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Bruce Fairchild Barton
5 de agosto de 1886 - 5 de julio de 1967
Born in Tennessee in 1886, he graduated from Amherst College in 1907. He worked as a publicist and magazine editor before co-founding the Barton, Durstine & Osborn (BDO) advertising agency in 1919. Nine years later the agency merged with the George Batten agency to become Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn (BBDO). Barton headed the agency until 1961, building it into one of the industry's leaders. Among other famous campaigns, he created the character of "Betty Crocker". He is also credited with naming General Motors and General Electric. Politically conservative, he offered his public relations expertise to many Republican candidates over the years. A staunch opponent of Roosevelt and the New Deal, he served two terms in the United States House of Representatives (1937-1941), and ran in 1940 unsuccessfully for U.S. Senator from New York.
Barton was most famous, however, as the author of many bestselling guides to personal success. He also wrote literally hundreds of articles for popular magazines, offering readers advice and inspiration for pursuing the American dream. His most famous book, The Man Nobody Knows (1925), depicted Jesus Christ as a successful salesman, publicist and role model for the modern businessman. One historian writes: "Barton believed incurably in material progress, in self-improvement, in individualism, and in the Judeo-Christian ethic, and none of the profound crises through which his generation lived appreciably changed the tenor of his writings or their capacity to reflect what masses of Americans, optimists in the progressive tradition, apparently continued to want to hear."
Bruce Barton was a descendant of the Rev. John Davenport, the founder of Yale University, and of New Haven, Connecticut, through his mother.
Dear Mr. Blank,
For the past three or four years things have been going pretty well at our house. We pay our bills, afford such luxuries as having the children's tonsils out, and still have something in the bank at the end of the year. So far as business is concerned, therefore, I have felt fairly well content.
But there is another side to a man, which every now and then gets restless. It says: "What good are you anyway? What influences have you set up, aside from your business, that would go on working if you were to shuffle off tomorrow?"
Of course, we chip in to the Church and the Salvation Army, and dribble out a little money right along in response to all sorts of appeals. But there isn't much satisfaction in it. For one thing, it's too diffused and, for another, I'm never very sure in my own mind that the thing I'm giving to is worth a hurrah and I don't have time to find out.
A couple of years ago I said: "I'd like to discover the one place in the United States where a dollar does more net good than anywhere else." It was a rather thrilling idea, and I went at it in the same spirit in which our advertising agency conducts a market investigation for a manufacturer. Without bothering you with a long story, I believe I have found the place.
This letter is being mailed to 23 men besides yourself, twenty-five of us altogether. I honestly believe that it offers an opportunity to get a maximum amount of satisfaction for a minimum sum.
Let me give you the background.
Among the first comers to this country were some pure blooded English folks who settled in Virginia but, being more hardy and venturesome than the average, pushed on west and settled in the mountains of Kentucky, Tennessee, North and South Carolina. They were stalwart lads and lassies. They fought the first battle against the British and shed the first blood. In the Revolution they won the battle of King's Mountain. Later, under Andy Jackson, they fought and won the only land victory that we managed to pull off in the War of 1812. Although they lived in southern states they refused to secede in 1860. They broke off from Virginia and formed the state of West Virginia; they kept Kentucky in the Union; and they sent a million men into the northern armies. It is not too much to say that they were the deciding factor in winning the struggle to keep these United States united.
They have had a rotten deal from Fate. There are no roads into the mountains, no trains, no ways of making money. So our prosperity has circled all around them and left them pretty much untouched. They are great folks. The girls are as good looking as any in the world. Take one of them out of her two-roomed log cabin home, give her a stylish dress and a permanent wave, and she'd be a hit on Fifth Avenue. Take one of the boys, who maybe never saw a railroad train until he was 21: give him a few years of education and he goes back into the mountains as a teacher or doctor or lawyer or carpenter, and changes the life of a town or county.
This gives you an idea of the raw material. Clean, sound timber - no knots, no wormholes; a great contrast to the imported stuff with which our social settlements have to work in New York and other cities.
