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The struggle between neutrality and those who believe Britaina€™s war is our war too intensifies during the summer of 1940, with American heroes like the eighty-year-old General John a€?Black Jacka€? Pershing speaking out insistently on behalf of aid to Britain. 1940 is an election year, and President Roosevelt, seeking an untraditional third term in the White House, is hesitant to support Churchilla€™s Britain too strongly as he faces the most serious opponent of his lifetime, Republican dark horse Wendell Willkie whom many Americans like and admire. FDRa€™s alter ego Harry Hopkins is one of the administrationa€™s most controversial figuresa€”part New Deal champion, part political hack.
A warm glow spread through me, and I was ready to climb off my high horse, but now Hopkins was frowning. I had one thing left to do: cancel my New School course and apologize to the students I was leaving in the lurch. I got a platter of doughnuts for my students and explained the situation as they showed up.
Chamberlain returned home to a sensational welcome, waving a scrap of paper he called a€?peace with honor, peace in our time.a€? Churchill called it unmitigated defeat. His words thrilled me, but Charles Lindbergh, a universal hero if we had one at the time, called for neutrality instead, and flew to Nazi Germany for a red-carpet tour of the Luftwaffe that had been poised to bomb Paris and London. For the next few years Lindbergh will be neutralitya€™s champion, and the leading spokesman for the isolationist a€?America Firsta€? movement opposing U.S. Chamberlaina€™s policy of appeasement has failed abysmally, but the a€?phony wara€? he reluctantly declares on Germany neither saves the Poles nor incommodes the Germans for the next eight months.
On the afternoon of August 22nda€”the news of the German-Russian treaty had arrived that morninga€”Paul White of the news department of the Columbia Broadcasting System called Elmer Davis on the telephone.
Elmer Davis had continued to warn the public about the dangers ahead in articles like a€?We Lose the Next Wara€? in the March a€™38 Harpera€™s. The proposal for a popular referendum on the declaration of war implies a growing conviction that the people themselves should make the ultimate decision of international politics; but to make it intelligently we need to know more about the cost of wara€”and about the cost of trying to remain at peace in a world at war. There, set down twelve years ago, is a preview of the history of Europe after Municha€”a Europe which at the end of 1938 stands about where it stood at the end of 1811, with this difference: In 1811 England was not only the implacable but the impregnable enemy of the man who dominated the Continent.
1939 passes with Americans mainly at the movies, though, in what will go down as their best year ever. There is a vast difference between keeping out of war, and pretending that this war is none of our business. When Hitler invades the Low Countries and France, driving the British Army to the Channel, a new Prime Minister takes office, Winston Churchill. The stranger will never become a Baker Street Irregular, but he has come to New York on a wartime mission that will change Woodya€™s life. Churchill, overage and once-scorned maverick politician out of another era, seems to mean it, too. In New York, where much of Americaa€™s public opinion is made, unmade, and remade, two years of uneasy peace and agitation following the outbreak of war in Europe make for a turbulent climate, but one in which Mr.
Elmer Davis has some ideas about that last item, though he isna€™t prepared to share them with Chris Morley yet. Woodya€™s afternoon is not over, as Elmer Davis takes them from Christopher Morleya€™s shabby hideaway office on West 47th Street to the magnificence of his own club on West 43rd.
In the distance, beyond Fifth Avenue rushing by a stonea€™s throw away, lay Grand Central and the Chrysler Building rising beyond it. In Western Europe, the a€?phony wara€? smoldered through the winter of 1939-40, but with spring, Hitler invaded Norway and Sweden, and his blitzkrieg started its blast through Holland, Belgium and France. By mid-May, Ia€™d begun organizing a National Policy Committee meeting to be held June 29-30 under the title, Implications to the U.S. Beneath the ancient oak trees on Pickens Hill, we sat in a circle, each giving in turn his or her reaction to the very present danger of a Nazi conquest of Britain. Whitney Shepardson retired to Francisa€™ study and emerged with a brief declaration we called a€?A Summons To Speak Out.a€? Next day, Francis and I compiled a cross-country list of some hundred names to whom we sent the statement, inviting signatures. On the previous Friday, just before giving our release to the press for Monday's papers, I had telephoned Morse Salisbury at the Department of Agriculture: a€?Get me off the payroll this afternoon.
Woody, Elmer Davis, and Fletcher Pratt bring the BSI into the Century Groupa€™s proposal for the United States to exchange fifty mothballed World War I destroyers desperately needed by Britain for air and naval bases on British territories in the New World, a deal proposed by FDR before the disastrous summer is out, as the Battle of Britain begins. The Century Association continues today, but two venues that have disappeared are also part of this chapter.
