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Many of these were members of Congress or officials from different States or cities. There were people from all professions and walks of life who had come with credentials which admitted them to the waiting rooms. President Roosevelt met these companies of callers with a graciousness of manner that put everybody at ease. His marvelous memory served him well on such occasions.
Many of the callers were people whom he had met casually when on speaking tours throughout the country. Invariably he remembered them, even though he had not seen them for many years, and he always gave them a pleasant feeling by questions which showed how definitely he remembered occasions and people, particularly where children were concerned. Many of these callers had requests to make regarding appointments to office or other things of an official kind. Mr. Roosevelt, with a rapid sweep of the eye, noted everybody who was present and managed to give each person the feeling of having received a nod and a smile.
Explaining to the others that Senators and Representatives had business to attend to on the Hill, he gave these officials the precedence and enabled them all to transact their business without a minute of undue waiting. After observing official proprieties in this fashion, he gave the preference to ladies and elderly people. In thousands of instances, of course, he was obliged to say that the thing requested could not be done; but he knew how to say it in such a way as to spare the feelings of the visitor. If one must say "No," it is well to be prompt and frank rather than to prolong the suspense. No public man has ever known better than President Roosevelt how to say "no" in a way that should make friends rather
than ill-wishers. A few people there might be each morning with whom the President desired to consult more at length. These were quietly asked to wait until the others were disposed of, and then each one had his separate interview.
Almost every day there were luncheon guests forming an agreeable group, quite dominated but always drawn out by the President's wonderful brilliancy, humor and variety as a conversationalist. At these luncheon parties were to be found visiting statesmen, soldiers, scholars, literary personages, explorers, reformers, ecclesiastics and notable people from all parts of our own country and from Europe, South America, Asia and Africa. The President was so widely read and so active-minded that he derived healthy stimulus from meeting all these people, and was the better fitted for two hours more of afternoon work by reason of his personal contacts.
After his recreation hour, there intervened an hour or two of reading and family life before the more formal evening meal, when very frequently there were also distinguished guests. After nine or ten o'clock in the evening, President Roosevelt was able to withdraw to his private study on the second floor of the White House, where for an hour, or, if need be two or three hours, he might work with stenographers upon important letters, diplomatic memoranda, messages to Congress or the drafts of speeches and addresses that he was to make.
It was not his habit to defer preparation of addresses until the last moment; and still less did he believe that he could trust to some kind of inspiration when on his feet. If he was going off to deliver a series of speeches, he preferred to plan the series definitely in advance, and he dictated the essential parts
of all of them before delivering the first. He could of course modify them ad libitum as he went along, but he never relied upon fluency as a substitute for preparation. His messages to Congress were studiously prepared and were always ready well in advance.
One reason why Mr. Roosevelt as President was able to see so many people, and to have his days so full of varied contacts, was the practical way in which he used his powers of assimilation. He was fond of saying to some of his friends that they had never taken too much of his time or that their letters to him were not too long, because he was making it a point to get more from them for his purposes than they were able to get from him. As a man who was reading, for example, everything that was worth while about travel, exploration, hunting and colonial and political conditions in Africa, he knew how to supplement his knowledge by eager questioning of some returned traveller or, better still, some personage identified with affairs in South Africa, the Soudan, or elsewhere.
While swift in decision, President Roosevelt always sought to avail himself of the best possible advice before acting. Members of his Cabinet were consulted fully about all that pertained to their departments, and were constantly called upon to aid in the formulation of broad policies, whether domestic or foreign. What may be called the moral momentum of the administration was Mr. Roosevelt's own. In the expression of policies, and in his discussions of public affairs, he was almost invariably aided by Cabinet officers and other trusted advisers. He was not resentful of criticism in points of detail, but con
stantly availed himself of the services of critics upon whom he could rely.
Thus his official relations were exceedingly frank and agreeable, and his administration was greatly strengthened in its prestige and in its achievements by the exceptionally good team work of the official personnel.
In the McKinley campaign of 1896, Mr. Roosevelt had taken very strong ground against the free silver movement and had been regarded in the West and South as the embodiment of the spirit and attitude of Wall Street and the "money trust." He was not particularly fond of financial and economic questions as such, but he seized upon any phases of them that involved principles of public morality. The silver movement to him was abhorrent because he thought it fundamentally dishonest. He was in some danger of misjudging great masses of his fellow countrymen at that time, and of aspersing their motives.
Later on he realized that their intentions had been upright, although their views upon the money question were erroneous. I had occasion at that time, in what I believed to be his own interest, to bluepencil a manuscript of his to the sacrifice of many of its most readable paragraphs. He had written it in the heat and fervor of the campaign, and its challenges were personal, unsparing and very widely distributed. In after years he mentioned the matter not infrequently, and always with thanks for what he characterized as the cool judgment and foresight of the editorial revision.
His acceptance of the verdict at the moment was a remarkable illustration of his capacity for taking disinterested advice on its merits, and without being mortally offended. The manuscript as I revised it
holds its place to-day among his collected essays. He had dictated it hastily at night after an evening of campaign speaking, and the political and moral force of the article remained, while the trenchant assaults upon individuals and groups (who afterward became his personal friends and his permanent allies in politics) were eliminated.
Even in the making of those attacks, he was wholly free from ill-feeling or malice. He was engaged in a fight, was confident of the justice of his cause, and was hitting a little harder than he realized-some opponents whose motives were good but whose facts and logic were mistaken. Life for him was so full of wholesome interest, and his healthy zest for various studies and activities was so absorbing, that it was quite impossible for him to cherish grudges or to cultivate animosities.
The United States had come through the period of the Spanish War with a greatly enlarged place in the world. Mr. Roosevelt brought to the Presidential office the qualities needed for that era. His Americanism was supported by so much of vigor, courage and frank audacity that his prestige made itself felt everywhere. The Monroe Doctrine was more fully vindicated than ever before in the adjustment of the Panama Canal policies, the arbitration of the Venezuela claims and in other ways. Good understandings between the British Empire and the United States were promoted as a basis of American policy. Mr. Roosevelt's relations with foreign diplomats at Washington were cordial and sincere, and during his years in office we were more entirely on good terms with the world than at any previous moment in our history.
The Roosevelt period was marked by the massing of capital and the lessening of competition in rail