Famous Americans: Of Recent Times (Classic Reprint)by James Parton
The close of the war removes the period preceding it to a great distance from us, so that we can judge its public men as thought we were the "posterity" to whom they sometimes appealed. James Buchanan still haunts the neighborhood of Lancaster, a living man, giving and receiving dinners, paying his taxes, and taking
Excerpt from Famous Americans: Of Recent Times
The close of the war removes the period preceding it to a great distance from us, so that we can judge its public men as thought we were the "posterity" to whom they sometimes appealed. James Buchanan still haunts the neighborhood of Lancaster, a living man, giving and receiving dinners, paying his taxes, and taking his accustomed exercise; but as an historical figure he is as complete as Bolingbroke or Walpole. It is not merely that his work is done, nor that the results of his work are apparent; but the thing upon which he wrought, by their relation to which he and his contemporaries are to be estimated, has perished. The statesmen of his day, we can all now plainly see, inherited from the founders of the Republic a problem impossible of solution, with which some of them wrestled manfully, others meanly, some wisely, others foolishly. If the workmen have not all passed away, the work is at once finished and destroyed, like the Russian ice-palace, laboriously built, then melted in the sun. We can now have the requisite sympathy with those late doctors of the body politic, who came to the consultation pledged not to attempt to remove the thorn from its flesh, and trained to regard it as the spear-head in the side of Epaminondas, nondas, - extract it, and the patient dies. In the writhings of the sufferer the barb has fallen out, and lo! he lives and is get ting well. We can now forgive most of those blind healers, and even admire such of them as were honest and not cowards; for, in truth, it was an impossibility with which they had to grapple, and it was not one of their creating.
Of our public men of the sixty years preceding the war, Henry Clay was certainly the most shining figure.
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