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tion in canal management, of the franchise tax, of taxation in general, and a large portion was devoted to the trusts. At that time the trusts were receiving great attention everywhere, and it was felt that what the governor had to say about them, that they were largely over-capitalized, that they misrepresented the condition of their affairs, that they promoted unfair competition, and that they wielded increased power over the wage-earner, was strictly true.
In Chicago there is a wealthy organization known as the Hamilton Club, and the members were very anxious to have Governor Roosevelt as their guest on Appomattox Day, April 10, 1899. A delegation went to New York to invite the governor, and he accepted the invitation with pleasure.
“ The middle West is very dear to me, said he. “It will be a pleasure to meet my many friends there."
Of course he was expected to speak, and said the subject of his address would be “The Strenuous Life," — certainly a subject close to his own heart, considering the life he himself had led.
When Mr. Roosevelt reached the metrop
olis of the Great Lakes, he found a large crowd waiting at the railroad station to receive him. The reception committee was on hand, with the necessary coaches, and people were crowded everywhere, anxious to catch a sight of the man who had made himself famous by the advance up San Juan Hill.
But for the moment Governor Roosevelt did not see the reception committee, nor did he see the great mass of people. In a far corner of the platform he caught sight of six men, dressed in the faded and tattered uniform of the Rough Riders. They were not men of wealth or position, but they were men of his old command, and he had not forgotten them.
“Glad to see you, boys, glad to see you!" he shouted, as he elbowed his way toward them. “Come up here and shake hands."
“ Glad to see you, Colonel," was the ready answer, and the faces of the men broke into broad smiles. They shook hands readily, and willingly answered all of the questions the governor put to them. He asked how each of them was doing, calling them by their names, and concluded by requesting
them to come up to the Auditorium later, “ for an all-round chat."
“ It was a great meeting,” said one who was there. “Before the train came in, those old Rough Riders were nervous and showed it. They knew that Roosevelt had become a great man, and they were just a little afraid he would pass them by. When the meeting was over, they went off as happy as a lot of children, and one of them said, “Say, fellows, Teddy's just all right yet, ain't he?' And another answered: “Told you he would be. He's a white man through and through, none whiter anywhere."
The banquet was held in the Auditorium Theatre building, and was said to be the largest ever given in Chicago. Many distinguished guests were present, both from the North and the South, and the place was a mass of flowers and brilliantly illuminated, while a fine orchestra discoursed music during the meal. When Theodore Roosevelt arose to speak, there was cheering that lasted fully a quarter of an hour.
The speech made upon this occasion is one not likely to be forgotten. Previous to that time the word “strenuous” had been
heard but seldom, but ever since it has stood for something definite, and is much in use. In part Mr. Roosevelt spoke as follows: —
“I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life; the life of toil and effort; of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which
not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shirk from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.”
Another paragraph is equally interesting and elevating:
“ We do not admire the man of timid peace. We admire the man who embodies victorious effort; the man who never wrongs his neighbor, who is prompt to help a friend; but who has those virile qualities necessary to win in the stern strife of actual life. It is hard to fail ; but it is worse never to have tried to succeed."
And to this he adds :
66 As it is with the individual so it is with the nation. It is a base untruth to say that happy is the nation that has no history. Thrice happy is the nation that
has a glorious history. Far better is it to dare mighty things to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.” 1
1 For other extracts from this speech, see Appendix A,