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Archive for the ‘personalities’ Category

JOHN ADAMS Sr. (1735-1826) American

2nd US President

 

Son of a farmer and a deacon he was born to a modest family. His father expected him to become a minister, but Adams had doubts. After graduating in 1755, he decided to become a lawyer and studied law in the office of James Putnam, a prominent lawyer in Worcester. He was on the rise in his practice when Revolution intervened. He was 39 when he took his seat n the first Continental Congress (1774)and 66 when he finally returned to private life. One of his important contribution to the nation was to steer the Declaration of Independence* through congress. He served as Vice President under George Washington and later as the Second President of the new Nation, more or less continued Washington’s policy. He made the presidency the example of republican values and stressing civic virtue he followed his lead in staying out of the French and British war. Some historians consider his worst mistake was in keeping the old cabinet, which was controlled by Hamilton, instead of installing his own people, confirming Adams’ own admission he was a poor politician because he “was unpractised in intrigues for power.”

Elected by the Federalist he was more in tune with Thomas Jefferson (who was his vice President) than with Hamilton. His refusal to be drawn into a war with France while the Federalists were anti-French, cost him a second term as the president.

Note*:

Declaration of Independence

On June 7, 1776, Adams seconded the resolution of independence introduced by Richard Henry Lee that “these colonies are, and of a right ought to be, free and independent states,” and championed the resolution until it was adopted by Congress on July 2, 1776.

He was appointed to a committee with Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Robert R. Livingston and Roger Sherman, to draft a Declaration of Independence. Although Jefferson primarily wrote the document It was Adam’s vigorous defense and efforts that got it passed in the Congress. Many years later, Jefferson hailed Adams as “the pillar of [the Declaration’s] support on the floor of Congress, its ablest advocate and defender against the multifarious assaults it encountered.”

 Trivia: He was the first President to occupy the White House.

 

 

(For the portrait of the President see My latest Portraits posted earlier in the day-b)

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Akbar the Great

Abbas I of Persia

Jon Adams Sr. Second President of the US

 

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KING ABDULLAH I   (1882-1951) Jordan

Ruler

 Abdullah I bin al-Hussein is considered the founder of modern Jordan belonged to the Hashemite that had ruled Mecca under Ottoman suzerainty. From 1909 to 1914, Abdullah sat in the Ottoman legislature, as deputy for Mecca, but allied with Britain during World War I. Between 1916 to 1918, working with the British guerilla leader T. E. Lawrence, he played a key role as architect and planner of the Great Arab Revolt against Ottoman rule.

He was the ruler of Trans-Jordan* first as Emir under a British Mandate from 1921 to 1946, then as King of an independent nation from 1946 until his assassination.

Abdullah, considered a moderate by the West did not sign a separate peace agreement with Israel due to the Arab League’s militant opposition. Because of his dream for a Greater Syria comprising Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon, and the British Mandate for Palestine under a Hashemite dynasty many Arab countries distrusted Abdullah and in return, Abdullah distrusted the leaders of other Arab counties.

On 20 July 1951, Abdullah, while visiting Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, was shot dead by ‘a Palestinian from the Husseini clan’.

Note*:Trans-Jordan

When French forces captured Damascus at the Battle of Maysalun and expelled his brother Faisal, Abdullah moved his forces with a view to liberating Damascus, where his brother had been proclaimed King in 1918. Having heard of Abdullah’s plans, Winston Churchill persuaded Abdullah not to attack Britain’s allies, the French. Abdullah agreed and was rewarded when the British created a protectorate for him, which later became a state: Trans-Jordan. With the help of the British, Trans-Jordan declared independence on 25 May 1946 as the Hashemite Kingdom of Trans-Jordan (renamed Jordan in 1949).

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Abbas the Great

ABBAS I THE GREAT OF PERSIA (1571 – 1629)

Ruler.

 

Abbas of the Safavid dynasty, the third son of Sultan Mohammed Shah, came to the throne in 1588, at a critical time. He had to restore internal security and reassert the authority of the monarchy.

The Turkmen tribes (known as the Red heads or Kizilbash) constituted the backbone of Safavid military strength and they proved unreliable. They were in the matter of time, counterbalanced by the standing army of his ghulams (slaves) mainly of descendents of Georgians, Armenians and Circassians who had been brought to Persia by his predecessors. They were appointed governors of crown provinces.

