A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from May 24, 2013
“You do not lead by hitting people over the head”

One of U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s (1890-1969) most famous statements on leadership comes exclusively from a book by his former speechwriter—The Ordeal of Power; A Political Memoir of the Eisenhower Years (1963) by Emmet John Hughes:

“Now, look, I happen to know a little about leadership. I’ve had to work with a lot of nations, for that matter, at odds with each other. And I tell you this: you do not lead by hitting people over the head. Any damn fool can do that, but it’s usually called ‘assault’— not ‘leadership.’ . . . I’ll tell you what leadership is. It’s persuasion —and conciliation— and education— and patience. It’s long, slow, tough work. That’s the only kind of leadership I know—or believe in—or will practice.”

Hughes’s book was highly critical of Eisenhower; the circumstances and accuracy of this long quotation can be called into question. The quotation itself, however, shows Eisenhower in a good light. It’s probably that Einsenhower said something at least similar to what Hughes wrote.


Wikipedia: Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David “Ike” Eisenhower (pronounced /ˈaɪzənhaʊər/, EYE-zən-how-ər; October 14, 1890 – March 28, 1969) was the 34th President of the United States from 1953 until 1961. He had previously been a five-star general in the United States Army during World War II and served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe; he had responsibility for planning and supervising the invasion of North Africa in Operation Torch in 1942–43 and the successful invasion of France and Germany in 1944–45 from the Western Front. In 1951, he became the first supreme commander of NATO.

Wikipedia: Emmet John Hughes
Emmett John Hughes (December 26, 1920 - September 18, 1982) was a foreign bureau chief for and article editor for Time-Life and an aide and speechwriter for U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower. His is most known for his 1962 memoir The Ordeal of Power, a scathing review that questioned Eisenhower’s political smarts and depicted Eisenhower as ill-suited for the White House.
(...)
During the Eisenhower administration, Hughes was an aide to and speechwriter for the president. Hughes wrote Eisenhower’s “I shall go to Korea” speech, which helped solidify the 1952 election. Hughes then accompanied the president-elect on the promised trip to Korea.

After criticizing the Eisenhower administration in the late 1950s, Hughes published The Ordeal of Power. This break with Eisenhower led Hughes to begin a new relationship as the political advisor for the Rockefeller family, and worked as a political advisor and speechwriter for Governor Nelson Rockefeller during his unsuccessful presidential bid in 1968.

Google Books
The Ordeal of Power;
A Political Memoir of the Eisenhower Years

By Emmet John Hughes
New York, NY: Atheneum
1963
Pg. 124:
“Now, look, I happen to know a little about leadership. I’ve had to work with a lot of nations, for that matter, at odds with each other. And I tell you this: you do not lead by hitting people over the head. Any damn fool can do that, but it’s usually called ‘assault’— not ‘leadership.’ . . . I’ll tell you what leadership is. It’s persuasion —and conciliation— and education— and patience. It’s long, slow, tough work. That’s the only kind of leadership I know—or believe in—or will practice.”

Google News Archive
9 May 1963, Kentucky New Era (Hopkinsville, KY), “Try and Stop Me” by Bennett Cerf, pg. 4, col. 3:
When President Eisenhower occupied the White House, his most valued speech writer was Emmet John Hughes. Now Hughes has written a revealing book about those days ("The Ordeal of Power"). “I’ll tell you about leadership,” was one of the memorable comments the President made to Hughes. “Leadership is NOT hitting people over the head. That’s ASSAULT. LEADERSHIP is persuasion—and conciliation—and education—and patience. It’s long, slow, tough work. That’s the only kind of leadership I believe in.”

Google Books
Time
Volume 81
1963
Pg. 19:
Ike offering a definition of leadership: “You do not lead by hitting people over the head. Any damn fool can do that, but it’s usually called ‘assault.’ not ‘leadership.’ I’ll tell you what leadership is: It’s persuasion — and conciliation — and education—and patience. It’s long. slow, tough work. That’s the only kind of leadership I know — or believe in— or will practice.”

Google Books
The Republican Party in American Politics
By Charles O. Jones
New York, NY: Macmillan
1965
Pg. 127:
Hues pronounces as false the notions that Eisenhower was too lazy to lead Congress, or that he lacked interest, or was intimidated by arch conservatives. Eisenhower was sensitive to this criticism and, according to Hughes, had a speech on the subject which included his conception of leadership:

“...you do not lead by hitting people over the head. Any damn fool can do that, but it’s usually called ‘assault’ — not ‘leadership.’”

Google News Archive
11 September 1977, The Evening News (Newburgh, NY), “Quotes,” pg. 6A, col. 2:
“You do not lead by hitting people over the head — that’s assault, not leadership.” —President Dwight Eisenhower.

Google Books
he Cornerstones of Engaging Leadership
By Casey Wilson
Vienna, VA: Management Concepts
2008
Pg. 4:
“You don’t lead people by hitting them over the head—that’s assult, not leadership.”
-- DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, U.S. PRESIDENT AN GENERAL

Fox News
Sarah Palin Talks Health Care, Tea Party Movement on ‘Glenn Beck’
Published March 19, 2010
(...)
PALIN: Now, look, the powder keg you are talking about, that’s exactly what the people down there in Kenai were kind of manifesting, too, in their frustration that is understandable and it’s legitimate frustration.

But let’s paraphrase Eisenhower. Remember, he used to talk about — OK, leadership, what is it? At this time in American history, it’s the citizens who are going to have to lead our elected officials in government. Leadership is not hitting somebody over the head. It’s not taking up arms at this point. That’s not leadership. That’s assault.

And Eisenhower — he used to talk about — he used to talk about that. We need to make sure that the tool that we use in taking up arms, if you will, is our vote.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Friday, May 24, 2013 • Permalink