The Boston Globe from Boston, Massachusetts on May 13, 1955 · 27
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The Boston Globe from Boston, Massachusetts · 27

Boston, Massachusetts
Issue Date:
Friday, May 13, 1955
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THE BOSTON DAILY GLOBE FRIDAY. MAY 13. 1935 Twfnh'-Sevrn ''We are not responsible for the binding of our book of life, but we are for the contents." wrote James Morgan in a Christmas message, when, at 90, he confessed he was "still waiting for old age to begin." For him, in spirit, it never did. , Nor did his view of the responsibility of the individual alter: what ' he professed at four score and ten, he had lived through the long years since the rumbles of the Civjl War muted away from his boyhood recollections. His own life, together with those of his father and grandfather, spanned the entire history of the United States, from the American Revolution to our own day. . Dean of America's journalists, friend and advisor of a long succession of Presidents since the mid seventies, scholar, historian, traveler, he moved with old-lashioned southern courtesy among the high and the lowly alike, as alert and interested in the views of the taxicab driver as he was in those of Su- ' preme Court justices and famous leaders of government whom he numbered among his intimates. Through his signed writings in the Boston Globe which he helped to build, under the guidance and friendship of its founder, the late Gen Charles H. Taylor he was, during nearly 75 years, the familiar of hundreds of thousands of New Englanders, who delighted in his sanity of view and unflagging championship of justice in human affairs. There was an appropriateness about James Morgan's ties with New England, especially with Boston and Massachusetts. It was to Boston, in 1636, that his ancestors came, as settlers from Wales. Nearly 250 years later, he himself closed the cycle of family migration by returning as a young man in his early 20's to the Hub to begin his career on the Boston Globe. In the mid-seventeenth century, the two brotrters in the original settler's family of Bos-, ton moved to the Connecticut Valley, where they ' helped - found what is now the city of Springfield. I rom one of them was descended the late financier, J. Pierpont Morgan. The other pushed on into Kentucky, where James Morgan's ancestral family established itself in the mid-eighteenth century, i It was in Kentucky, on Dee. 18, 1861, that, James Morgan was born. Soon thereafter the family, being of strong Union sympathies, moved into central Illinois where he spent his boyhood, underwent very brief schooling, helped his father as clerk in an express office and, at 10, found the magic key which was to un- lock the future and shape his life's work. It was a telegraph key which helped James Morgan' to his path of self-discovery. First in his home town of Champaign, 111., and later in adjoining communities, he made friends- with the local railway telegraphers, who permitted him to learn how to operate this fascinating machine. By the time he was 15 he was a regular substitute and relief operator for the Illinois Central Railway. At 17 he shifted from railway teleg raphy to commercial dispatch work at Des Moines, for the Western Union. He was on his way nosy with a vengeance. James Morgan's skill at the telegraph key next opened the way for an assign-. ment to the Washington office, , whither he betook himself at the age of 19. He was already deeply informed in national politics because of his handling of political dispatches. He knew every member of the . lower House of Congress in 1880 by name and record. Incidentally, he had also made the innovation in press dispatches of adding political identification to public figures' names such as ,Rep Black (Dem Ark). This touch continues in political reporting down to our own day. While immersing himself in political affairs, which were to become one of his abiding interests, the youngster from Illinois, still in his early 20's, proceeded to open still another path of interest historical exploration. The youthful telegrapher could not wait until the morning after his arrival at the nation's capital to see government in action: he rushed to a night session carrying his traveling bag from the station. Similarly, he proceeded to employ all his free time journeying to such historic shrines as Mt, Vernon, Monticello, "and other spots near Washington made famous in the nation's history. This passion for rummaging through America's past on the spot persisted until the very year of his death. In later years, after his arrival in New England, he was to develop, under its urgings, a personal acquaintance with shrines, biographies, geography, history and regional traits of character which was undoubtedly unmatched. While on a hasty visit from Washington to vew York City, in 1883, James Morgan first met the founder of the United . Press, Walter Phillips, who was partly responsible for the later meeting with General then Colonel Charles H. Taylor and the decision to abandon telegraphy for a career in the newspaper profession. James Morgan came to the Globe first as Exchange edi- . tor, a role which was one of tremendous importance in days when the telephone was still a dream in the mind of its inventor. His flair for politics and his enormous