Jon Meacham – Quotes from ‘The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels”

“If we expect trumpets to sound unwavering notes, we will be disappointed. The past tells us that politics is an uneven symphony” Franklin Roosevelt

This book is a portrait of hours in which the politics of fear were prevalent – a reminder that periods of public dispiritedness are not new and a reassurance that they are survivable. In the best of moments, witness, protest, and resistance can intersect with the leadership of an American president to lift us to higher ground. In darker times, if a particular president fails to advance the national story – or worse, moves us backward – then those who witness, protest, and resist must stand fast, in hope, working towards a better day……   History hangs precariously in the balance between such extremes. Our fate is contingent upon which element – that of hope or that of fear -emerges triumphant.

President Harry Truman’s call for outlawing lynching and discrimination in hiring “would undermine the American way of life and outrage the Bill of Rights.” Strom Thurmond

Fear is prevalent when too often, people view their own opportunity as dependent on domination over others, which helps explain why such people see the expansion of opportunity for all as a loss of opportunity for themselves.

Old times there would not be forgotten. “The ‘Lost Cause,’ ” Pollard wrote needs no war to regain it. We have taken up new hopes, new arms, new methods.”

Arthur Schlesinger: The genius of America lies in its capacity to forge a single nation from peoples of remarkably diverse racial, religious, and ethnic origins.

Teddy Roosevelt- “The only safe principle upon which Americans can act is that of “all men up, not that of some men down.” …. I have an abiding faith in the generosity, the courage, the resolution, and the common sense of all my countrymen.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt: The Presidency is not merely an administrative office. That’s the least of it. It is more than an engineering job, efficient or inefficient. It is pre-eminently a place of moral leadership.

Eleanor Roosevelt – It is not so much the powerful leaders that determine our destiny as the much more powerful influence of the combined voice of the people themselves.

Saint Augustine spoke of life as a pilgrimage from darkness to light: “The education of the human race, represented by the people of God, has advanced, like that of an individual, through certain epochs, or, as it were, ages, so that it might gradually rise form earthly to heavenly things, and from the visible to the invisible.”

“He was impatient, overly aggressive, overly dramatic. He acted on impulse. He tended to sensationalize the evidence he had… He would neglect to do important homework and consequently would, on occasion, make challengeable statements.” Roy Cohn on McCarthy.