Henry Grady remembered on the 100th anniversary of his birth
South's Beloved Henry Grady Acclaimed at 100th Anniversary Still Dear In Hearts Of G corgians By RAYMOND B. NIXON Director, Emory University INvis-ion INvis-ion INvis-ion of Journalism; Author, "Henry W. Grady, Spokesman Spokesman of the New South Next Wednesday is the 100th birthday anniversary of the man who has been honored by more memorials than any other person in Atlanta's history. No political nor military title wan hi. The two characteristics chosen by his friends to be carved into marble were that "he never held nor sought public office," and that he died "literally "literally loving a nation into peace." Yet this same man, a private citizen throughout his career, left such a deep impress upon his times that he has been acclaimed acclaimed variously as the "incarnation "incarnation of the Atlanta spirit," the "Warwick of Georgia politics." the "spokesman of the New South," and the "national pacificator." pacificator." Bearing his name today are a Georgia County, a school of Journalism, the Atlanta municipal municipal hospital, the City's largest high school, a great hotel, a Negro Negro housing project, and namesakes namesakes by the hundreds into the third and fourth generations. A national magazine once declared: declared: "Every skyscraper which rises In these astonishing cities of the New South is in a real sense a monument to Grady and his genius." Wnat kind of man was this ho so captivated the hearts of people that he became the living symbol of Southern progress and good will? Henry Woodfin Grady was born May 24. 1850, in Athens, Ga. His father was a merchant who In 1864, as a major in the Confederate Army, was fatally wounded at Petersburg. Va. The Grady family (originally "O'Grady") was part of the Scotch-Irish Scotch-Irish Scotch-Irish stream that flowed into Georgia in the early 19th century by way of Virginia and North Carolina. Grady's mother, the former Ann Eliza Gartrell, whom he greatly resembled, was of French Huguenot descent. At the University of Georgia Grady achieved prominence both as a humorous writer and as commencement orator of the Phi Kappa Society. Graduating In 1868, he took a year of additional additional work in history and literature at the University of Virginia. Here he also ran tor final orator," but was jockeyed out of it by political chicanery. In the Spring of IRfiD. he wrote two long letters from Virginia to The Atlanta Constitution, which i hart been founded the previous j year. Both letters were pub- pub- I lished, and that Summer, when ! Grady returned to Georgia. The Constitution sent him on several assignments. Finding newspaper i xvork to his liking, he accepted I position as associate editor 1 nf the Rome Courier at $500 a year. The original sparkle of his writing, together with bold charges against Gov. Rufus B. Bullock's corrupt carpetbag administration, administration, quickly attracted wide attention to Grady's work. After only 10 months on the Courier he acquired his own newspaper, the Rome Daily Commercial. Then, in 1872, he came to Atlanta as editor and part owner of the Daily Herald. Although the Herald was probably probably the liveliest paper Georgia had ever seen, it went on the financial financial rocks early in 1876. One reason was a circulation battle m - r-A'-'f r-A'-'f r-A'-'f ;-Vy- ;-Vy- ;-Vy- ;-Vy- THK DAILY 'UsTJTt;TlO.r:-"'l 'UsTJTt;TlO.r:-"'l 'UsTJTt;TlO.r:-"'l " , ' ' jh-iih jh-iih jh-iih i a if y FRONT PAGE COLUMNIST Henry W. Grady frequently went traveling; his uritingrs appeared in lefthand column. with The Constitution in which i gestion of another great Geor-both Geor-both Geor-both papers at one time were gian, L. Q. C. Lamar, who had running special engines to carry t said: "My countrymen, know a few hundred papers a day to Macon and West Point. On Oct. 18, 1876. after two other unsuccessful efforts at operating operating a paper of his own, Grady joined the staff of The Constitution as a political writer. Capt. Evan P. Howell had i bought a controlling interest in the paper on that same day, and one of his first acts was to offer Grady a job. Within a few days Grady had persuaded Howell I to hire Joel Chandler Harris, an other promising young Georgia newspaperman. Some 13 years later Harris, by that time famous famous as "Uncle Remus," was to bring a young Georgia poet, Frank L. Stanton, to the paper. Thus began one of the most famous quartets in American t journalism Howell, Grady, Harris, and Stanton. In November, 1876, Grady was sent by The Constitution and the New York Herald