Page images
PDF
EPUB

Roosevelt loves to speak of a combat, when steel edges bite and the turmoil is musical. He ransacks the papers that tell the truth in an unvarnished way. His grand passion is for the particulars, names, dates, rolls, diaries, private letters, cleaning up points invaluable. If it is a fight at sea, that which is to be told first is wanted, all about the ships, and all about the guns aboard, the number of men, state of the weather, possibly family treasures of officers' papers. One fact brings in another, and so history is made real and earnest, and of absorbing interest, because the veracity of it asserts itself.

The surprise of the books from the President's pen is, however, not that the first of them were written by a very young man to undertake such a task, but that he has gone on for twenty years, and ranks high among our historians. His range of subjects is remarkable, as his productiveness is unflagging. His Americanism gives forth a better light than brag or bluster, and tha splendid volumes, "Winning the West,” are read with surprise that the President's reputation as a historian has not reached a celebrity, exceeding what it has attained. He has placed before the American people the true story of the West, from Daniel Boone, George Rogers Clark, Lewis and Clarke, and all the heroes, white and red, from those who fought over the Alleghanies and the “Dark and Bloody,” but “Happy Hunting Grounds," the Salt Licks and Sugar Camps of the Blue Grass parks of Kentucky, down to the days when the historian becomes a ranchman and hunted everything in the still unoccupied Rockies and along the remote rivers that contribute to the Missouri. His selection of Thomas H. Benton for a subject of biography displays Roosevelt's strong sympathy with the West, and his enlightenment as to the men who were foremost in the passage of the Mississippi by the people dwelling between the Atlantic and the great river, to establish new States. Jefferson and Jackson had been remembered as chief of the statesmen and heroes who gained the great valley and continued well doing to the ocean that rolls from America to Asia; but Benton's brave and striking services and glorious watchwords had been, not forgotten, but unappreciated in their magnitude, until the young historian, in writing of the ways the West was won, discovered the grandeur of Benton's work, and gave it place, and erected in imperishable form his monument in literature. There'is a certain majesty about Benton that will be memorable. His eye first clearly caught the luminous fact that the West-our West—was the way to the East. It was his finger pointed, and his voice uttered, “There is the road to the Indies.” Our fathers crossed the waters from Europe, and our sons inherit the Destiny that brings us face to face with Asia. Roosevelt, like Benton, holds that more land for the people is a primary need, if we are to do our duty. We have won our way across the American continent, and stand guard over a hemisphere.

CHAPTER XXVI.

HIS CO-ORDINATE DEPARTMENTS.

Lieutenant-General Miles Imparts Information and Is Rebuked-What the Secretaries

of War and Navy had to Say-Admiral Dewey Did Not Tell All He Meant-The
President on Dangerous Obedience to Orders--His Two Years' Old Opinion Was
Sampson Was in Command-There Is a Shake Up-A “Historian" Ordered Not to
Labor Any More, Pleads He Is of the Civil Service Class, but Is Put out-Melancholy
Illness of Admiral Sampson—The Origin of the Trouble--The President's Finding
Finally.

HE official and other documents in which the agitations of Washington

[ocr errors]

Associated Press as distinguished from the Journals that more largely represent individual or corporate enterprise, are not in full accord as to the facts, but all the outlines are clear. The Press that may be called historically Opposition, display high colors, not in evidence in the Newspapers of naturally strong inclinations to sustain the Administration.

It has not been at any time a secret, that the McKinley Cabinet was unlikely to last longer than through the holidays, and the reconstruction began in the week before Christmas came.

The President could not be expected to make a great change in character expressly to detain a Cabinet, members of which were known to seek relief from office before the death of President McKinley. There was an element in the relations of McKinley and his Cabinet strengthening that of a concert in public policy-that of personal consideration. This was an expression of mutual affection. With every desire on both sides to cultivate kindness between President Roosevelt and the McKinley Cabinet, it was evident the conditions of endurance were lacking. The policy of President McKinley was from the early days of his first Administration to be confidential with and deferential to the Cabinet; and at the same time have his own way smoothly and certainly. All the members of the Cabinet loved him and served him gladly. There was no one suspected of controlling him. He also was pleased to be very close to Congress, and got more out of Congress, than would have been possible in any other way, than by making all Senators and Representatives welcome to T. R.-22

337

the White House. Whether he ordered an extra session, as at first, or refused one, as at last, he did it in such a way as to be agreeable to the average member, and with the exception of a few bidders for sensations, this applies to all members. The busy men of both Houses were frequent callers at the White House, and each found himself in favor, irrespective of partizan antecedents. It was not unusual if a member during the day was exuberant on "the floor" in fault finding with the President, he would be found around the White House in the evening, with a dress coat on, beaming with the cordiality of delight, himself a celebration of good fellowship. Still, there were "scattering" "statesmen” who made gross investments in malignity, which makes it awkward in some cases to meet the exigencies of peaceable public opinion.

Vice-President Hobart was very near President McKinley, and the two had alike the charms of gentleness. The relations of President McKinley and Vice-President Roosevelt were entirely agreeable, and that was not for the reason of their resemblances in clear public purposes, so much as the fact of their differences, duly recognized and interpreted with good will. McKinley had a habit of carrying on his own shoulders great burdens of Cabinet matters that he need not as a rule have taken, but he and the Cabinet were mutual helpers. This, however, was an early, not a late experience.

When the Spanish War opened, it was said three departments were disabled, and the disabilities credited to bad health. The President was willing to do everything one man could reach, and through Day, Corbin and Roosevelt, the four were all day and all night laborers. The last word came very often at all the hours of the days and nights, from the President himself. This was almost invariably true if the matters were momentous.