Now, away back in the Civil War days, a little college was started in the Kentucky mountains. It started with faith, hope, and sacrifice, and those three virtues are the only endowment it has ever had. Yet today it has accumulated, by little gifts picked up by passing the hat, a plant that takes care of 3000 students a year. It's the most wonderful manufacturing proposition you ever heard of. They raise their own food, can it in their own cannery; milk their own cows; make brooms and weave rugs that are sold all over the country; do their own carpentry, painting, printing, horseshoeing, and everything, teaching every boy and girl a trade while he and she is studying. And so efficiently is the job done that -
* a room rents for 60 cents a week (including heat and light)
One boy walked in a hundred miles, leading a cow. He stabled the cow in the village, milked her night and morning, peddled the milk, and put himself through college. He is now a major in the United States Army. His brother, who owned half of the cow, is a missionary in Africa. Seventy-five percent of the graduates go back to the mountains, and their touch is on the mountain counties of five states; better homes, better food, better child health, better churches, better schools; no more feuds; lower death rates.
Now we come to the hook. It costs this college, which is named Berea, $100 a year per student to carry on. She could, of course, turn away 1500 students each year and break even on the other 1500. Or she could charge $100 tuition. But then she would be just one more college for the well-to-do. Either plan would be a moral crime. The boys and girls in those one-room and two-room cabins deserve a chance. They are of the same stuff as Lincoln and Daniel Boone and Henry Clay; they are the very best raw material that can be found in the United States.
I have agreed to take ten boys and pay the deficit on their education each year, $1,000. I have agreed to do this if I can get twenty-four other men who will each take ten. The president, Dr. William J. Hutchins (Yale 1892), who ought to be giving every minute of his time to running the college, is out passing the hat and riding the rails from town to town. He can manage to get $50,000 or $70,000 a year. I want to lift part of his load by turning in $25,000.
This is my proposition to you. Let me pick out ten boys, who are as sure blooded Americans as your own sons, and just as deserving of a chance. Let me send you their names and tell you in confidence, for we don't want to hurt their pride, where they come from and what they hope to do with their lives. Let me report to you on their progress three times a year. You write me, using the enclosed envelope, that, if and when I get my other twenty-three men, you will send President Hutchins your check for $1,000. If you will do this I'll promise you the best time you have ever bought for a thousand dollars.
Most of the activities to which we give in our lives stop when we stop. But our families go on; and young life goes on and matures and gives birth to other lives. For a thousand dollars a year you can put ten boys or girls back into the mountains who will be a leavening influence in ten towns or counties, and their children will bear the imprint of your influence. Honestly, can you think of any other investment that would keep your life working in the world so long a time after you are gone?
This is a long letter, and I could be writing a piece for the magazines and collecting for it in the time it has taken me to turn it out. So, remember that this is different from any other appeal that ever came to you. Most appeals are made by people who profit from a favorable response, but this appeal is hurting me a lot more than it can possibly hurt you. What will you have, ten boys or ten girls?
Perhaps best known as the author of the book, The Man Nobody Knows (a life of Christ), Bruce Barton was himself once the subject of an article entitled, inevitably, "The Man Everybody Knows." Although Barton found the phrase distasteful, at one time it was quite apt. He became widely known not only as author of popular books, articles, and editorials, but also as a businessman and as a politician.
The oldest child of a distinguished Congregational minister, William E. Barton, young Bruce grew up in a home where reading and writing were as much a way of life as the old fashioned virtues of thrift, hard work, and charity. The elder Barton achieved a reputation not only as a preacher, but also as a writer and as an authority on Abraham Lincoln. He wrote several books on Lincoln and on other subjects. Under the pseudonym, "Safed the Sage" he wrote a series of modern-day parables which gained wide popularity.
It is not surprising that Bruce should turn to writing. However, success did not come immediately. After graduating from Amherst College in 1907, Barton took a position as advertising solicitor with a small Chicago publication, the Home Herald. Barton was promoted to writing editorials, but the magazine folded in 1909. He went to New York, and after a time became managing editor of The Housekeeper, but this publication also failed in 1912. In 1914 Barton became editor of Every Week. This magazine achieved a measure of popularity, but was discontinued in 1918 due to rising war costs. Despite these apparent failures, the popularity of Barton's writings continued to increase, achieving its highest level during the 1920's, especially following the publication of The Man Nobody Knows (1925). In following decades he continued to be a prolific writer, but he came to view his writing career more and more as an avocation, while his main preoccupation shifted to business -- and, for a time, to politics.
Barton's talent for advertising appeared early in his career. In the pre-war period, he had spent several years as assistant sales manager for P. F. Collier and Son, and his promotion of Dr. Eliot's Five Foot Shelf--" a liberal education in only fifteen minutes a day"-- had caused sales to boom. After EVERY WEEK ceased publication, Barton assumed the publicity work for the United War Workers campaign, promoting the various wartime charities making up this organization. He coined the slogan "A man is down, but he's never out" for the Salvation Army. It was also at this time that Barton met Alex Osborn and Roy Durstine, and following the war the three pooled their talents to form an advertising agency.