He was the first king to create a standing army. Next he strove to expel Ottoman and Uzbek troops from Persian soil. In 1598 Uzbeks were defeated and Khorasan was annexed. From 1602 onwards he waged successful wars against the Ottomans and recovered the territory lost to them. After his victory over Uzbeks, he transferred the capital from Kazvin to Isfahan. He made the city one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

His reign was a period of intense commercial and diplomatic activity. It also marked a peak of Persian artistic achievement. The production and sale of silk was a monopoly of the crown. Under his patronage carpet weaving became a major industry. Fine Persian rugs were exported to Europe along with other items like textiles, brocades and damasks of unparalleled richness of colour and design.Paintings, illumination of manuscripts, ceramics the works of his period  make his rule exceptional.

He was courageous and energetic ruler with a zeal to justice and welfare of his subjects. He showed unusual religious tolerance, granting privileges to many Christian groups. Notwithstanding he tarnished his reputation by the murder and mutilation of many members of his family.

His traumatic childhood left him with a morbid fear of conspiracy. As time went that obsessive fear increased which caused him to put to death or to blind any member of the royal family who gave him anxiety in this regard. In this way one son was executed, two were blinded*.

His reforms contained within them the seeds of the future decay of both dynasty and state.

*Note: In the East blinding was a common practice,in the case of princes likely to be troublesome to the crown prince at a future date. A deep perpendicular incision was made down each corner of the eyes;the lids were lifted and the balls were removed by cutting the optic nerve and the muscles. Later under Caliphate passing a red hot sword close to the orbit or a needle over the eyeball sufficed. (ack: Burton’s Alf Laylah wa Laylah-footnote/vol .1)

benny

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Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

Printer, inventor, diplomat, founding father

Benjamin Franklin

 

Once early in his newspaper career he had to deal with the rival paper Mercury, which had the patronage of William Penn’s sons and Franklin as with many other patriots disliked their policies. One day a delegation of well meaning friends, Quakers, called on him at his house. They were there to warn him to moderate his political views. Anticipating what they were there for he invited them to stay for dinner, which consisted of some kind of mush and water. Franklin spooned the mush onto his dish and began to eat. His guests also tried to follow his example but they could not speak their point of view without getting the mush sticky in their throat. Franklin quietly tackled his food as he was well used to it. Finally the Quakers could not suffer the fare any longer and asked what it was.

‘You see what humble food I can live on,’ snapped Franklin, ‘He who can subsist upon saw-dust pudding and water doesn’t need the patronage of anyone.’

Note: There is a parallel to this in the life of Cato the elder. Plutarch writes about Marius Curius, a neighbour of Cato who had in his day scored a great victory over the Samnites. This War had lasted 298-90 BC. His simple living and hard work were well known. He continued to live in his humble cottage, working over the little patch of his land with his own hands even after he had celebrated his three triumphs. It was here that the ambassadors of the Samnites had found him sitting in front of his hearth boiling turnips. They offered him large sums of gold, but he sent them away, telling them that a man who could be satisfied with such a meal did not need gold.

 

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I n t r o d u c t i o n

 

What is an anecdote? It was the redoubtable Dr. Johnson who in his Dictionary (1755) defined the word as ‘something yet unpublished; a secret history.’ On the anvil of usage a word gets beaten till it comes to mean quite something else. The doctor as concession to vagaries of time, in a later edition amended the definition as follows: ‘A biographical incident; a minute passage of private life.’

 This second book of the Representational Man contains more anecdotes and the intent is same as the first.

Man as a key and symbol. Since we come with a physical and inner life should we not be represented both visible and in inner life as well? The representational men ought to serve as a key to our inner life or our lives in the spirit.

No action of man can be understood without asking what his motives were. Why did VI Lenin resort to a violent overthrow of the Tsars while MK Gandhi adopted non-violence as his weapon? This can only be understood by the role ethos shaped their thinking. Ethos is defined as the disposition, character, or fundamental values peculiar to a specific person, people, culture, or movement. (AH dictionary)

Alexander of Macedon is a representative man for the ilks of Julius Caesar and Napoleon whose fame and fortune are all hitched to the physical world. Their actions also prove where their emphasis lay. For the Great Soul as MK Gandhi is called, ahimsa was an article of faith and for this he owed to the teachings of Gautama Buddha and to the epics. Prince Siddhartha Gautama forsook his kingdom and the worldly advantages and yet became a representational man. He turned his loss to advantage. He became the Buddha after he put his finger on the pulse of our existence to show us a way forward. For all those who value a life in the spirit he is a representational man.

