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The American Portrait


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The American Portrait
Every great country has a rich history littered with hugely influential individuals. Such
individuals, as those in the American Portrait, were interested in creating a society that prospered
in health, education, business, and governance among other fields. To achieve these goals, such
individuals had to poses exemplary qualities attributed to leadership. Julian Ralph (a journalist),
William Lloyd Garrison (an abolitionist), and Thomas O’Donnell (a businessman and
philanthropist) are some of the Americans named in the book who acted as important leaders in
different times and situations. Though the three specialized in different fields, they both stood out
as a result of their influence and leadership qualities.
A good leader can be defined as one who puts the interest of those they serve before their
own. It is the mark of great leaders to offer direction without being consumed by selfish personal
desires and ambition. A good leader, therefore, needs to be a servant of the public; not the other
way round. Some of the great leaders had to make huge sacrifices for the good of the larger
public they serve. Assertiveness is, perhaps, one of the qualities that differentiate great leaders
from the mediocre ones. Great leaders should also set a good example to the populace by being
accountable and take responsibility, show concern, and be incorruptible. These traits, alongside

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humility, are the hallmark of a good leader. The ‘leaders’ who lacked these traits fell out of
public favor because they lost focus of their obligation to those they served.
Leaders are trusted by the people to make decisions that will enhance growth and social
mobility of the entire society. To do this, a good leader needs to understand the needs of those
they are representing. This puts forth another aspect of good leadership; cooperation and
integration. A good leader should not only be able to consult but also work with every other
person with whom they have congruent goals.
While leadership has been attributed to democratically elected or appointed individuals,
its true meaning transpires beyond that. Most of the people in the American Portrait are
individuals who managed to lead from the simple roles they were entrusted within the society. It
is from these roles that they grew to influence a larger course. O’Donnell’s humble beginnings as
a young shovel coal miner saw him rise to a reputable oil magnate. The same applies to Ralph
who held no public office but influenced the society through his works and character. Great
leaders, therefore, did not wait to be thrust to the public limelight to make an impact. Instead,
they took the initiative and did what they assumed was right.
The American Portrait has a catalogue of individuals who can be hailed as the leaders that
shaped their respective fields. However, their influence was greater than the areas of
specialization as it extended to other spheres of the society. For instance, despite being a
journalist, Julian Ralph had significant influence on the social and political aspects of the
American society. This exemplified a great leader who refused to let their influence be limited to
their profession. The role played by these leaders has gone to inspire some of the famous leaders

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that are synonymous with the modern society. The exploits and success of William Lloyd
Garrison went on to inspire civil rights activists who continue to fight for equality and fairness.
Julian Ralph ranks highest among the three leaders. His relentless dedication to the task
he set out to pursue is incredible. Unlike William Lloyd Garrison, Ralph was in the thick of the
wars that he reported. William Lloyd Garrison was at one point criticized by other abolitionists
for failing to take political action in the anti-slavery fight. Ralph also developed a sense of
political goodwill and was able to cooperate with different people he dealt with. His ability to
work in the US, England, Turkey, China and Russia proves that he was flexible and
accommodative. Ralph also made sacrifices in order to deliver news with accuracy. In his
worldwide exploits, except the Turkish-Greek War, Ralph left his wife and children behind.
The second ranked leader is William Lloyd Garrison. This abolitionist’s determination in
the quest for a slave-free society highlighted some of the qualities that underline great leadership.
The industry he put in discrediting the pro-slavery society is unlike any other. His first paper,
Free Press, went down as a result of low subscription due to his stand on these issues. He,
however, continued his pursuit with the National Philanthropist, Genius of Emancipation and
The Liberator. The fact that he appreciated the wrong decisions he had made and corrected them
presents him as a credible leader. For instance, when he realized the true role of the American
Colonization Society, he broke ranks.
O’Donnell is ranked third as his leadership influence was almost limited to the corporate
environment. However, it is not entirely right to assume that he was the lesser leader. O’Donnell
had a significant influence on the major energy sector that drove the American industry during
the industrial revolution. The fact that he acted as a volunteer in serving the central government

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Great content here. Definitely a returning customer.