Page images
[graphic][merged small][merged small]

CORDIAL AND APPROACHABLE. President Roosevelt is not only an approachable man, but he displays a cordiality toward people he meets that makes a lasting impression. When one is introduced to Mr. Roosevelt he cannot help feeling that he is an object of no little interest to him. The new acquaintance goes away feeling that the greeting was not one of mere formality. If he has had a story to tell the vice president he knows that it has been heard and absorbed. A new page at the state capitol took his first note to Roosevelt when governor with fear and trembling. Thoughts of the greatness of the man he was to see overwhelmed him. When he reappeared from the governor's office after delivering the note he was all smiles, and to another page he remarked enthusiastically: "Say, ain't Teddy a peach?” This is not a familiarity. That same boy would run seven miles for Mr. Roosevelt, and be willing to punch the boy who said anything disrespectful. He entered the governor's presence expecting to be overawed, he came out with the impression that he had known him for a long time and was glad of it.

INTEREST IN ANIMALS. Mr. Roosevelt's interest in animals is almost as great as in man. He was walking from the capitol at Albany one day, accompanied by a friend, when he noticed two sturdy but tired horses striving to haul a heavy load up the ice-covered street. One slipped. Immediately Mr. Roosevelt stopped, and, with an absorbed expression on his face that he shows when deeply interested, watched the horse regain his feet. The horses stumbled again on the ice. "Stop a moment,” Roosevelt said to the driver. “Drive sideways.” The driver did not recognize. . the governor. He was about to say something unpleasant, when the governor caught his eye. Then the man zigzagged his horses up the hill past the ice with never a word. The grim look on Roosevelt's face disappeared just as quickly as it came, and the next minute he had tipped his hat to a little child who saluted in true military fashion.


Roosevelt is by nature a fighter. He has all the stubborn tenacity that was inherited with his Dutch blood, coupled with almost a Celtic willingness to combat any one or anything, anyhow or anywhere he deems proper and necessary. When he fought against two parties to push through the bills giving Comptroller Coler the right to pass upon prices paid by departments for goods purchased and supervision in the confession of judgments, the leaders of his party came to him and said:

"Governor, you are building up a powerful rival to you for next fall.”

"Maybe so," he replied, “but he is right, and he's going to have those bills if I can get them through for him." And he got them through.

Again, two of his best friends in the legislature, Speaker Nixon and Leader Allds, came to him and begged him not to force through the canal bill.

“It is suicide to do it,” they pleaded, "for it will lose votes for you among the farmers and in the districts that elected you. It is ungrateful and extremely bad politics."

Roosevelt appreciated their argument and did not say they were wrong in presenting it. He simply shook his head and said: “You are right, but this is a case where the few must give way for the benefit of the many. I realize that it seems unjust to the farmers to be taxed for improvements that will bring produce from the West to compete with them, but the whole state must be considered, and this is in line with commercial progress. It must go through.” And it went through.

While Roosevelt admires independence, he believes in organization, because he has the instincts of a soldier. But he is not a martinet, and has no faith in men who have not minds of their own. It was to Assemiblymen Price and Morgan, of Brooklyn, two young legislators to whom he took a great fancy, that he said at the beginning of a session of the New York legislature: “If you choose to be cattle I must consult your driver. Be men and I want your advice.”

He enjoyed his term as governor, among other reasons because it gave him so many hard fights. Just after his term had expired, with a chuckle that is as essentially a part of his make-up as his mysterious and famous smile, he said to a group of friends: "I've enjoyed being governor. Indeed, I believe I've had a run for my money. I've had a hot time, and I liked it.”

Fighter though he is, Roosevelt does not fight unfairly. There have been governors who have forced votes in the legislature by threats to hold up the bills of recalcitrant senators or assemblymen. There were those even among the recognized reform element who argued that this was fair in war, and almost begged him to drive some of the senators into line on the Insurance Commissioner Payne matter. But he steadfastly refused. “These bills belong to their constituents and to the public,” he said, “and I have no right to delay, much less to defeat them. As I cannot do this it is unfair to threaten them. I must win on the merits of the case itself or not at all. But I will win.” Subsequently he had occasion to call sternly to account an over-zealous employe of the state who tried to help in just that way.

