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History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications
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Geo. E. Keith Company


Counter Card

The Geo. E. Keith Company, a maker of fine shoes located in the Campello section of Brockton, Massachusetts, published a series of postcards of famous Americans some time in the 20th century. Shown on the left is their card for Cyrus W. Field. On the right is a 12" x 10" stand-up counter card with a somewhat more elaborate presentation of the same image.

Both pieces have the quotation:

"The first duty of a loyal American citizen is to ascertain the whole truth, and not by ignorance or obstinacy to commit himself to a wrong course."

Field had no published works, but he was a prolific letter-writer. This note in the Illustrated London News issue of March 9, 1872 gives the source of the quotation used by the Keith Company:

Mr. Cyrus W. Field has written a letter to Mr. Colfax, the Vice-President of the United States, respecting the Treaty of Washington. He agrees with Mr. Colfax that neither nation will dare to destroy the treaty. He remarks that—“When such momentous issues are at stake—when a false move on the diplomatic board may endanger the peace of two kindred mations—it is absolutely necessary that our people should know what is the English side in this controversy. The first duty of a loyal American citizen is to ascertain the whole truth, and not by ignorance or obstinacy to commit himself to a wrong course.”

The full text of Field’s letter to Colfax is quoted in Isabella Judson Field’s 1892 book “Cyrus W. Field, His Life and Work.”

The back of the postcard

Other cards in the same series featured William Cullen Bryan, Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain.

The Geo. E. Keith company was founded in 1874. An ad in the Saturday Evening Post, June 28, 1924, p. 123, notes:

"Half a century ago a man of high ideals, far-seeing vision, and rare courage dedicated his life to the work of making shoes fit better. That man was George E. Keith, and his life work became an American institution, for George E. Keith created Walk-Over."

The Keith company is still in business in Brockton, MA.

Last revised: 8 September, 2019

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