…I came upon an article about an American presidential candidate who stepped down from his presidential campaign in 1936 to support a programme of social security. This included a minimum wage, the abolition of capital punishment and advocating a decrease in working hours for women and children. His name was John Gilbert Winant, who served three terms as Governor of New Hampshire. These two quotes are from an article by James O. Freedman in the Harvard Magazine.
‘In February 1941, Roosevelt appointed him ambassador to Great Britain. During the Battle of Britain, Winant walked the streets of London, ablaze from the aerial bombardments, offering assistance to the injured amid the rubble of their homes and stores. His shy sincerity and quiet fearlessness endeared him to the British people and helped buoy that beleaguered nation.’
‘To read his speeches is to sense the same greatness of soul, magnanimity of purpose, and simplicity of language that appear in Lincoln’s addresses. In June 1942, he told striking coal miners in Durham, England, ‘This is the people’s democracy. We must keep it wide and vigorous, alive to need, of whatever kind, and ready to meet it, whether it be danger from without or well-being from within, always remembering that it is the things of the spirit that in the end prevail that…daring to live dangerously we are learning to live generously….’ His speech was a resounding success: by joining the life-or-death struggle to preserve democracy with the concrete social purpose of improving the economic circumstances of working people, Winant had deepened the war’s meaning for the common man. The miners went back to their crucial work.’
His own 1946 quote was: ‘Doing the day’s work day by day, doing a little, adding a little, broadening our bases wanting not only for ourselves but for others also, a fairer chance for all people everywhere. Forever moving forward, always remembering that it is the things of the spirit that in the end prevail. That caring counts and that where there is no vision the people perish. That hope and faith count and that without charity, there can be nothing good. That having dared to live dangerously, and in believing in the inherent goodness of man, we can stride forward into the unknown with growing confidence.
I was so impressed by his humanitarian principles which transcended party lines and his own ego. If only there were more leaders around today of this calibre!!