COLUMN: Learning more and more about a famous native son of Glens Falls

COLUMN: Learning more and more about a famous native son of Glens Falls

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A purchase at a Friends of Crandall Public Library book sale in 2008 has resulted in numerous return trips to the library.

The book, “Politics in the Empire State,” which Warren Moscow wrote in 1948, mentioned Charles Evans Hughes, the Glens Falls native who ran for U.S. president in 1916 and narrowly lost to Woodrow Wilson.

I mentioned this in a column at the time, and Joyce Thompson, a local Hughes enthusiast, telephoned me to suggest I learn more about Hughes, who served as New York governor, U.S. secretary of state and U.S. Supreme Court chief justice.

Since then, I’ve spent many afternoons at the library’s Folklife Center on days off from The Post-Star, and still haven’t quite made it through all of the documents, speeches and articles about Hughes that are on file.

I’ve also read books about Hughes that the library circulates, or that are available through Interlibrary loan.

I have written often about him in this column.

Wednesday is Hughes’ 150th birthday.

City officials are planning a birthday celebration later in the spring.

Here are a few quotations about Hughes compiled during my two most recent visits to the Folklife Center:

* “I was able to observe the daily blessings that come to people from so magnificent a mind, so elevated a character, and one so determined to serve. If there were a few hundred men of his stature scattered over the world, civilization would be better for it.” — Herbert Hoover, in an Aug. 28, 1948 statement regarding Hughes’ death.

* “No one ran away with his court. He was helpful and patient with the inexperienced, but he despised the tricky statement and the bombast that is sometimes used to cloak poor preparation — and he knew how to deflate it.” — Attorney General Robert H. Jackson, in an article in the July 1941 issue of the American Bar Association Journal.

* “Although heavily burdened with work, he seemed to forget it all at meal times. And so I remember only happy dinners, with much laughter and light conversation.” — Elizabeth Hughes Gossett, in an essay “My Father the Chief Justice,” published in the 1976 “Supreme Court Historical Society Yearbook.”

* “Hughes believed in considering constitutional questions more in the light of the facts of contemporary life than in the safe recesses of the past. To put it another way, he believed the law should be stable but not static.” — Remarks by William T. Gossett, Hughes’ son in law, when presenting a portrait of Hughes to Crandall Public Library on May 21, 1971.

Staff writer Maury Thompson can be reached at thompson@poststar.com. You can friend him on Facebook at Maury Thompson Post-Star. You can follow him on Twitter at PS_Politics.

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