Category Archives: Taylor Caldwell

Every Ambitious Would-Be Empire Clarions It Abroad That She Is Conquering the World to Bring It Peace

Henry David Thoreau? George S. Boutwell? Taylor Caldwell? Apocryphal?

boutwell10Dear Quote Investigator: George S. Boutwell was a U.S. politician who campaigned to end slavery and later became president of the Anti-Imperialist League. He objected to the annexation of the Philippines. The following statement has been attributed to him:

Every ambitious would-be empire clarions it abroad that she is conquering the world to bring it peace, security and freedom, and is sacrificing her sons only for the most noble and humanitarian purposes. That is a lie.

I have been unable to find any documentation supporting this ascription. Oddly, the words are also sometimes credited to Henry David Thoreau. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: Taylor Caldwell was a very popular author who wrote a series of bestsellers over a span of four decades. Her 1968 novel “Testimony of Two Men” was made into a television miniseries in the 1970s. This work contained the earliest evidence of the quotation known to QI. One of Caldwell’s characters was talking about the beliefs of George S. Boutwell and presented remarks from the politician of uncertain accuracy. The passage was complex because it also included a quotation attributed to Henry David Thoreau. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 1

I remember that Boutwell said, ‘Our war to free Cuba must not be turned into wars for Empire. If America ever does seek Empire, and most nations do, then planned reforms in our domestic life will be abandoned, States Rights will be abolished—in order to impose a centralized government upon us for the purpose of internal repudiation of freedom, and adventures abroad. The American dream will then die—on battlefields all over the world—and a nation conceived in liberty will destroy liberty for Americans and impose tyranny on subject nations.’

Boutwell also said, if I am repeating him correctly, and he quoted Thoreau: ‘If I knew a man was approaching my house to do me good, I would flee for my life.’ Then he went on to say, ‘Every ambitious would-be empire clarions it abroad that she is conquering the world to bring it peace, security and freedom, and is sacrificing her sons only for the most noble and humanitarian purposes. That is a lie, and it is an ancient lie, yet generations still rise and believe it!'”

So the quotation under examination was written by Taylor Caldwell and not by George S. Boutwell. QI has been unable to verify whether Boutwell said or wrote the words attributed to him by Caldwell’s fictional character. Perhaps future researchers will uncover supporting evidence for the Boutwell linkage. Also note that the words about empire were not written by Henry David Thoreau.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

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Notes:

  1. 1968, Testimony of Two Men by Taylor Caldwell, Quote Page 452, Doubleday & Company, Garden City, New York. (Verified with scans)

The Budget Should Be Balanced; The Treasury Should Be Refilled

Marcus Tullius Cicero? Taylor Caldwell? Otto E. Passman? Apocryphal?
pillariron02Dear Quote Investigator: In 2011 a host on the cable channel CNN said this: 1

Is America still the land of opportunity, or is it Rome before the fall? You decide. Cicero is believed to have said something like this in 55 B.C. “The arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and assistance to foreign hands should be curtailed, lest Rome fall.”

I have seen a popular longer version of this quote on multiple websites:

The budget should be balanced, the treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.

Yet, I have never seen a precise reference to the oration by Marcus Tullius Cicero containing the remark. Is this an authentic quotation?

Quote Investigator: There is no substantive evidence that Cicero spoke or wrote these words. Pivotal citations revealing the most likely origin of the statement were located by top researcher Bonnie Taylor-Blake. In 1965 the best-selling author Taylor Caldwell published the book “A Pillar of Iron” with a subtitle on the cover stating “A novel about Cicero and the Rome he tried to save”. A fictionalized version of the historical figure Cicero was the primary character in the novel.

A passage in “A Pillar of Iron” depicted the thoughts of the character Cicero while he was conversing with a man named Antonius. Note that Caldwell’s Cicero did not actually speak the following words in the novel: 2

Cicero found himself frequently confounded by Antonius. Antonius heartily agreed with him that the budget should be balanced, that the Treasury should be refilled, that public debt should be reduced, that the arrogance of the generals should be tempered and controlled, that assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt, that the mobs should be forced to work and not depend on government for subsistence, and that prudence and frugality should be put into practice as soon as possible.

But when Cicero produced facts and figures how all these things must and should be accomplished by austerity and discipline and commonsense, Antonius became troubled.

In the foreword to the book Caldwell described the extensive research she performed while preparing to write the story: 3

… I translated many hundreds of letters to-and-from Cicero and his editor and publisher, Atticus, myself in the Vatican Library in April 1947, and many more from Cicero to his brother, wife, son, daughter, Caesar, Pompey, and other people, in 1962 while again in Rome, and in Greece.

Caldwell also stated that some of the excerpts from letters in the book were based directly on translations of historical documents:

As few footnotes as possible have been used, but in every place where it is written, “Cicero wrote—Atticus wrote—etc.,” the letters are authentic and can be found in many histories in libraries almost everywhere.

Nevertheless, the passage given above about the Roman budget reflected the inner views of the character Cicero as imagined by Caldwell. The words were not part of a letter or a speech.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading

Notes:

  1. 2011 November 12 at 9:30 ET, Transcript for CNN cable channel broadcast, Program name: Your Bottom Line, Host of program: Christine Romans, (Excerpt spoken by Christine Romans), (Accessed CNN transcripts at transcripts.cnn.com on May 14, 2013) link
  2. 1965, A Pillar of Iron by Taylor Caldwell, Quote Page 483, Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, New York. (Verified on paper)
  3. 1965, A Pillar of Iron by Taylor Caldwell, Quote Page xiv, Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, New York. (Verified on paper)

We Are Never Alone. Not When the Night Is Darkest, the Wind Coldest

Taylor Caldwell? Apocryphal?

caldwell01Dear Quote Investigator: Taylor Caldwell wrote several best-selling books. Two of her novels were made into popular television mini-series: “Testimony of Two Men” and “Captains and the Kings”. I found a quotation attributed to her that fits with this holiday season:

I am not alone at all, I thought. I was never alone at all. And that, of course, is the message of Christmas. We are never alone. Not when the night is darkest, the wind coldest, the word seemingly most indifferent. For this is still the time God chooses.

I do not know where this quote appeared, and when I checked Wikiquote the expression was not listed on the main page for Taylor Caldwell; instead, the words were in the “Unsourced” section. Do you think Caldwell wrote these words?

Quote Investigator: The quotation above was included in a short autobiographical tale by Taylor Caldwell that was published in “Family Circle” magazine on December 24, 1961. The story has been reprinted multiple times. In the tale Caldwell described a Christmas season during which she was divorced, jobless, and nearly moneyless. She despaired as she anticipated being forced to vacate her apartment together with her 5-year-old child.

But she succeeded in paying her rent and obtaining a new job. Part of her accomplishment and joy hinged on the positive consequences of a good deed she had performed six months earlier. In conclusion, the quote is accurate, and it appeared at the end of the story. 1

(Thanks to A. for this request.)

Notes:

  1. 1996, Christmas in My Heart, Compiled and edited by Joe Wheeler, “My Christmas Miracle” by Taylor Caldwell, Start Page 209, Quote Page 214, (A note accompanying the acknowledgement of the reprint states that the story appeared in Family Circle on December 24, 1961; Family Circle has not been directly examined), Published by Guideposts, Carmel, New, York. (Verified with scans)