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 August 20, 2008
Demosthenes of Texas (Richard Bennett Hubbard, Jr.)

Richard Bennett Hubbard, Jr. (1832-1901) was known for his large size and his oratorical skills. Hubbard was Texas governor for only a brief period (from December 1, 1876 until 1879); in 1884 he campaigned for Grover Cleveland for United States president and in 1885 Cleveland named him a minister to Japan. Orators have long been compared to the great Greek orator Demosthenes (384-322 B.C.), and Hubbard was called “the Demosthenes of Texas” by at least 1891.

At least one other Texas orator (see the 1897 citation below) has also been called the “Demosthenes of Texas.”


Wikipedia: Demosthenes
Demosthenes (384–322 BC, Greek: Δημοσθένης, Dēmosthénēs) was a prominent Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens. His orations constitute a significant expression of ancient Athenian intellectual prowess and provide an insight into the politics and culture of ancient Greece during the 4th century BC. Demosthenes learned rhetoric by studying the speeches of previous great orators. He delivered his first judicial speeches at the age of twenty, in which he argued effectively to gain from his guardians what was left of his inheritance. For a time, Demosthenes made his living as a professional speech-writer (logographer) and a lawyer, writing speeches for use in private legal suits.

Demosthenes grew interested in politics during his time as a logographer, and in 354 BC he gave his first public political speeches. He went on to devote his most productive years to opposing Macedon’s expansion. He idealized his city and strove throughout his life to restore Athens’ supremacy and motivate his compatriots against Philip II of Macedon. He sought to preserve his city’s freedom and to establish an alliance against Macedon, in an unsuccessful attempt to impede Philip’s plans to expand his influence southwards by conquering all the Greek states. After Philip’s death, Demosthenes played a leading part in his city’s uprising against the new King of Macedon, Alexander the Great. However, his efforts failed and the revolt was met with a harsh Macedonian reaction. To prevent a similar revolt against his own rule, Alexander’s successor, Antipater, sent his men to track Demosthenes down. Demosthenes took his own life, in order to avoid being arrested by Archias, Antipater’s confidant.

The Alexandrian Canon compiled by Aristophanes of Byzantium and Aristarchus of Samothrace recognized Demosthenes as one of the ten greatest Attic orators and logographers. According to Longinus, Demosthenes “perfected to the utmost the tone of lofty speech, living passions, copiousness, readiness, speed”. Cicero acclaimed him as “the perfect orator” who lacked nothing, and Quintilian extolled him as “lex orandi” ("the standard of oratory") and that “inter omnes unus excellat” ("he stands alone among all the orators").

Handbook of Texas Online
HUBBARD, RICHARD BENNETT, JR. (1832-1901). Richard Bennett (Dick) Hubbard, Jr., governor of Texas and diplomat, son of Richard Bennett and Serena (Carter) Hubbard, was born in Walton County, Georgia, on November 1, 1832. He spent his formative years in rural Jasper County, Georgia. He graduated from Mercer Institute (now Mercer University) in 1851 with an A.B. degree in literature and was elected National University Orator, a high honor at Mercer. He briefly attended lectures at the University of Virginia, then went to Harvard, where he was awarded the LL.B. in 1853. Later that year he and his parents moved to Smith County, Texas, where they settled in Tyler and then on a plantation near the site of Lindale. Hubbard first entered politics in 1855, when he opposed the American (Know-Nothing) party. In the 1856 presidential election he supported James Buchanan, who appointed him United States district attorney for the western district of Texas, a position he resigned in 1859 to run for the state legislature. He served in the Eighth Legislature, where he supported secession. After his failure to win election to the Confederate States Congress from the Fifth District, he recruited men for the Confederate forces. During the Civil War he commanded the Twenty-second Texas Infantry regiment and served in the Trans-Mississippi Department in Arkansas and Louisiana.

