He grew up in Germany and detested its presumptions of intellectual and ruling class superiority. Once becoming a doctor he made his home in a Wisconsin German community in 1842. After cofounding the state’s first German newspaper, he took an active interest in music and became a founding member of a singing quartet, the Milwaukee Males.
Prejudice against foreigners drew him to politics. His tenacious efforts paid off with a one-sentence change he wrote into the state’s constitution: “Every person of 21 and over is entitled to vote after one year of residence within the state and his declaration of intention to become a citizen.” He was later appointed by President Pierce to be superintendent of Indian Affairs in a four-state area. After his best friend was killed in the Mexican War, he helped his friend’s mother by sending her money regularly, a generous act that was not discovered until after his death in 1880. Before the war broke out, he was the acting mayor of Milwaukee.
Principled, educated, and impatient with anyone who opposed him, Hubschmann was captured by the Confederates at Gettysburg and was doing his utmost to attend to the needs of the dying and wounded. Frustrated with inadequate medical supplies, overwhelmed by the number of casualties, working non-stop with no ventilation in near ninety-degree heat, he could no longer tolerate what was going on outside of his church-turned-hospital. With a short fuse on his temper, he dropped what he was doing and marched outside. In a rage, he raised his fist and began to scold Confederate snipers for shooting defenseless Union soldiers who were already wounded. He demanded that they aim their rifles at the healthy ones. The shooting around him stopped, and his captors allowed him to continue treating his overwhelming population of wounded soldiers.
Your attitude can save you.
Work with what you have. If you are captured by circumstances in the manner of Hubschmann – feeling trapped by a career or handcuffed by a commitment – look for creative ways to improve your attitude. It will give you a higher altitude to better view the landscape of your possibilities. Lead your supervisor by the influence of a suggestion on how to improve his or her service or product. Many companies reward suggestions with “Employee of the Month” recognition. You may never own a company, but you will never lose the terrific feeling you get from making contributions to an employer’s success, not to mention your own. That feeling will release you from drudgery and boredom, and energize you to repeat your best efforts. The world around you awaits your positive influence.
Speak up and get respect.
When you are upset with anyone’s behavior, do not be afraid to speak up. Hubschmann spoke up and look what it did for him. You may be amazed with the respect you gain from those who attempt to abuse you. If you do not speak up, the problem does not go away, and it may get worse. Speaking up is aggressive influence that leads others to consider changing their behaviors.
Copyright 2012 Paul Lloyd Hemphill