July 25, 2022

“Why are you not here?” – Thoreau’s famous (apocryphal) question to Emerson...

Emerson & Thoreau in jail (quotes)
Fake quotes are sometimes harder to identify and debunk than “fake news,” especially when they are cited by hundreds of books and thousands of websites.

A good example is the question Henry David Thoreau supposedly asked his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson in July 1846 when Thoreau was jailed overnight in Concord, Massachusetts for refusing to pay the local “poll tax,” as a protest against slavery and/or the Mexican-American War.

According to the oft-told story, Emerson visited Thoreau in jail and asked why he was there.

Thoreau purportedly responded: “Why are you not here?”

This legendary jailhouse meeting and Thoreau’s legendary zinger are exactly that – legend, not fact. But the facts about Thoreau’s night in jail are not easy to pin down.

Some sources give the date of Thoreau’s incarceration as July 23, 1846. Others say July 24, 1846.

Possibly both dates apply, since he was arrested during the day, stayed in jail one night, and was released the following morning after someone anonymously paid the tax for him.

Some versions of the story say Thoreau refused to pay the tax to protest the Mexican-American War, which had begun a few months earlier. Others say he was protesting slavery.

Again, my guess is that it could have been both.

The war started in part because Americans in the then Mexican-owned region of Texas opposed Mexico’s law prohibiting slavery. They wanted Texas to be annexed by the U.S. as slave-holding territory and eventually a slave state. 

So, there was a link between the two issues.

On January 26, 1848, Thoreau mentioned his night in jail in an address to a group of local intellectuals called the Concord Lyceum.

The speech, originally titled “The Rights and Duties of the Individual in Relation to Government,” was first published with a few tweaks in 1849 under the title “Resistance to Civil Government.”

It later came to be known and reprinted after Thoreau’s death as “Civil Disobedience.”

In that influential work (which includes the famous quotation “That government is best which governs least”), Thoreau’s explanation for his refusal to pay the poll tax seems to refer to slavery, war and general principle:

       “It is for no particular item in the tax bill that I refuse to pay it. I simply wish to refuse allegiance to the State, to withdraw and stand aloof from it effectually. I do not care to trace the course of my dollar, if I could, till it buys a man, or a musket to shoot one with—the dollar is innocent—but I am concerned to trace the effects of my allegiance. In fact, I quietly declare war with the State, after my fashion…”

He added an oddly hypocritical ending to that high-minded declaration: “...though I will still make use and get what advantages of her [i.e., the State] I can, as is usual in such cases.”

In a mention of his night in jail in the book Walden, published in 1854, Thoreau wrote:

       “I did not pay a tax to, or recognize the authority of, the State which buys and sells men, women, and children, like cattle, at the door of its senate-house.”

Thoreau’s non-payment of the poll tax as a political statement seems to have been inspired by his friend, writer, educator and abolitionist Bronson Alcott.

In 1843, Alcott refused to pay the poll tax, as a symbolic protest against slavery. As a sort of symbolic punishment, the local sheriff put Alcott in jail for a couple of hours until someone (possibly his wife) paid the tax for him.

After hearing of Alcott’s protest, Thoreau began refusing to pay the poll tax.

Three years later, Concord Constable Sam Staples stopped Thoreau on the street on either July 23 or July 24, 1846 and urged him to pay up.

According to an article in the August 1975 issue of the venerable history magazine American Heritage, Staples even offered to loan Thoreau the money.    

Thoreau wasn’t wealthy, but the bill didn’t amount to much. The annual poll tax, which was supposed to be paid by male citizens between the ages of 21 and 70, was $1.50, or about $40 in today’s dollars.    

Thoreau told Staples he was still refusing to pay. It’s not clear whether the reason he gave at the time was to protest slavery or the Mexican-American War or both.

The Night Thoreau Spent in JailEither way, it was simply a symbolic gesture. The poll tax supported city services, not the state or federal government, and it had no real financial connection to slavery or the Mexican-American War.

Thoreau’s willingness to go to jail for his political views is generally portrayed as an inspiring and brave act. Undeniably, it has inspired many people, including Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.

