Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Pondering Lew Wallace..

In the early 1880’s Lew Wallace served as the Governor of New Mexico for 2 ½ years. New Mexico was still a territory and Wallace was appointed by the president to serve the term. He had just published a successful novel, "Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ", which was getting worldwide attention, and Wallace couldn’t wait to get out of New Mexico.

On April 28, 1881, he sat in his office in Santa Fe, and wrote a letter to his wife Susan back in Indiana. "Let Gen. Sheldon come quickly is my constant wish,'' Wallace declared in the letter.

In the same paragraph he wrote this:

“All calculations based on our experiences elsewhere fail in New Mexico.''

I have thought many times about this quote since I first came across it years ago. For most students of New Mexico history, Wallace’s comment is seen as a condemnation of the territory where he didn’t want to serve and which he couldn’t wait to leave. Beset with local problems, he was expressing great frustration with New Mexico.

But to me, the quote means something entirely different …. It suggests the possibility that New Mexico is so unique, so truly different, that it defies being put into a box with the rest of the United States. To me, it means that New Mexico is a new experience, a different kind of lifestyle, a truly unparalleled place.

Thank you, Lew Wallace, for your words which inspire me.

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