July 8, 2021
Chevy Chase, Maryland
Six years ago, in April, 2015, I came across a microfilm article from the Richmond, Virginia Times-Dispatch, dated June 1, 1913. It’s a round-up feature on some of the men recently elected to Congress who, it claims, never can become president of the United States. Emmett, much to his chagrin, was one of the featured statesmen.
I can’t say that I blame Emmett for wanting to protect his professional progress; it wasn’t so much that his candidacy for U.S. Congress was necessarily hard-won (he was, after all, hand-picked by the state political kingmaker and de facto Democratic party leader, Pensacola Journal publisher Frank Mayes); but, Emmett was ambitious, and (before 1907, anyway), a nobody in either Pensacola or West Florida politics. It wasn’t that Emmett didn’t work hard for what he had — he did — but after he was elected to Congress, it’s apparent that even he knew he was in over his head, and it scared the crap out of him.
To be clear, I didn’t glean that entire point of view just from this one article; as we’ll see in the upcoming chapters that span Emmett’s career between 1907 and 1910, you’re going to see just how hard it was for Emmett to move from being an unknown to a man of consequence.
And at barely 30 years old. Really.
Emmett was the youngest elected U.S. Congressman when he was sworn in, in March 1913. I can’t blame him, then, for wanting to protect what must have been a fragile image he was trying to maintain. I would likely respond in a similar impatient way, too, if I was regularly asked if I were not truly a U.S. citizen, and I had to repeat the same information.
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