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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Jonathan Worth Daniels, March 9-11, 1977. Interview A-0313. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

The characteristics of effective leaders

This is an interesting insight into what Daniels views as the qualities of an effective leader. He compares Harry Truman to Adlai Stevenson to a battle between a man of action and an intellectual. Sentimentalism and open-mindedness inhibits decisiveness. He parallels political leadership to business, suggesting that business leaders must also be decisive and forceful in their actions.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Jonathan Worth Daniels, March 9-11, 1977. Interview A-0313. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

He wasn't any hardhat missionary, in the sense that, well, that old business about nothing on Sunday, you know. No, he wasn't a hard Puritan, but he did think that what he fought for was right, and what he opposed was wrong. And there were not many nuances in that. Comes to a very interesting thing I've noticed in my life. I didn't at first think much of Harry Truman. And Harry Truman was not a man of great learning in history, though he was much interested in history. Harry Truman always saw the cowboys and the Indians.
[Laughter] Black hat and the white hat.
Yes. And then I was a strong supporter of Adlai Stevenson. But I don't think Adlai Stevenson would have made a great president, because Adlai Stevenson was a Hamlet. In other words, he couldn't quickly see the cowboys and the Indians. There was something to be said for the Indians as well as the cowboys. And that Hamlet business is a wonderful thing in an intellectual; it may be a very bad thing in a man of action. Because you've got to believe in your cause. For instance, Robert E. Lee really never believed in the Southern cause, in my opinion; that's one of the reasons he lost. The man with a militant heart for what he believes is right is a better leader than your intellectual who sees all the sides.
So when an issue came up, he not only knew which side, but knew quickly which side.
He knew it innately; he just knew it. And I must say I find this is true today. I see all these editors reading the Congressional Quarterly and this and that and that, and finally they come out with an editorial which has Hamlet in it. I think an editor should hit the floor with both feet and say what he thinks and not let the bushes on the side of the road entangle him. And I think many times we are today caught by this too damn much knowledge, rather than feeling. And Father was a man of feeling. Now he never thought anything without feeling it, and he never felt anything without thinking it.