Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Great American - Founder of Great American Business

 A Titan of the PR Field - A Man Who Put Ethics Into PR - Was a Great American
By Ned Barnett

This blog was originally published in the trade journal PR News
as a memorial to a great man

Daniel J. Edelman, founder of one of the world’s largest PR agencies, died on January 15, 2013 at age 92. He left a profound legacy for our industry, among his clients, employees—and even among his competitors.

I never met Daniel Edelman, but I competed against him for clients, and—by doing so—I learned a number of valuable lessons. We went head-to-head for clients when I was a partner with America’s largest healthcare-only agency; and again, when I was an exec with the Silicon Valley subsidiary of Fleishman-Hillard. I always made it a point to “know” the competition, and through time, I came to feel as if I knew the man.

Here are some of Daniel Edelman’s lessons. They’ve never let me down.

  1. Integrity: Daniel Edelman was known for integrity. In our business, which many feel is lacking in that essential commodity, he demonstrated that integrity was not only the “right thing to do,” it was also a sound business investment. The first time I went up against his agency, my biggest initial challenge involved proving that my agency had the same high standards of integrity that Edelman was known for.

  2. Involvement: In trying to land Edelman clients, or when trying to out-compete Edelman for prospective clients, I learned very quickly that Daniel Edelman knew the value of personal involvement. No matter how big Edelman had become, he was not “too important” to meet face-to-face with clients or prospects, even ones who weren’t (yet) Fortune 500 clients. He had name-brand recognition, to be sure, but he brought more than his name to those meetings, including a keen creative insight which never failed to impress clients and prospects.

  3. Bottom-Line Creativity: I never saw an Edelman PR campaign that didn’t reflect the distinctive bottom-line strategic and tactical creativity that Daniel Edelman and his company brought to the table. In my experience, he never focused on ephemeral measurements, such as Ad Equivalency, when he could instead point to sales or other more substantive business measurements.

  4. Billing: In addition to serving his clients, Daniel Edelman knew how to create profit for himself, as well as his clients. For instance, while he often met with his clients—generally for strategic creative sessions where his immense expertise added real value—he never traveled alone. He brought his team of senior agency execs, men and women who understood the client’s needs, and each of them legitimately billed for their time. Until I first tried to wrest a client from his agency, I’d never heard of a thousand-dollar-an-hour meeting. Yet the Edelman clients I knew had no qualms about this seemingly astronomic figure, because they always received real and perceived value from these meetings. Following his example, I now bring my team, rather than trying to represent them, and I’ve found that my clients also appreciate this added depth this.
Bottom line: Daniel J. Edelman is gone, but his legacy will continue to shape the PR field in ways that go far beyond the agency he created. 

Three Great Americans and the Mexican War

Sam Colt, Eli Whitney, Captain Sam Walker - Three Great Americans Create A War-Winning New Technology - And Change History

By Ned Barnett

Three Great Americans - strangers to one another - came together to create a new technology which helped America win a war ... and to change history.  In the process, they  also pioneered a new approach to creating weapons of war for the US Military that remains successful to this day - helping to preserve our Freedom and the American Way of Life.  
It's a fascinating story ...

As he was preparing to retire from public life, President Dwight Eisenhower famously warned America against the growing power and influence of the “Military-Industrial Complex.” As the General of the Army who defeated Hitler and oversaw the creation of NATO, then as the President who faced down the newly nuclear-armed Soviets for eight long years, Ike knew something about the Military-Industrial Complex.

However, most of his audience – the American people – assumed that this Military-Industrial Complex was something new, and dangerous. After all, that’s what the 50s were about – things that were new, and dangerous. H-Bombs. Sputnik. Polaris submarines. Jet bombers and ICBMs. All new, all dangerous.

In fact, the Military-Industrial Complex began more than 100 years before Eisenhower was elected President, and indirectly, we owe this all to a man more famous for inventing the cotton gin, Eli Whitney – and more directly, to a former Texas Ranger.  We also owe it to the man for whom it was written, "God Made Man, But Sam Colt Made Men Equal."

