The Type Of Qualities We Once Looked For In American Politics

Vanished Qualities And Standards In Filling A Political Office

When the president gets to choose a vacancy for a governmental office, shouldn’t the criteria used to fill that position sound something like this:

“In my nominations of persons to fill offices in the Judicial department I have been guided by the importance of the object. Considering it as of the first magnitude and as the pillar on which our political fabric must rest I have endeavored to bring into the high offices of its administration such character as will give stability and dignity to our National Government and I persuade myself they will discover a due desire to promote the happiness of our country by a ready acceptance of their several appointments.”

How eloquent.

Who said those poignant words? No, not Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Barack Obama or Donald Trump. It was our first and possibly most underrated President, George Washington.

President George Washington may not be considered an intellectual by historians, but he was a great leader who surrounded himself with able men. Washington’s sentiments were laden with sincerity. President Washington wrote these words describing the qualities he looked for in nominating James Duane (1733-1797) to become the first District Judge of the District of New-York in 1789. The Senate confirmed Duane the day after his nomination.

James Duane

James Duane was a lawyer, jurist and mayor of New York. In his Memoir of the Honorable James Duane by Hon. Samuel W. Jones, Duane was described thus:

“He was of a kind cheerful and social disposition fond of society and well calculated to bear a prominent part in it whether the amenities and courtesies of life were required to be exercised or whether grave matters of business were topics of discussion.”

A philanthropist, jurist, patriot, abolitionist and former mayor of New York, James Duane is mostly forgotten today with the exception of one extrinsic association.

Duane Street in lower Manhattan is named after James Duane. The next block along Broadway is Reade Street named after Joseph Reade. A drug store started business on this stretch of Broadway in 1960 and was named- you guessed it- Duane Reade, which now has over 150 stores in the New York City area.

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