The new firm of Barton, Durstine, and Osborn grew rapidly, and gained the accounts of General Motors, General Electric, Gillette, and Standard Oil of New York, among many others. By 1928 B. D. O. was itself a leading New York agency, when it merged with one of the largest and oldest advertising firms in New York, the George Batten Company. With Barton as president, and later chairman of the board, Batten, Barton, Durstine, and Osborn became one of the leading advertising agencies in the world, with branch offices in London and in major cities throughout the United States.
His literary and advertising successes led Barton briefly into the motion picture industry during the 1920's. He was invited to Hollywood in 1926 to serve as consultant for Cecil B. DeMille's King of Kings and to discuss the possibility of writing a scenario for Paramount studios. With some of his associates at B. D. O. he sponsored a motion picture company, Better Day Pictures, Inc. to produce short films based on his editorials, but the firm never produced more than a single, pilot film.
Barton's interest in public affairs, together with his facility for making friends, his wide circle of business contacts, and his literary talents almost inevitably drew him into politics -- which for Barton meant the Republican party. As early as 1920 Barton, with Frank Stearns, was among a small group promoting Calvin Coolidge for the presidency, and may well have contributed to the selection of Coolidge as the vice-presidential candidate. Barton played an increasing role in successive Republican campaigns, drafting speeches and guiding publicity for candidates from Coolidge through Eisenhower.
Barton's firm, B. B. D. O., for some years held the Republican party advertising account. It is interesting that Barton himself opposed the involvement of his agency in political advertising, as he claimed in his letter to Joseph Alsop of July 9, 1958.
Barton's own career in public office was brief but active. In 1937 a vacancy occurred in New York's 17th ("silk stocking") District, and Barton decided to run for Congress. He campaigned and won on his pledge to seek to "repeal a law a week," and was reelected to a regular term in 1938. Barton was already well known because of his writings, and his congressional career helped to keep him before the public eye (he was referred to as "the best advertised man in Congress"). As early as 1936 he had been mentioned as a potential presidential candidate, and by 1940 such talk was even more widespread. Barton, however, threw his support to Wendell Willkie at the 1940 Republican convention. At Willkie's insistence Barton ran for the Senate, but lost to the Democratic incumbent.
After 1940 Barton retired from active politics, but remained one of the Republican party's most influential behind-the-scenes members. He has generally been identified as a member of the "moderate" wing of the party, although he valued party unity more than any faction. Persons of all shades of political opinion were numbered among his friends, and some have felt that Barton's cohesive influence on the party during his active years should not be underestimated.
One further aspect of Barton's life that should not be ignored is the influence of his early religious and family background. This influence has been evident throughout his career, and is reflected in his writings on business and politics, as well as in his religious and general writings. It is perhaps best exemplified in Barton's deep personal commitment to philanthropy. In addition to financial assistance and service on boards of directors, he has frequently contributed his talents as a fund-raiser, speaker, and writer. Among the principal organizations in which he has taken special interest have been the American Heart Association, Berea College, Deerfield Academy, the Institute for the Crippled and Disabled, Presbyterian Hospital of New York, and the United Negro College Fund. In 1960 he was awarded recognition for his educational philanthropies by special mention in Who's Who In America.
In 1957 Barton suffered from a stroke, which has forced him to restrict his business, literary, and political activities and his public appearances.
Fuente: University of Wisconsin Digital Collections.
A Representative from New York; born in Robbins, Scott County, Tenn., August 5, 1886; educated in the public schools of Ohio, Massachusetts, and Illinois; graduated from Amherst (Mass.) College in 1907; moved to Chicago, Ill., in 1900 and engaged in literary and editorial pursuits; moved to New York City in 1912 and continued literary work; also engaged in the magazine and advertising business; elected as a Republican to the Seventy-fifth Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Theodore A. Peyser; reelected to the Seventy-sixth Congress and served from November 2, 1937, to January 3, 1941; was not a candidate for renomination but was an unsuccessful candidate for election in 1940 to the United States Senate; delegate to the Republican State convention in 1938 and to the Republican National Convention at Philadelphia in 1940; resumed advertising business in New York City; died in New York City, on July 5, 1967; interment in Rock Hill Cemetery, Foxboro, Mass.