However, researchers who have looked into the poll tax law have said that, while it could be enforced by seizing property in lieu of payment, it’s questionable whether non-payment would have been — or legally could have been — punished with a lengthy jail sentence.

At any rate, it is true that Thoreau spent one night in jail for his principled act of tax evasion.

He was released the next day after someone (probably his aunt Maria Thoreau) paid the tax for him.

Perhaps it’s more accurate to say Constable Sam Staples kicked him out of jail.

Thoreau argued that since he didn’t personally pay the tax, he had a “right” to remain in locked up. Staples disagreed and made him leave.

According to legend, while Thoreau was in the Concord jail, his friend, fellow writer and social commentator Ralph Waldo Emerson, came to visit him and said “Henry, why are you here?” or “Henry, I am sorry to find you here.”

The most famous version of Thoreau’s response is “Why are you not here?” (with emphasis on not.)

Thoreau’s line is also given as “Why are you not here also?” or “Waldo, why are you NOT here?” or “What are you doing OUT of jail?”

The story of this exchange appears to have been made up after Thoreau died in 1862.

As noted by Yale Law School librarian and scholar Fred R. Shapiro, editor of the authoritative Yale Book of Quotations, there is no evidence that Emerson visited Thoreau in jail. And, Emerson is unlikely to have asked the question he supposedly asked since he’d have known why Thoreau was in jail.

Moreover, although Thoreau and Emerson recorded in detail the things they did and said, in their essays, journals, letters and books — and Thoreau wrote about his night in jail in Walden and “Civil Disobedience” — neither wrote anything about such a visit.

Shapiro and language maven Barry Popik have traced the first known version of the legend to an article published in the Christian Examiner in July 1865, three years after Thoreau’s death.

Popik’s post about the mythical exchange on his website documents several other versions of the story in newspaper and magazine articles published after that in the 1800s.

Since then, versions of the story have been included in many biographies of Thoreau and history books, typically cited as if Emerson’s visit and Henry’s zinger of a reply to Waldo were historical facts.

In 1969, during the Vietnam War, the legend was further enshrined in popular culture by the widely-produced anti-war play The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail, written by Robert E. Lee and Jerome Lawrence.

In the play, Emerson says “Henry! Henry! What are you doing in jail?”

Thoreau responds, “Waldo! What are you doing out of jail?”    

After 1846, the real life Thoreau continued to refuse to pay his poll tax. In the 1849 printing of “Civil Disobedience” he said proudly: “I have paid no poll tax for six years.”

Apparently, Constable Staples gave Thoreau a pass after his one famed night in jail, or maybe Aunt Maria kept paying the tax for him, since he didn’t end up in jail for non-payment after that.

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July 12, 2022

“The rich are different”… The legendary “exchange” between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway…

 

If you’re a quotation buff, you’ve probably heard of a legendary exchange about “rich people” that supposedly took place between the American novelists F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940) and Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961).

Fitzgerald is usually quoted as saying either “The rich are different from you and me” or “The rich are different from us.”

Hemingway is quoted as responding: “Yes, they have more money."

In fact, this quote-counterquote repartee never actually occurred. But it is based on things written by Fitzgerald and Hemingway.

Here’s how it became a legend…

In 1925, Fitzgerald wrote a short story titled “The Rich Boy.” In 1926, it was published in Red Book magazine and included what became a very popular collection of Fitzgerald's early short stories, titled All the Sad Young Men.

The third paragraph of the story says:

     "Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different."

Clearly, that’s not a favorable view of rich people.

But years later, Ernest Hemingway, who had a sometimes-warm, sometimes-acrimonious relationship with Fitzgerald, decided to mock those lines from “The Rich Boy” in his short story “The Snows of Kilimanjaro.”

Hemingway’s original version of “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” was printed in the August 1936 issue of Esquire magazine. In a passage in that original version, Hemingway wrote:

     “The rich were dull and they drank too much, or they played too much backgammon. They were dull and they were repetitious. He remembered poor Scott Fitzgerald and his romantic awe of them and how he had started a story once that began, ‘The very rich are different from you and me.’ And how some one had said to Scott, Yes, they have more money. But that was not humorous to Scott. He thought they were a special glamorous race and when he found they weren't it wrecked him as much as any other thing that wrecked him.”

