If it be asked why another biography is added to the almost endless number now in our bookstores and libraries, an answer is found in the countless distinctions of individual character, and in the varied experiences which come to men in different walks of life. The botanist says that of all leaves in the forests of the world, no two can be found alike in every particular. The phrenologist says the same of the various forms of the human head, and the psychologist affirms it of the intellects and dispositions of men and women. Hence each life has its own peculiar experience to record for the pleasure or profit of others.
Biography is the most universally interesting and instructive branch of literature; hence the power of the novel and drama, which are merely biographies pictured and acted before us. A study of history shows that the nations' great movements are the work of individual men and women. In illustration of this fact it is needful to mention such names only as Abraham, Joseph, Esther, Joan of Arc, Napoleon, and Washington.
The commercial and industrial occupations from which a nation now derives its strength should be honored as truly as the military exploit, or the scientific achievement. The record of a noble life which, in its sphere of quiet duty, has accomplished much for the good of others, is a lesson in patriotism and a legacy to posterity. The best period of the history of the Cotton States could only be written by taking into account the share which the subject of this biography has had in their development.
It is rare to find a man who has had dealings with so many of his fellows, and who, at the same time, has won the esteem and affection of his associates and employés, as has Henry Bradley Plant in every department of his great railroad system.