erudition in that field, soon induced the publisher of the Globe to assign him to cover State House affairs, where the 23-year-old speedily began a new enlargement of his acquaintance with political leaders of both parties, from Senators down to ward bosses. With this preparation, a year later he was sent to take charge of the paper's Washington Bureau, which he proceeded to make outstanding in the nation in national political reporting. Thereafter,' he "covered" the capital during sessions of Congress, and returned to New England every Summer, interspersing work "on the road" during campaigns. His byline was now attracting wide attention. In 1890, the "Uncle Dudley" signature on the Globe's two column long Sunday editorial made its first appearance. What part James Morgan played in creating this'column, and what part represented General Taylor's inspiration, will never be known, for both were reticent about the column's origins. But the "Uncle Dudley" column bore from the outset the unmistakable stamp of James Morgan's wisdom and personality, and expresed fully the philosophy of the Globe's founder, who envisaged it as a venture in friendly counselling and well-tempered sug- Career of James Morgan Is a Legacy for All His Warm, Wise Counsel Set Tradition of the Globe Justice in Human Affairs the Cornerstone of His Life : .. r.- A V' i 'V ." N ! ' ,- ,. ..... .. ! v . - . (Glolje-Unitiil 1'ie.n Pliuto by EilWirU FiUKi-nld) James Morgan gestion, rather than as recourse to dogmatic lecturing of the public. This oldest editorializing column in the nation undertook to fill the vacuum left by the vanishing "personal journalism" of such great editors as Greeley and Dana; the journalistic art which "Marse Henry" Watterson still plied famously in the South. In 1913, on the eve of World War I, "Uncle Dudley" became a daily feature on the Globe's editorial page with James Morgan presiding over its destinies as director. In 1894, Mr. Morgan, then at the age of 32, married Miss Helen Dailey of Cambridge. Thereafter, throughout the rest of a long and extraordinary productive life, the two were inseparable co-workers, sharing adventures on journeys which carried them into far corners of the earth. ; James Morgan, had been, from his youth, an eager and unusual traveler. Equipped with a memory of encyclopedic proportions, he never visited a city, or a spot notable in human annals, without saturating himself in its history and storing away in his mind a surprising wealth of information about it. This trait has already been noted with respect to historical spots in our own country. It was. emphasized tgain on the 50th anniversary of the Civil War, when James Morgan conceived the idea of a day-by-day stery of that struggle, written from the old battlefields. .But in 1913 the greatest adventure in travel he was to experience opened for him. General Taylor decided that the approaching anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo and the downfall, of Napoleon, warranted special notice as a news feature. Accordingly he startled James Morgan one morning by informing him that he and Mrs. Morgan were to pack up and go to Europe. There they were to begin at Napoleon's birthplace, on Corsica, and follow the trail of the Little Corporal's destiny through to fcis tomb at Les Invalides in Paris.- This journey of 20,000 miles occupied the better part of a year. In preparation for it, James Morgan assembled and read hundreds of histories, biographies and memoirs. The results began to flow into the Sunday Globe from his wandering pen a few months later. They continued, one whole page article after another, week after week, down to the centenary of Waterloo. It was one of the most prodigious feats of journalism in the annals of the American press; and not the .least remarkable part of the undertaking were the vibrant, colorful, fascinating style of the writing, and the shrewd historical and political wisdom displayed by the author. "The Path of Napoleon" took Mr. and Mis. Morgan through Europe, into the Mediterranean, Egypt, up the Nile'and into the Holy Land. They followed Napoleon's star to Austria and Poland, to Moscow, Waterloo and Saint Helena. Twice James Morgan was arrested by suspicious national police, who thought him a spy because of his intense curiosity and his insistence upon digging into out-of-the-way corners of the Napoleonic legend. , ' Then, returning home just as World War I began to throw its appr6aching shadow across Europe, James Morgan shut himself up in a hotel room, together with a newly assembled library of Napoleona, and proceeded to rewrite his adventure for book publication. This book was not the first of his literary ventures. Beginning in 1905 he turned out successively "Theodore Roose velt, the Boy and the Man," "Abraham Lincoln, the Boy and the Man," the "Life of Edward O. Moseley" (1913), a "Life of General Charles II. Taylor" (in 1923) following the publisher's death, "Our Presidents," a highly popular series of biographical studies, and "The Birth of the American People," a study of our colonial and revolutionary beginnings As a nation, in 1930, In 1926 Mr, Morgan was given the honorary degree of Master of Arts by Tufts Col-' lege; and in 1938, Williams College awarded recognition to him for his work as a newspaperman, scholar, and his-, torian by bestowing upon him