Largely forgotten today, Billy the Oysterman was a Manhattan institution at the time, though West 47th Street was a second and newer location. The midtown Billy the Oysterman opened in the a€™Thirties and was managed very personably by Billy Ockendon Jr. In contrast to the original location, the West 47th Street Billy the Oysterman was an attractively modern place, with Walrus and the Carpenter murals on the walls. The other is Pennsylvania Station at Seventh Avenue and West 33rd, torn down in 1964 thanks to developersa€™ greed, but whose destruction led to preservation of many other architectural and historical landmarks in New York. A A A  A warm glow spread through me, and I was ready to climb off my high horse, but now Hopkins was frowning.
Many Americans are relieved by the avoidance of war, but how tautly nerves are stretched becomes clear when the Halloween War of the Worlds broadcast by Orson Wellesa€™ Mercury Theater of the Air panics radio listeners from coast to coast. A A A  His words thrilled me, but Charles Lindbergh, a universal hero if we had one at the time, called for neutrality instead, and flew to Nazi Germany for a red-carpet tour of the Luftwaffe that had been poised to bomb Paris and London. British Armya€™s hair-raising evacuation at DunkirkA  to avoid destruction or surrender, he was sent by Winston Churchill to New York with a top-secret job description emphasizing finding ways to circumvent the U.S. Smith is one of the commonest American names, causing the Irregular researcher tracing Edgar W.
Captain Joseph Smith was born on March 15, 1729, in Milford, Conn., and died there August 10th, 1810. In June 1775, the 5th was sent briefly to New York City, but by July began its northward trek along the Hudson River with two other Connecticut Regiments to invade Canada and secure Lakes George and Champlain. Although enemy action caused some casualties the regiment suffered greatly from severe weather and large numbers were discharged early due to sickness. As a small boy, Edgar knew his grandparents Charles Griffin and Ann [Antonia3] Eliza Smith, born in Connecticut in 1835 and 1839 respectively. Three years after their wedding, during President Grover Clevelanda€™s second term, Edgar W. By 1910, for perhaps some time before, the Smiths moved to 135 Rogers Avenue, Brooklyn, in a modest apartment house that was home to Edgar a considerable time. Edgar continued to write poems for his school friends after hea€™d graduated, to judge from not only The Ledger on the preceding page, but also the Eaglea€™s account of a dinner for the school magazine staff past and present: a€?Edgar W. But Dee Alexander believed that a€?it was at this newspaper where he first developed his love of writing. If, in addition to the conclusive proof already existing, further evidence of mana€™s animal origin were needed, where could it be more easily found than in the fact of the Continental war now raging? Edgar did not see the conflict in Europe in black-and-white terms, nor initially take the Alliesa€™ side against Germany. The possibility of war between the United States and Germany is not so extremely remote as many over-optimistic individuals believe. While my sympathies are with Germany in her present struggle for existence in the midst of foes outnumbering her eight to one, I would not hesitate for a moment to defend my own America against any aggression which any nation might undertake; yet, if war were declared by the United States against Germany on the grounds which now exist for such an act, I would be the last to raise a hand in my countrya€™s name.
Let those who cry for vengeance think first what sacrifices a war would impose, even though they be, as they must, but a small part of what Germany is suffering. My view of the torpedoing of the Lusitania is that the controlling authorities deliberately encouraged passengers to embark on a British ship loaded with contraband of war, and bound for a British port.
If, as many hysterical writers are intimating, the presence of American citizens on a British supply ship, such as the Lusitania, makes that ship immune to attack by the power with which England is at war, Great Britain could in this way protect every vessel in her fleeta€”warships, transports, passenger and ammunition boatsa€”by merely placing aboard each two or three citizens of the United States. To term the German methods of warfare a€?piracy,a€? a€?barbarisma€? and a€?murdera€? is ridiculous. The fact that I have not a drop of German blood in my veins exculpates me from any charge of prejudice.
But Edgar was made of brisk material, and his drive, studies, and business experience began to pay dividends. Armistice Day in Paris -- Home to a New Life -- General Motors Export Company -- Posted Overseas Again -- Organization Man & Free Trade Expert.
5 Both died when Edgar was in his late teens, his grandfather in 1911 and his grandmother in 1914. 6 In recent years the Paul Robeson High School of Business and Technology, which was reported in 2015 as scheduled to close.
15 We do know from the April 1912 Ledger that Edgar belonged to the schoola€™s literary society. 21 a€?A Terrible Glut of Murder,a€? dated August 31, 1914, in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, September 3, 1914.
22 a€?Approves Bryana€™s Stand,a€? June 15, 1915, in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 17, 1915. 23 a€?Justifies Germanya€™s Act,a€? May 25, 1915, in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, May 27, 1915. I have just put in the most wonderful day of my life; it is impossible to explain it all, or to tell how it feels, but I can at least recount my doings in more or less detail and let you judge for yourselves and guess at it. In the afternoon I went out in the car, took an American colonel aboard before I had gone a quarter of a mile and a British and a French soldier. The Place de la Concorde, which is the ceremonial center of the city, presented a scene indescribable.