Understandably, Fitzgerald was shocked and offended.

He expressed his dismay to Hemingway in a letter. He also complained to Maxwell Perkins, the editor who oversaw publication of both writers’ novels and story collections at the Charles Scribner’s Sons book company. Hemingway responded with what Fitzgerald described as a “crazy letter,” a rambling diatribe that offered no real explanation or apology.

Perkins tried to smooth things over between his two prized writers and used his editorial power to fix the source of the problem when Scribner’s reprinted “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” in the 1938 anthology of Hemingway stories, The Fifth Column and the First Forty-Nine Stories.

In the version of the story in that book, the name “Scott Fitzgerald” was changed to “Julian.” It has appeared that way in most subsequent reprintings.

Unfortunately for Fitzgerald, he made the mistake of writing a cryptic entry in a personal notebook that cemented the legendary version of his “exchange” with Hemingway into literary history.

The entry said simply: “They have more money. (Ernest’s wisecrack.)”

After Fitzgerald died in 1940, his friend, the noted critic and book reviewer Edmund Wilson, compiled a collection of his essays and unpublished writings in a book titled The Crack-Up. It was published in 1945. Wilson included various entries from Fitzgerald’s notebooks in the anthology.

One of them was the brief note about “Ernest’s wisecrack.”

Wilson decided to add an explanatory footnote for that entry in the book. He wrote:

     “Fitzgerald had said, ‘The rich are different from us.’ Hemingway had replied, ‘Yes, they have more money.’”

Then, the famous literary critic Lionel Trilling repeated what he called this “famous exchange” that “everyone knows” in a review and essay about The Crack-Up, published in The Nation.

After that, many other articles and books cited this “exchange” as if it were an actual conversation between Fitzgerald and Hemingway.

And thus a famous quote-counterquote myth was born.

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July 02, 2022

“There, but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford.”


It is often claimed that the familiar expression of compassion “There, but for the grace of God, go I” is based on a quote by the 16th Century English Protestant clergyman John Bradford.

According to tradition, Bradford was a prisoner in the Tower of London when he said it.

He had previously been a prominent supporter of the religious reforms imposed by King Edward VI, which essentially banned Catholicism in England and established the Protestant Church of England as the country’s official religion.

Part of this “reformation” involved jailing or executing Catholic clergymen who weren’t willing to go along with the change.

After Edward died in 1553, Mary I (a.k.a. “Bloody Mary” Tudor) took the throne in England and forcefully reimposed Catholicism.

That involved jailing or executing Protestant clergymen who weren’t willing to go along with the change.

One of them was John Bradford, who refused to acknowledge the authority of the Pope and was convicted of “trying to stir up a mob.”

Queen Mary had Bradford locked up in the Tower of London with other notable Protestant leaders, such as Archbishop Thomas Cranmer.

One day while there, legend has it, Bradford looked down and saw a criminal being led to execution. (In some versions of the story, it’s a group of criminals.)

Simultaneously feeling compassion for the criminal and relief that he was better off, Bradford allegedly uttered the famous quotation “There, but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford.”

This quote has long been cited as the origin of the proverbial saying “There but for the grace of God go I.”

This was memorably modernized as “There but for fortune go you or I” by Sixties folksinger Phil Ochs, in his much-covered song “There But for Fortune.”           

It should be noted that modern quote and phrase sleuths have been unable to find any documentation that Bradford actually said anything like the quote he’s alleged to have said.

The traditional story of Bradford’s famous quotation appears to come from biographies written about him in the 1800s, centuries after he was dead.

There’s no record of such a quote in historical records from Bradford’s own time and no such words in his writings.

Nonetheless, “There but for the grace of God goes John Bradford” is included as an attributed quote in many books of quotations. (It’s sometimes given as “But for the grace of God there goes John Bradford.”)

The association this questionable quote has with the date July 1 is ironic.

The usual explanation of the quote’s meaning is that Bradford was expressing sympathy for the soon-to-be-executed criminal (or criminals) and suggesting that, except for God’s mercy, he might be sharing the same fate.