the honorary degree of Doctor or Humane Letters. Paralleling this continuous interest ( in , matters literary was Mr. Morgan's unremitting production ' for the pages of the Sunday Globe, "where his range of learning, lively style, and robust wisdom spotlighted week after week the events of the nation and of the world. He continued to write these pages almost down to the week of his death, without the slightest faltering of his pen. As his biographical studies and his histories suggest, his main and abiding interest lay in political affairs. From the days of President Ruthrrferd Hayes, he covered every national political convention held -by bolh the Democrats and the Republicans, down to 1944, hustling his (lihpatches off from the convention press box page by pace as energetic at 75 as he hail been in his thirties. His skill at political reporting won for him the accolade from the 1-le William Allen White, famous editor of the Emporia (Kansas) Gazette as "the b(st reporter in the country." Mr. Morgan was then in his early eighties. When age :-provenied his personal attend- ' ance at the conventions, he se- , eluded himself in a Boston hotel room, and with a special installation of radio and television, supplemented by longdistance telephone, did the job there. Two Roosevelts, Theodore and Franklin D., were among the Presidents who called James Morgan to the White House. His advice was sought by Senators and members of the House of Representatives in Washington from many states of the Union on matters of legislative policy, and political strategy. Through his friendship with Senator Norris of Nebraska, one of James Morgan'? great campaigns to modernize the Federal Government ..chieved victory with the adoption of the "Lame Duck" Amendment to the Constitution. This amendment put an end to the four-month-long interlude between the election of new members of Congress and their assumption of duties. He had urged this for a decade, On the occasion of his 90th birthday, this native son of Old Kentucky and rehabilitated New Englander, received messages of congratulation from editors and statesmen, educators and Supreme Court justices, political leaders and literary pundits all over America. They honored him not merely for his unusual achievement, but equally for the graciousness, unfailing humor, and wide humanity of his character. His personal reticence did not obscure a warm heart, a confident spirit, and a never-absent kindness of manner. His passing, alike to the members of the Globe family who were honored by his friendship and to the nearly one, thousand others who personally shared with them the richness of his personality and wisdom through intimate acquaintance, is less a signal for grief, than a reason for thanksgiving that opportunity was given them to know and love one of such tempered wisdom 'and diverse qualities. I J. H. P. There Was Never a Mean Line1 in 'Mike' Hennessy' s Political Writings A unique personality in American journalism takes leave, with the passing of the Globe's "Mike" r "Colonel" Hennessy. The high qualities ot Mr. Hen-Bessy's character and abilities, and the values of his practically lifelong labors in the reportorial profession are perhaps best epito-inized in four testimonials to him: When friends gathered 'round at a Boston luncheon to the "Colonel" on his 73d birthday, President franklin D. Roosevelt sent the following greeting: "My hearty congratulations and all good wishes on your birthday. J hope that for long years to come you may continue to exemplify those rare qualities of a good reporterhonor, honesty and alertnesswhich make you a veritable landmark in American newspa-perdom. May your shadow never grow less!" And for a similar observance arranged by friends on the day that Mr. Hennessy was passing his 80th milestone in life, President Truman's salutory letter read: "Dear Mike: A wonderful thing it is to reach the four-score mark after 57 years of active service with the Boston Globe, and eyes still ca the future, the best yet to coma. Ther are few newspapermen aor4 lamiUar with national politics than you few who have enjoyed a larger acquaintance with political leaders or been honored ith fuller confidence. -I salute a hale veteran still serving with distinction in the profession of journalism admired by all, beloved by many." landed by Colieunes The late William AUen White, sage of Emporia and as publisher C-f that Kansas city's famed "Ga-swtte" an unfailing attendant with "Col Hennessy at conventions of the major political parties since 1900, also held Mr. Hennessy in soundness of judgment upon Its ' ; ' higK regard Values and his unfailing sense of Letter FrOUX Ml. MOYgaiX, Then 92, Frederic William Wile, clever fairness in geUi u fonh Mp to m. b. hennessy on Keaching 5 foreign correspondent after wide Hennessy had a strong instinct service With the Philadelphia Public Ledger, addressing the Boston Chamber ot Commerce one day a quarter century ago, praised Mr. Hennessy as "one of the most skillful, gatherers of Washington news that any paper has" and added: "I am a bold man to come to Boston to talk to you about the situation at Washington today, when Boston has a correspondent like Mike ' Hennessy, who flares like a flaming comet across the political firmament at Washington." These hearty testimonies as to Mr. 4ennessy's personal and