Past Features

September 26, 2005 (Vol. 2, No. 2)

Remembering the Legacy of Herbert H. Lehman

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Governor Lehman's grand-niece June Bingham Birge
Governor Lehman's grand-niece June Bingham Birge

Governor Lehman's grand-niece June Bingham Birge recalled some of her personal memories. Having lost both her grandparents when she was very young, she remembered "Uncle Herbert" as a kind, warm-hearted man who was like a grandfather to her. She said that although he could not write prose like his sister or have a command of the law like his brother (a noted justice of the State Court), he did possess a good deal of inner integrity–and this integrity allowed him to lead New York through some of the country's most difficult times.

Concluding the ceremony, Professor Tananbaum spoke about Governor Lehman's political career and what set him apart from other politicians. Following is an excerpt from his remarks:

Lehman Community gathers for bust dedication ceremony.
Lehman Community gathers for bust dedication ceremony.

"As a United States Senator in the early 1950's, Herbert Lehman saw this nation swept up in the fear of Communism and the hysteria known as McCarthyism. Yet in 1950, at a time when he was facing reelection, Lehman had the courage and integrity to vote against the McCarran Internal Security Act–the Patriot Act of its day–because he knew that it violated the constitutional rights and liberties of the American people. As Lehman declared on the floor of the Senate, 'I will not compromise with my conscience.' Lehman was willing to risk his political future to uphold the rights and liberties of the American people.

In 1955, Herbert Lehman was one of only three United States Senators to vote against the Formosa Resolution authorizing President Eisenhower to use the armed forces as he deemed necessary in East Asia. Lehman opposed the resolution because he believed that Congress should never delegate to the President the power to decide whether the United States goes to war. The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution during the Vietnam War and recent actions in the Persian Gulf and Iraq show the wisdom of Lehman's insistence that Congress at all times retain its power to declare war.

History Professor Duane Tananbaum
History Professor Duane Tananbaum

This tribute to the great man for whom this college is named should inspire us to follow the fine example he set: to use our 'wisdom and compassion' to help others, to accept responsibility for our actions, and to follow our conscience and do what we know is right, regardless of whether it is popular or politically correct."

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