General William Tecumseh Sherman is remembered today, 125 years after his death, for two quotations. One is “War is hell,” and the second is, “The Sherman Statement.” Sherman was a great soldier who had absolutely no political ambitions. This is a rather ironic because both his adopted father and his older brother John were U.S. Senator. He once commented that if he had the choice between serving three years in Washington, D.C. or the same amount of time in prison, he would gladly choose the latter. After triumph of President Grant’s second term, some Republicans tried to encourage Sherman to be a candidate for President. Sherman wouldn’t hear of it. He stated categorically, “I will not run if nominated and will not serve if elected.”
This put the kibosh on any “draft Sherman” movement. Today, any time a politician denies having Presidential ambitions, reporters will follow up by asking, “Are you willing to make a Sherman statement?” I have yet to hear anyone do so. General Sherman set a standard for straight shooting that will never be exceeded, unparalleled in the past century.