“Tell my story” is a blog about my ongoing research and work toward completion of a biography on Emmett Wilson, a US Congressman from Pensacola, Florida, representing the (then) Third Congressional District, between the years 1913-1917.
This is more than a professional project (i.e., one that fills tenure requirements at my institution); I recently discovered that Emmett and I are cousins, and that he and I have a lot in common, even though he has been deceased for almost 100 years. Doing Emmett’s research has taught me a lot, not only about the history of the times, but also about human nature and perceptions; how far we’ve come in understanding the pressures and experiences in life that shape character, and how far we still have to go in simple understanding of each other.
Emmett’s career was on a fast track; he was talented, intelligent, and ambitious. However, despite his personal and professional ambitions and talents, his quick and spectacular political career-in-progress was brought to a halt.
As his star was on the wane, those closest to him, colleagues, friends and family, washed their hands of him for a variety of reasons.
It is not my intent to judge the actions of others that took place 100 years ago; and yet, it is clear that no one understood the issues with which Emmett wrestled, mostly in private. Because much of his struggle was unspoken (again, as was typical of the times), he was left to deal with it as best he could, by himself. His way of dealing with his issues, unfortunately, led to his death, at age 35, less than 18 months after his return to Pensacola from Washington.
My purpose is not only to tell his story, but also to honor his life, which, regardless of how he died, had purpose, meaning, and significance.