"The greatest legacy one can pass on to one's children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one's life, but rather a legacy of character and faith." (Billy Graham)
A lot of ink has been spilled covering the lives of history's most influential figures, but how much of the forest is lost for the trees? In Charles River Editors' American Legends series, listeners can get caught up to speed on the lives of America's most important men and women in the time it takes to finish a commute, while learning interesting facts long forgotten or never known.
In the 21st century, Americans are intimately familiar with televangelists and preachers with national reputations, and their shows are ubiquitous, but in the middle of the 20th century, the phenomenon was popularized by the most famous evangelist in American history: Billy Graham. As biographer Grant Wacker put it, "By the middle 1960s, he had become the 'Great Legitimator'.... His presence conferred sanctity on events, authority on presidents, acceptability on wars, desirability on decency, [and] shame on indecency.... By the middle 1970s, many deemed him 'America's pastor.'"
By his mid-20s Graham was a Baptist pastor in the Midwest, and throughout the 1940s he began traveling across the country to spread his ministry and message through large gatherings that he termed "crusades". In time these crusades would take place in nearly 200 nations and attract hundreds of millions of people, helping to catapult him to international prominence and making him a household name.