Conquerors of world empires or of our hearts and minds, prophets or saints, fools or sages have all made their mark using the same arena, the earth. Only they placed their emphases differently.

Spirit of the times is the oxygen we breathe even as they and yet we see our world through their eyes.

Diogenes of Cinope could tell Alexander to keep out of his sun because he saw his circumstances under the sun applicable to the great man as well. How come they are representational men and we are not? We are connected to representational men because we breathe the same air and create the spirit of our times in the manner we contribute however small, for the common fund. And yet we often forget what spirit we are made of; neither we cash in on the wisdom which the representational man has well made use of. Representational man in a manner of speaking is our admission we fell back in the race of life.

If we are not true to our own thoughts we are reduced to deal in second hand goods passed on by others. If we have failed to think noble thoughts or act upon them we may be forced to settle for the second best which another has thought for us. It is in this context we look up to the representational man who has succeeded where we never even tried.

I shall end this by quoting two authors who more or less approached study of history from focusing on men who made history. Scholars of present day history may not fully endorse their approach but the following quotes suit my purpose well.

My intent is not to write histories but only lives. For the noblest deeds do not always show mean virtues and vices but sometimes a light occasion, a word or some sport makes man’s natural dispositions and manners appear than the famous battles won…”

(Plutarch-The Life of Alexander)

“No great man lives in vain. The history of the world is but the biography of the great men”.

(Carlyle)

(This is selected from my book: Representational Man in two volumes-self published through http://www.lulu.com)

Benny


 

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32nd  President of USA

In his day FDR  was the bugbear for great many who called him, a dictator, a charlatan, a grinning poseur. For others he was a friend of the poor, the champion of the minorities, the defender of Labour, the patrician saviour of Capitalism, the inspiring architect of the Allied victory and a prophet of a new world order under the aegis of the UN.

For foes and friends alike the truth remains undisputed: his impact on the modern world shall endure. When he died William S. White observed, ‘ it seemed as if history itself had died’.

A cousin of President Roosevelt, and the only son of James and Sarah Delano Roosevelt he was the quintessence of social privilege and wealth. Having passed his bar exams,he accepted in 1910 an offer  to run for the NY senate. One found him at first, ‘ a spoiled silk sort of guy. But he was amassing quietly his political capital that would when time came confound his detractors. He became assistant Secretary of the Navy under President Wilson. It proved to be his baptism of fire in the use of political strategy and of persuasion in an  executive  position.

At the Democratic convention of 1920 he was chosen as the running mate of James M.Cox from Ohio. His setback was further exacerbated by infantile paralysis in Aug,1921. It in a way gave him a new perspective, -compassion as well as steely resolve,  and while ‘lying there, he grew bigger day by day.’. The year 1924 marked his return to national politics. He became the Governor of New York( ’28). With the onset of Market crash of 1929 it was clear to him new alternatives were needed. In 1930 during his campaign for selection he promised a ‘New Deal.’ With a stunning victory he set forth a new credo of government and economy for the State of New York. His eyes were already set for Presidency since President Hoover was already beaten by the march of events. Carefully FDR prepared his moves that would lift him to the White House. His New Deal was a call to arms rather than a political campaign.For the nation’s 14 million unemployed, Roosevelt’s attack on irresponsible Corporate interests his credo constituted a thrilling new chapter in political leadership .

Inaugurated on March 4, 1933 FDR closed the banks for 4 days and his New Deal in practice showed the nation could be saved. Farmers were given a boost   with the passing of the Emergency Farm Mortgage Act, which stopped foreclosures, and authorized Federal refunding of the mortgages; on May 18, the Tennessee Valley Authority came into being; on May 27, Trust and Securities Act, House Owners Loan Corporation(June,13). In Hundred Days he had three other major Acts passed (June16)-and his New Deal was a concrete example of his vision. (To be concluded)

 

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