We went back to the office, stopping every two seconds to shake hands with somebody or anybody, or to kiss his wife or sweetheart if she were along, and on arrival opened up a certain bottle which we have been treasuring nearly a month for just this occasion, and then F.
We went there ostensibly for supper, but when everybody is standing on the tables cheering and singing and laughing and weeping, it isna€™t quite possible to serve meals, so for an hour or more we helped them out with what they were doing. We finally got a taxi and the driver exacted a toll of 25 francs to take us to the hotel; and on arrival there driving off again and forgetting to collect. There are those, too, to whom the coming of peace means only a sudden keen realization of their losses which they have borne so bravely while the war has lasted. Except for home leave after the wara€™s end, Christmas 1918 and the first two months of 1919, he was in Paris until August the latter year, promoted to captain and supporting the Liquidation Commission created to resolve U.S. By family tradition Edgar met the 20-year-old Marthe Marcelle Trocqueme in Paris on Armistice Day, amidst the citya€™s jubilant celebration of the wara€™s end. General Motors, initially and in 1919 still, was a conglomeration of not always highly compatible companies and chiefs, headed by the redoubtable William Durant whoa€™d formed GM in 1908 after creating Buick.
He and his boyhood chum James Morris not only went to high school together, they were GM colleagues in New York in the 1920s, with Morris later reporting directly to Edgar there.
Edgara€™s November 1952 GM curriculum vitae says that his initial assistant manager position was with its Samson Tractor Sales Division. What it meant to be a junior executive there immediately after the World War is captured in the late Peter B.
This called for prodigious feats of organization and management, and GM found its leadership for that in two men. This was new, and very modern, and Edgar was one of the pioneers a€” though by personal inclination, he was not entirely a practitioner of his own doctrine. 1 This seems to dispose of the story of how Edgar met the French girl he would marry in 1919 as told by Thomas L.
2 a€?War Letters to The Eagle from Brooklynites Abroad,a€? Brooklyn Daily Eagle, December 8, 1918. 6 At the Mairie of the 11th Arrondissement, if anyone wishes to install a plaque commemorating the event, not far from the Cemetery PA?re Lachaise where Moliere, Chopin, Oscar Wilde, and many other notables rest. 7 See my BSI Archival History volume a€?Certain Rites, and Also Certain Dutiesa€? (2009), pp.
8 Eventually quite sophisticated in his command of French: see for example his January 30, 1939, letter to Christopher Morley in Irregular Memories of the a€™Thirties, p. 10 Like other Americans, Edgar could not have helped but notice in 1937 the a€?Worlda€™s Highest Standard of Livinga€? billboard, some 60,000 of which were put up by the National Association of Manufacturers, asserting additionally that a€?Therea€™s no way like the American way.a€? Today ita€™s known from Margaret Bourke-Whitea€™s photograph of it behind what appears to be a Depression breadline of Negroes, making a mockery of its message, but that seeming breadline was after flooding in Kentucky had driven people from their homes. 11 His 1920 passport application lists countries, cities and companies where he was expected to spend time in performance of his duties. 15 As a member of the Army & Navy Club myself, I wondered why they sought membership in it in 1938. He and his boyhood chum James Morris not only went to highA  school together, they were GM colleagues in New York in the 1920s, with Morris later reporting directly to Edgar there.
Churchill warns that the Battle of Britain is about to begin, and that a€?never has so much been owed by so many to so fewa€?a€”the RAF fighter pilots in their Spitfires and Hurricanes.
Widowed dowagers holding court in the lobby in long gloves and high collars eyed me disapprovingly through lorgnettes.


One thing Ia€™d want you to do is put together a weekly assessment of where the war stands.
I went down early the first night of class and put a note on the classroom door telling them to see me in the fifth-floor lounge.
