Editorial

Presumably by an editor of the Jackson Daily News

 


JAMES K. VARDAMAN
(An Editorial)

   James K. Vardaman is dead.

   The man who for a quarter of a century was the most dominant
figure in public life in Mississippi has solved life's greatest mystery - Death.

   In many respects he was a remarkable personality.

   No leader ever lived in this commonwealth who commanded a more enthusiastic following.

   His ability to stir the masses was an asset that others who aspired to places of honor truly envied.

   James K. Vardaman inspired among his friends and followers a devotion that was but little short of idolatry.
 
   On the stump he attracted and held fascinated multiplied thousands while opponents were speaking to mere hundreds.

   Especially was this true in the hey-dey of his career.

   That he was an orator, self-trained in the art of swaying vast crowds, cannot be disputed.

   That he had within him elements that drew many men to him as with hooks of steel is beyond cavil or doubt.

   The secret of this was that he was at all times loyal to his friends, for he truly believed that his friends possessed more merit than some other men's friends.

   His public career was stormy and tempestuous. He was always in a fight for he was by nature a fighter and loved to battle with opposing hosts.

   That he made mistakes is frankly admitted by those who stood closest to him in his various combats, but they never doubted his earnestness or sincerity.

   Vardaman reached the Zenith of his political career in the memorable campaign of 1911 when he was swept into the Senate after a frenzied three-cornered battle with LeRoy Percy and C.H. Alexander by a majority of 60,000 votes. It was a marvelous victory. Needless it is to discuss the issues of that campaign, or review their merits. Vardaman was the victor, the idol of the masses.

   What happened thereafter is a part of political history still fresh in the public mind. Vardaman was opposed to the World War. Although he had been a soldier in the Spanish-American event, he hated war with a fierce intensity-a hatred so outspoken that one could hardly doubt its sincerity.

   But the American people, including Vardaman's own following in Mississippi, favored the war, and Vardaman's political sun sank rapidly. In the campaign of 1918 he went down in defeat before a younger opponent. Sick in mind and body, discouraged and disillusioned as many men are after long and stormy political careers, Vardaman retired to private life. Over-persuaded by loyal and devoted friends, he tried to stage a comeback when John Sharp Williams retired from the Senate, but without avail. The Vardaman of 1922 was not the earnest, passionate, picturesque and persuasive Vardaman of 1911. Again a younger opponent triumphed.

  The Daily News for more than a quarter of a century was arrayed. against the issues and principles advocated by Vardaman. He was never the political or personal friend of its editor. And yet this writer must confess that at all times he cherished a secret admiration for "The Great White Chief," and marvelled at the man's magnetic personality, his glittering rhetoric, his well-rounded sentences, his beautiful oratory, his ability to stir the masses as they had never been stirred before.

   Vardaman was self-educated, yet he had a powerful, well-trained and ever-active mind. He delved deep into classic literature. Poetry was his passion. He dearly loved rhythm in language. He thought independently, if not always clearly, with originality and imagination, and with the courage of conviction. These priceless gifts were sustained by an extraordinary power of acquisition. He was tenacious to an extreme degree. He never compromised an issue, asked for an armistice, or sent out a flag of truce when engaged in battle.

   History must accord to James K. Vardaman a high place. He was a most unusual and extraordinary man. He had to be in order to win for himself the place he so long held in the hearts of people.

   To paraphrase a sentence Vardaman often quoted:
   "His faults we write on the sands; his virtues we crave on the tablets of our memory."

 

 

Original Article