As a young man, Eli Whitney came up with the idea of manufacturing interchangeable parts, and applied that to the production of muskets for the U.S. Army. Before Whitney’s innovation, muskets were hand-made. When a part broke, a skilled gunsmith had to make and carefully fit a replacement part. Whitney changed all that – and started the idea of a production line, which was perfected a century later by Henry Ford.

Whitney died in 1820, but he left a legacy of innovation and a family interest in the manufacture of precision firearms. In this way, he laid the groundwork for the salvation of a bankrupt inventor, and the creation of what we now know as the Military Industrial Complex.

In the early 1830s, inventor Samuel Colt perfected the first practical revolver – a five-shot weapon named the Paterson, after the town in New Jersey where Colt made these handguns. They first became popular in the mid-1830s when US officers fighting in the Seminole War in Florida bought them to replace cumbersome Army-issued single-shot muzzle-loading pistols that were little different from what George Washington had used 60 years before.

It wasn’t long after the Seminole war before the Colt Paterson was adopted by the Texas Rangers – not officially, but again, individual Rangers gladly bought them out of pocket. They knew it was worth a man’s life to have firepower close at hand, and a brace of Colt’s revolvers could replace ten single-shot pistols. 
In 1844, in what became the legendary Hays Fight, a skirmish that included Seminole War veteran Samuel H. Walker, 15 Texas Rangers defeated an 80-warrior Comanche War Party in a stand-up fight – in Walker’s words, “… killing & wounding about half of them. With improvements, I think the Colt revolvers can be rendered the most perfect weapon in the world.”

When the Mexican War broke out two years later, Walker was mustered into the Army as a Captain, and set out to recruit a unit of Dragoons – men who rode into combat on horseback, but who – unlike the cavalry, who fought on horseback – dismounted to fight. Having carried his personal Paterson Colt into war in Florida and into countless skirmishes in Texas, Captain Walker wanted his men to be armed with this new innovation. Walker scoured the countryside for privately owned Paterson Colts – there were few to be had – and he also contacted their inventor, Sam Colt, asking for more. But in 1842, Sam Colt had gone belly-up. He’d never stopped designing improvements for his Paterson Colt, but having seen his company go into bankruptcy, he was in no position to manufacture them.

A little thing like bankruptcy wasn’t about to stop Captain Walker, however, and Colt was more than happy to encourage him. Still, there was this little problem of no money – and no factory.

Enter Eli Whitney, Jr., son of the inventor of the cotton gin and the first man to mass-produce firearms. For “a consideration,” Whitney agreed to front Colt the money to get him back into business.  He also agreed to provide Colt a corner of Whitney’s factory production line in Whitneyville, Connecticut. That line was busy making muskets for the Army – there was, after all, a war on – but the factory was not too busy to also manufacture Colt’s revolvers. So the famous “Whitneyville-Walker Colt – officially the US Model 1847 – was born. This was the first repeating handgun purchased by Army Ordnance, and it was revolutionary. In the years to come, Colt kept instituting improvements, until – by 1860 – his Army revolver had become the standard U.S. Army sidearm, one widely used by both sides in the US Civil War.

The Whitneyville Walker Colt,known to the Army as the Model 1847, was a massive handgun – the largest ever made for the US Army.  It tipped the scales at 4 pounds, 9 ounces. This revolutionary revolver was a five-shot weapon that fired a .44 caliber lead ball, propelled by 220 grains of black powder. It had a mule-kick that even “Dirty Harry” would love. A contemporary Army report on a test of the Colt revolver said that the Model 1847 was “as effective as a common rifle at one hundred yards, and superior to a musket even at two hundred.” This was at a time when the standard military musket was never fired at ranges beyond 60 yards, and then only in volleys, since muskets - which lacked rifling - could not be aimed – at any range.

The government ordered 1,000 of Colt’s Model 1847 at $25 a revolver, plus another $3 for matching powder flasks. Colt actually made 1,100 of these handguns, using the other 100 as VIP gifts. These were presented to the President, senior members of Congress, the Secretary of War and other influential men of the times. Colt knew how to keep the orders coming – and except for laxer laws about gifts to officials, he did nothing different than today’s K-Street bandits do every day of the week for their MIC clients.

