired to his beloved Mt. Vernon. His country needed him! It has been said the framers of the Constitution had Washington in mind when they wrote the office of President into that austere document. Well, whether he wanted it or not—and there is correspondence from him at the time flatly stating it would be a personal sacrifice to accept—he did not disappoint them.
Washington garnered every single electoral vote in that first election. Can you imagine what a dull television night that must’a have been! He did not run for a third term because he felt political service was not a lifetime appointment. That’s enough to make you trust George’s intentions were pure; that he was truly working in the best interest of the country. You’d like to think he got the office, and the government, off to a good start.
Thomas Jefferson WANTED to be President. He didn’t campaign for the job…..in the sense we would understand…..that was “beneath the office.” But he left no stone unturned in moving his friends and associates in high places to advance his political prospects at every opportunity. Then he simply “allowed” his name to be in consideration at the proper time.
Was one of these a better president than the other? I sure couldn’t make that call. Which one, or both…..or neither made every decision thinking more about the impact on the average citizen than their political careers. I don’t think they were in it for the money. George seemed to have plenty. Thomas didn’t care about it.
How about old time Congressional stalwarts like Daniel Webster, Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun. Towering figures for sure! But what motivated them? Was it personal gain? Glory? It’s well known they all liked to hear themselves talk. Each thought pretty highly of his own ideas. And, in a day when sectionalism was at its height, they appeared to stand true to their region.
I just wonder how they really felt about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And what, for goodness sakes, did they say behind closed doors about the people they represented. The 1840’s were trying times for sure. This country was about to split apart—pit brother against brother. America certainly didn’t need weak kneed Congressmen with personal agendas. It needed dedicated statesmen of the first order!
Did Webster, Clay, Calhoun and their legislative cohorts’ actions mirror a deep seated conviction to place the United States of America above all and over all? Or was it personal gain and party enhancement to the detriment of everything else……
I hate it when there are more questions than answers.
Abe Lincoln ran against Steven A. Douglas in 1860 for the presidential office. Neither, of course, could be elected today. One was too short. And the other was too tall and gangly. It’s a day to rue when presidential or congressional “timber” comes down to a photographic shoot over substance and heart.
A much divided populace chose the tall one. Civil War broke out almost immediately. I would have hated to be in the war room when the “tallies” came in from Bull Run, Shiloh, Antietam and Gettysburg. Maybe never in our history has a man so risen to the occasion. It could be said that in one of our darkest hours, the rail splitter prevailed. Of course, he gave his life for the job…….
Franklin D. Roosevelt was another candidate who’d have trouble getting elected today. His handicap would be front page news for sure. He led us out of the Great Depression and fought a world war on two fronts. And I can tell you for sure, he didn’t do it for the money.
When Roosevelt was told of the number of Marines killed securing Iwo Jima, he wept……behind closed doors with no one looking.
Despite what you hear, those type public servants are sill among us. True statesmen are not a thing of the past! We must believe there is a hero or two out there right now ready and willing to step forward!
We’ve just got to be smart enough to find them.