Wednesday, April 18, 2018

the last book I ever read (Benjamin Harrison: The American Presidents Series by Charles W. Calhoun, excerpt three)

from Benjamin Harrison: The American Presidents Series by Charles W. Calhoun:

Harrison made a few stump speeches during his partner’s clerkship campaign in 1855, but his real political initiation came the next year. As John Scott supported the American Party presidential nominee Millard Fillmore, Ben backed the Republican Party’s first national candidate, John C. Fremont. When news of Fremont’s nomination reached Indianapolis, local Republican enthusiasts gathered for a celebration and speech making. According to later stories, a deputation descended upon Harrison, who was working in his law office, and insisted that he address the crowd. He pleaded that he was unprepared, but the group insisted, carrying him out to the platform where, to add cachet to the novice’s remarks, the chairman introduced him as the grandson of William Henry Harrison. “I want it understood,” the twenty-two-year-old orator began, “that I am the grandson of nobody. I believe every man should stand on his own merits.” The story may be apocryphal, but it nonetheless symbolized how Harrison wrestled with the weight of his name. Although he was proud of his family heritage and benefited from the doors it opened, he rarely invoked it overtly and remained deeply conscious of a need to prove himself. “Fame is truly honorable and fortune only desirable when they have been earned,” he had earlier a written a friend. “Charity-given bread may nourish the body but it does not invigorate the soul like the hard earned loaf.”



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