to cover the Florida angle of the election frauds by which the Republican Republican Partv "stole" the Presi- Presi- riency for Rutherford B. Hayes. Outshining some of the coun- coun- try's best correspondents on this assignment. Grady again went to Florida in 1878 and obtained for The Constitution and the Herald the confessions of the principals in the 1876 frauds scoop ror wnicn James oor- oor- don Bennett paid him $1,000. It was as a correspondent for various American newspapers between 1876 and 1880 that Grady really entered upon the great work of his life that of developing the agricultural and industrial resources of the South and of bringing about a better understanding with the North. He toured the South, writing articles on Southern development development for the Herald and) other Northern newspapers, and he traveled frequently through the North, sending back his impressions impressions of that section and its leaders to The Constitution. Thus he carried out the sug- sug- one another and you will love one another. On May 8, 1880. with the aid of a $20,000 loan from Cyrus W. Field of New York City, Grady bought a one-fourth one-fourth one-fourth interest in The Constitution and became its managing editor. Within a month the paper had acquired an at tractive new type "dress" and had increased in size from four to eight pages. And within nine years, his stock was worth five times what he paid for it. Although Grady had charge of the editorial pages as well as the news columns, he much preferred preferred the life of a reporter to that of an editorial writer. Whenever Whenever a big story like the Charles ton earthquake "broke," he was usually among the first newspa i permen on the scene. He was j probably the first newspaper-i newspaper-i newspaper-i man in America to have a daily 1 article in column one on the j front page the position now occupied by Editor Ralph Mc- Mc- ; Gill. ' j Grady, as managing editor, be- be- i came the directing genius of At- At- j lanta's destinies. He turned his j efforts toward publicizing the ; International Cotton Exposition i ; of 1881. With his unerring sense j ; of news values, he helped to per-; per-; per-; suade General William T. Sher-i Sher-i Sher-i man. who had burned Atlanta in ! 1864. to give $2,000 to the ex-' ex-' ex-' position and to be one of its honor guests: He put me ruD-lic ruD-lic ruD-lic Library on its feet; he gave Atlanta its first organized baseball; baseball; he was the inspiration of a lecture association and of the Piedmont Chautauqua; he led in the construction of the city's first YMCA building; he held in his office the meetings that brought the Georgia Institute of Technology to Atlanta; he raised the money for the building of the Confederate Soldiers' Home. TKa TSamAiit rvnrtcitiftne nf j x HE a i v u . n v i . fcj null.. 1887 and 1889, great incentives j to the industrial development of j FAMILY PORTRAIT IN 1883 With Grady are his wife, Henry W. Grady, Jr., who died in 1942, and Gussie Grady, vow Mrs. Eugene Black, Sr. the South, were largely the products of his labor. Because of his recognized leadership as a Southern editor, Grady was invited in December, 1886, to address the New England England Society of New York City on "The New South." Sectional hatreds again had become aroused, primarily because of the "rebel-baiting" "rebel-baiting" "rebel-baiting" and "bloody-shirt "bloody-shirt "bloody-shirt waving" that followed the election of a Democratic President President in 1884. A gifted South-erner South-erner South-erner without military or political political background, was needed to carry a message of reassurance to Northern business men, so that they might continue to invest invest the funds needed for the South's development. Grady filled the bill. The brilliance of Grady's "New South" speech and his charm as a speaker brought him national fame overnight. Thereafter Thereafter he was besieged with invitations, invitations, including an offer from a national lyceum bureau for a series of fifty lectures. He was mentioned frequently as a running mate for President Cleveland in 1888, and even was suggested by Northern newspapers newspapers as a Presidential possibility. possibility. But he turned a deaf ear to suggestions that he run for public office, or that he leave Atlanta and journalism. Among Grady's other famous speeches were his two pleas for control of the sale of liquor in Atlanta, delivered in November, 1887; addresses on "The South and Her Problems" at Dallas, Texas, and before the Georgia and South Carolina legislatures at Augusta, in