professional vorthiness were to be reinforced through the years by countless others . from lesser lights ;n poltiics, in newspaper work,' in ecclesiastical circles, in business but all were of the same refrain. for sociability. With this trait went a lively humor. Mr. Hennessy began flourishing as a reporter at the big conventions and as a commentator on figures on the national stage, soon after getting his primary schooling "covering" the old Federal Building. Those were days when Democrat Leverett Saltonstall (Senator Saltonstall's grandfather) . as Grover Cleveland's Collector of the Port 'here. Afterwards, Mr. Hennessy was for many years the Globe man at City Hall and then at the State House. best anecdotist I know, and many ot my most interesting stories of public men I stole from you. Laurence once grumbled that he had to make himself known all over again at every meeting with people at the conventions, but that it was "Hi Mike," with them at every sight of youT Somehow Always, I see with the eye of you etched on the minds of all , 22 October 1953 Caro Michele: Your being a kid of only 87 Is no subject for congratulations by me. Rather, I am congratulating myself on the lengthening of the great and precious friendship you have given me through near two- thirds o your iiie. memory a young cnap wno brought in an interview with Ben Butler, wherein he endorsed Hus-sell for Govasnor. As Ben was not noted for a forgiving and forgetting disposition, I doubted his approval of a son of an anti-Butler father, and I asked you to take a proof of your interview back to him for verification. You returned it with his immaterial corrections scrawled in the by lamplight; But by rare good luck he did catch up with, and boarded the train at Bennington. Mr. Coolidge had Inquired for Mr. Hennessy en route, and when told that Hennessy had wired that he would be at Bennington to join the party, the President remarked to his informants: 4"We ought to hear his chuckle by this time, if he's there, hadn't we?" President Franklin Roosevelt, on many an occasion, manifested his esteem for Mr. Hennessy, as did Gov. Alfred E. Smith, James F. Byrnes, James A. Farley, John Jf. Garner and Alf Landon. All you met tne impression or an unforgettable personality. I mind the time that your fellow passengers either stayed up or got up to give you a seud-olf at Cobh at an ungodly hour in the morning. Helen and I are most indebted to you for our acquaintance with the rare beauty of your home life. Vmi h.ivp bi'fii called noon to en dure more than your share of of them completely trusted him. All in Graceful Stride The 'Colonel" took It all margin, and that prooi still is From Grovtr Cleveland to Trtiman among my keepsakes. Thus, beginning with President Cleveland in the days when sturdy Grover Summered af Buzzards Bay, Mr. Hennessy had been on cordial terms with every President and Vice President in all the intervening years up to Mr. Trumanand with many a Cabinet officer. Governor, Senator, mem- family bereavements but you have borne them as gallantly as vou nave mese long years oi That was the first and the last Separation from the queen of your in time I questioned anything you have written in the some six and 60 years that I have summered and wintered with you. Nor have I a recollection of anyone ever challenging . your accuracy, though you were in the thick of the political battle for an epoch. Before you were done-roving, with that notebook in which naught was set down in malice, there was no member of the American press more widely known and liked than you from coast to coast. Friend of Presi- heart. Fortunately, you have the devotion of the two daughters who are so admirably qualified to carry on the tradition of their mother's gracious hospitality. You and I have not kept books on each other. But I know that a balance sheet would disclose And for his mellow wisdom and his unfailing good humor, the "Colonel" was as popular with his coworkers across the country in the journalistic vineyard as he was with the politicos. At the Chicago convention which gave Franklin Roosevelt his first nomination in 1932, as- ber of the' judiciary, and miscel- graceful stride none of these or laneous others in high place. Can-other praises ever swelled the didate Dewey greeted him as size of his head or swerved his "Mike" after a little chat be- dents and poietarians, you are the fingers on his trusty typewriter, tween them had established the ; " ' As the "principal speaker" at one fact that their maternal ancestors There is the tale from one of President Taft, on tour or in a u:. . l:.ii,j.m ' .