Here’s how these remarkably innovative Model 1847s worked in combat. A unit of Dragoons – roughly 100 men – would ride on horseback up to within roughly 100 yards of a Mexican Army unit, then dismount. That 100-yard distance was the effective aimed-fire range of the Whitneyville-Walker Colt. The force they’d attack, a Mexican Army Regiment - would be generally from five to ten times as large as the Dragoon unit, roughly 500 to 1,000 well-trained and courageous Mexican soldiers. 
These enemies were a formidable force, since at that time, the Mexican Army was world-class in every respect. It was a classic “Napoleonic” army of hard-marching, hard-fighting professional soldiers, trained up in the traditional European “continental” system of fighting. However, the Mexican Army had one critical drawback – one shared with all armies of the time. They used a smooth-bore musket with an effective range of just 60 yards – and at that range, these muskets couldn’t be aimed, but only volley-fired.

However, the Colt could accurately fire aimed shots out to 100 yards. Approaching the enemy, the dismounted Dragoons would take careful aim and fire five quick shots per revolver, then mount up and withdraw – and reload. Since Dragoons often carried two revolvers per man, this meant they could loose 10 aimed shots in a matter of seconds. But because the Mexicans were out of range for their own weapons, those brave soldiers could either “take it,” or they could fix bayonets and charge, hoping to cross 40 yards of ground, then form up and volley-fire before the Americans pulled back. They were brave, and they usually charged – however, in full gear, they could never charge fast enough to catch the Americans.

To reload the Whitneyville-Walker Colt, the entire cylinder could be easily removed from the gun’s frame. This meant – if the Dragoons had several pre-loaded cylinders per revolver – that the entire unit could reload their two-per-man weapons in about a minute, then ride back into battle. However, reloading the five cylinders took a trained man less than two minutes, so either way, they'd soon be back in the fight.  Again, they’d stop 100 yards out from the winded and increasingly demoralized Mexican soldiers, fire their quick five or 10 rounds of aimed fire, then again withdraw to reload their cylinders. As long as their powder and cast-lead bullets held out, those Dragoons could keep this up indefinitely – without risk of injury to themselves – but with deadly impact on the Mexican soldiers.

That is why Captain Walker so desperately wanted those Colt revolvers for his Dragoons. These five-shot revolvers were the first example of firepower being used as a “force multiplier” – a common concept today, but one totally unknown before 1846.

This revolutionary weapon was only possible because three strangers came together for a common cause.  Eli Whitney Jr. continued his father's course as an inventor and industrialist, a pioneer in manufacturing of goods both civil and military.  And Sam Colt went on to lead a revolution in what both soldiers and civilians could do to protect themselves from the hostility of others.
However, there’s a sad footnote to this story: Captain Sam Walker died in combat before the revolver that bore his name could be delivered to his unit. Yet Captain Walker lived long enough to create a dual legacy – he re-launched Colt Patent Firearms Company, which still makes precision firearms for the US Army today, and he served as midwife to the birth of the Military-Industrial Complex. 
And despite President Eisenhower's sage warning, this ability of Americans to produce the weapons they need won for us the Cold War, and allows us to remain as the sole world superpower, a force for good around the world.

Dr. Soheila Rostami – Great American Success Story

 A Refugee From Oppression Is a Role Model For the American Dream
 By Ned Barnett

America is a nation of immigrants, a nation built by people who fled oppression – political, economic, religious, ethnic or social – and came to America to build a new and better life … and along the way, to help build a newer and better America.

Our nation traces its colonial roots first to the Pilgrims who fled religious oppression to come to America, and carve a new country out of the wilderness.  In turn, they were followed by others who came here to escape religious or economic conditions in their homeland that kept them from creating the kind of life they’d dreamed of.  Catholics fled from Protestant England to help create the Maryland colony. Quakers fled the established Church of England to help found Pennsylvania.  Huguenots fled Catholic France to help create then-Dutch New Amsterdam (now New York) and New Jersey, and then a half-dozen other colonies.  Economic prisoners fled debtors’ prison to help create the Georgia colony.

This tradition remained strong after the Revolution, as new waves of refugee immigrants came to America, fleeing political, religious, ethnic or economic oppression from all over Europe, and then later from Asia.  Following each of the world wars of the 20th century, oppressed minorities migrated to America to create a new life.  Jews fleeing pogroms of the late 19th century, and the aftermath of Hitler’s “Final Solution” flocked to America, as did those who fled Communist oppression beginning with White Russians and continuing until the fall of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact – and they continue to flee from Cuba to this day.

