Do You Owe Something to An Eliza McCardle?

This is the 62nd in a collection of newspaper ads written by Harry Gray, then CEO of United Technologies, that appeared in the Wall Street Journal from the late 1970s through the early 1980s. Here is the text from that ad.

She met a tailor when he was twenty.
He had never been to school.
She married him.
Taught him to read, write, spell.
He learned fast.
Became President.
Inherited post-Civil War reconstruction problems.
Beat an impeachment rap by just one vote after trying to fire his Secretary of War for justifiable reasons.
Bought Alaska from the Russians for $7 million.
Lost his try at a second term.
Ran for U.S. Senate instead, and won.
Hs name?
Andrew Johnson.
America will reach its full maturity when an Andrew does the same for an Eliza.

I’ll admit that I’ve never heard of Eliza McCardle, so it was nice learning a bit of history while writing this blog. I’ll also admit that I don’t know much about Andrew Johnson (I’m no Macey Hensley. If you don’t know who she is, she is the cutest six-year old you will ever see, who also happens to be an expert on the Presidents. She has been on the Ellen show several times. Here is a clip of when Ellen sent her to Disney World so that she could see the Hall of Presidents.)

Anyway, back to Andrew Johnson. I decided to do some background reading on him (well sort of, I looked him up in Wikipedia), and it seems like perhaps he wasn’t the greatest example that Harry Gray could have used.

Here’s one excerpt from Wikipedia:

In the early 21st century, Johnson is among those commonly mentioned as the worst presidents in U.S. history. According to historian Glenn W. Lafantasie, who believes Buchanan the worst president, “Johnson is a particular favorite for the bottom of the pile because of his impeachment … his complete mishandling of Reconstruction policy … his bristling personality, and his enormous sense of self-importance.

And here’s another one, this time from Annette Gordon-Reed, another historian:

…Johnson, along with his contemporaries Pierce and Buchanan, are generally listed among the five worst presidents.

However, in the interests of providing some balance, Gordon-Reed also points out that

Johnson’s story has a miraculous quality to it: the poor boy who systematically rose to the heights, fell from grace, and then fought his way back to a position of honor in the country. For good or ill, ‘only in America,’ as they say, could Johnson’s story unfold in the way that it did.

So yes, it’s a good story of someone rising from a humble background to the highest office in the U.S., but obviously such a story by itself doesn’t guarantee that you will succeed in such a position.

But I also realize that this was not the main point of this United Technologies ad. Gray is trying to point out that we need to see men playing a more supportive role in helping to advance the careers of women.

While I would have to agree with his point, and I noted as much in a recent post:
Women are socialized from early adulthood to monitor their own health, and the health and well-being of others which is less common among men.

However, I think there are more instances of men providing support to women today than ever before. I can think of a couple off the top of my head:

  • Bill Clinton supporting his wife Hillary in her bid for the Presidency
  • Dave Goldberg supporting his wife Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer at Facebook. When Goldberg passed away suddenly last year at the age of  47, here is part of what Sandberg had to say about him:
    I met Dave nearly 20 years ago when I first moved to LA. He became my best friend. He showed me the internet for the first time, planned fun outings, took me to temple for the Jewish holidays, introduced me to much cooler music than I had ever heard. …He gave me the experience of being deeply understood, truly supported and completely and utterly loved – and I will carry that with me always.

I realize these are two high-profile cases, but so was Andrew Johnson’s. I also realize that many of you probably have a friend or relative where the husband provided a great deal of support to his wife as she pursued her career.

So while Eliza McCardle’s story may still be the norm, I think the times they are a changin’.

Who knows, perhaps there will be a great man ready to stand behind Macey Hensley as she pursues her dream of becoming the President of the U.S.

There’s no such thing as too much Macey!