Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on May 26, 1974 · Page 63
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 63

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, May 26, 1974
Page 63
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Page 63 article text (OCR)

j" " i, OF BOOKS Hardly worthy of obscurity Different holocaust tale "LAWYER'S LAWYER: The Life of John W. Davis." By William H. Harbaugh, Oxford, $15. It will soon be half a century since John W. Davis of West V i r g i n i a and Wall Street lost the 1924 presidential election and joined those we cruelly dismiss as also- rans. The label is especially unsatisfactory; for while Davis' i n e f f e c t i v e run against Calvin Coolidge was the most publicized event of his long career, it was a career quite as influential as many presidencies. He himself said -- and he was not given to false modesty -- that "f seem to have caught at the skirt of great events without really influencing them," and this judgment is reflected in popular history texts that call him a "forgotten man." But if Davis never reached the presidency, he was by wide consent the best courtroom advocate since Daniel Webster. Between 1913 and 1954 he argued 140 Supreme Court cases -- a record equalled at his death by no other 20th-century lawyer and surpassed by only two 19th-century advocates, Webster himself and Walter Jones. Many of these were landmarks in law and public policy. He didn't win them all. But how many Presidents leave a genuine stamp on enduring public policy? Besides, the offices Davis act u a l l y held -- solicitor general under Wilson, ambassador to England, presidential nominee, congressman and state legislator -were substantial by any measure. But the focus of William Harbaugh's well-wrought biography is not on such imponderables; it is on the techniques of a profession that Davis adorned and on the fascinating interplay between professional duty and private conviction. It was to p l a g u e Davis all through his later career, and indeed create a certain tension in his own mind, that many of his a d m i r e r s thought he wasted his talents at the private bar. For this he never apologized, but he was always explaining. In 1923- for instance, just back from London, he joined the prestigious firm that became known as Davis, Polk and Wardwell but was given little peace by those Paperbacks "ZULMA," by Elaine Hollingsworth, $1.50. *** "MARION'S WALL," by Jack Finney, $1.25. *** "THE JOB OF SEX," National Lampoon, $1.25. *** "TONIGHT," by Terry Galanoy, $1.25. who were promoting him for the Democratic presidential nomination. The Republican a d m i n i s t r a t i o n was, of course, rocked by Teapot Dome; the presidency seemed wide open; and Davis's perennial booster. Theodore Huntley of The Pittsburgh Post, begged him to put a bit of expedient daylight between him and his rich clients -- especially the House of Morgan. Davis' reply, which "stunned" Huntley, is still cited as a defense of lawyerly duty:" ... Since the law is a profession and not a trade ( wrote Davis to Huntley in part), I conceive it to be the duty of the lawyer, just as it is the duty of the priest or surgeon, to serve those who call on him . . . Any lawyer who surrenders this independence or shades this duty by trimming his professional course to fit the gusts of popular opinion in my judgment not only dishonors himself but disparages and degrades a great profession. What is life worth, after all, if one has no philosophy of his own to live it by?" The sentiments were widely applauded, but not every observer bought Davis' elegant rationale. "Associations after interpretations," said Yale's Prof. William E. Hocking, a noted moralist, and Felix Frankfurter, who later as a Supreme Court justice would hear (and admire) so many Davis arguments, was scornful. The issue may defy settlement; the point is that Davis remained acutely sensitive to the insinuation that he was a kept man who betrayed rich endowments in a career devoted to private gain. Davis had it both ways -at least in 1924. He remained a Morgan lawyer, earning a great deal of money and often even commuting to Manhattan from his Long Island estate on Morgan's yacht. But he also won the 1924 Democratic nomination. It came to him all but unsought as he played Mah Jongg at a partner's apartment after the Democrats had torn at each other'for more than 100 ballots in a steamy convention at Madison Square Garden. His campaign was, of course, a disaster. Depleted by the third-party candidacy of Robert La Follette, the Democratic vote sank to a historic low. Despite his early conditioning in the West Virginia hill-country populism of his father, Davis was at heart and by convenience a conservative, cherishing economic laissez-faire, state rights, and racial segregation. Yet his advocacy and independence were always admired, even by those who did not admire his choice of clients. In 1928, out of profound personal feeling as well as party loyalty, he defended Al Smith against the anti-Catholic bigotry that tarnished that campaign. Later, after World War II, he joined Dean Acheson and Adlai Stevenson in standing by his original judgment of Alger Hiss, whom he'd helped make head of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. In 1954, he agreed to represent Dr. Robert Oppenheimer, the nation's most distinguished atomic scientist in the bizarre proceedings that deprived Oppenheimer of his "security clearance"; but he was too feeble to go to Washington and the Atomic