I have been making several posts about my great grandfather C.E. James. Unfortunately, I have not done him justice nor have I appropriately condemned what some on Signal Mountain are trying to do.
My brother is in tears, my sister, indignant, my family broken hearted. The thought of Boyd Veal saying C.E. James is racist tears at our family’s heart. Mr. Veal reads a few deeds, draws conclusions and rushes to condemn. Mr. Veal has no idea who C.E. James was or what he did. As a third generation resident of Signal Mountain Mr. Veal appears woefully ignorant about a man whose genius “conceived the great dam of the Tennessee River…[taking] the dirt and the rock, and the sand and the cement and [making] it into a concrete thing, and [picking] it up and [blowing] into it the breath of life and [causing] it to reach out its arms fo fire and power and energy and send its force and light into every nook and corner of this great commonwealth.”
Unfortunately, I had forgotten what Mr. James did for Signal Mountain, Chattanooga, Hamilton County, and the great State of Tennessee. I did not do him justice in my previous posts I forgot about how this community admired C.E. James until my sister sent me his eulogy. The following are the words written about C.E. James upon his death. As you will see C.E. James was a pillar of integrity and gave back to his community investing over one million dollars into the public good on Signal Mountain and undertaking public endeavors expending more than 36 million dollars. He was a man of integrity and vision.
We need more people like him today. Here is a description of who C.E. James really was…
“He erected the first skyscraper here, he bound the great commonwealths of Georgia and Alabama to the volunteer state with rails of steel and spikes of iron when he was yet a young man; he ran the bear rom the jungle and the catamount from his hiding place on Walden’s Ridge and founded there a city, people and lighted it, expending over one million dollars for the public good, a blessing to this state and to this city forever. Finally his genius conceived the great dam of the Tennessee River, and he took the dirt and the rock, and the sand and the cement, and made it into a concrete thing, and picked it up and blew into it the breath of life and caused it to reach out its arms of fire and power and energy and send its force and light into every nook and corner of this great commonwealth, carrying the message of progress and civilization. He did all this because God had given him a great hear, a great mind and a great soul; and in all these splendid public endeavors, in the expenditure of more than thirty-six million dollars no man or woman has ever charged that, by mistake or design, a dollar of money has ever wrongfully gone into the pockets of Charles E. James. No other man, from Bristol to Memphis, in private life, or in public life, had done one tenth for Tennessee that has ben done by this man of vision and of unparalleled business foresight. He sands singly and alone among the builders of the south. “The Greatest Roman of Them All”. His manhood undefiled, his integrity unquestioned, his mind a dynamo of nerve and thought and action, his heart as red as the crimson flush of a summer sunset.”
This was the man that was my great grandfather and I am proud to be his great grandson.