Saturday, January 8, 2022

First Friends

The most powerful person in the world, the one who makes the most decisions that affect the most people can be lonely.  They need someone to trust who can help them unwind and be sounding boards.  They all have many political and government advisors, but really to share intimate thoughts it takes a special relationship.  We are all affected by these relationships that involve an unelected person.

 Thomas Jefferson is famed for the Declaration of Independence and the third President.  He is also now acknowledged to have fathered children with his mulatto servant, Sally Hemings.  His closest friend was James Madison, the two were Virginia slave owners who didn't agree very much at first.  Madison helped Jefferson through some difficulties and with his wife actually lived with Jefferson in the White House.  One of Sally Hemings' sons was named James Madison Hemmings while a son of Jefferson's legal daughter was named James Madison Randolph.  One of the pivotal events was the Louisiana Purchase which both had initially been against and would not have happened except for misfortune of Napoleon who had lost to a slave rebellion in Haiti.  Both men saw this might allow for more slave states.  These two were the only first friends to both be presidents.  Jefferson had been anti British (he had a French bias) and Madison carried some of that sentiment which was a factor causing the War of 1812. Check

Franklin Pierce was one of the least known Presidents, but his most trusted friend was the most famous, the author, Nathaniel Hawthorne.   Pierce was a poor student, but was smart enough to seek smarter friends such as Hawthorne when they attended the same school in New Hampshire.  Pierce became president, but really had no accomplishments as he preferred to defer to others.  Although a northerner he favored slavery as a way to keep the nation together.  One of his friends was Jefferson Davis who was the Secretary of War.  Pierce increased the tension between abolitionists and slave states leading to the Civil War.  Surprisingly Hawthorne, although more liberal, supported Pierce even writing an official campaign biography.

Abraham Lincoln once made a proposal to a store owner where he admitted that he might not be able to pay him back.  The counter proposal from Joshua Speed offered his bed to share which ended up lasting four years.  They went their separate ways, but kept contact.  Many years later Joshua was critical to keeping the slave state, Kansas with the Union.  Check 

Franklin Roosevelt liked to surround himself with powerful women.  He had had at least one affair and some have imputed that Daisy Suckley was one of his lovers.  However that seems unlikely.  They had known each other from youth and she turned out to be a great listener.  They didn't talk about politics very much although she knew military secrets and had met with national leaders like Winston Churchill.   She also befriended Lucy Mercer, and helped arrange liasons with Roosevelt.  Roosevelt and Suckey had literally written thousands of letters to each other.  She helped set up the first president library where their mutual correspondence was preserved.  The library reflected an interest Roosevelt had in the Oak Island treasure and was a useful research tool for other hunters.

Harry Truman became president when Roosevelt died.  An honest man, best remembered for  "The Buck stops here."  He is also the man who ok'd the atomic bomb being dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Another of his momentous decisions was to support the establishment of Israel. One notable dissenter was General George Marshall who felt it would jeopardize American oil supply and push the Arabs closer to the Russians.  Eddie Jacobsen had been a friend through a business partnership, time in army and and a long running poker group.  Truman had become upset with Zionist spokespeople and refused to talk to Chaim Weizman and it was decided that Jacobsen should intercede, but Truman resisted this until, Jacobsen at his own expense traveled to the White House.  Eventually he succeeded and the United States was the critical supporter of Israel.  Harry Truman was more appreciated after he left office;

John Kennedy and David Ormsby-Gore were an unlikely pair.  Ormsby-Gore was from English aristocracy and met Kennedy through his sister.  Kennedy spent time in England before the WWII.  Ormsby-Gore became intimate friend of Kennedy family including Jackie.  Kennedy relied on his friend n a number of issues.  Ormsby-Gore gave advice that was accepted to handle the Cuban missile crisis.

Bill Clinton and Vernon Jordan  saw each other as equals.  Jordan saw Bill Clinton as a force for the future and when Clinton was discouraged after a Arkansas defeat helped to keep in politics.   In more fortunate times which he helped bring about he guided both Clintons to adjust to Washington.  Got involved with Monica Lewinsky, getting her a job and helped keep the Clinton marriage alive.  When Hilary decided to run for president he supported her, but when Barrack Obama won he supported his fellow black man with advice

Friendship is vital to all humans.  Often there is not enough friendship in the world.  Leaders are sometimes pictured as above the masses, but in truth they need true friends as much as any and we as citizens benefit when their friendships are constructive, but not when their friendships are destructive it can be disastrous.

No comments:

Post a Comment