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of 1812, Taylor and Scott in the Mexican War, while political honors first came to Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Benjamin Harrison, and McKinley as a reward for their military services in the Civil War. The politicians, therefore, had watched intently to see who would win the people's applause in the Spanish War. It proved to be but a little war and a short
The end of it found Roosevelt, among all the men in khaki, without a rival in public favor.
The wise men in politics clearly recognized the force of his popularity, and sought him out in his tent at Montauk Point. The Republican party in the state of New York was on the eve of an election and in a bad plight. The bosses had been running everything with a high hand, and public sentiment was strong for a change in the government at Albany. To save itself from certain wreck at the polls in November, the party must take up new men and new measures. In his dilemma, Senator Platt, who, a year and a half ago, could hardly be persuaded to let Mr. Roosevelt have even the Assistant Secretaryship of the Navy, was eager now to give him the nomination for the Governorship of New York.
Some of the lieutenants of the boss, however, dreaded Roosevelt worse than defeat. They argued that it would be better for the Republican machine to lose the state in the election than to give him power. They knew they could not make terms with him, and no one approached him with such a proposal. The great prize, so near his reach, did not tempt him for an instant from his independent mood. “I would rather have led this regiment than be Governor of New York, three times over," he wrote to a friend at that time. “I should say that the odds are against my nomination; but I can say also, with all sincerity, that I don't care in the least.”
Senator Platt called upon Colonel Roosevelt at Montauk, and when his regiment had been disbanded and he was free from restraint, Colonel Roosevelt returned the Senator's call at the Fifth Avenue Hotel. Many good people were in anguish that Roosevelt should pay this mark of courtesy to the “Easy Boss.” They seemed to be afraid that he would not be able to take care of himself in the presence of so wily a politician. It could not be publicly known then, as it is now, that the Senator did not venture, in the course of the meeting, to ask any pledge whatever from his caller.
Openly to make such a call was really a part of Mr. Roosevelt's characteristic directness. It was known of all men that the delegates to the State Convention, soon to be held, were absolutely under the control of the Platt organization. The Convention would be managed, as New York Republican Conventions had been managed for years, by Senator Platt and his machine. The nomination for Governor must come from him. As the Republican party was then organized, he and his associates were its only chosen representatives. Mr. Roosevelt recognized these notorious facts with his usual frankness, and, when he announced that he had accepted the candidacy for Governor, he plainly said that, if elected, he should listen to advice from Senator Platt and from all persons who had any to offer.
In the exciting campaign that ensued, the alarm of the Republicans was fully justified. Only the personal exertions of Colonel Roosevelt saved the day. It was his first experience on a general speaking tour, and his addresses were followed by the en
tire country. He travelled by special train, with a band of assistant orators, which included some members of his Rough Rider regiment in their khaki uniforms, and he visited every section of the
He spoke from early morning till midnight, day after day, and drew immense crowds everywhere.
When he entered upon his duties as Governor, he had the good-will of the people generally; but there still was a widespread feeling that he was more or less “unsafe” and “impulsive.” His most enthusiastic admirers, among the public, doubted if he could
carry power with a steady head. His friends, or many of them, were sure that he would find it impossible to work with the Platt organization, which controlled legislatures with an iron hand. His enemies confidently counted on him to quarrel with every one and to have no one to help him do anything. All these fears and expectations were disappointed.
The new Governor began his term soberly and even mildly. He patiently listened to all who came, and, when he had to act, he acted with moderation. The impression went abroad that it was to be rather a colorless administration, after all. The Rough Rider apparently had lost his dash. Almost no one suspected his strategy. The old politicians around the Capitol and the legislators, all of whom he was so carefully studying and cultivating, came to the conclusion that he was “easy.” When, at last, the time arrived for him to put forth his power, he exerted it through these very men, who were now in the habit of working with him, and who had lost much of their old distrust of him. People at a distance from Albany were amazed by the force of his silent influence, as well as by his shrewdness in handling men. The state at large was bewildered. Traps were sprung, but it was too late; he knew how to avoid them.
He was to be no veto Governor, in a constant war with the legislative branch of the government. If he frowned on a bill, it failed of passage. If a bill came up with two hostile elements appealing to him, one urging him to support it and the other calling on him to oppose it, he would bring them together in the Executive Chamber and labor with them until they found a common ground. Then the measure would be framed to the satisfaction of