Woody works out his frustrations on her, using Bentona€™s murals on the walls around them to heap scorn upon her politics. Poland falls, and after occupying its eastern half, Stalin attacks Finland as well, reported here by Elmer Davis whoa€™s become CBS Newsa€™ principal nightly news commentator. He can then, in dealing with a nation that has lost its charactera€”and this means every one that submits voluntarilya€”count on its never finding in any particular act of oppression a sufficient excuse for taking up arms once more. 9 covers a single but for Woody enormously critical hour of a late-June 1940 afternoon, at Christopher Morleya€™s hideaway office on the top floor of 46 West 47th Street. The description comes from a woman who did see and condemn it, the late Dee Alexander, Edgar W. One was the big frame and boyish face of Gene Tunney, but the other was a stranger, short and thin with a freckled face, blue eyes, and brown hair going gray. But America is still divided, and even Baker Street Irregulars may question how realistic this appeal for their help is, and how far the White House is prepared to go. Stephenson is quite prepared to operate -- and one not foreign to Woody either, no matter how exasperated he gets with Rex Stouta€™s stridency about it. Without a pause Elmer led me inside and across the lobbya€™s tiled floor to join the flow of men up the staircase beyond. Ia€™d enjoyed lunch there with Elmer, but never asked if law made one eligible; I doubted it did, short of Learned Hand. Inside a meeting-room, about ten men were talking in small groups, but I took in only the one glaring at us indignantly. Until that moment, none of us had quite recognized in our innermost selves the convictions we now found awesomely and unanimously evident: The United States must enter this war. Some recipients, like Warner and Wilson of our original group, could not sign because of their official positions. But when the group meets at the Century Association in New York, he is therea€”with Woody in tow. One is Billy the Oysterman, the West 47th Street restaurant a few doors down from Chris Morleya€™s hideaway office where the BSIa€™s leaders began to meet over lunch. The first Billy was William Ockendon, of Portsmouth, England, who came to the United States and set up his first small oyster stand in Greenwich Village around 1875.
It had a well-stocked bar, which of course mattered to Baker Street Irregulars, and a menu extending far beyond the oysters that had given Billy the Oysterman its start. It was popular with people at Radio City nearby, and also with Christopher Morley and Edgar Smith.
Smith strove to present himself as a common man, and there does seem to have been something commonplace about the Smiths of Connecticuta€™s New Haven and Fairfield Counties, beginning in the 1600s.
He served in the Fifth Connecticut Regiment, one of six formed in the a€?Lexington Alarma€? of May 1775, its history kept alive today by a volunteer regimental organization. The regiment received its first hostile fire from a force of Indians just prior to laying siege to the British fort at St.
Because they were enlisted only until yeara€™s end, the unit was mustered out by December 13, although some members remained in Canada to form part of a provisional regiment under David Wooster.
They were the children of Charles Sullivan and Anna Taylor Smith on his grandfathera€™s side and William A.
Smith returned to Connecticut, this time to the town of Bethel, but it was sometime after marrying a Brooklyn girl named Lillie Emma Wadsworth in March 1891. Perhaps his grandfathera€™s death prompted his familya€™s return to Brooklyn: he died that year prior to the census-taking in June, and his grandmother now lived with him and his parents until her death two years later.
Noteworthy about the Smiths now: hats as a livelihood had disappeared, for new careers in business, if low-level ones at this time. One is an existing copy of the April 1912 issue of the schoola€™s student magazine, The Ledger, with a number of references to him as a€?Smith, a€™11a€? (plus, below, a piece of humorous art and verse on which his distinctive signature is unmistakable). A tall, handsome boy of 16, he was art editor of the school paper, and a contributor of some note to the news and editorial pages.
They contain reports of Edgara€™s participation in amateur theatrics and song events, even, at least once, in a minstrel show,10 in part as a member of the Bedford Club of the Bedford Presbyterian Church, just a few minutesa€™ walk from his home. He also told me that he required little sleep and that he educated himself by reading books until 2 am every night. He began (perhaps had already begun) to take courses at New York Universitya€™s School of Commerce, Accounts and Finance, presumably at night. The struggle for existence and the survival of the fittest have everywhere marked the course of evolution.
Had Christ, the gentle Jewish reformer, lived to this day to see again, as so often in the few centuries since His death, His principles trampled upon, His ethics violated, His religion forgotten, how terrible would have been His agony! To the contrary, some ten months later he sent another letter to the Brooklyn Eagle expressing a view contrary to that, and his wish that the United States would stay out of the war.
No justifiable basis at present obtains, and I hold myself sufficiently independent of autocracy or of maudlin patriotism and bound strongly enough to the laws of humanity to refuse to fight in any cause which my reason tells me is unjust.
The German Embassy had forewarned Americans that the Lusitania, carrying such contraband, was liable to destruction, but despite this the Americans, at their own risk, took passage. If this were done, the moment one of her vessels foundered from the explosion of a German torpedo, ground for discord between the United States and Germany identical with that now existing would arise. I can therefore say, as a neutral, that he who refuses to sympathize with the cry of a€?Deutschland ueber Allesa€? must also disdain full accord with the slogan a€?America first.a€? Love of country is a noble thing, if sentimental patriotism be not carried to a hysterical prejudice against every other community. It may have been the revelation of the Zimmermann Telegram, in which Germany secretly promised Mexico the states of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona in exchange for joining Germany in war against the United States. In September 1917 he was plucked from the enlisted ranks and commissioned a second lieutenant.