-V, I hart hrn rsswrf in rinrnl' i!tn i .1 . .. . . .1 Wi10ulti,,., ,...u- - ... Mr Hennessy 's local journalistic While House press comereiitc, m- cheer3 as ioud ti he himself dys" us ne called tnem), Mike," uciana. . . ... .j j . ,j v v.j ... .1 j ..u buddies about a visit to Boston of with his wonted modesty, told Mr. Hennessy had traveled with his friends in a few well-chosen most Presidential candidates on Dutch-ancestored President Theo- words: "I thank you with all my campaign tours. The long pers- dore Roosevelt Spotting the am- heart. I am grateful that you pectives which his experiences pic figure of Mr. Hennessy wait- me hopelessly in debt to you who sembled newspapermen from all corners of the country were waiting for their first press conference on that occasion with Al Smith, when Mr. Hennessy hove in sight to join it. It was his first appearance among his fellows at the big show, and Mr. Hennessy received is happier in giving man w receiving. United love and good wishes from Cousin Helen and me to you and yours. James Morgan. should come in a busy hour of the day to help me celebrate an event in my life. Lowell said: He who has a thousand friends has not one friend to sparer I gave him, plus his studios read ing in a corridor for the lnler- ways would make much of Mr. Hennessy. He crossed the continent with President Wilson on that last fateful campaign trip, and when the latter broke with Secretary Joseph F, Tuu.ulty, Mr. ine and his readv knowledge of the record sources made him a view- President hopped down quick-reference judge on ques- the steps two at a time, grasped Hennessy continued his tions pertaining to individuals, or the reporter by both hands and friendship with "Joe." close m .- 1 a . . . i . .. tnanic those who have arranged "" '" ' 'e started a jig chanting- this dinner, for I prefer an ounce ot Politics. He was a tireless, ' of taffy while I'm alive to . pound en-eyed, fast-witted watcher of JJ WJ '. mucJ of epitaphr when I'm dead." the poUtical parade-he saw them he Irish cm t much Along with h.s keen mind, his come, and saw them go, and never But a darned i0ht better alertness for political news, his lost his head. Than the damned old Dutch Mr. Hennessy had by bad luck missed ' catching at Plymouth, were a candidate. At one Republican National political convention, a Globe man rode in a hotel elevator with Henry L. Mencken, noted Baltimore Sun writer. "Where's Mike Hennessy?" Mencken asked the Globe man. He was told that Mike was not able to make the convention; that he was at home. "It ain't legal!" exclaimed VU the special train bearing Mencken. President Coolidge Washington-ward after he had taken the oath Mr. Hennessy's sociability was recognized by his Bostonian co workers as early as 1911, when he was elected president of the old Boston Press Club, the year of its silver anniversary. Headed Clover Club A more marked honor came to him, in 1931, when he was chosen president of the Clover Club of Boston at its golden anniversary. For several years before that he had been this organization's secretary, and assisted actively in arranging the bright, breezy and educational programs at its dinners. For this social side of his life, as for his articles, Mr. Hennessy had a great fund of anecdotes and humorous yarns. This was the style of material which enlivened his column in the Sunday Globe, "Round About With M. E. Hennessy," and shone out over the years in his topical news stories on the passing political scene. Out of his personal newspaper experiences and the jottings of his prolific note-books, Mr. Hennessey found the energy and the time to produce political volumes which remain today as standard records; the first, on the epochal Massachusetts, " Constitutional Convention (1917). The second seven years later, was titled: "Calvin Coolidge From a Green Mountain Farm to the White House." In 1935, he revised his earlier-written record of "Four Decades of Massachusetts Politics," spanning the stretch between the great Democrat William E. Russell and Rep. Samuel W. McCall so brinfing that volume up-to-date with the Cur-ley regime on Beacon Hill. An American Without a Hyphen Although Michael Edmund Hennessy was racially Irish to the very core of his heart, he was patriotically an American without a hyphen. While both his parents were natives of the Ould Sod, 'twas in London that he was borna Oct. 24, 1866. For all his traveling; on this continent, he was not tat set foot on Ireland until 1926! Mri 3 Hennessy had interviewed Eamon; deValera when that foredestinel leader first came to Boston in tht 20's so on that visit to Ireland he and Mrs. Hennessy were "shown around" as well as you may imagine for. a DeValera Cook's tour. And at "Dev's" more recent visit to Providence and then to Boston, "Mike" was along with him. Mr. Hennessy's parents were in process of migration to America at his own birth in London. They brought him across in his ninth year, settling in Jamaica Plain. "Brotheen Mike' attended Mt, Vernon Grammar . School, West Roxbury, when that now very populous residential region waj all remotely rural from the cily in which he was to win distinction. Later, he attended Eliot Academy, Jamaica Plain. After "cub" training on the West Roxbury Advertiser, "he went to work for the old Yankee, controlled Boston Record-and-Advertiser. In 1889, he joined the Globe staff. A year later, he married pretty Catherine E. Sullivan of Charlestown. They settled at 46 Gardner St., West Roxbury and from the first days onward, his generous heart and her gracious spirit made that home remarked for its hospitality. This was to remain the family home through all the years. Mrs. Hennessy died in 1940. Among Mr. and Mrs. Hennessy's five deceased children was James Morgan Hennessy, who for several yesrs was secretary to the late William D. Sullivan (then the Globe's managing editor). He is survived by two daugh" ters, Anna G. and Kathryn SuU livan Hennessy, both of West Roxbury. Tributes to Mr. Morgan and Mr. Hennessy are printed on Page 42

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