- by Mary
In thinking about friendship, I always have to remind myself to pay attention, because friends often appear from the most unlikely places. They cross the borders of race, religion, age, gender, social class, temperament and geographic location. The important thing for me is to keep my eyes and my heart open to all who cross my path, because anyone may turn out to be a dear and true friend.
I was looking at some famous friendships in history and thought it interesting, the unlikely friendships that were formed that ignored social class, race, gender and temperament and how many of these were born out of shared values for a particular cause.
Here are a few examples:
Abraham Lincoln and Joshua Speed
Abraham Lincoln had really only one lifelong friend—Joshua Speed. Lincoln met Joshua Speed when he came into Speed’s store to purchase a mattress, although he had no money to pay for it. Lincoln was basically uneducated and penniless. Speed, however, was from a well-to-do family and educated. They became lifelong friends, confidants and sounding boards for each other, although they didn’t always agree on vital issues including slavery, since Speed grew up on a plantation and owned slaves.
Princess Grace and Josephine Baker
At 12 years of age, Josephine Baker dropped out of school and became a slum child, living in cardboard shelters and begging for food and attracting the attention of street people with her dancing. She went on to become a world famous entertainer, the first black woman to star in a major motion picture and integrate a concert hall. She crusaded for equal rights in the U.S. and spoke alongside Martin Luther King at the March on Washington. She alsi adopted 12 children from a variety of different countries which she called the “rainbow tribe”.
Princess Grace Kelly, was referred to as the Princess of Hearts, for her open mind and heart. She set up a foundation to help those with special needs who weren’t being helped by social services.
The friendship between these two women began when Josephine was refused service at a restaurant because of her race. Princess Grace happened to be dining there and was outraged, took Josephine by the arm and stormed out with her whole party vowing never to return. The women shared the same value of equality and became lifelong friends.
Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglas
Born into slavery, Frederick Douglas secretly taught himself to read and write at the age of 12. He read newspapers, political papers and books of every kind. This knowledge led him to question and condemn slavery and eventually escape to freedom to become a social reformer, orator
and a leader of the abolitionist movement.
Harriet Tubman couldn’t read or write, but after escaping to freedom, returned 19 times to help other slaves escape on the underground railroad.
Harriet and Frederick supported each other in the work they were doing to bring freedom to many people. Frederick’s work had been done in public with much applause, while Harriet labored unseen with no praise except for the sincere thanks of those brought to freedom.
Lewis and Clark
The friendship between Lewis and Clark is a rare example of two people who embarked on a dangerous journey with frequent stress and hardships and other conditions that could have easily torn them apart. Yet there doesn’t seem to have been a serious quarrel or dispute between them.
Their strength may have been the common passion they shared for exploring new territory. There certainly was little time for petty arguments and hurt feelings, and even less time for boredom.
The two were friends from childhood, Lewis was introverted and moody, while Clark was extroverted, even-tempered and light hearted. Lewis was more philosophical and romantic while Clark was a practical man. Their differences brought balance to their friendship.
And then there’s Sacajawea, now there’s an unlikely friend to throw into the mix. And yet the three of them were like a strong cord, each bringing their unique strength to the journey. They never actually saw the Pacific Ocean, but were close enough. But maybe it’s not always so much about the destination. Maybe journeying together with companions at your side IS the destination.