As it turned out, Bradford’s final fate actually was the same. Maybe worse, depending on how the criminal(s) got snuffed.

On July 1, 1555, Queen Mary had Bradford burned at the stake.

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June 26, 2022

President Kennedy’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech


One of the famous quotations linked to the date June 26th is a line President John F. Kennedy spoke in German on June 26, 1963: “Ich bin ein Berliner.”

Kennedy used the line twice that day in a historic speech in West Berlin, which was then separated from Communist-controlled East Berlin by the Berlin Wall.

His intention was to express his solidarity with the people there, by symbolically calling himself a citizen of Berlin. And, the literal translation of “Ich bin ein Berliner” is indeed “I am a Berliner.”

However, there’s been a long-running debate over Kennedy’s grammar.

His use of “ein” is the issue.

Ein” does means “a” in English. But Germans use the word “Berliner” without “ein” to mean “a citizen of Berlin.”

They say “Ich bin Berliner” when they want to say the English equivalent of “I am a Berliner.”

The term “ein Berliner” — when used as a noun — refers to the jelly-filled, doughnut-like pastry Germans call “ein Pfannkuchen Berliner” or “ein Berliner” for short.

Similarly, a citizen of Frankfurt, Germany, would say “Ich bin Frankfurter,” rather than “Ich bin ein Frankfurter.” The latter could theoretically be interpreted to mean “I am a hot dog.”

For this reason, Kennedy’s line “Ich bin ein Berliner” has generated both amusement and heated discussion over the years.

Technically, it’s true that what he said in German could be interpreted as “I am a jelly-filled doughnut.”

That’s why some people claim the quote is laughable.

It has also been claimed that West Germans who were there listening to Kennedy laughed at him when he said the line.

On the flip side, some people have claimed “ein Berliner” is grammatically correct when used by someone who is not really a citizen of Berlin. They say the doughnut theory is an urban legend.

My own view is that Kennedy’s grammar was non-standard.

However, much more importantly, the people of West Berlin knew exactly what Kennedy meant when he said “Ich bin ein Berliner.”

They knew he wasn’t talking about a jelly-filled doughnut. And, they found his words inspiring, not laughable.

You can see why by reading or watching a video of Kennedy’s speech.

It’s one of the most famous speeches in history. And, the crowd of more than 120,000 West Germans who were there on June 26, 1963 were cheering loudly — not laughing.

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John F. Kennedy’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech

Delivered in front of the Berlin Wall at Rudolph Wilde Platz in West Berlin
June 26, 1963

I am proud to come to this city as the guest of your distinguished Mayor, who has symbolized throughout the world the fighting spirit of West Berlin. And I am proud to visit the Federal Republic with your distinguished Chancellor who for so many years has committed Germany to democracy and freedom and progress, and to come here in the company of my fellow American, General Clay, who has been in this city during its great moments of crisis and will come again if ever needed.

John F Kennedy Ich Bin Ein Berliner speechTwo thousand years ago, the proudest boast was “Civis Romanus sum.” [“I am a Roman Citizen”] Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is “Ich bin ein Berliner.”

I appreciate my interpreter translating my German.

There are many people in the world who really don’t understand, or say they don’t, what is the great issue between the free world and the Communist world. Let them come to Berlin.

There are some who say that communism is the wave of the future. Let them come to Berlin.

And there are some who say, in Europe and elsewhere, we can work with the Communists. Let them come to Berlin.

And there are even a few who say that it is true that communism is an evil system, but it permits us to make economic progress. Lass’ sie nach Berlin kommen. Let them come to Berlin.

Freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect. But we have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in — to prevent them from leaving us. I want to say on behalf of my countrymen who live many miles away on the other side of the Atlantic, who are far distant from you, that they take the greatest pride, that they have been able to share with you, even from a distance, the story of the last 18 years. I know of no town, no city, that has been besieged for 18 years that still lives with the vitality and the force, and the hope, and the determination of the city of West Berlin.