Hubbard’s postwar law practice, supplemented by income from real estate and railroad promotion, enabled him to resume his political career by 1872, when he was chosen presidential elector on the Horace Greeley ticket. He was elected lieutenant governor in 1873 and 1876 and succeeded to the governorship on December 1, 1876, when Richard Coke resigned to become a United States senator. Hubbard’s gubernatorial term was marked by post-Reconstruction financial difficulties, by general lawlessness, and by the fact that the legislature was never in session during his administration. Though political opponents prevented his nomination for a second term, he remained popular with the people of Texas. His accomplishments as governor include reducing the public debt, fighting land fraud, promoting educational reforms, and restoring public control of the state prison system. When he left the governorship in 1879 he was the object of acrimonious political and personal attacks. In 1884 Hubbard served as temporary chairman of the Democratic national nominating convention. He campaigned vigorously for the party nominee, Grover Cleveland, who appointed him minister to Japan in 1885. His oratory gained him the cognomen “Demosthenes of Texas.” His four years in Japan marked a delicate transitional period in Japanese-American relations. Under American and European influences, Japan was emerging from feudalism and dependency and had begun to insist on recognition as a diplomatic equal, a position Hubbard strongly supported. He concluded with Japan an extradition treaty, and his preliminary work on the general treaty revisions provided the basis for the revised treaties of 1894-99. When he returned to the United States in 1889, he wrote a book based upon his diplomatic experience, The United States in the Far East, which was published in 1899.

Hubbard was a Freemason, a member of the Smith County Agricultural and Mechanical Society, and a member of the board of directors of Texas A&M. In 1876 he was chosen Centennial Orator of Texas to represent the state at the World’s Exposition in Philadelphia. There he urged national unity and goodwill in an acclaimed oration. Hubbard was a Baptist. He was first married to Eliza B. Hudson, daughter of Dr. G. C. Hudson of Lafayette, Alabama, on November 30, 1858; one daughter of this marriage, Serena, survived. Hubbard’s second marriage, on November 26, 1869, was to Janie Roberts, daughter of Willis Roberts of Tyler. Janie died during Hubbard’s mission to Japan, leaving him a second daughter, Searcy. Hubbard lived his final years in Tyler, where he died on July 12, 1901. He is buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Tyler. Hubbard in Hill County is named for him.

Google Books
Distinguished American Lawyers: With Their Struggles and Triumphs in the Forum
by Henry Wilson Scott
New York, NY: Charles L. Webster and Company
1891
Pg. 454:
Mr. Hubbard possesses this style, which has earned him the compliment of the “Demosthenes of Texas.”

22 April 1897, Adams County Free Press (Corning, Iowa), pg. 10, col. 5:
Joseph W. Bailey, representative to Congress from Texas, may be considered beyond a doubt as the leader of the Democratic minority of the House. His home is in Gainesville. There he went in 1885, life had boundless political ambition, and selected that locality as a good one to grow up with. Mr. Bailey made rapid progress in his political career. Within two years he became known as the “young Demosthenes of Texas democracy,” and in 1890 he was sent to Congress by a plurality of nearly 23,000 votes.

OCLC WorldCat record
Richard Bennett Hubbard, “The Demosthenes of Texas.”
by George R Nielsen
Type:  Book; English
Publisher: 1957.
Dissertation: Thesis (M.A.)--University of Houston, 1957.

Google Books
Richard Bennett Hubbard: An American Life
By Martha Anne Turner and Jean Sutherlin Duncan
Austin, TX: Shoal Creek Publishers
1979
Pg. 1:
Moreover, citizens of Texas and other parts of the nation referred to him as the “Silver-tongued Orator of the South” and “the Demosthenes of Texas.”

Corsicana (TX) Daily Sun
Published: August 16, 2008 09:24 pm
Hubbard — Small town and big governor
By Dr. Tommy Stringer
Like many Texas communities, Hubbard in neighboring Hill County, owes its beginnings to the railroad. Although there were settlers in the area in the 1860s, the town was not formally organized until 1881 with the arrival of the St. Louis Southwestern Railroad, commonly called the Cotton Belt. Former Governor Richard B. Hubbard happened to be present at a meeting to organize the town, prompting the citizens to name their settlement in his honor.
(...)
Hubbard’s administration was marked by turbulence, as the state was transitioning from the Reconstruction policies of the Radical Republicans to a return to Democratic “home rule.” The state was plagued by financial problems and lawlessness. Hubbard was particularly restricted by the fact that the Legislature never met during the entire time he was in office. He was somewhat successful in reducing the public debt, addressing problems with land fraud, and introducing educational reforms. Although he wanted a second term, the Democrats turned to a compromise candidate Oran Roberts to appease various factions within the party. He remained active in the Democratic Party and was rewarded for his work by being named minister to Japan in 1885, a position he held for 4 years.

In addition to his political accomplishments, Hubbard was noted for two traits — his oratorical skills and his size. His strong melodious voice and articulate style earned him the title of “Demosthenes of Texas.” Hubbard also holds the distinction of being Texas’ largest governor in size, as his weight topped 400 pounds. Because of his expanse, his friends called him “Jumbo.”

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (1) Comments • Wednesday, August 20, 2008 • Permalink


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