[Ads-l] Request help to verify H. L. Mencken column in Baltimore Evening Sun, July 26, 1920

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sun Dec 11 11:19:33 EST 2016

I received a request to verify a harsh quotation ascribed to H. L.
Mencken that has been applied to several U.S. Presidents. I have
already verified that the quotation is listed in the 1956 compilation
"A Carnival of Buncombe" edited by Malcolm Moos which provides the
following citation:

Newspaper: Baltimore Evening Sun
Date: July 26, 1920
Title in book: Bayard vs. Lionheart
Author: H. L. Mencken
Page Number: Unknown

The goal is to obtain a complete citation and verify the excerpt below
in an image database, on microfilm, or on paper in the "Baltimore
Evening Sun" ("The Evening Sun"). "The Baltimore Sun" is available via
ProQuest and Newspapers.com, but the "Baltimore Evening Sun" published
different material. I have searched Newspapers.com and have not found
the target quotation. Hence, I believe that the quotation appeared in
"Baltimore Evening Sun" and not "The Baltimore Sun".

Using microfilm is a hassle, I know, and "A Carnival of Buncombe" does
not specify a page number, but H. L. Mencken's column was probably
featured prominently.

[Begin excerpt to be verified]
The larger the mob, the harder the test. In small areas, before small
electorates, a first-rate man occasionally fights his way through,
carrying even the mob with him by the force of his personality. But
when the field is nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at
second and third hand, and the force of personality cannot so readily
make itself felt, then all the odds are on the man who is,
intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre—the man who can most
adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum.

The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is
perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner
soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and
glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's
desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright
[End excerpt]

Digital scans showing the article, page number, date, and newspaper
title would be very helpful. The Enoch Pratt Free Library of
Baltimore. Maryland probably has the "Baltimore Evening Sun".

If you have access to the "Baltimore Evening Sun" on July 26, 1920,
and you are willing to help please let me know. Thanks.

Garson O'Toole

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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