John Fitzgerald Kennedy If you have ever had any curiosities about any of the leading figures of American History, from John Quincy Adams to Robert A. Taft, John Fitzgerald Kennedy details for you the accomplishments and personalities of a great cross-section of Americana. Mind you, this book is not a provocative thriller, nor an aloof murder story, but an encyclopedia of sorts, a personal reference. The people that JFK wrote about were truly courageous and intriguing, and upon reading about them, you begin to immediately respect them. Kennedy won the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature with this book, and with all the credit given to this book, how can one argue with a masterpiece? One great merit of this volume is that its instances of courage are all true, clear and in the last analysis constructive; its heroes- John Quincy Adams, Webster, Houston, Ross of Kansas, George Norris-all exercised their courage in a noble way for large ends. The Foreward was written by Allen Nevins, a great journalist and admirer of the Late Kennedy(The most amazing part being that Kennedy at this time was still a senator!).
With such a lofty opinion of the ex-president, the foreward was very upbeat. It spoke of the differentiations between courage and bravery, the very definition of courage, and even some of the reasons that a few of the men qualified to enter JFK’s profiles. The preface, written by JFK himself, was merely a thank-you to the brave and trail-blazing politicians that preceded him, and to his wife. All in all, there are eight profiles of Kennedy’s most revered men. The first listed being John Q.
Adams. According to JFK, Adams was young, very unsure and yet, determined. Adams received threats in the mail from the federalist party and was prepared to leave any politics he was set to go into. In time, he began a very powerful man, taking part in more important events than anyone else in our history, the most important, of course, being the presidency. The succeeding profile is of Daniel Webster, one of the most powerful orators and statesmen of his time, or any other.
Daniel Webster is familiar to many of us as the battler of Jabez Stone’s soul against the devil in Stephen Vincent Benet’s story. There could be no mistaking that he was a great man, as JFK writes, “He was a great man-he looked like one, talked like one, was treated like one, and insisted he was one.” The next profile is of Thomas Hart Benton, a senator from Missouri, a man that used to engage in stand-off’s and shootings. He held all of the people he spoke with in..fear. He spoke well, and always had a rebuttal to even the most stinging sarcasm. As a matte of fact, Benton tried his hardest to become as fearsome as possible, brushing himself daily with a horsehair brush, giving his skin a very leathery texture.
Benton held such a fix in the Capitol that Missouri voted him to stay in office for just over thirty years! Benton stood up for what he wanted to happen, he listened less and less to his people in Missouri, and he became very devoted to winning everything he advocated for. Perhaps that is why he was considered courageous, that or the pistols he always carried into the Capitol. Thirdly was Sam Houston, governor of both Texas and Tennessee. During his time as a statesman for Texas, it was up to him to bring Texas into statehood, and he accomplished it well. He was dubbed ‘The Magnificent Barbarian” due to his neanderthalic features, and moving orations. He was barnone the most popular statesman of his time, struggling like mad to accomplish all that he had set forth in a long journal to himself. His passion for his voters, the people, placed him in many high offices, in two different states! His worst mistake that ultimately ended his career was his vote to put an end to slavery, a vote that went against the thoughts of most people in Texas. Next in line was Edmund G. Ross, a young senator from Kansas.
Ross was admitted during one of the most turmoil-filled epoch of American History, the time of President Andrew Johnson. Andrew had succeeded Lincoln as president, and was sent into his job to clean up all the hatred shared between the North and the South. Of course, the South had been conquered, and it was up to Johnson to decide what happens to the South. He firmly believed in Lincoln’s hopes for peace, but the entire congressional body was ready to conquer the South and stake it as a branch of the North. Many radical bills were suggested by the legislators, and almost all of them were vetoed by the president.
Nobody liked his opinions, anywhere. Shortly after the vicious struggle to remove Stanton from he position of Secretary of War, the congress drew up the impeachment plans. Nearly everyone had voted from impeachment, except for a few faithful Senators who believed in Johnson’s purposes. The advocates of impeaching Johnson made life miserable for the few that still had hop e in Johnson. The most stalwart of them was Ross. He gave a few speeches, some of the most compelling and moving speeches ever, that began to make some of the ‘fence-post’ senators switch their opinion. With only one vote to spare, Ross saved the presidency.
He was never very powerful afterwards, but his courage to save the president earned him a spot in this book.