Sunday, December 01, 2002
Different people have different interests for different reasons. I'm from Kansas City--my ancestors come from Texas and Kansas and before that Tennessee; they originally came over from England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland (before the American Revolution, who knows exactly when or how; they were definitely largely Scots-Irish, Ulstermen who mostly emigrated during the first part of the eighteenth century) and from Austria during the 1880s. Well, Harry Truman was from Independence, Missouri, which for a long time was an important town on the trails West but now has been absorbed as a suburb of KC, and Ike Eisenhower was from Abilene, Kansas, about a hundred or so miles west of KC and definitely within its catchment area of influence. So between 1945 and 1961, perhaps the most critical decade-and-a-half of the 20th century, America was governed by people who were from where I'm from. This is why I'm fascinated by Truman and Eisenhower and their times. I know I'm a partisan, but I really think they were two of the four best Presidents of the 20th century; the other two would be Franklin Roosevelt, despite all his faults, and Reagan. TR would be number five and Wilson would be damn near at the bottom, though above Kennedy and Carter.