This is a tribute to a more recent fugitive from oppression, a remarkable woman – Dr. Soheila Rostami – who, as a teen-aged girl, risked everything she had, including her life, to flee her country. She came to an America still suspicious of “Iranians,” seeking only the right to pursue a higher education, and the right to build a life based on freedom for her, and for the children she planned to have one day. 

While all refugees face hardships, few faced more difficulty than those fleeing from religious and social oppression in the Iran of the Ayatollahs.

Those like this young woman, refugees coming to America from Iran, took greater risks, and faced stiffer obstacles, than other refugees.  Free-thinking Iranians – those who chose to try and escape the oppression of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and his Islamic extremists – the strict and fanatical Islamic fundamentalists who replaced the Shah of Iran in the late 70s – not only had to find a way of escaping a country sunk into oppression and fighting a bloody war to the death with neighboring Iraq, but they had to come to a country which wasn’t always welcoming them. 

America had first abandoned the Shah – opening the door to Khomeini’s revolution – then suffered humiliation during the 444-day embassy hostage ordeal.  That crisis created ignorance, anger, humiliation and fear among Americans that unfairly raised our collective suspicions about all Iranians. 

For that reason, many Iranian refugees insisted on being called Persians, just to remove the “taint” of being known as Iranians in their new adopted country.

First, getting out wasn’t easy.  In the years after the fall of the Shah and the rise of Khomeini and the Mullahs, Iran was largely surrounded by countries that did not welcome refugees.  The Soviet Union wanted nothing to do with people seeking freedom. Pakistan and Afghanistan were Islamic nations, largely supportive of the new Iranian leadership.  Iraq was at war with Iran, and that border was not only closed, but the site of warfare that killed millions on both sides.  Only Turkey seemed to offer a safe haven, but getting to that nation’s remote border, and then safely crossing the border, were both daunting challenges. 

It took a great desire for freedom, or a great fear of oppression, to risk Turkey.

Yet that is exactly what one young Iranian woman, Soheila Rostami, did, once it became clear that she would be denied both an education and even basic human rights, primarily because she was a young woman, and “too politically active.”  During the reign of the Shah, she attended private schools that mixed her education between English and Farsi.   However, the revolution occurred while she was in middle school, and while she was in high school, and despite her consistent top-of-her-class grades, it became clear that her desire to go to university was to be blocked, because of her religious beliefs, her ideology and gender – along with her belief that education should not be denied to girls.

With the help of her supportive parents, she fled Iran for Turkey, thinking she’d go to college in Turkey.  Airports were closed because of the war, and the road to Turkey was long, and dangerous.  Yet the danger of the trip was less than she feared the danger of staying might be.

In Turkey, she was lucky – it was akin to winning the lottery – and she obtained a student visa to come to America to study.  With that came the requirement that, to stay in the country, she had to stay in school, which raised the issue of Finance, and the near-impossibility of bringing funds out of Iran.  However, she was offered a series of scholarships to Howard University in Washington, based on her grades, which were exceptional.  This took her through her undergraduate years as well as her Medical School.   In 1992, scholarships for students here in America on student visas became a political football, and – in compliance with changing regulations – she was only able to receive a half-scholarship, which meant she had to support herself while going to Medical School – an difficult burden, but one she was able to overcome. 

Following medical school, she received internships at Washington Hospital and at Howard, followed by a University of Maryland Fellowship.  During her residency, she not only scored top marks again, but during her term as Chief Resident, she also gave birth to her son, Armon – she became a mother during her last week of Residency, proving again that she had remarkable talents to do what others deemed arduous.

Continuing with her work in medicine, she first received her “green” card, allowing her to remain in the country, and then to eventually become an American citizen.  Along the way, she discovered that, while she loves the land of her birth (though neither its leaders, nor their intense focus on fundamentalist Islam), she loves America far more. 

“It’s a wonderful country,” she says, “because of its freedom of speech and its freedom of ideology.”

To those who take America for granted, she says, “You don’t know what you have. Be happy for what you have – it’s wonderful to be here, with no gun to your head telling you what to do, or what to believe.  But,” she adds, “You have to keep it that way.”

