Journey Through My Years


James M. Cox


THE former Governor of Ohio and Democratic Party candidate for the Presidency in 1920 comes close to being an ideal writer of political memoirs. His story covers one of the most significant transitional periods in our country’s history, for he began his public life in his middle twenties, on the occasion of the election of Cleveland in 1894, and his last efforts on the public platform were given on behalf of the fourth and final campaign of Franklin D. Roosevelt, half a century later. How the parade of events during that unusually long and crowded span of time struck an alert, courageous Midwesterner, who had a genuine flair for politics and something akin to administrative genius, forms the core of this very readable autobiography.
Journey Through My Years is enlivened with plenty of delectable anecdotes about the great and near great in the nation’s life. All this, however, is incidental to the history which unfolded before him, and in which he played so notable a part. Experience as a secretary to one of the members of Congress from the Third Ohio District, and as a Congressman, himself, was merely a prelude. The first great chapter began when Cox came to the governorship of Ohio in 1912, in the midst of the Progressive movement.
Those who despair of liberal democratic policies today will find refreshment for their courage and faith in Governor Cox’s fascinating story of the rebuilding of the state he served. It is more than a story of clearly defined objectives and tenacity of purpose. It is a story of a people responding to affirmative leadership and constructive idealism.
Governor Cox writes of the controversies of his times with a pen which is at times unsparing. He is not afraid of the truth, and has no more use for concealing his real opinions now than he had when, as a youthful publisher in Dayton, up to his ears in debt, he ventured to take on the most powerful business giant in his city, with a resulting blizzard of libel suits—which failed to stick. The famous battle between the Smithsonian Institution and the Wright brothers, over the claims of the “two Dayton mechanics to be the real inventors of the airplane, is spelled out in this book with a wealth of material hitherto unpublished.
Governor Cox is at his most interesting, as a witness for history, when he delves into the inside story of the conspiracy formed between Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot bodge to destroy Woodrow Wilson’s plans for this nation’s adherence to the League of Nations. As Democratic Party nominee in the furious election of 1920, he was especially fitted to probe that story to the bottom. His skill as a newspaperman and his rich political experience helped sharpen the tools. The result is one of the most devastating and instructive analyses of the political battle of the early twenties thus far published.
Of almost equal importance is the story of the Ohioan’s relations with F.D.R., whom he selected, “sight unseen,” as his running mate in 1920, and for whom he cherished a warm and understanding friendship until the war President’s death, a generation later.
Journey Through My Years is a book for the winter fireside and a thoughtful mood. It portrays a generous, courageous spirit, an expert grasp of political realities, a liberal faith, and a fine sense of humor.