August 21, 2012
LUCIUS QUINTUS CINCINNATUS LAMAR II
Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today we continue our report on Senator John F. Kennedy’s Pulitzer Prize winning book, “Profiles In Courage.”
JFK’s book highlights the stories of eight United States Senators who risked their political careers to pursue justice.
In the introduction to the Memorial Edition, Robert Kennedy writes:
“Courage is the virtue that President Kennedy most admired. That is why this book so fitted his personality, his beliefs.”
The title of Chapter VII is Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar.
In the period of reconstruction, JFK tells us, Lucius Lamar “came to understand that the sole hope for the South lay….in promoting conciliation….& the withdrawal of military rule.”
His opportunity to deliver the eulogy for Senator Sumner was the 1st, JFK writes, “to demonstrate a new kind of Southern statesmanship. But it would not be his last.”
On January 24, 1878, Senator Lucius Lamar gave his 1st major speech on the floor of the United States Senate rejecting the pleas of his constituents by attacking two SILVER measures.
On February 4, however, the Mississippi legislature instructed Lamar to vote FOR the Bland-Allison Silver Act* & to help secure its passage.
*The Bland-Allison Act required the treasury to buy a specified amount of SILVER & put it into circulation as silver dollars. The act sought to return the nation to the use of both silver & gold as a monetary standard. Although vetoed by President Hayes, the act passed over his veto in 1878.
The Senator wrote his wife:
“I cannot do it; I had rather quit politics forever.”
After having the instructions sent to him by the Mississippi legislature read aloud, once again, Senator Lamar arose to address the Senate.
“Mr. President: Between these resolutions & my convictions there is a great gulf. I cannot pass it.Today I must be true or false, honest or cunning, faithful or unfaithful to my people. Even in this hour of their…displeasure….I cannot vote as these resolutions direct.”
JFK goes on to write that despite his vote against the Silver Act, Senator Lamar continued to have the support of the people of Mississippi & was re-elected “by an overwhelming majority.”
JFK concludes this chapter with the following quote from Senator Lucius Lamar:
“The liberty of this country….will never be secure if its public men become mere menials to do the biddings of their constituents instead of being representatives in the true sense of the word, looking to the lasting prosperity & future interests of the whole country.”**
Our political leaders today would do well, in our opinion, to follow the advice & example of Senator Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar. To do otherwise would be detrimental to the “prosperity & future interests of the WHOLE country.”