‘It Was Not Luck, But Hard Work’

Typed letter signed "Thos. D. Schall" (Thomas D. Schall) to "S.H." (Seymour Halpern) in response to Halpern's inquiry regarding the key to success in life.

n.p. (Washington, D.C): Feburary 8th, 1930.

1 p. on "United States Senate" letterhead. 4to. ‘It Was Not Luck, But Hard Work’. Fine. Item #309429

A plucky letter from the first blind US Senator. Reading in part: “Through an electric shock I lost my sight. Then it was the beginning all over as a blind man to make myself into a successful blind lawyer. It was hard luck but there again pluck and determination, will power, courage, whatever you may call it, was dominant and I became a successful, practicing blind lawyer earning more money than I ever earned as a seeing one… It was not luck, but hard work, constant application and a faith that God would help me…”

In 1907, 29-year old attorney, Thomas Schall (1878-1935), stopped by a cigar shop during the lunch recess of a personal injury case he was arguing in Fargo. Schall attempted to light his cigar with an electric lighter but had unknowingly plugged the 110-volt device into 220-volt outlet. The electric shock that he received left him permanently blind. Undeterred and refusing to consider himself disabled, Schall continued to successfully practice law and went on to a career in politics, serving as a member of the US House of Representatives from Minnesota from 1915-1925, and as a US Senator from 1925-1935. Tragically, he was truck by a hit and run driver while walking across the Baltimore-Washington Parkway in Cottage City, Maryland, on December 19, 1935, and died three days later.

As a high school student, Seymour Halpern (1913-1997), wrote letters to many notables of the day including politicians, military officers, entertainers, diplomats, artists, activists, writers, and businessmen, inquiring about their ideas to the keys to success in life. Halpern would later go on to serve as Republican from New York to the 86th, 87th, 88th, 89th, 90th, 91st and 92nd United States Congresses, holding office from January 3, 1959, to January 3, 1973.

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