While the wall is the most obvious and vivid demonstration of the failures of the Communist system — for all the world to see — we take no satisfaction in it; for it is, as your Mayor has said, an offense not only against history but an offense against humanity, separating families, dividing husbands and wives and brothers and sisters, and dividing a people who wish to be joined together.

What is true of this city is true of Germany: Real, lasting peace in Europe can never be assured as long as one German out of four is denied the elementary right of free men, and that is to make a free choice. In 18 years of peace and good faith, this generation of Germans has earned the right to be free, including the right to unite their families and their nation in lasting peace, with good will to all people.

You live in a defended island of freedom, but your life is part of the main. So let me ask you, as I close, to lift your eyes beyond the dangers of today, to the hopes of tomorrow, beyond the freedom merely of this city of Berlin, or your country of Germany, to the advance of freedom everywhere, beyond the wall to the day of peace with justice, beyond yourselves and ourselves to all mankind.

Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free. When all are free, then we can look forward to that day when this city will be joined as one and this country and this great Continent of Europe in a peaceful and hopeful globe. When that day finally comes, as it will, the people of West Berlin can take sober satisfaction in the fact that they were in the front lines for almost two decades.

All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin.

And, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words “Ich bin ein Berliner.”

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June 13, 2022

“You have the right to remain silent.”

You probably know the famed “Miranda Rights” warning police are supposed to recite to someone they are arresting.

Even if you’ve never been arrested and heard it spoken by a law enforcement officer in real life, it’s spoken by characters in thousands of TV shows, movies, and books.

The exact language varies from state to state and in fictional uses, but in most cases the key lines are — or are close to — the following:

     “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you?”

Since the late 1960s, those words, especially “You have the right to remain silent,” have become famous. But most people know little about their origin.

The Miranda Rights warning dates back to June 13, 1966, when the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision on the case Miranda v. Arizona.

That case involved a 22-year-old Arizona man named Ernesto Arturo Miranda.

Miranda had a tough life with a checkered past. By 1966, he had previously been arrested for of a number of crimes, including burglary, vagrancy, armed robbery, being a “peeping Tom,” and car theft. As a teenager, he was sentenced to time in an Arizona “reform school” twice and later spent time in jails in California, Texas, Ohio and Arizona.

In the early 1960s, Miranda was a free man who worked as a laborer at various jobs in Phoenix and generally stayed out of trouble.

Then, on March 2, 1963, an 18-year-old Phoenix woman told police a man had abducted her, driven her into the desert and raped her. Her description of the man’s truck led the police to Miranda. The victim failed to identify him in a line-up. But the police decided to take him into custody and interrogate him. After hours of questioning, Miranda signed a confession. He was soon convicted and sent to jail.

However, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) decided to appeal Miranda’s conviction, after he later claimed he was innocent and that his confession had been coerced. The ACLU focused, among other things, on the fact that Miranda had not been aware of his right under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution not to say anything that would incriminate him. Nor had the police made him aware of that right.

Under the Fifth Amendment, “No person...shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” That’s the part people are referring to when they “take the Fifth” and refuse to testify about something.

Miranda v. Arizona was appealed up to the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices ultimately ruled that Miranda’s rights had indeed been violated. The court’s decision included a section that became the basis for what was soon being called “Miranda Rights.”

The relevant text from the court decision says:

“Prior to any questioning, the person must be warned that he has a right to remain silent, that any statement he does make may be used as evidence against him, and that he has a right to the presence of an attorney, either retained or appointed. The defendant may waive effectuation of these rights, provided the waiver is made voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently. If, however, he indicates in any manner and at any stage of the [384 U.S. 436, 445] process that he wishes to consult with an attorney before speaking there can be no questioning. Likewise, if the individual is alone and indicates in any manner that he does not wish to be interrogated, the police may not question him. The mere fact that he may have answered some questions or volunteered some statements on his own does not deprive him of the right to refrain from answering any further inquiries until he has consulted with an attorney and thereafter consents to be questioned.”

This was boiled down to the lines in the standard Miranda Rights warning spoken to suspects by law enforcement officers. The required wording varies slightly from state to state, but always embodies the basic thrust of the Supreme Court decision.

