We so often forget how incredibly blessed we were at the birth of our nation to have giants across our land and forming the infant nation that became the greatest force and force for good on the earth. Our students read what they consider dull history books but don’t get a real evaluation of such men as Franklin, Washington and Jefferson. They were remarkable in their different talents and stood tall among the men of their era and still do today. We haven’t had men remotely equal to their genius and dedication since. We have had some pretty good leaders from time to time and some very talented scientists and innovators. Edison and Bell come to mind naturally along with maybe Teddy Roosevelt.
We forget so easily that Franklin was first and foremost a scientist. He explored the new world of electricity and gasses and even the currents in the oceans. He had an inquiring mind and one that allowed him to see the obvious and the not so obvious in nature that would and eventually did transform our daily lives by harnessing the power of that electromagnetic force. He was a member of the Royal Society which in itself was an achievement of a lifetime for most men. He was respected by all the learned men of England and France of the era for his insights. He was actually a very reluctant statesman. He loved his scientific inquiries but he also loved the Colonies. He had spent several years in England at the outbreak of the Revolution. He and the other thinkers of the age would gather at the coffeehouses and exchange ideas and theories. He came home with a heavy heart but one I believe filled with hope for the Colonies. After the Declaration of Independence and some early battles he returned again to Europe to attempt to garner support for the US and financial aid. Mostly he was in France where he remained for several years. He had to endure the pain of a family split during the war. His son was a governor appointed by the Crown and he remained loyal during the Revolution and after. That son went to England after the War and never returned and he and his father never reconciled their differences. Each felt the other was a traitor.
Jefferson was likewise a man for all seasons and a reluctant statesman. He loved tinkering with ideas of all kinds. He enjoyed experimenting with agriculture and mechanical devices of all types. His mind was superb and his power with words is without equal. All you have to do is read the Declaration of Independence. If you have ever seen the campus of the U. of Va. then you have seen his architectual vision at work and his passion for learning.
Washington was not the intellect of Franklin or Jefferson but he had talents of tremendous stature that excelled all comers of that age. Even Napoleon could not have done better with the resources at hand than Washington did. Our general knew how to deal with adversity and setbacks better than any other general or leader we have ever had. It can’t be gainsaid that without him the war would likely have been lost.
Where will our new giants come from and will they ever emerge again? There is no one on the horizon now that comes close to approaching their abilities. Nor have we had any since their time. None of our famous politicians have had the diverse interests and abilities of those men. Teddy Roosevelt might come a closer than others because he did have a true passion for inquiry and a love for natural philosophy. He was grandiose for sure and tooted his own horn too much but he was an achiever and generally advanced the nation in a positive way. The others that might come to mind were really just good politicians and had no other remarkable talents. This would include Lincoln and FDR. Some might claim that the world today is too complex and complicated for men to have multiple talents; that we all are specialized. Certainly none of the politicians of the last century here can compare with those Founding Fathers. The only person who would be their equal would be Churchill. He was one of the foremost writers in the English language of any era and was a leader who knew what it meant to lead rather than merely make speeches and take polls and voter surveys.
On rare occasions the hand of Providence reaches down to intervene in the affairs of man. I think that is as good an explanation for the gathering of eagles we had at the birth of our nation. May we one day deserve leaders of that talent and ability again. There are exceptions from time to time but overall I believe people get the leaders they deserve for the most part.
The Ten year T bill went down to 3.5% and now is back to 3.7% and just this week the US is selling over 200 billion of debt securities. Be very interesting and instructive to see how well they sell and under what terms and who buys them. It is in your interest to pay attention to that. We are running up trillions in debt even before they do cap and tax or health care mismanagement by Government, Inc. Think about those numbers. http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com