The President had much pleasure in praising his Cabinet, and was surprised that any one thought they were not, as a body, a delight to the country, save in the fact that there was a trouble in bad health. When Vice-President Hobart died, and it was evident McKinley should run for a second term, it was in the Cabinet to which the President first turned to find a suitable VicePresident. There were, however, differences of opinion even as to that; and into the warm discussion Roosevelt was summoned by the people to disturb harmony because he was opposed to himself as a candidate. There was a Cabinet candidate, notwithstanding, and Secretary Long was the man; but there was over against him that the Commander-in-Chief of the American Atlantic fleet found in his personal information and put it in his dispatches that the conduct of Admiral Schley was "reprehensible.” Sampson was also weakened by a warning from Secretary Long that ironclads should "not be risked." There were a dozen questions in the air sharp as swords. Into this agitated locality, however, it is not necessary to enter. Admiral Sampson, notified that an ironclad must not be risked, did not prove very aggressive, and

did not hasten to aid the Army. He and General Shafer were about to have a long talk over the problem of helping the Army without hurting the Navy, when Captain General Blanco ordered Cervera to do the very thing that eliminated him. It was to rush out of the harbor into which he fled for coal. So severe was the fixity of our Department that the most fearful thing possible was for the Spanish fleet to get out. It did not seem to occur to the Admiral in Chief Commanding, but gone to hold a conference, that as the torpedoes were up and the Spanish wrecks littering the coast while the New York and Oregon were hard after the last of the shattered fugitives, the thing to do was to go into the harbor of Santiago and himself finish the job. Admiral Sampson was still apprehensive another Spaniard might get out, and so ran up the coast where the wreckage was and made the acquaintance of the Spaniards who survived the catastrophe of doing that which had alarmed our Navy Department so much.

President Roosevelt on the subject of the Sampson-Schley contention, in his speech presenting a sword to Commodore Philip in February, 1889, accepted the Navy Department view of the case as to Sampson's command in the battle. The Governor's address covered the ground as he understood it, so completely we present all he had to say:

"Commodore Philip: It is peculiarly pleasant to me to present you with this sword, for one of my last official acts, as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, was to break through regulations in order to give you the chance to have the turrets of Texas so geared that her great guns could be used to the best possible advantage; and the sequel showed how well it was for the service, that you should be given the opportunity to get the utmost service from the mighty war engine entrusted to your care.

“When a commander-in-chief, afloat or ashore, has done the best possible with his forces, then rightly the chief credit belongs to him, and wise and patriotic students of the Santiago sea-campaign gladly pay their homage first to Admiral Sampson. It was Admiral Sampson who initiated and carried on the extraordinary blockade, letting up even less by night than by day, that will stand as an example for all similar blockades in the near future. It was owing to the closeness and admirable management of the system of night blockades which he introduced, that Cervera's fleet was forced to come out by daylight. In other words, it was the success of his system which ensured to the splendid sea captains under him, the chance to show their prowess to the utmost possible advantage. But the actual fight, although Admiral Sampson was present and in command was a Captain's fight, and in this actual fighting, each captain did his work according to his own best judgment.

"You, sir, by your conduct, alike during and after the fight; by your courage, by your professional skill and by your humanity, reflected honor upon

the service to which you belong, upon the State in which you were born, and upon the mighty Nation on the roll of whose worthies you that day wrote your name with your sword. I give utterance to the sentiment of all New York State-a sentiment from which no man in the commonwealth will dissentwhen I ask you to take this sword as a token of the high esteem in which we hold you, and our grateful acknowledgment of your having done a deed which has added to the long honor roll in which all Americans take a lasting pride.

“You and your comrades at Manila and Santiago, did their part well, and more than well. Sailor and soldier, on sea and on land, have bought with their valor, their judgment, their skill and their blood, a wonderful triumph for America. It now rests with our statesmen to see that the triumph is not made void, in whole or in part. By your sword you won from war a glorious peace. It is for the statesmen at Washington to see that the treaty which concludes the peace is ratified. Cold indeed are the hearts of those Americans who shrink both from war and peace, when the war and peace alike are for the honor and the interest of America."

It has not any time seemed improbable that the views of President Roosevelt might have been considerably modified, but the important testimony taken by Admiral Dewey's court, came at a time when he was absorbed by events of the gravest and most exacting and distressing nature. The question in point at the front was, as to the propriety of Admiral Dewey's delivery of judgment, which was the first matter the people cared to hear about. There is a good deal of evidence on file that Admiral Dewey is a man whom President Roosevelt holds close to his heart.

When the President of the United States was Governor of New York he issued the following message: MESSAGE RELATING TO APPROPRIATION TO CELEBRATE THE

RETURN OF ADMIRAL DEWEY.
State of New York, Executive Chamber, Albany, May 24, 1899.
To the Legislature:

I call to your attention the desirability of making an appropriation to provide for the proper celebration of the return of Admiral Dewey, an American whom all Americans worthy of the name delight to honor, the man who at the close of the nineteenth century has added fresh renown to the flag that has already so often been borne to glorious triumph on land and on sea. The thunder of Dewey's guns at Manila Bay raised in a moment's time the prestige of American arms throughout the world, and added new honor to American citizenship at home and abroad; and his services throughout the trying months that followed, though less brilliant, were hardly less useful to his country. It is fitting that we should show in appropriate form the high regard we feel

« PreviousContinue »