« PreviousContinue »
himself and his party. From Washington he retired to his summer home at Oyster Bay, there to get a little much-needed rest. In the meantime there were several important changes in the Cabinet, and the President also started an investigation concerning the burning of the steamboat Slocum, whereby many hundreds of lives had been lost.
The contest previous to the election proved a decidedly bitter one. charged by the Democrats that corporation money was being used to defeat them, but this could not, at the time, be proved, although later it came out that certain large insurance companies had spent much during the campaign, contending that they were afraid of a Democratic administration because of the free-silver idea. President Roosevelt knew nothing of this use of corporation funds, and had he known would never have sanctioned it. The all-important election
election was held November 8, 1904, and President Roosevelt was elected by the largest majority ever given for that high office. When the votes were counted, it was found that Theo
dore Roosevelt had received 7,623,486. Judge Parker received 5,077,971. The electoral vote was: Roosevelt 336, Parker 140.
It was a magnificent triumph for the young President, and if he was more than proud, who can blame him? But forty-six years old, and the chosen, nay the well-beloved leader of a nation of eighty millions of people. What a glorious example for the boys and young men who peruse these pages!
“ We are in for four years more of prosperity,” said nearly everybody. “Hurrah for Roosevelt !” And the cheers were given with a will. Bonfires blazed everywhere, bands played, parades were formed, and the general satisfaction was one not readily forgotten.
66 We must have Roosevelt for another term after this is finished,” said some of the more enthusiastic, but the President would not listen.
" I shall consider the unfinished McKinley term as my first term and this as my second,” said he. “I shall do my best during the four years to come, and shall then retire permanently."
The inauguration of President Roosevelt, on March 4, 1905, was a beautiful and inspiring spectacle which will live long in the memory of those who witnessed it. Washington was bedecked with flags and bunting from end to end. The crowds were enormous, from every State in this country and from many other nations of the globe. Representatives were present from Europe, Asia, Africa, South and Central Americas, as well as from the isles of the sea. In the long parade of troops were soldiers from Porto Rico and the Philippines, our new possessions. The inauguration and address, were followed by a grand ball, and nearly all of the great public buildings were thrown wide open to the general public. It was as if the whole nation and the world at large had gathered to do homage to our Chief Magistrate. Telegrams and cablegrams were received by the hundreds, all conveying good wishes.
President Roosevelt's message to Congress was a long but clean-cut document, showing what abuses existed and pointing out the remedies. It was received with much favor, and Congress at once set to
work to see what laws could be passed to do away with the evils. The great question of the day was concerning the trusts, those enormous aggregations of capital which menace smaller industries and the freedom of the individual; and a second question was about the railroads — what should be done so that rates for one shipper might be the same as for another. In the past there had been unjust discrimination, and this, every right-minded man felt, must be abolished.
Late in March all the members of the Panama Commission resigned and President Roosevelt appointed a new Commission. Work at Panama was begun with a will, and it was determined to dig the canal as soon as possible regardless almost of the expense. It is a gigantic undertaking and will take many years to complete.
For a long time the interest of the world had been centred on the terrible conflict going on between Japan and Russia, over the domination of Korea and Manchuria. Many stirring battles had been fought on land and sea, and the slaughter of lives and destruction of property had been appalling. Victory had been largely with the Japan
ese, yet Russia fought on doggedly, hoping almost against hope to become the final victor.
President Roosevelt had followed this war with keen interest and with the eyes of a trained soldier. He saw what the conflict was costing each nation, and felt that the world at large wanted the struggle to cease. Accordingly he took the matter in hand and addressed a letter to the representatives of both nations in which, in part, he said :
“ The President feels that the time has come when in the interests of all mankind he must endeavor to see if it is not possible to bring to an end the terrible and lamentable conflict now being waged. With both Russia and Japan the United States has inherited ties of friendship and good-will. It hopes for the prosperity and welfare of each, and it feels that the progress of the world is set back by the war between these two great nations.
The President accordingly urges the Russian and Japanese governments, not only for their own sakes, but in the interest of the whole civilized world, to open direct negotiations for peace with each other.”