A good general history of these campaigns is Conquered Into Liberty: Two Centuries of Battles Along the Great Warpath that Made the American Way of War by Eliot A. Dee Alexander worked for Edgar at GM from 1946 into 1949, and remained in the company beyond Edgara€™s retirement in 1954. Needless to say there was little work done, and when at the appointed hour the guns boomed all over the city and the sirens shrieked (no more with the message they formerly bore) it was the signal to turn loose.
A group of the wounded men who were convalescing, or who began to convalesce when the news came, wheeled one of their number in a chair up and down the block, the occupant of the improvised chariot of victory playing a corneta€”what could it be but the a€?Marseillaisea€??
Five small boys piled on the running boards and we made progress somehow or other through the cheering crowds surging all around until we became hopelessly entangled and stopped in a position from which we could not have been extricated for an hour. In the course of our progress home we went through a dense crowd at the Place de la€™Opera and about a hundred people seized the taxi, which was in gear at full speed ahead, and dragged it backward about half a block, assaulting me in the window (the captains were on the floor) with salutes of both a manual and osculatory nature.
Now that the fighting is over, it comes to them that they are alone, and that one of the contributing causes of all the celebration and joyousness was the giving of a life which they loved. The armistice terms are crushinga€”they have taken the very bones out of the structure of the German nation and leave her at the mercy of the Alliesa€”a mercy which they do not deserve.
There still remains much for the American Army to do in the way of occupation, readjustment and reconstruction. It has almost been worth all the long months away from home to have been herea€”the very center of the universea€”on the greatest day the world has ever seen, and to have been part of it. His immediate superior at the time was the last Second Assistant Secretary of War during the war years, Edward Stettinius Sr., previously president of the Diamond Match Company. General Motors Export Company had been created three years later with a staff of three and only $10,000 in capital, located in New York as the fulcrum point for American commerce abroad.
He applied for, and was accepted as, assistant manager of one of the GM Export Companya€™s sales divisions. Not only a young man of brains, energy, and pleasing personality, Edgar had prewar business education and experience, and had been an army staff officer in high-visibility wartime assignments in Washington and Paris, training him in the skills needed to organize and manage tremendous undertakings. Spivaka€™s chapter a€?Baker Street Industrialista€? in the third of my BSI Archival History volumes, Irregular Records of the Early a€™Forties. Russiaa€™s Bolsheviks and Whites were fighting a vicious civil war, with Russian aristocrats and democrats resettling in Paris in reduced circumstances. In the late 1930s and a€™40s, when he and Christopher Morley worked some ten blocks apart in that age of communications, with telephones on their desk, they habitually conducted BSI business with each other by letter, as often as three times a day.
On August 26, 1926, he was appointed assistant to the vice president for overseas operations. The letter was likely one to Edgara€™s parents at home, and made available by them to the newspaper.
What would have pleased Edgar was the family of four, plus dog (his family had one at home), being shown not in a kitchen with the latest appliances, or in a living-room with a console radio and perhaps a piano, but in an automobile, clearly taking to the highways for pleasure. Perhaps it was only, as their work took them to Washington more often, to have a congenial place to stay that was convenient to the State Department and other government offices. Nazi bombers attack London and other British cities as well as military targets, lighting up the night despite the blackout with burning buildings. The State Department and the Army and Navy have most of the dope youa€™ll need, and they wona€™t open up just to be nice. It was my favorite room, with the strong images and bold colors of Thomas Hart Bentona€™s a€?America Todaya€? murals on the walls. Short and stacked with long dark wavy hair and strong features bare of make-up, she was frowning and tapping her foot. For America, isolationist by instinct and neutral by law, the Sudetenland crisis during the summer of 1938 is the first great watershed.
Americans become polarized over the rights and wrongs of it, especially when Hitler starts demanding territorial concessions from Poland as well. On the contrary; the more the exactions that have been willingly endured, the less justifiable does it seem to resist at last on account of a new and apparently isolated (though to be sure constantly recurring) imposition. This point of view was ably expounded by the late Senator Borah on October 2nd, in his speech opening the neutrality debate.
Rough bookcases lined the walls, but books and papers were everywhere, including the floor. At the far end, Rex Stout sat in a dilapidated armchair with his feet on a footstool, arms around his knees. But at the end of May, Richard Cleveland, son of the former president and an attorney in Baltimore who had been the NPCa€™s first chairman, called me up to say he thought we should hold a smaller session on the subject, at once.
But on Monday, June 10, 1940, the New York Times and the Herald-Tribune carried the a€?Summonsa€? over 30 rather influential names from 12 widely separated states and the District of Columbia.
