Early Life And Military Services Of General Jacob Dolson Cox -- By: William C. Cochran
BSac 58:231 (July 1901) p. 436
Early Life And Military Services Of General Jacob Dolson Cox1
Because we do not know on what meat our Caesars feed, we often fail to derive the inspiration we should from the lives of ancient heroes and statesmen. If we do not know the exact conditions under which their lives were wrought out and success achieved, or if such conditions differ essentially from those of to-day, we are not apt to look to them for guiding principles by which to shape our own lives. If we find that a successful man had great advantages in early life, such as wealth, noble birth, or the commanding influence of family, we are apt to say, “That explains his success,” and to look no further. Washington, whose natal day we celebrate, was of distinguished lineage, inherited a large estate, and was indebted to the influence of his family for a major’s commission at the age of nineteen, and his appointment as commander in-chief of the Virginia forces at the age of twenty-three. How can a young man without wealth or influence hope to emulate the life of Washington? He is apt to overlook the sterling qualities and marked individuality of the man, as developed in after life, to which alone he owes the greatest title ever conferred on mortal man, “First in War, First in Peace, and First in the Hearts of his Countrymen.” On the other hand, no boy born of honest parents ever had a poorer “start in life” than Abraham Lincoln. Not one of us can say, “I could be as great as he was, if I had his advantages.”
BSac 58:231 (July 1901) p. 437
The subject of this sketch is another man, who, without any advantages of birth or fortune, without any exceptional opportunities, achieved distinction in half a dozen walks of life, wholly unrelated to each other, and served his country well in its greatest hour of need. His career suggests the following questions: How did it happen that a man who had no professional training and no aspirations for military glory, became a Major-General and the most illustrious volunteer officer that the war produced? How did it happen that a man who had not been in the State of Ohio for eighteen months, and did not know so much as the names of party “bosses,” was nominated for Governor of Ohio by acclamation in June, 1865? How did it happen that a man who had voluntarily turned his back on politics and devoted himself to the practice of his profession was appointed Secretary of the Interior in 1869? How did it happen that a man who had no previous railway experience and no capital, was elected President of one of the great trunk lines of railway in the fall of 1873? How did it happen that a man who had not made teaching his profession, was tendered the presidency of five d...
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