If At First You Don’t Succeed…

Posted by on August 21, 2013

A Monday Morning Memo from The Wizard of Ads

It’s 1848. Nine Irishmen have been captured, tried and convicted of treason against Her Majesty, the Queen. They are sentenced to death. The men’s names are Charles Duffy, John Mitchell, Morris Lyene, Pat Donahue, Thomas McGee, Richard O’Gorman, Thomas Meagher, Michael Ireland, and Terrence McManus.

As the judge is about to pronounce their sentences, he asks if there is anything they would like to say. Meagher steps forward and speaks for the group. “My Lord, this is our first offense. If you will be easy with us this once, we promise, on our word as gentlemen, to try to do better next time. And next time – you can be certain we’ll not be fools enough to get caught!”

The embarrassed and infuriated judge sentenced them to be hanged by the neck until dead, then drawn and quartered. When the world cried out in protest, Queen Victoria commuted their sentences to banishment for life into the wilderness of Australia.

In 1874, Queen Victoria was astounded to learn that the newly elected Prime Minister of Australia was the same Charles Duffy she had banished there 25 years before. Upon the Queen’s order, the other eight men were located and here is what she learned; John Mitchell had become a prominent American politician and his son was now the Mayor of New York. Morris Lyene had become the Attorney General of Australia and upon completion of his term, Michael Ireland succeeded him. Thomas McGee was a member of parliament in Montreal, Canada. Pat Donahue and Terrence McManus were both Brigadier Generals in the United States Army. Richard O’Gorman was Governor General of Newfoundland. Thomas Meagher, the spokesman who had infuriated the judge, was now the Governor of Montana.

Is it a merely a coincidence that all nine of these men rose to positions of leadership and prominence? Or is this simply what happens to people who have the courage of their convictions? I tend to believe the latter.

Is there anything in your life which causes you to feel the passion of these men? Do you, like them, have the courage of your convictions? Is there anything important enough to cause you to speak to a judge as Thomas Meagher did? I am not endorsing their conspiracy against the government, I am speaking of the value of passion.

If there is nothing you would be willing to die for, you have little for which to live. “He who would lose his life will find it.”

Roy H. Williams

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