Davis knows them all, and one of the ringleaders was his cabin-mate on the boat to England when they were Rhodes Scholars at Oxford as young men. But the cautious Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies will turn into the much more assertive organization Fight for Freedom! These men participated in the ill-fated December 31 attempt by Montgomery and Benedict Arnold to storm Quebec City. His birth certificate gave his fathera€™s occupation at the time as a€?hatter manufacturer,a€? one of the towna€™s principal industries in those years. In 1904 Edgar acquired a sister, Dorothy,4 about whom little is known except that she was living unmarried with their parents at the time of Edgar S.a€™s death in 1941. Even at that age, he was extremely well read, articulate, and had developed a retentive memory. This became a lifelong habit.a€?18 The Eagle and possibly other jobs consumed three years following high school, and then in 1914 the young man, now twenty years old, started as a postal and telegraph clerk,19 and before long as a secretary, at the J. Civilization, itself a secondary redistribution of the forces of evolution, has somewhat tempered this perennial strife, but the great undercurrent of open battle, passed down through the centuries in the mind of man, lies ever relentlessly dormant and waiting the call to life. Yet, to make the Christian world forget, as it has, its leader, and to prove its hypocrisy, some stronger, deeper law than that of any religion must dominate all.
Bryan has made in resigning his portfolio as Secretary of State because of Americaa€™s meddlesome interference in foreign affairs.
As far as my ignorance permits me to judge, I should say that the enlistment of the United States as an ally of her dictator, Great Britain, would be of more good than harm to Germany. But it is necessary to examine how he felt and thought at this time, when Europe was at war and America was neutral, because he would find himself in a similar situation some twenty years later a€” and very challenged by its circumstances. After serving in the 305th Infantry Regimenta€™s headquarters company a while, he was transferred to Washington and the War Department itself, to work for the Second Assistant Secretary of War whose responsibility was procurement. His birth certificate gave his fathera€™s occupation at the time as a€?hatter manufacturer,a€? one of the towna€™s principal industries in those years.A  How long Edgar lived in Bethel is uncertain. Even now, at 2 oa€™clock in the afternoon of the next day, the parades and crowds are still thronging the avenue.


The clouds of four years and three months were blown away in ten minutes and the population simply went insanea€”and are still insane. According to the marriage announcement in the New York Times after he brought her home to start a new life together in America, her parents were M.
In the beginning, GM Exporta€™s energies were focused upon the sale of GM products through foreign distributors, but with the war over, its ambitions turned to establishing manufacturing operations abroad as well. In that job, and in other sales and junior executive posts at various European plants and at the home office, he became intimately acquainted with world trade problems. Samson Tractor, purchased in 1917 in order to compete with Ford in that market, was a signal failure, losing GM some $33,000,000 before being shut down for good in 1923. Edgar had also, Morris tells us, learned to speak French during his twelve months in Paris, and had a French wife to keep him in practice.
Spivak, a member of The Amateur Mendicant Society who had also been a Detroit lawyer and judge with both professional and marital connections to GM, was able to exploit for me its tightly-controlled archives for an account that must be one of the definitive Smith biographera€™s first stops.
Sloan, expand overseas, dazzle the public with its vision of the future at the 1939-40 New York Worlda€™s Fair, convert its vast industrial base to military production for Americaa€™s armed forces in World War II, and then convert it back again to consumer products after the end of that war, just as automobiles and modern highways began truly to transform American life. France and Britain were rubbing the new Weimar Republica€™s nose in Germanya€™s defeat, with Berlin thwarting their reparations demands by setting off the horrendous inflation that undermined Germanya€™s economy, facilitating the rise of both communism and fascism. Then on March 23, 1925, the family came home for good (now at 1355 East 16th Street, Brooklyn). This was no gofer job; it carried responsibility, authority, and promise, with the last starting to be fulfilled before the year was out, when Edgar was appointed additionally a director of GM Export Company. In 1937, the thought was still a stretch; but by the time Edgar retired from GM in 1954, he saw it come true, complete with automatic transmissions and air-conditioning, on the four-lane highways GM had predicted at the 1939 Worlda€™s Fair.
GMa€™s first assembly plant overseas was in 1923; by 1937 it was adding four new plants a year around the world, putting considerable stress upon the companya€™s organization and management ability. But there were equally congenial and convenient hotels nearby, so something more must have been involved. Britain and France go along with Hitlera€™s demands, brokering an agreement at Munich giving the vital strategic part of Czechoslovakia to Germany. This is only the first sip of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year, unless a€“ unless! In August 1939 Hitler and Stalin turn the entire world upside-down with their surprise non-aggression pact freeing Germany from the threat of a two-front war. Denouncing a€?the hideous doctrines of the dominating power of Germany,a€? he nevertheless contended that they were not an issue and seemed to see no ethical difference between the belligerents. And just as Woody receives a cryptic summons one day in June, after the fall of France, a great stirring in the land is beginning. Elmer occupied a smaller chair nearby, and Edgar Smith perched between them on an upturned beer crate.