She knows, because her birth-country once had those freedoms.  “It is easy to lose those freedoms,” she says, from experience.

While she’s proud to be an American, she has neither turned her back on her native country, nor its people.  She is on the board of a group, “Children of Persia,” which helps children in both America and in Iran.  Despite the embargoes against trading with Iran, those bans do not include humanitarian medical aid to the children of Iran.  Her group has a license from the U.S. government to provide that aid, which has helped to build, open and operate a children’s hospital in an impoverished part Iran. 

“Helping children in poverty is not ‘helping the enemy,’ and the U.S. government agrees with and supports our efforts to help children in need,” she explained. 

She also works with another organization, one dedicated to helping girls in Iran between the ages of 13 and 21, “girls who are helpless and who have been taken advantage of.”

She believes that women are the key to transforming the Middle East into modern and open cultures.  Right now, in Iran, “half the population there is treated like animals – it’s unbelievable to Americans raised in freedom and equality, but it’s true.  You have to wonder why the men do this – why they don’t have respect for their own wives, their own daughters.”

The Middle Class still care about their daughters, but they’re leaving Iran, or being forced out of the middle class.  The Working Class – who have been brainwashed by the government – don’t have the same attitude toward their daughters, which is troubling and puzzling to Dr. Rostami.

“We in Iran used to have the most advanced culture in the Middle East. We had women judges, women doctors, women in parliament.  However, little by little, women have been limited by what they’re allowed to do, and their rights are evaporating.

For instance, under the Islamic government, it takes the testimony of two women to “prove” facts in court, but it only takes the testimony of one man to prove the same thing.  So an assault against a woman must be witnessed by another woman – who is brave enough to testify to that fact – before any justice can be given. 

“Women in Iran still fight for their rights – but it’s an uphill fight against a downhill slide for the country.”  This is why Dr. Rostami works with causes that help those helpless girls and young women in Iran.

She and her husband and her two sons are a tight family.  “We are trying to create a ‘community center’ within our family, to show our children their heritage and their culture.  We wanted them to learn Farsi – our oldest son has learned to speak but not read Farsi, but not our youngest son.  Our sons right now are more interested in being Americans.  They face the problems faced by millions of first generation immigrants, such as acceptance by society, and “being American” helps them with that.”

As an American who’s proud of his own immigrant roots, and who is proud of a country that welcomes refugees yearning for freedom, I am proud to know Dr. Soheila Rostami, and I offer her example to all those who value America’s freedoms too lightly.

A Great American - What would Joe Foss do?

One Of America's Greatest Fighter Pilots is Also One of Our Best Role Models

Joe Foss was a poor kid from South Dakota, growing up in the Depression, when his dad died.

He had a dream, though - he'd met Charles Lindbergh in 1928 and seen a Marine Fighter Squadron barnstorming through his neck of the prairie in 1930 - and that dream required college - a tough act for a poor orphaned kid, but he managed to do it, earning both a bachelor of business administration and a private pilot's license.

His dream was to be a Marine aviator - but in those pre-war days, the odds against even qualified applicants were two in 100 - he hitchhiked 300 miles to Minneapolis, took the test with 100 young men, and was one of the two.

After completing training and a 9-month tour as an instructor (something only the best trainee pilots were assigned - and few liked) he was assigned to an observation squadron (aka "target") in San Diego instead of a fighter squadron - but he noticed that a lot of trainee aviators were "buying the farm" - he went to the base commander (a Navy Commander who hated Marines) and offered to trade duty as "funeral officer" for stick-time in a fighter. In three months, he racked up more than 150 hours in a Wildcat - that was more than 3 hours per day for 47 consecutive days (all while fulfilling his assigned duties as an observation-unit pilot AND funeral officer).

As the only carrier-qualified Marine aviator in San Diego, he was named Exec of a squadron about to sail into combat, even thought many thought of him as "the old man" - too old for fighter combat (he was 27 - average age of new fighter pilots, 23).

His first combat mission over Guadalcanal he had his engine shot out and made a "hot" dead-stick landing - but only after he'd shot down the first of many deadly Japanese Zeroes to fall under his guns.