AN EXCITING OCCASION. One of the most exciting of President Roosevelt's many experiences in the West was at Victor, Col., a year ago during the presidential campaign. Roosevelt was making a trip through the West, and stopped at Victor to make a speech. As he was walking from his train to the meeting hall an attempt was made by a band of toughs to strike him down. One man hit him on the breast with a piece of scantling six feet long, from which an insulting democratic banner had been torn. Another rough aimed a blow at the colonel's head, and was ridden down by a miner named Holley. When the fighting was all over Roosevelt exclaimed enthusiastically: “This is bully; this is magnificent. Why, it's the best time I've had since I started. I wouldn't have missed it for anything."

A THRILLING LION HUNT. One of Roosevelt's most thrilling lion hunts took place while he was stopping at the Keystone ranch in Colorado last April. Roosevelt and his guide held at bay a large lion in a crevice on the precipitous side of a rock ledge which extends from the point of the crevice sheer down sixty feet. Roosevelt shot at the lion, but it was dusk, and the beast disappeared under the rim of a perpendicular wall of rocks. A large rock stood loosely on the rim of the ledge, and the men saw that if it were possible to hang head first over this rock he would see the lion and might be able to shoot at it.

"The question," said the guide afterwards, "which confronted us was, How is it to be done? Finally, Colonel Roosevelt stood still a minute, looked at me intently, and said: “Gofi, we must have that lion if he is there. I'll tell you what I'll do. I will take my gun and crawl over that rock; you hold me by the feet and allow me to slide down far enough to see him. If I can see him I will get him.' This plan was carried out, and he killed the lion hanging head downward while I held hiin by his feet.”

CIVIL SERVICE. President Roosevelt was succeeded on the civil-service commission by John B. Harlow, of St. Louis. Mr. Harlow has in his office many mementoes of Mr. Roosevelt's regime, one of the most interesting of which is a defense of the civil-service examinations by Roosevelt, given before one of the state committees.

Roosevelt was answering the assertion that the examinations were not fair tests of a man's knowledge and intellectual attainments. To the committee he said, with the directness and force which gave him much of his fame, that the examinations did indicate the fund of information possessed by applicants and he immediately cited examples of the answers made to the question, "Who was Lincoln?" in an examination conducted shortly befcre the time of the senate committee's investigation. In the answers it appears that Lincoin was a revolutionary general; he was assassinated by Thomas Jefferson and was the assassin of Aaron Burr; he commanded a regiment in the French and Indian wars, and was an arctic explorer in a period immediately after the Civil War. The defense of the examinations by Roosevelt is full of such specific examples, showing that he had an intimate acquaintance with the results of the work in his office.

It was Roosevelt who first introduced the form of examinations now so generally used by the commission to discover the peculiar fitness or unfitness of applicants for special lines of work to which they are to be assigned. It came about in a series of examinations in which Texas and the Southwest were interested. It was proposed to place the mounted inspectors of the government along the Rio Grande, in Texas, under the civil-service rules. These inspectors are men of rare courage and must necessarily be skilled in handling cattle, familiar with the different kinds of cattle brands, and excellent horsemen. They have to deal with the cattle rustlers on the Mexican border. When Roosevelt saw the questions which had been prepared for these men, bearing on history, rhetoric and mathematics, he declared the proposed examinations would be farcical, and, calling to his aid his own familiarity with the cattle country and the plains, he drew up a set of questions for the inspectors. The only intellectual test was that which was made by requiring a man to answer the questions in his own words and handwriting. The questions were something of a shock to those who had been conducting the examinations in accordance with the old methods. One of the questions the men had to answer was this:

"State the experience, if any, you have had as a marksman with a rifle or a pistol; whether or not you have practiced shooting at a target with either weapon, or at game or other moving objects; and also whether you have practiced shooting on horseback. State the make of the rifle and revolver you ordinarily use."

Another of the questions read this way:

"State fully what experience you have had in horsemanship; whether or not you can ride unbroken horses; if not, whether you would be able, unassisted, to rope, bridle, saddle, mount and ride an ordinary cow pony after it had been turned loose for six months; also whether you can ride an ordinary cow pony on the round-up, both in circle riding and in cutting-out work around the herd.”

Another question which Mr. Roosevelt framed was as to technical knowledge of the different brands of cattle in the cattle country, and it would be unintelligible to any but a cattle man or Roosevelt. When he submitted the question to his colleagues he declared that, to be a successful government inspector and shoot lawless Mexicans and prevent the

« PreviousContinue »