Great generals, inventors, actors, scientists, sports stars, and even criminals often live on in the American folk memory. But, at least since the founding era, unless an American politician reaches the White House, he is almost always doomed to historical oblivion.

Everyone, for instance, has heard of William Tecumseh Sherman (1820–91), who rode through Georgia into immortality in the autumn of 1864. But how many know of his younger brother John (1823–1900)? This Sherman served six years as a Congressman and six terms in the Senate. He was Secretary of the Treasury and of State. He ran for the Republican nomination for president three times (coming close in 1888). He even coined the political term “mending fences,” and was the principal author of the Sherman Antitrust Act. But I expect not one American in a hundred today could identify him.


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