John F. Kennedy, the author of Profiles in Courage, felt there were many politically courageous people. Kennedy seemed to define courageous as someone willing to risk one’s personal assets to stand up for he believes is right and good. Eight different people, including John Quincy Adams, Thomas Benton, and Sam Houston, are illustrated in this book. Each of these people made outstanding political moves just defend one’s beliefs. While some were scrutinized, others amazed the population and history was made.
John Quincy Adams was the Senator of Massachesetts. He resided with the Federalist party. John showed courage when the Louisianna Purchase was an issue. Adams supported the purchase. Support of the Louisianna Purchase didn’t coincide with the beliefs of the Federalist party. That didn’t stop Adams from pushing to pass the purchase. The Embargo Bill was created to stop the British from taking Americans sailor without proof of citizenship (and even some with proof). Adams constituents thought the Embargo Bill would instigate another war. Support of such subject caused his party-mates and constituents to re-think their view of the Massachusetts Senator.
Daniel Webster, House of Representatives member, was a Federalist and was most famous for is Seventh of March speech. While slavery seemed to be the main issue of the time, the speech spoke mainly of preserving the Union. Although he was opposed to slavery, he seldom brought it up in his political activities. These pressures haunted him around the time he was fighting to be re-elected.
Thomas Benton was a Senator of Missouri who had negative relations with President Jackson. Benton supported the Missouri Compromise, but opposed the National Bank and slavery. Seeing how Missouri was a slave state, Thomas recieved much ridicule. This caused Benton to lose office during the next election.
Sam Houston was the first Senator of Texas and a part of the Democrat party. Houston was stricktly opposed to the succession of the Union. Eventually he lost his seat as Senator. Soon after he was voted into the Governer office to continue his opposition to succession.
Edmund Ross was a Senator of Kansas. His moment of courage came about during the impeachment of Andrew Jackson. His vote was the final and deciding vote (in a two-thirds vote requirement) to keep Jackson in office. Career failure haunted him thereafter.
Lucius Lamar was a Representative for Mississippi. Lamar was opposed to free silver for his constituents. Free silver would later mathematically prove to put a damper on the economy. Since his constituents were poverty stricken, they supported free silver.
George Norris was a member of the House. He was previously a diplomat to Germany. During the time that the US was about to enter World War I, Norris was opposed. He also filibustered against the Armed Ship Bill because he hated war. George failed in these efforts.
Robert Taft was a Republican from Ohio. He tried and failed many times to become president. Taft’s iron mind never let him give up though. As far as foriegn affair were concerned, he was an isolationist and opposed many of the United State’s international actions.
Each of these men were courageous in many more way than one. Throughout history, many tales of strength are made. Kennedy saw it and defined it for the public quite well. Hopefully many will follow in the footsteps of these great men. With the example set and many people watching, this country will surely grow to be a strong one.