If you read last week?s front page, you are now aware of the Kagin-Manley decision. Covering that story occupied a huge amount of my time last week, including flying out to California early on Memorial Day.
What was on my mind? Was it who would say what, or what would the American Numismatic Association board?s decision be? Well ? those questions were on my mind eventually. But what was really on my mind as I traveled was John Adams. I took advantage of the long flight to finish the David McCullough biography of our nation?s second President.
I recommend the book to everybody. It is well worth the effort to digest its 651 pages. I am grateful to Brad Karoleff for having recommended it to me while I was attending the Central States Numismatic Society convention earlier in May. He thought it might help rebalance my negative views of Adams.
If a few more Americans are inspired by the Presidential dollar series to delve more deeply into history, it will be a good thing. The more we know about the nation?s Presidents and the times they lived and the crises they faced, the better for all of us.
My views of Presidents generally conform to those of history. George Washington was the first President and considered great. Abraham Lincoln is considered the greatest. President. Franklin D. Roosevelt is another great. I have read biographies of all three.
I have read biographies of other Presidents as well. Some are great. Some are controversial. But it is all history. Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan come to mind. I have also read the autobiographies of Bill Clinton and Calvin Coolidge.
Most people would ask why on earth I read the autobiograhy of Calvin Coolidge. Good question. All I can say is I read it many years ago and found much in it to recommend it.
Add in Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, Harry Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower and you get a fair flavor of what has caught my attention. I did not ever undertake a systematic approach to Presidential biographies.
One thing I cannot tell you is which serious biography I read first. I don?t remember. It might have been Ike. The timing of my education and Eisenhower?s life make him a likely candidate. I have four uncles who served in France during World War II. Ike as Supreme Commander of the Allies was certainly reason enough for me to look into what my uncles had been a part of in serving their country.
I certainly knew a lot about Eisenhower when he died in 1969 and it is why I made sure I visited a local bank when the Ike dollars were issued to circulation in 1971. Unlike my experience with the Kennedy half dollar, there was no line then to acquire Ike dollars.
I can also write that I stopped by a local Iola bank the first day the John Adams dollar came out May 17. I thought it so important to be able to write that I obtained the coins on the first day that I left my desk here that afternoon just to get it done. The second day wouldn?t do.
Gratifying it was that the bank had the coins. It did not have the Washington dollar on the first day of issue in February.
So, I got the dollar coins. I read the book. Now what do I think? Well, I hope all collectors will do this, too, and make their own historical judgments. I reread my May 8 column just to remind myself of what I had written about John Adams.
I see no reason to change anything that I wrote, but follow-up comments are warranted. John Adams was a great man. He was a true patriot. He did great things. He might have been indispensible. But his prickly personality leave him wide open to columns such as I wrote. He sometimes acted as if he were jealous of the other great men and true patriots of his time. That is too bad, but it was part of the man and his achievements.