I interviewed Maine Independent Senatorial candidate Angus King on June 8, 2012. An op/ed column based on this interview ran in the New York Times on June 12. Below is the opening of the interview. The full conversation can be read here.
Gov. Angus King: Okay. Let’s go.
Jenny Boylan: Let’s talk about Chamberlain. The last time I saw you, which I think was the summer of ’09 or it might’ve been ’10.
Gov. Angus King: And I read his speech.
Jenny Boylan: Passing of the Armies. Well, you have this thing for him. For the record, what qualities about Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain do you admire?
Gov. Angus King: Well, I’ll start with the last item on my list of leadership qualities, because I think it’s the most important, and it’s the hardest to define. He was a man of immense character. It’s a hard term to define but it involves honesty and integrity, adherence to principle, courage, willingness to take risks, and the more you read about him and study him, the more you realize that was what defined him.
I teach my students, however, that quite often people’s best qualities can also be their worst qualities, and adherence to principle and passionate commitment to ideals can lap over into rigidity, and Chamberlain had some problems when he was president of Bowdoin, for example, because he got into a conflict. The entire student body was expelled at one point.
Jenny Boylan: Actually, not that that’s necessarily a bad idea, speaking as a professor. It does make the grading easier.
Gov. Angus King: But he was a man of such integrity, and everybody in Maine knows the story of Little Round Top, but there are other stories about him that are equally important and I think revealing. One is the gubernatorial election of 1880, which is a fascinating chapter, where the election results were so close – and he wasn’t running. He had been governor 13 years before. But the results were so close that nobody knew who had won. It was like Florida in 2000.
And there were actually armed mobs in the state, in Augusta, in Bangor, on behalf of the two candidates, and it was almost a civil war within the state. Nobody knew what to do, and so they called Chamberlain to come and… (read rest of the interview here.)