the Fall of 1888; "Against Centralization," at the University of Virginia in June 1889; "The Farmer and the Cities." at Elberton in the Summer Summer of 1889; and "The Race Problem," at Boston, Mass., on December 12, 1889 The Boston speech w-as w-as w-as prompted prompted by a genuine fear that the new Republican Congress might adopt a proposed law providing for Federal supervision of elections elections in the South. Grady believed believed that the race question should be left for the South to solve and that it would be tragic for the North to try to solve it by force. Aside from this basic assumption and from an insistence insistence on separate accommoda- accommoda- EDITOR BRILLIANT Grady's tions for the two races, however, however, he advocated equality of opportunity for the Negro educationally, educationally, politically, and economically. economically. He was the exact opposite opposite of those politicians who have exploited the issue of "white supremacy" as a means of gaining or holding power. Grady was ill when he started for Boston; worse in New York; bedridden on his arrival. But he got up and made his speech, an hour long. He received an ovation. ovation. A gre?i reception fof his return to Atlanta five days later had to be called off. On December December 23, 1889, he died from pneumonia pneumonia and on Christmas Day he was buried. The Grady monument at Forsyth Forsyth and Marietta streets was erected by contributions which poured in from nearly every state in the Union and from every county in Georgia. The first unit of the Grady Memorial Hospital, still in use. was built by popular subscription at the same time. The circumstances of his death gave rise to the feeling that he had sacrificed his life to prevent another bloody clash between North and South. It is possible that this feeling in the North was a factor in the defeat by Congress of the "force bill," which was feared by Southerners Southerners of Grady's time even more than the "FEPC" is feared today. today. In his own time Grady probably probably was as "liberal" as any leader could have been without cutting himself off from all in- in- ! fluence over his own people. No one can say what his views would be today, but perhaps we can gain some idea by summarizing summarizing the personal qualities that made him so effective: Grady loved people, and people loved him. His humani-tarianism humani-tarianism humani-tarianism began with his own family and with his Negro servants. From this center it radiated out to embrace persons of every nationality, section, race, and creed. His private secretary secretary and most trusted confidant confidant was a Catholic; one of his most loyal co-workers co-workers co-workers was a Jew-. Jew-. Jew-. He was identified with his constituents, constituents, and with a cause. Grady was connected with the South, Old and New, in such a way as to make him acceptable to all the major groups in the TALKER Daughter ; - - . . I ""-"I- ""-"I- ""-"I- ""-"I- v- v- V. M - , . - . V - -: -: - r-tr; r-tr; r-tr; .. . .. . . ? GRADY'S BIRTHPLACE IN ATHENS, WITH MOTHER STANDING IN FRONT House, Located at Southeast Corner of Hoyt and Jackson Streets, Has Long Since Been Torn Down South. He had been too young to fight in the War Between the States, yet was the son of a Confederate Confederate soldier; his family had connections with the old Southern Southern aristocracy, yet was itself in the rising middle class. This same background made him equally acceptable in the North, where his first step in an important important speech always was to identify himself psychologically with his hearers, as he did in his "New South" tribute to Abraham Lincoln. Moreover, the dominant purpose of his entire later career was devotion to a single cause: the economic upbuilding upbuilding of the South. His work as a peacemaker grew out of this, for he saw that the continuance continuance of sectional prejudices was holding back the progress and prosperity of his native region. He had the ability to talk and write to people in terms they could understand. He was a master in the use of "words that laugh and cry." Even in his college days he won a local reputation reputation as a writer and speaker. Once he had risen to prominence prominence as an editor, his skill as an orator multiplied his influence in public affairs. He had a wider ranee of knowledge than ordinary. In addition addition to having an excellent formal education, Grady broadened broadened his knowledge continually by wide reading and by traveling traveling through North and South. He combined the