New England gave us The Kennedys. The South over the years has sent all sorts of colorful characters to Washington, D. C. In the Pacific Northwest, Harry Cain may be one of our most famous political figures in American politics, though you probably have never heard of him.
Mark Smith hopes to change that. Smith, who lives in Richland, knew Cain as a young man. His book, Raising Cain, the life and politics of Harry P. Cain, has begun to arrive at local book stores, and next week the City of Tacoma dedicates the Harry Cain Promenade, a block of Broadway Plaza, where in the early 1940s Cain strolled as the city’s youngest mayor before eventually becoming Washington state’s most famous US Senator.
So who is Harry Cain?
Cain was one of the few politicians who stood against rounding up Japanese-American citizens at the outset of World War Two. Later, when Americans, shivering in the Red Scare and Cold War years snuggled in the warm embrace of Joe McCarthy, Smith writes, “Cain defied both his party and his president to fight for the civil liberties of thousands of Americans whose loyalty was being questioned.”
Cain’s story may sound disturbingly familiar with its similarities to post 911. As Smith quotes the senator from 1955, “We can be safe and free at . . . the same time, but it is possible to become so safe that nobody can be free.”
Many people were turned off by history because of those arid-dry text books in school, but this is one of those history books that promises to follow the essentials of a good novel: it has a plot, back stories, and a memorable character.
To read more about the senator, the author, and where you can find the book, visit Smith’s website.