Tuesday, December 29, 2015
Heroes and Idols of the North
Ulysses S. Grant learned quickly who his masters were and who would ensure his government position and pension after the cheering stopped. A man most unsuited to the presidency, he was merely the front-man for corporate interests which rode his popularity into unchecked power. The Captain Winslow mentioned below, ironically was born in Wilmington, North Carolina and fought against his native State; his family ties with the old New England Winslow family caused him to join the revolutionaries of the North.
Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com The Great American Political Divide
Heroes and Idols of the North
"General Grant, in spite of all that is said about his modesty, his integrity and his respect for civil authority, is already beginning to put on princely airs. For a long time he has been very firmly slamming his door in the face of Cabinet members who have tried to look too closely into the affairs of his army. Today he sent Mr. Lincoln a message expressing his satisfaction with his performance and conveying kind congratulations in the tone the Tsar of Russia might use when writing to his dear cousin the Emperor of Austria.
America is at present honoring one of those ephemeral heroes who change from week to week. Grant has a rival for the applause of the masses in the person of Captain [John A.] Winslow. This naval officer, who defeated the privateer Alabama, has been literally borne in triumph from one end of the United States to the other. Boston has just given him a splendid welcome, New York is clamoring for him and the national propensity for imitation—which reminds one of Panurge's sheep — will surely bring him many more ovations. Prominent men like Mr. [Edward] Everett do not hesitate to harness themselves to his triumphal chariot.
You would almost think that the fight between the Alabama and the Kearsarge was the most glorious feat of arms in this century. The hero, puffed up by his unexpected fame, goes from banquet to banquet telling the tale of his great deeds. If you believe all he says, you would think that all by himself on his little boat he held the envious powers of Europe at bay, paralyzed with terror, that he thumbed his nose at the French navy, slapped a British admiral in the face and defied Lord Russell by sailing right up the Thames — indeed, that he has made the name of America shine like a fiery sword in the eyes of a terrified Europe.
The American public soon gets enough of its idols. Clever men never let themselves be exploited in this way; they prefer to be the impresario who sponsors one of these seven-day wonders; in this way they avoid inflating for themselves the dangerous balloon of popularity that rises so high and so swiftly, but will just as suddenly let fall those it has lifted up."
(A Frenchman in Lincoln's America, Ernst D. de Hauranne, Donnelly & Sons, 1974, Volume II, pp. 92-94 )