Benjamin Spock (1903 - 1998)
Spock is the pediatrician whose child-rearing
guide Baby and Child Care has been used by millions
of American parents.
A 1929 graduate of Columbia Medical School,
Spock became a well-known New York pediatrician for such people as Margaret
Mead. He wrote Baby and Child Care while serving
in the navy during World War II. The book has sold over 25 million copiesthe
best-selling original title ever published in the United States.
Although the book was criticized as permissive,
it was actually a moderate reaction against the rigid feeding schedules and
strict discipline imposed by child-care experts of the 1920s and 1930s.
Spock became an active opponent of the Vietnam
War in the 1960s. He was indicted and convicted for encouraging draft resistance,
but the conviction was overturned on appeal in 1969. In 1972 he ran as the
presidential candidate of the small Peoples party. Even in his radical
political activities, his image was that of a kindly, grandfatherly gentleman.
Quote: I may
as well let the cat out of the bag as far as my opinion goes and say that
strictness or permissiveness is not the real issue. Good-hearted parents who
arent afraid to be firm when necessary can get good results with either
strictness or moderate permissiveness. (Baby and
Child Care, 1946)
REFERENCE: Thomas Maier, Dr.
Spock: An American Life (1998).
Harry S Truman (1884 - 1972)
Truman was the Missouri haberdasher and machine
politician who came to be regarded as one of the great American presidents.
The S in the middle
of Trumans name did not stand for anything. Both of his grandfathers
had S names, so his parents just gave Harry the
letter rather than choose either one.
Being very nearsighted, even as a boy, Truman
spent much time playing the piano and reading history. His hero in American
history was Andrew Jackson.
Truman worked on the family farm and at many
odd jobs before becoming a popular artillery officer in World War Ian
experience that remained one of the highlights of his life. The mens
clothing store he started in 1919 failed two years later, and he then began
his career in machine politics. Judge Truman controlled a large patronage
army but was never involved in corruption.
His quick temper and blunt-spoken ways were
legendary. He often wrote angry letters to critics but only occasionally mailed
Quote: The Republicans
work for the benefit of the few bloodsuckers who have offices in Wall Street.
This is a crusade of the people against the special interests, a crusade to
keep the country from going to the dogs. You back me up and well win
that crusade. (Campaign speech, 1948)
REFERENCE: David McCulloch, Truman (1992).
George Kennan (1904 )
Kennan was the American diplomat and ambassador
to Russia who is credited with formulating the containment policy but later
became a critic of many American Cold War policies, including Vietnam.
There was a distantly related nineteenth-century
George Kennan whose career eerily paralleled that of the twentieth-century
Kennan. Both were born on the same day, and both became leading American Russia
scholars and diplomats of their time.
Kennan served as a U.S. diplomat in Germany
and Riga, Latvia, before World War II. He became a scholarly expert on Russia,
and his telegrams to Washington, based partly on his close observations of
Stalin and the Russians, set out the basic principles of containment even
before he wrote his X article in Foreign
Kennans brief term as ambassador to the
Soviet Union in 1952 was cut short when the Soviet government expelled him,
supposedly for critical remarks he had made about the communist rulers. Kennan
later objected to the militarization of American foreign policy
and ironically became in the 1960s and 1970s probably the most influential
critic of the American Cold War policies he is credited with initiating.
is nothingI repeat nothingin the history of the Soviet regime
which could justify us in assuming that the men who are now in power in Russia,
or even those who have chances of assuming power within the foreseeable future,
would hesitate for a moment to apply this power against us if by so doing
they thought it would materially improve their power position in the world.
(Telegram to Washington, 1945)
REFERENCES: George F. Kennan, Memoirs,
1925 - 1950 (1967); David Meyers, George Kennan
and the Dilemmas of U.S. Foreign Policy (1998); A biography of Kennan
by historian John Lewis Gaddis forthcoming.
Thomas Dewey (1902 - 1971)
Dewey was the losing Republican presidential
candidate in 1944 and 1948.
Originally a student of music, Dewey tried for
an opera-singing career in Chicago. In 1931 he became the youngest ever United
States attorney and in 1935 became a special prosecutor for racketeering,
going after such notorious gangsters as Dutch Schultz and Lucky Luciano. His
career as a relentless prosecutor formed the basis for several Hollywood movies.
Dewey grew his mustache to please his wife,
who liked it, but his advisers constantly urged him to shave it off, saying
it made him look sinister. Although he was lively and pungent in private,
Dewey was obsessed with maintaining a proper public image. He never allowed
himself to be photographed except in a tie and vest.
He long remained a power in Republican politics
and helped engineer the nominations of Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon.
Quote: I do
not know about the accommodations at the White House for the family.There
is of course no rush about it. (Letter, fall 1948)
REFERENCE: Richard Norton Smith, Thomas
E. Dewey and His Times (1982).