Unfortunately for Ernesto Miranda, the Supreme Court’s ruling didn’t end his long string of bad luck.

It overturned his initial conviction and set a major legal precedent, but it didn’t actually exonerate him.

The State of Arizona decided to retry Miranda on the rape charge. In the second trial, his confession was not used, but his estranged common law wife testified against him. On March 27, 1967, he was convicted again and sent back to prison.

Although Miranda received a harsh sentence of 20 to 30 years, he was paroled in 1972. Over the next few years, he was arrested several times for mostly minor offences, but he stayed out of serious trouble and became something of a celebrity.

One of the ways he made money in his final years was by selling autographed “Miranda Rights cards” showing the language of the required warning his Supreme Court case had embedded into American law and our language.

In January 1976, Miranda was stabbed to death in the men’s room of a bar in Phoenix, after a dispute over a poker game. A 23-year-old Mexican man who had been there was initially held for the slaying. However, he was not charged due to a lack of evidence and headed back to Mexico.

Among the things found in Ernesto Miranda’s pockets after his death were several autographed Miranda Rights cards.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Another quote linked to June 13 is the famed quip by Baseball Hall of Famer Satchel Paige, “Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.” You can read the background on that quotation in my post at this link.

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June 12, 2022

The origin of the proverbial political “smoke-filled room”


Although smoking is either banned or not tolerated in most meetings today, the idea of a meeting of power brokers making deals behind closed doors “in a smoke-filled room” is still a well-known political image and metaphor.

The now-idiomatic “smoke-filled room” was embedded in our language by an Associated Press article filed on June 12, 1920 by reporter Kirke L. Simpson.

That story dealt with the nomination of former Ohio Governor Warren G. Harding as the Republican Party’s candidate in the 1920 Presidential election.

My grade school and high school history books didn’t delve into the backroom machinations leading to Harding’s nomination.

But like other fans of the HBO television series Boardwalk Empire, I learned a bit about the real life characters involved and the wheeling and dealing that went on from watching some of the show’s Season 1 episodes.

Those episodes suggest that Atlantic City political boss Enoch “Nucky” Thompson (played by actor Steve Buscemi) was instrumental in swinging the nomination to Harding.

While that may be one of a number of fictionalized plot elements in the series, Harding’s nomination was the result of some hard-nosed political deal-making.

In the days leading up to June 12, delegates to the Republican Convention in Chicago had reached an impasse.

Neither of the two leading candidates — former U.S. Army General Leonard Wood and Illinois Governor Frank O. Lowden — could gain a majority of delegate votes.

So, on the night of June 11, a small group of top Republican party officials held a private meeting in Suite 404 in Chicago’s Blackstone Hotel.

Smoke from their cigars filled the room as they discussed the latest ideas on how to break the deadlock.

Sometime after midnight, they decided to push through the nomination of Harding as a compromise candidate who could win in the key state of Ohio and would be friendly to the Captains of Industry.

The AP story filed by Kirke Simpson that morning famously said:

      “Harding of Ohio was chosen by a group of men in a smoke-filled room early today as Republican candidate for President.”

Simpson is often credited with coining the phrase “smoke-filled room,” at least in its political sense.

Some sources say that he got the phrase from Harding’s campaign manager, Harry Daugherty (played by actor Christopher McDonald in Boardwalk Empire).

Daugherty allegedly predicted in remarks to reporters:

“The convention will be deadlocked, and after the other candidates have gone their limit, some twelve or fifteen men, worn out and bleary-eyed for lack of sleep, will sit down about two o'clock in the morning, around a table in a smoke-filled room in some hotel and decide the nomination.  When that time comes, Harding will be selected.”

Safire's Political Dictionary, written by the late, great political quote maven William Safire, notes that Daugherty denied saying this.

Either way, the Kirke Simpson’s news story usually gets credit for making “a smoke-filled room” a common political term.

Simpson went on to win the Pulitzer Prize two years later for his series of articles about the burial and tomb of “The Unknown Soldier.”

Harding went on to be elected President of the United States, though he died in office a few years later, after a series of scandals made him a frequent nominee for lists of the worst presidents in history.     

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