After years of Downing Street appeasement, and Britain facing Hitler alone now, Churchilla€™s first hurdle is convincing America that Britain is finally determined to fight it out to the end.
Both Whit Shepardson and Francis Miller are foreign policy establishment figures whom Woody will also meet again in Washington, after America is in the war. Woody and smoky, comfortable rather than classy, with lumbering, loquacious waiters, it prospered too. And Edgar more than once obscured his own path through life by fostering an a€?up by his bootstrapsa€? tale about himself, among business colleagues, Baker Street Irregulars, and his own family.
Together with New York troops they engaged in a long siege that eventually led to the capture of Fort St. Edgar was five or six years old when his grandfather died in 1900, eight at his grandmothera€™s death in 1902. Smith from Brooklyn working towards a Bachelor of Commercial Science degree in the same years,20 but it indicates the kinds of courses that Edgar would have taken: book-keeping, accounting, finance, management, business law, advertising and marketing, economics, and English, all subjects reflected in Edgara€™s future life both at GM and in connection with the Baker Street Irregulars, Inc. Race hatred, politics, social broils, economic conditions, and usually, though, strange to say, not in this case, religion, may be the apparent, or even the proximate, causes of a war, but the great natural law that overshadows it all is the struggle for existence. Would the feeble strength of any paltry 40,000 we could send to aid the millions she is already staving off be felt? How long Edgar served there in Washington is unclear, but at some point in 1918 he proceeded to Paris as part of the Second Assistant Secretarya€™s office.25 It was his first of many transatlantic crossings to come. Francis Heitmana€™s Historical Register of the Officers of the Continental Army During the War of the Revolution April 1775 to December 1783 gives Captain Smitha€™s service dates as 1st May to 11 November, 1775. In the July 11, 1909 New York Times, when Edgar would have been between his sophomore and junior years, a news story entitled a€?On the Tennis Courtsa€? reports an Edgar W. One little midinette from the shops (of course nobody was working) wanted to see the guns fire, so H.
We finally got a room upstairs and I actually ate a plate of soupa€”then supper was entirely forgotten in renewed celebrations and libations. There will be other and more elaborate affairs, with bands and uniforms and orderly array, but nothing can ever compare with the spontaneity of yesterdaya€™s celebrations. We went into the war under the most propitious conditions; we came out of it when its effects are just beginning to be left.
Edgar landed in New York in August 1919 just as the General Motors Export Company was poised to pursue these ambitions. This firsthand experience laid the groundwork for his later prestige as an authority on international trade.
But the company did not hold it against Edgar, rightly seeing in him a GM man with a future. He was ambitious, and General Motors in 1919 was one of the most ambitious companies in the world. Born in 1884 in Cleveland, Mooney had a technological Case Institute education, and worked for a number of major corporations before 1917 when he joined the Army as an artillery officer. Murrow brings the Blitz into American homes nightly with his broadcasts from the streets and rooftops of the beleaguered city.
In those days I did relief work on the Lower East Side, and there were some pretty nasty gangsters around.
Instead of exaggerating his origins and education among colleagues with Dartmouth, Princeton, and Stanford degrees, he downplayed his background until many believed him Brooklyn-born, lacking a high school diploma, yet rising to be a vice president of General Motors, the worlda€™s greatest corporation. Her father was a book-keeper in the chrome industry, but as a young man had worked in the patent-medicine business with his father in upstate New York. Perhaps Edgar S.a€™s father-in-law influenced this, for Charles Wadsworth was a book-keeper himself, in a piano factory, in 1910, and the Wadsworths also lived at 135 Rogers Avenue. A species is generated, lives, varies (physically, mentally and socially), and the process of natural selection commences. Would the allies profit by the gained naval strength when they even now have nothing to fight against?
As the word slowly came out at first, and then spread like wildfire, it seemed everybody in Paris was in any one particular spot you might pick out.
It was not, as in New York, on one street in one place, it was everywhere, in the most remote portions of the city.