The fourth time he was shot down, he realized that "one more and I'll be a Japanese Ace" - but by that time he'd shot down something like 19 confirmed first-line Japanese planes (mostly Zeros, piloted by the cream of the best in the Imperial Japanese Air Force - the Tainan Wing).

One time, after downing three or four Japanese fighters, combat damage to his engine forced him to ditch his Wildcat two miles of the beach of Malaita Island (about 50 or so miles from Guadalcanal). The plane sank fast, his foot caught in his seat, and before he knew it, he was 30 feet under and "breathing" seawater. Convinced he was going to die, instead of panicking, he calmed himself, figured out how to free himself and used his Mae West life preserver to get him back to the surface (breathing more seawater along the way). To tired to swim, he decided to float on his back until his strength came back - until he saw a couple of shark-fins. Then he saw a couple of canoes - convinced they were Japs looking for him, he decided to "face down" the sharks - until he heard an Australian voice and surfaced again. The next day, Major Mad Jack Cramm - the personal pilot to the Marine Air Commander (General Geiger) - taxied his PBY Catalina right up onto the beach to retrieve Foss - and two days later, he was back in combat, shooting down a couple more Japanese fighters in the process.

He finished his tour of duty with 26 confirmed kills - tying Eddie Rickenbacker (WW-I American Ace of Aces) - but unlike some self-centered Aces, Foss led a unit that fought with him - together with Foss, his flight (Foss's Flying Circus) shot down 72 confirmed enemies - literally all of those young-buck grass-green fighter pilots he'd brought into combat (except the two who didn't survive) became aces in their own right under Foss's masterful training and leadership. Aces like von Richthofen often couldn't remember the names of their wingmen - Foss made medal-bedecked aces of them.

His technique was simple - he flew so close to the enemy that he couldn't miss (of course, they couldn't, either, which is why he was nearly a Japanese ace, too) - his flight-members used to joke that he'd leave "powder burns" on his targets by holding fire until he was in slow-pitch softball range of his enemy. The results - 26 confirmed kills leading a team of eight "novice" pilots that together scored 72 confirmed kills - speak for themselves.

Amazingly, Foss did all this while flying a plane considered obsolete even before the war began (the F4F Wildcat was slower in level flight, slower in the climb and much less maneuverable than the Zero - it also had much less range). He was the highest-scoring ace in Marine history, and won the Congressional Medal of Honor - the highest award available to American servicemen (most who earn it do so posthumously).

After the war, a bureaucratic bungle denied him a "Regular" commission in the Marines - so he founded the South Dakota Air National Guard. He served in the regular Air Force in Korea, and retired a Brigadier General.

Retiring from the Guard, he became the Governor of South Dakota, the Commissioner of the American Football League, the host of two TV programs (running, together, for about 10 years) and - late in life (as in, during his 70s) he became President of the National Rifle Association.

At age 87, airport "security" in Phoenix (this was after 9/11) tried to stop him from boarding a plane for a flight to New York (where he was scheduled to address the Cadets at West Point) for carrying a "dangerous weapon" - the five-pointed star of his Congressional Medal of Honor.

What would Joe Foss do? Apparently, he laughed it off (I understand he actually let the idiot security guard live).

Now, when I'm in a tough spot, I ask myself, "what would Joe Foss do?" (hint - move in close before opening fire - never give up - never slow down - and never take "no" for an answer).

A Great American - Rehabilitating General-and-President Grant's Image

Our Most Misunderstood President Was Also One of Our Greatest Americans
By Ned Barnett 

Recently, I got into two unconnected discussions about Ulysses S. Grant, the first Lieutenant General in the US Army after George Washington, and the 18th President of the United States - and I've concluded that Grant has an image problem - a PR challenge for the ages. First, I'll give a lot of background (if you don't have the background, you won't be able to think about solutions), then I'll ask you to consider how Grant's image could be rehabilitated through PR.


As a General, many 20th and 21st century historians consider Grant a "butcher" for the way he won the Civil War, though the facts don't bear this out. As a President, Grant has often been considered both ineffectual as a leader and an amiable dupe of a group of corrupt men who stole the country blind while Grant presided in serene ignorance of their perfidy. Again, however, the facts don't bear this out.

