What do Lindbergh Sr.’s leftist politics tell us about his son’s character and courage?
Said the New York Times editorially of Charles August Lindbergh, Jr., on May 23, 1927: “This clear-headed, clean-lived, modest but daring son of America who… drew the peoples of many nations together in their concentration upon something of their common and supreme admiration” &mdash a sentence which expresses aptly the sentiments of some millions of Americans about their countryman.
Said the New York Times editorially of Charles August Lindbergh, Sr., on May 29, 1918, after commenting on the fact that Mr. Lindbergh, then Nonpartisan League candidate for Governor of Minnesota, had been refused a hall in Duluth for a political speech, and after quoting from his book “Why Is Your Country at War”: “Such is the gospel which Duluth refused to hear. Such is the platform of this candidate of the Nonpartisan League. More fortunate than many of the managers and orators of that concern, Mr. Lindbergh, so far as we know, is not under indictment for sedition”!
It is not entirely fair to the Times, perhaps, so to quote chapter and verse against it in its treatment of the Lindbergh family. It was not the only paper which found the utterances of Lindbergh, Senior, seditious, “Bolshevik,” pacifist, unpatriotic. But in both cases it was voicing the opinion of the majority, it was accepting the current hurrah as gospel. And the Lindberghs, both father and son, have distinguished themselves by refusing to do just this thing: the father would not be stampeded by the patriots into blind acceptance of the war, the son would not permit himself to be swept off his feet by temptations of money, movie fame, vaudeville popularity, or the opportunity of being a nine-days’ wonder in the tabloid press.
Lindbergh, flying without stir or stop across the 3,000-mile gray plain of the Atlantic &mdash that achievement lifts us all on sure wings, we all take part through type and story in his victory, and in a measure we can even understand how with cool head and perfect mechanical sensitiveness this boy arrived beyond the door of miracle.
The post-phenomena of flight have been harder to understand. How a boy of twenty-five, flying into the uproar of applause and idolatry, kept his head, remained simply an aviator, turned down offers of millions for cheap exploitation seemed a more superhuman victory &mdash until one recalled the “Junior” trailing his name like an heraldic banner. It is from his father that young Charles August got his ballast of decisiveness, courage, untouchable naturalness.
In the New York Public Library are two slender volumes, well-read to judge by the thumbmarks, which tell a part of the story of the Lindbergh character.
“Why Is Your Country at War and What Happens to You After the War, and Related Subjects” is the cumbersome title of the father’s volume, published in 1917. When the levees of peace gave way and the World War rushed over the United States, Lindbergh was a Republican member of Congress from Minnesota. He had been in Congress since 1907, with a clear and courageous record all through those ten years, consistently on the side of the Farmer-Labor group, consistently against what he termed the Money Trust and the war-for-profit group.