Of all the 2,000,000 men here only 30,000 have been killed in battlea€”not as many as the British lost at Cambrai alone, and not as many as one small province of France has lost. This Stettinius went on to be a GM vice-president designing employee benefit plans, before moving on to U.S. By the following month, he was working at its 120 West 42nd Street head-quarters in Manhattan, and living in a detached house of his own at 39 Argyle Road, Brooklyn. His agenda was to take him also to London, Brussels, Liege, Madrid, Barcelona, Milan, Turin, Geneva, and Antwerp, and perhaps other places. Jim Mooney, to whom Edgara€™s photograph below was inscribed in 1928, would remain his boss and mentor until 1941. The good thing about the Murray Hill was that I couldna€™t possibly run into anyone I knew, not before the BSI returned in January. And at the Worlda€™s Fair in Flushing Meadows, Long i??Island, New Yorkers and tourists taking in a€?The World of Tomorrowa€? learn that it will be indefinitely postponed. Dust was thick everywhere and hung in the smoky air where sunlight fell through unwashed windows. He is personally committed now to what Churchill declared in another speech to Parliament this month, and the world. And at the Worlda€™s Fair in Flushing Meadows, Long Island, New Yorkers and tourists taking in a€?The World of Tomorrowa€? learn that it will be indefinitely postponed. These notions, neither entirely false nor entirely true, accumulated through the years, thanks to his light-hearted tendency to make little of other experiences that were in fact crucial to the making of the man who burst upon the Irregular scene at the end of the 1930s, fully formed like Minerva from the brow of Jove.
Brigaded under General David Wooster, the 5th then joined the van of American forces under General Richard Montgomery and marched to Canada ten days later. He loved good fellowship, could top a good story and, with his rich baritone, was at home in any impromptu quartet.
Though he continued to live at home in Brooklyn, he now worked in Manhattan, and in a world of high finance, even if in a humble capacity a€” for now.
Would it not, on the other hand, be inestimably to Germanya€™s advantage to be free to sink all American ammunition ships bearing shot and shell to rend her defenders, and to effectually, if possible, limit by submarine attack the food supply of Britain?
One wants this to be our Edgar (even though he and his partner lost), since his partner was one C. Meanwhile I had lost my hat in the restaurant and returned every few minutes or so to look for it with my head tied up in a handkerchief.
He had a sophisticated view of the world, and a reputation as a management expert reinforced in 1931 by his book Onward Industry!
Woodya€™s is not immune, and that summer he leaves home to live alone in the Murray Hill Hotela€™s Victorian confines. Occasionally he would get away to a nearby hotel, but this was no refuge, as he was liable to be routed out of bed at any hour of the night to deal with a fresh sensation from overseas. Charles and Ann had four children, of whom the oldest was Edgara€™s father, Edgar Sturdevant Smith, born in March 1861 while his parents were still living in Connecticut.
He played a fair game of baseball, and was excellent at tennis a€” a game he played well into his fifties. He underwent basic training at Camp Upton at Yaphank, Long Island, where another recruit named Irving Berlin wrote the army song Oh, How I Hate To Get Up in the Morning. French civilians and women carried French, American and British soldiers about on their shoulders, motor trucks draped with flags (and every automobile had at least two) rumbled past loaded down with the boys from one country or another, all wildly cheering and singing. Each entry was the occasion for a wild tumult, the diners (?) leaping to their feet and cheering and shouting. Her French husband surnamed Trocqueme had been killed in the war, leaving her a young widow with a two-year-old son, Jacques Robert, born May 19, 1916.
As war approached again, Stettinius would serve in various senior capacities in the federal government, including Lend-Lease Administrator, Under Secretary of State, and finally Secretary of State for some six months in 1945 at the end of Franklin Roosevelta€™s life, and the beginning of Harry Trumana€™s Presidency.
The disintegration of empires ruined by the war resulted in new fragile democracies beset by enemies within and without. Names were exchanged, and Marthe got off the Metro, walking on a€?fairy feet,a€™ to go home to tell her roommate of the handsome young American officer she was to meet for dinner a€” if he showed up.a€? Did Edgar, despite his letter to the Eagle? Many wartime marriages do not survive, but Edgar and Marthe were married in Paris on March 20, 1919, honeymooning in Trouville and Deauville. During Edgara€™s four years in Europe, he witnessed vast economic and social dislocation, often with violence and bloodshed, and learned to detest and fear economic nationalism and the beggar-thy-neighbor policies that made a bad situation worse.
Author: How Like a God (1929), Seed on the Wind (1930), Golden Remedy (1931), Forest Fire (1933), The President Vanishes (1934), Fer-de-Lance (1934), The League of Frightened Men (1935), The Rubber Band (1936), The Red Box (1936), The Hand in the Glove (1937), Too Many Cooks (1938), Mr.
By Edgara€™s death in 1960 he and Marthe had been together forty-one years, with three more sons of their own.
Author: Travels in East Anglia (1923), River Thames (1924), Whaling North and South (1930), Lamb Before Elia (1931), The Wreck of the Active (1936). Author, Giant of the Western World (1930), The Church Against the World (1935), The Blessings of Liberty (1936).
Author: Foreign Trade and the Domestic Welfare (1935), Price Equilibrium (1936), Appointment in Baker Street (1938).



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