scholar's "passion "passion to understand" with the journalist's "passion to be understood." understood." He was self-confident self-confident self-confident and resourceful. resourceful. In his youth Grady was confident of himself almost to the point of conceit. His disappointment disappointment in college politics at Virginia and his four early newspaper failures tempered this self-confidence self-confidence self-confidence into a sound optimism based upon an abounding abounding faith in human nature and a keen knowledge of his own abilities. He had a flair for the dramatic. dramatic. Grady was a master showman. This is demonstrated not only by his success in bringing bringing out huge crowds to expositions, expositions, Chautauquas, and political gatherings, biit by his skill in promoting the circulation of the weekly edition of The Constitution Constitution to a point where it exceeded that of any other newspaper in the United States. He knew the art of group compromise and. combination. Grady was a natural peacemaker because of his love for people, his broad human sympathy, and I his intense dislike for personal quarrels. He was continually urging groups to "come together, talk together, and work together." together." He had force of will, based upon convictions. Despite his Recalls Bright Dad .3 Jti mm . ! f t . . ..I V" . a rTjli"iinl'i ATLANTA HOME IN 1831-1RRD 1831-1RRD 1831-1RRD Site Now Occupied by Store Buildings ot 529-533 529-533 529-533 Pcachtrce St. usual preference for a "middle-of-the-road" "middle-of-the-road" "middle-of-the-road" "middle-of-the-road" "middle-of-the-road" "middle-of-the-road" "middle-of-the-road" course, Grady could display great force of will when his moral convictions were aroused. Three examples are: His taking the unpopular side of the prohibition question in Atlanta; Atlanta; his instant discharge of a Constitution employee who had taken part in the beating of a Negro by a hooded gang; and his fatal trip to Boston, against the advice of his physician, because j he sincerely feared that the impending impending "force bill" might bring on a new conflict between North and South.- South.- He was a realistic idra.Mst. Grady clearly understood that whatever was done about the race problem, agriculture, liquor, or any other public question, if it was to be permanent, must be based upon a solid foundation a knowledge of what the public will stand. He was sensitive to chanring social and economic conditions. The promptness with which Grady adjusted himself to new conditions throughout his career shows that he was not only a great leader but a true "liberal." He fought the carpetbaggers as hard as anyone while they were in control in the South, but once the Federal troops had been withdrawn he was among the first to extend his hand in friendship friendship to the North. This probably was as hazardous for a Southerner Southerner in Grady's time as making a gesture of friendship toward is rae 5 . ; IWSK; if I lt'IXi Russia seems to be for an American American today. He had a reputation for honesty honesty and disinterestedness. The very fact that Grady was a journalist, journalist, that he refused to run for public office, and that he had no extensive business connections connections outside of his newspaper, newspaper, helped to convince peo- peo- j P,e of his sincerity. He had physical strength and courage to go with his energy. Energy and courage Grady had in abundance. In his college days he was an athlete, and in his early thirties he still had a fine nhvsiaue. However, nhoto- nhoto- j graphs reveal that by 1888. when his growing fame was causing him to devote more and more time to office duties, his figure had become unhealthily puffy. He suffered serious illness after exertion in the Piedmont Exposition and in the Atlanta prohibition campaign of 1887; a letter to his mother in December December 1888 indicates that even a short walk outside The Constitution Constitution building was becoming unusual; he had dizzy spells in the Fall of 1889. before going to ! Boston; he wrote his wife on this trip that he was "so tired." Obviously Grady at the time of the Boston trip was in a state of overwork and nervous exhaustion exhaustion which, coupled with a susceptibility to respiratory Infections Infections and the inadequate medical knowledge of that day, led to his fatal illness and death. This single deficiency cut him down at the age of only 39. as Waterson said, "upon the threshold threshold of a career for whose magnificent magnificent development and broad usefulness all was prepared. -. -.