A family disagreement has brought his words to the fore-front once again, which has prompted me to look at the man who coined the saying.
I was surprised to see that for his first term as President, he did not have a vice-president and then it registered that he had been the vice-president for the assassinated President McKinley. Like Lyndon Johnson, he was not an elected President.
More than a hundred years on, we forget.
I will skip over the fact that he was an intelligent man who graduated from Harvard and who attended Colombia Law School. It was, nevertheless, interesting to know that he had an almost photographic memory of things he read and that he had read tens of thousands of books at a rate of several a day and in multiple languages. He is considered, along with Thomas Jefferson, the most well read of any American politician.
He came from a wealthy family but was sickly as a child, suffering from asthma. Wanting to overcome his health issues, he became very involved in sports and the outdoor life – all his life.
His grief was doubled as his mother had died earlier that same day, the 14th February.
He was overcome with the loss and didn’t assume care of his daughter until she was three. Their relationship would be forever stormy.
Strangely enough, he rarely mentioned his wife again and his daughter Alice (named after her mother) became ‘baby Lee.’
Easy to imagine the effects on the little girl losing her mother, and then being looked after by an aunt and maternal grandparents. Happily, her aunt was to be the stabling factor throughout her life.
In later years, Edith would receive a tribute from Alice Lee regarding the care she gave her saying she coped with the situation (having a step-daughter) 'with a fairness and charm and intelligence which she has to a greater degree than almost anyone I know.'
During his campaign of 1912, a saloonkeeper shot him. The bullet passed through his metal glasses case and sheets of folded paper with his speech on it, only to imbed itself in his chest. Because he was not bleeding at the mouth, he rightly presumed that the bullet hadn’t pierced his lung, so went on to read his address while blood dripped from his shirt. As it was later deemed more dangerous to remove it than leave it, the bullet remained with him the rest of his life.
He also approved of the prevention of undesirable persons being able to procreate. He said in 1914, ‘I wish very much that the wrong people could be prevented entirely from breeding; and when the evil nature of these people is sufficiently flagrant, this should be done. Criminals should be sterilized and feeble-minded persons forbidden to leave offspring behind them.’
His oldest daughter Alice Lee (Longworth) survived all her siblings, dying in 1980 at the age of 96. She has her own convoluted tale to tell.
His image was added to Mount Rushmore in 1927.