Energy Commission declined to move the hearings to New York. In those last years, Davis' heart lay in the two great conservative causes of his twilight -- a successful appearance for the steel companies in the seizure case, an unsuccessful appearance for South Carolina in behalf of school segregation. Many of his friends regretted the latter role, for which he was handsomely honored by South Carolina, but to the end he defied "gusts of public opinion" and followed his lawyerly d u t y where it seemed to him to lead. Harbaugh's is a judicious biography of a judicious man, sympathetic in its understanding, yet penetrating in its judgments. The result is a superior job of political and legal biography that tells all we ought to know about John W. Davis, one who never deserved his obscurity. Edwin M. Yoder The reviewer is the editorial page editor of the Greensboro (N.C.) Daily News. (Reprinted from The Wash* ington Post.) ' M A L E V I L , " By Robert Merls, Simon Schuster, $10.00 The worst thing about this book is its title. That, coupled with the jacket picture of a medieval castle, is likely to make some readers think the book is set in ancient times, or is another Gothic novel. But, because wise readers have learned to Harris On Change "THE ANGUISH OF CHANGE," by Louis Harris, Norton, $7.50. The Louis Harris in the line above is the well known Lou Harris, the public opinion analyst. Poll taker, if you will. His book is a mass of statistical evidence, taken from Harris polls, which tends to show a massive upheaval in American concepts during the past 10 years. Very few of the old truths are confirmed by those who cast their votes for Lou Harris, although hard-headed politicians and a vast number of what George calls "ordinary citizens" cannot perceive the turnabout in thinking. Harris's polls and conclusions should be helpful to any politician seeking to gauge public opinion. Harris detracts from his own credibility as a disinterested witness, however, when he dwells upon the disfavor in which President Nixon holds him. This amounts almost to an embarrassment as that provided by Mr. Nixon's all too frequent "I know you all hate me." It might also suggest to the suspicious reader that Harris is as biased toward the liberal viewpoint as Mr. Nixon believes he is. --L. T. Anderson Best Sellers This report is based on sales in more than 250 bookstores in 100 communities through- tout the U.S. FICTION "Watership Down," by Richard Adams. "Jaws" by Peter Benchley. "The Snare of the Hunter" by Helen Maclnnes. "The Fan Club," by Irving Wallace. "Burr," by Gore Vidal. GENERAL "Times to Remember," by Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy. "Plain Speaking," by Merle Miller. "You Can Profit from a Monetary Crisis," by Harry Browne. "Alive; the Story of the Andes Survivors," by Piers Paul Read. "Working," by Studs Terkel. ignore titles and dust jackets (that is how you can tell they are wise readers), anyone who is fooled can consider it an educational experience. The book is certain to be other kinds of experience, too. Robert Merle is also the author of "The Day of the Dolphin" (now a well-received motion picture starring George C. Scott). Like his previous book, this is a science-fiction novel in which the author sets up a highly believable situation by piling one tiny detail and fact upon another until a firm background has been constructed. The time is the late 1970's, far enough ahead to be the future, but not so far that we can't identify with the life style. Then the world is devastated by an atomic holocaust, and we follow a small group of survivors in the French countryside. Ii a " matter of hours, basic reality has been changed drastically for the characters. They are abruptly forced to adapt to a more primitive existence. There have been other books based upon survivjil after an atomic attack, but none quite like this. The French setting is unusual, and Merle's vision of rocial, political and religious development is original, logical and perceptive of hu nan psychology. Also, the translation from 'he French is excellent. The pages aren't crowded with British idioms as sometimes occurs. The result is an English translation that we here in the Colonies can enjoy. -- Albert F. Nussbaum -- WILD SUNFLOWERS are an' wsy-to-recoonize wild food plant. American Indians used vie. seeds w make a coarse meal,, as a snack, and to make oil. They used the. Flowers to make a yellow dye- and the stalks to product a silky hemp-like, Hber. GMer sunflower heads when the. first outside rows oP seeds are dry. Hang them upside, down in a warm dry place. After drying thoroughly, rub trie, heads and the seeds will Pall out. Store, in airtight containers. To remove the kernels from tiieseed shells fitr cooking, break them with a small hammer, rock or food mill, then pour into water. The. kernels will foil to the bottom oPthe pan, the, sedhulls will float. THS W4P SUNFLOWER isa native of North AmeriM, ranging from Ganac/a to California. It is most often fijund in the prairie regions. It is an annual which gims 3 to6 fleet high, with opposit leaves on the. bottom part t" the plant and alternation t. The Flowers have, brightyellow rays surrounding a 1 to4-inch dark brown or purple seed head. You can pour hot water over the seed hulls to produce, a coPPee,-like. drink. The kernels can be dried, roasted in a slow javen and used as a snack, or ground into flow or State Magazine. May 26,'1974 "··· ·-· · CHARLESTON, W. VA. 7m

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