The Last Brahmin (Well, We Hope Not)

“And this is good old Boston,
The home of the bean and the cod,
Where the Lowells talk only to Cabots,
And the Cabots talk only to God.”

Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., of Boston served his country for most of his life. According to family and friends, he really didn’t have a choice. His ancestors had been US Senators and cabinet members. I think there was one Secretary of State along the way, but who’s counting?

Expectations were high. Duty was not some far-off concept. To whom much is given, the old saying goes, much shall be required.

After the predictable Middlesex to Harvard route, Lodge plunged into public life…and raised eyebrows and begrudging respect when he resigned his Senate seat to serve in the armed forces in World War II. Nobody had done that since the Civil War.

A Republican, he was Richard Nixon’s running mate in 1960. Then went to work for President Kennedy as his Ambassador to Vietnam. (Kennedy had defeated him a few years earlier in the US Senate race in Massachusetts.)

Tellingly, Lodge’s allegiance seemed more to his country than any political party. He worked with President Truman (a Democrat) and other farsighted public servants to partner with a post-war Europe, help it get back on its feet, and create a global alliance that would preserve and nourish democracies around the world.

I’m sure he had his faults, but I prefer to take note of his commitment to his country.

A biography on this American is available HERE.

In this divisive time, I think it might be good reading to learn about a life devoted to national service, rather than partisan agenda.


  • BGT



4 thoughts on “The Last Brahmin (Well, We Hope Not)

  1. A real “lion” of American statesmanship that would put many contemporaries in the executive and legislative branches to shame… politics via party lines is not the way to go. I couldn’t imagine high level diplomats these days working for both parties; diplomatic partisanship contributes to the horrible discontinuity of American foreign policy, but c’est la vie.

  2. The introductory verse reminded me of this passage from David Halberstam’s ‘The Best and the Brightest’, in which he described the roots of McGeorge Bundy, Kennedy’s National Security Advisor, a contemporary of Lodge, and a Lowell on his mother’s side:

    “The rest of the world which is not from Boston thinks of him as being very Boston and the name as being very Boston. This is not true, since the Bundys are from Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the name by itself means very little in Boston history, a view corroborated by Shreve’s, a famous jewelry store in Boston. In 1966, when Bundy was leaving government, a group of his aides in the White House decided to give him something better than the traditional silver ashtray and came up with the idea of silver dice on a silver tray, something to roll as a means of determining foreign policy. In Washington several jewelry stores said it couldn’t be done, but since most of his people were from Cambridge in the first place, they remembered Shreve’s, and one of them was dispatched to arrange it. Silver dice on a silver tray? Yes, said a proper old gentleman at the shop. He thought it could be done. And what name would go on it?
    “McGeorge Bundy,” said the White House aide.
    “McGeorge Bundy…McGeorge Bundy…Bundy…oh, yes, isn’t he the boy who married Mary Lothrop?”

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