Page images


It is with great satisfaction that I write this short foreward to Edward H. Cotton's admirable book on "The Ideals of Theodore Roosevelt."

My brother's knowledge of the Bible was as extraordinarily thorough as was his information on the history of his beloved country, that country to which he gave his time, his thought, and in the highest sense, himself.

His love of country was a religion, and his religion was based upon the love of his fellowman; and not only was his religion the true love for his fellowman, but it was translated every day of his life into service to his fellowman.

Many a time have we discussed the realizable creed that could be practiced by man in this world, which so often seems so difficult to understand. My brother frequently said that all religion was condensed into that wonderful verse, the eighth verse of the sixth chapter of the prophet Micah: "And what doth the Lord require of thee; but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” In connection with this verse he said, "Note that we are first asked to do justly, and secondly, to love mercy. We have no right to be merciful without administering justice first. No parents should simply be gentle and merciful to their children. Justice must be meted out first, if the children are at fault; mercy, must come afterwards."

“I always felt," he continued, “that my father's great influence over me as a boy was because he was absolutely just and I was willing to abide by his decision, even when that decision made me unhappy or meant punishment for me."

In speaking of going to church, a practice which he kept up to the time of his death he would acknowledge often that he did not get much intellectual stimulus from the majority of sermons, but he would add: “If any one honestly believes that our country would be a better place if there were no churches in it, then and then only would he have the right to abstain from connecting himself with some church. It is a historical fact that a community becomes of less worth if the church ceases to be a force in it, and until I can believe that the people of our country are better off without churches, I shall always try to uphold them in a practical manner."

Just as the verse in Micah was the favorite verse of my brother, so was the eleventh verse of the twelfth chapter of Romans, "Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord," the favorite verse of my father, the first Theodore Roosevelt.

Theodore Roosevelt's ingrained dedication to service was an inherited quality in this son of a father who, from his earliest youth, had, himself, been a servant of his City and his State and his Country.

True enthusiasts were these two men in their lives of applied Christianity, and their enthusiasm was what is meant by the accurate translation of that word enthusiasm, namely, “God in us."

Sects and sectarianism meant comparatively little to either of them. My father went to the Dutch Reformed Church, or the Presbyterian church, feeling that he belonged to both, and my memory carries me back to many Sunday afternoons when we went together to the Episcopal Church. My brother, although preferring to connect himself with the church of his forefathers, the Dutch Reformed Church, attended with pleasure the Episcopal Church at Oyster Bay. Form and meticulous differences in methods of worship were of very little importance to him, but the words of the Bible, the splendid ringing exhortations of the great prophets, and the tender teachings and gracious hopefulness, mingled though they were with sorrow and disappointment, of the Man of Nazareth, influenced him deeply.

Theodore Roosevelt once said that when a question, public or private, had to be decided he tried, with his whole heart and mind, to think what was the right way to decide it, and then he decided the question in that way.

I am tempted to relate an incident which might seem, except in connection with this book, somewhat irreverent. I write in a spirit of absolute reverence.

A friend who wrote me shortly after my brother's death, told me of a letter she had received, about six months before, from her nephew, a Major in France. In that letter the young officer said: "I am interested in talking with my men and in trying to find out what their religious convictions are. The other night I asked one of the privates if he belonged to any church. He answered that he did not, but that he believed that the teachings of Jesus Christ ought to be followed and that he always felt that Theodore

[ocr errors][merged small]

Roosevelt was the Jesus Christ of our day.”

Surely the man whose character and mode of life could by this simple soldier, have thus been compared with the One "who went about doing good," had the right to be the influence he was in the lives of the "fellow Americans" he loved so well.

· When I was in Japan in 1910, at a luncheon given to me by the Premier, one of the great statesmen present made an address on my brother, and one of the things he said, which has always remained in my memory, was that Theodore Roosevelt seemed to him to interpret the meaning of the Japanese Shinto religion. The word "Shinto" means "The Way" and "Theodore Roosevelt,” said this Japanese State an, "was 'The Way' to be followed not only 1 American people but by the nations of the


[merged small][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »