Classic Royko: Let’s all pick a famous quote!
Subscribe for unlimited digital access.
Try one month for $1!
Subscribe for unlimited digital access. Try one month for $1!
Editor’s note: Mike Royko loved to ridicule Mayor Richard J. Daley, the subject of his classic book “Boss.” This column was published in the Chicago Daily News on June 22, 1976.
Like many orators, Mayor Daley likes to occasionally reach back into history or the Bible for quotations that help him make a point.
For instance, there was the time when the mayor was cautioning his listeners to avoid making wild accusations. The mayor put it this way:
“Like a guy said a long time ago: ‘He who hasn’t sinned, pick up the first stone.'”
The mayor further displayed his knowledge of biblical history on another occasion when he said:
“Even the Lord had skeptical members of his party.” (Daley has yet to reveal which party claimed the Lord as a member.)
And most Daley watchers recall the time he declared:
“They betrayed Him. They crucified Him. They even criticized Him.”
Last week, Daley again added to our knowledge when he turned to American history for a famous quotation.
He was making a speech at a dinner of Young Democrats, and he was predicting the Democratic convention would be held without rancor and disunity, which the mayor knows quite a bit about.
Daley told the audience:
“We’ll have unity. There’s no reason for disruption, as has been the case at the last two conventions. There’s no reason for putting anyone out.
“We can repeat the words of Washington, as he said to his soldiers while crossing the Delaware:
“‘Let’s all get in the boat!'”
Although the mayor is usually accurate in such matters, a number of amateur historians think he might have been mistaken in attributing this quotation to George Washington.
One of them said the only thing Washington is recalled to have said that night is: “It’s sure cold.”
The mayor might have been thinking of what Christopher Columbus said when his ship reached the shores of America for the first time. Columbus said to his men:
“Let’s all get off the boat!”
Or is it possible the mayor was thinking about the words of Noah, who said:
“Let’s all get in the Ark.”
Then again, it might have been Admiral Farragut he had in mind. As every schoolkid knows, it was Farragut who, as he directed his ship through torpedo-filled Mobile Bay, declared:
“Let’s not sink this boat.”
Another Daley watcher suggested the mayor confused Washington with Teddy Roosevelt. It was Teddy who rallied his men forward at the Battle of San Juan Hill with the famous cry:
“Let’s all get up this hill!”
Gen. Douglas MacArthur said something similar when the Japanese army forced him to leave the Philippines in 1942. That was when MacArthur declared:
“Let’s all come back her some time.”
Or could it be that Daley, a biblical scholar of note, had Moses in mind?
When the Egyptians pursued him, and the Red Sea parted, Moses said to his followers:
“Let’s get out of here.”
On the other hand, the mayor might have been thinking of something he read in “Moby Dick” when Captain Ahab, upon sighting the Great White Whale, says to his men:
“Let’s all get that fish.”
And we find a similar theme in “Julius Caesar,” with the treacherous Cassius unveiling his plot to kill Caesar by saying:
“Let’s all stab the emperor.”
Of course, it was Hannibal who is remembered for saying, as he prepared to cross the Alps:
“Let’s get those elephants over the Alps!”
But that’s the way it is with famous sayings of famous men. Some day, they’ll be debating whether it was Daley of Chicago who said:
“Let’s all get in the deal!”
Send letters to: firstname.lastname@example.org.