Page images
PDF
EPUB

Succeeded to the Presidency upon the death of President McKinley, September 14, 1901.

Elected President, November 8, 1904.

Awarded Nobel Peace Prize for efforts in connection with the Russo-Japanese Peace Treaty, 1906.

Retired to private life upon expiration of Presidential term, March 4, 1909.

Became contributing editor of The Outlook, 1909.
Sailed for Africa on a hunting trip, March 23, 1909.

Returned from African trip, arriving at New York, June 18, 1910.

Announced candidacy for a second nomination for the Presidency, February 25, 1912.

Broke with the Republican Party and formed the Progressive Party, June 22, 1912.

Nominated for President by the Progressive Party, August 7, 1912.

Shot, at Milwaukee, by John Schrank, October 14, 1912.

Defeated for Presidency by Woodrow Wilson, November 5, 1912.

Started on hunting and exploring trip in South America, October 14, 1913.

Discovered and explored the River Theodore in Brazil, February to April, 1914.

Returned to New York, May 19, 1914.

Declined Progressive nomination for Presidency and supported Hughes, the Republican nominee, 1916.

After declaration of war with Germany, offered to raise an army division, but the War Department declined his offer, 1917.

Died at Sagamore Hill, January 6, 1919.
A record such as this, even though stripped of all detail

and enlargement, constitutes a most impressive career. But it represents inadequately the variety of Roosevelt's achievements. To do this, it should evidence his knowledge of history equalled by few, his hunting trips and explorations which made him familiar not only with remote parts of his own country but also with two of the less wellknown continents, his standing among scientists as an authority on the habits of big game in America and in Africa, his popularity and effectiveness as a speaker, his wide range of reading to which might be applied DeQuincey's description of his own accomplishment. Finally his books and other writings sufficient in number and quality to give him an enduring reputation in the field of letters irrespective of his other achievements. Furthermore his domestic life was filled with the manifold responsibilities of a husband and father, responsibilities which he felt as intensely as those of his public life, and discharged as faithfully. Such diversified ability as this seems to justify the statement made of him that “since Cæsar, perhaps no one has attained among crowded duties and great responsibilities, such high proficiency in so many separate fields of activity."

ROOSEVELT'S PERSONALITY On more than one occasion Roosevelt said of himself that he was simply a man of ordinary abilities who had made the most of the gifts that were his. He was doubtless sincere in this opinion, but he was undeniably the possessor of native endowments such as come to few men. The elements of his extraordinary personality have been so sympathetically and fairly set forth by his life-long friend, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, in a memorial address before Congress, that it is desirable to make a lengthy extract.

“Theodore Roosevelt always believed that character was of greater worth and moment than anything else. He possessed abilities of the first order, which he was disposed to underrate because he set so much greater store upon the moral qualities which we bring together under the single word 'character.'

“Let me speak first of his abilities. He had a powerful, well-trained, ever-active mind. He thought clearly, independently, and with originality and imagination. These priceless gifts were sustained by an extraordinary power of acquisition, joined to a greater quickness of apprehension, a greater swiftness in seizing upon the essence of a question, than I have ever happened to see in any other man. His reading began with natural history, then went to general history, and thence to the whole field of literature. He had a capacity for concentration which enabled him to read with remarkable rapidity anything which he took up, if only for a moment, and which separated him for the time being from everything going on about him. The subjects upon which he was well and widely informed would, if enumerated, fill a large space, and to this power of acquisition was united not only a tenacious but an extraordinarily accurate memory. It was never safe to contest with him on any question of fact or figures, whether they related to the ancient Assyrians or to the present-day conditions of the tribes of central Africa, to the Syracusan Expedition, as told by Thucydides, or to protective coloring in birds and animals. He knew and held details always at command, but he was not mastered by them. He never failed to see the forest

on account of the trees or the city on account of the houses.

“He made himself a writer, not only of occasional addresses and essays, but of books. He had the trained thoroughness of the historian, as he showed in his history of the War of 1812 and of the Winning of the West, and nature had endowed him with that most enviable of gifts, the faculty of narrative and the art of the teller of tales. He knew how to weigh evidence in the historical scales and how to depict character. He learned to write with great ease and fluency. He was always vigorous, always energetic, always clear and forcible in everything he wrote-nobody could ever misunderstand him-and when he allowed himself time and his feelings were deeply engaged he gave to the world many pages of beauty as well as power, not only in thought but in form and style. At the same time he made himself a public speaker, and here again, through a practice probably unequaled in amount, he became one of the most effective in all our history. In speaking, as in writing, he was always full of force and energy; he drove home his arguments and never was misunderstood. In many of his more carefully prepared addresses are to be found passages of impressive eloquence, touched with imagination and instinct with grace. and feeling.

“He had a large capacity for administration, clearness of vision, promptness in decision, and a thorough apprehension of what constituted efficient organization. All the vast and varied work which he accomplished could not have been done unless he had had most exceptional natural abilities, but behind them was the driving force of an intense energy and the ever-present belief that a man

could do what he willed to do. As he made himself an athlete, a horseman, a good shot, a bold explorer, so he made himself an exceptionally successful writer and speaker. Only a most abnormal energy would have enabled him to enter and conquer in so many fields of intellectual achievement. But something more than energy and determination is needed for the largest success, especially in the world's high places. The first requisite of leadership is ability to lead, and that ability Theodore Roosevelt possessed in full measure. Whether in a game or in the hunting field, in a fight or in politics, he sought the front, where, as Webster once remarked, there is always plenty of room for those who can get there. His instinct was always to say 'come' rather than ‘go,' and he had the talent of command.

“The criticism most commonly made upon Theodore Roosevelt was that he was impulsive and impetuous, that he acted without thinking. He would have been the last to claim infallibility. His head did not turn when fame came to him and choruses of admiration sounded in his ears, for he was neither vain nor credulous. He knew that he made mistakes, and never hesitated to admit them to be mistakes and to correct them or put them behind him when satisfied that they were such. But he wasted no time in mourning, explaining, or vainly regretting them. It is also true that the middle way did not attract him. He was apt to go far, both in praise and censure, although nobody could analyze qualities and balance them justly in judging men better than he. He felt strongly, and as he had no concealments of any kind, he expressed himself in like manner.

But vehemence is not violence nor is earnestness anger, which yz very wise man defined as a

« PreviousContinue »