Both of these charges were, in my opinion, politically motivated during Grant's lifetime for short-term political advantage by those who would attack his presidency, or by Confederates "smarting" over the way this uncouth commoner could have consistently whipped that epitome of the aristocratic Southern Gentleman, Robert E. Lee. More later on how and why latter-day historians came to the same unsubstantiated conclusions.

In the bloodiest war in US history, General Grant was remarkably economical of his soldiers' lives, and he felt their loss keenly (he was also "economical" of his enemies' lives - eager to end the war before more Americans from either side had to die). Grant fought but one battle where loss of life was excessive and preventable, and he never forgot that horror - or those bitter lessons - of Cold Harbor. Still, fewer soldiers died at Cold Harbor than died in Lee's last throw of the dice at Gettysburg (Pickett's Charge) or at Lee's own successful charge on Malvern Hill during the Peninsula (Seven Days) campaign. And of course, Lee presided over Antietam (or, to the South, the battle of Sharpsburg) - the bloodiest one day in American History.

Both of these great men felt their losses deeply, but in the cauldron of war, it was inevitable that each would have made mistakes that cost mens' lives. It is instructive that while Lee had relatively few of those awful days - Grant had only one day of disastrous casualties. Yet it is Lee who is remembered for the care in which he husbanded his troops - perhaps because he was more public with his feelings - while the more stoic but no less feeling Grant is unjustly smeared with the title "Butcher."

Lincoln, who deeply felt each American death (North and South), respected Grant as he respected no other man - and Lincoln was personally unable to support any man who was a "butcher." Once, when Grant's opponents in the war department snivelingly came to Lincoln claiming that Grant was a drunk (a calumny based on a bout of depression Grant experienced in the mid-1850s while he was in California in Army service, forced to be separated for years from his wife and children), Lincoln said, in effect, "What brand does he drink? I want to send a case to every one of my Generals."

While Grant was leading the Union Army during the last two years of the war, Lincoln was - along with Grant's home-town Congressman and friend, Elihu Washburn - Grant's strongest advocate. Lincoln was shrewd judge of character - he defended those, like Grant, who had the highest personal integrity, coupled with military effectiveness. And that support from Lincoln says more than anything else about Grant the man, and about Grant the General.

As a peacemaker, there was no-one more generous than Grant. For example, when Lee surrendered, Grant immediately ordered that Lee's men be fed from the Union's own stock of rations (not the typical action of a bloodthirsty conqueror). Further, out of respect, he ordered that Confederate officers - rather than going to prison for treason and rebellion - could keep their swords and sidearms (and their self-respect), and that all Confederates - regardless of their rank - could take their horses and mules home to facilitate the Spring planting.

Finally, in that surrender document, Grant specifically forbade the US government from arresting or prosecuting any surrendered Confederate for his role in the war, with that amnesty remaining in force for as long as that Confederate abided by the terms of the surrender (basically, to not take up arms and fight the American government anymore). This latter provision tied the hands of those in Washington who wanted to try and execute General Lee, at the very least.

As a President, Grant brought to an end the shameful "reconstruction" era in the South, and insisted that Southerners were once again Americans, with all the rights, privileges and obligations of American citizens. He was also the first president to specifically (and deeply) care about the fate of the Indians in America - he took positive steps to stop the war on the plains and bring an honorable peace between settlers and Indians, and to ensure their long-term protection of (and role in) America.

This wasn't a "new" position - on Grant's wartime staff, at a very high level, was an officer who was a full-blooded Native American - a man Grant treated as he did every other officer on his staff. This at a time when there was not only strong racial prejudice against Indians, but also at a time when the only Indians formally participating in the Civil War were Cherokees fighting on behalf of the Confederacy against the Union in the "trans-Mississippi" theater of operations (Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoman Territory).

Grant was equally concerned with the fates of former slaves, putting the full force of the Federal Government (including the Army) behind ensuring that these men, women and children had the rights of American citizens, fighting the rising tide that led, shortly after Grant's death, to the widespread adoption of Jim Crow laws. He had been one of the first (and relatively few) Union advocates of enlisting and arming "contrabands" - former slaves - during the war, and giving them the same status as white soldiers. This might seem all the more remarkable because Grant was no abolitionist and had even (briefly) owned a few slaves - gifts from his father-in-law, who was a prominent Missouri slave-holder. It's my personal belief that Grant's brief and painful experience owning another human being turned him against slavery and reinforced his view that all men were equal before God and should be equal before the bar of justice.

Grant did much that was good as President - so much so that he had to actively refuse a "draft" to make him the first American president to serve three consecutive terms (and if he'd accepted this draft, he would have won hands-down - he was that popular). He was also courted to run again after his successor's first term as President, and would have won had he run. In short, his fellow citizens - North and South - honored him despite the scandals (common to all Administrations in the era between Andrew Johnson and William McKinley) that never touched him. Nobody who knew him questioned his integrity - his biggest flaw was that he trusted men who'd once proved trustworthy, but who (tempted by money or power - usually money) had failed to live up to that trust. That is hardly the worst sin a sitting American President has committed.

Grant was a man of immense integrity and deep personal responsibility. Upon learning that he had throat cancer - the byproduct of his habit of smoking a dozen or more cigars every day - and knowing that he wouldn't be there to support his beloved Julia, Grant set out to write his autobiography, something his natural modesty had kept him from doing until necessity over-rode humility. It was and is one of the most honest and objective (and remarkably well-written) autobiographies I've ever encountered - certainly it stands head and shoulders above the rest of the General officers' autobiographies coming out of the Civil War.

To make this book happen, a Missourian and Southern sympathizer (though not a combatant) named Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) created a publishing company and borrowed against everything he owned to ensure the publication of this remarkable work - and he did this all long before a word had even been written. If that book had failed, Clemens would have been ruined - but thanks to the generous advance he had given to Grant, Mrs. Grant would have been provided for even if the book failed - though it turned out to be a huge best-seller. Grant finished this book barely two days before he died, and that honest work of self-exploration is a worthy monument to a great man's memory.

When Grant died, the largest parade in American' history was held, in New York City, to honor his passing. This funeral parade was decades after the Civil War, and more than a dozen years after Grant had last served as President - yet Americans, including tens of thousands of Americans not yet born when the Civil War ended, came out in unprecedented numbers to honor his memory. Leading that parade in Manhattan was a group of Confederate veterans - wearing the Gray one more time - honoring the man who defeated them in battle, but who then treated them so honorably and compassionately in victory that Grant stood higher in the minds of these ex-Confedrates than many of their own Generals and leaders.

When Grant's autobiography came out, it became the best-selling book in American history - except for the bible - which was and remains far and away the best-seller in American history. The public, though Grant was now beyond honoring, still poured out their love and regard for this brave and great man by buying his book in record numbers.

The judgment by those who knew him during his lifetime - and the judgment of the people he served and those who fought against him - was clear. Grant was a great general, a President of no mean accomplishment, and a man of the highest personal standards. Lincoln judged him the best man in uniform on either side of the war, and Lincoln had been burnt so often by his generals that he was not eager to praise any one of them. The people judged him as a President worthy of an unprecedented third term - and in death, long after he was out of the limelight, Grant was again honored as no other President has been who was not assassinated in office.

It was only a generation after Grant's passing that revisionist historians began to tarnish his name and reputation. They were eager for something new to say, and as a result they were equally eager to give life to the worst calumnies of Grant's contemporary political opponents. Being academics, they were eager to "say something new" so they could get published and earn tenure. For all the wrong reasons, these men, who were not worthy to polish Grant's mud-stained boots, began grinding away at this great man's reputation. With no contemporaries left to defend Grant, with no academics "with a dog in the fight" to dispute the lies, those lies stuck.


Failed President.



None of these calumnies, of course, were true, but "dish" is generally more salable than honesty and integrity. Fortunately, and more recently, yet another generation of historians have looked at Grant - this time through documents and statistics, and through the perceptions of those who knew him best. In doing so, they have once again completely revised "history's assessment" of Grant as General and as President, finding him to be worthy of admiration rather than condemnation, respect rather than contempt - yet to the public, his image is still tarnished, his name as mud-stained as his combat boots.


Which brings us back to the original question - what can be done to restore this great and good man's reputation? What can PR do in the face of generations of ignorance imposed on Americans by scholars' self-serving assessments and public schools' parroting of those assessments?