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GREAT WELCOME IN NEW YORK-ATTITUDE
ROOSEVELT arrived in New York from his European travels on June 18, 1910, receiving a truly royal welcome. Nothing approaching it had ever been given a private citizen coming back to his native land after a brief absence abroad. He had been absent only a little more than a year. A greater part of that time had been passed in the wilds of Africa, and while only occasional and brief references to his doings had been published in the newspapers, his own account of his hunting exploits had been in process of publication monthly in Scribner's Magazine since October, 1909, under the title of "African Game Trails."
While he was in Europe, his various public addresses had been published widely and commanded extremely warm approval in all quarters, especially in those journals that had been his severest critics while he was in public life. His presence as special envoy of the United States at the funeral of King Edward, by request of President Taft, had been generally commended and he had figured in the press accounts of the ceremonies on that occasion. Beyond this he had done nothing to keep himself in the minds of the people. Yet when his return was announced the whole country joined in welcoming him home. A committee of citizens, headed by the mayor of the city, was formed to arrange a public reception and delegations and representatives of civic and other societies from many cities and states went to New York to join in it. The steamer upon which he arrived was met in the harbor by a great naval parade, and the harbor itself was crowded with pleasure yachts, excursion steamers and merchant craft of all kinds, making his progress to the landing place at the Battery through a long line of vessels laden with thousands of cheering people and amid salvos of artillery from the naval vessels and the forts on the shores of the bay. On landing he was met with an official greeting by the mayor, to which he responded as follows:
"I thank you, Mayor Gaynor. Through you I thank your committee, and through them I wish to thank the American people for their greeting. I need hardly say I am most deeply moved by the reception given me. No man could receive such a greeting without being made to feel both very proud and very humble
“I have been away a year and a quarter from America, and I have seen strange and interesting things alike in the heart of the growing wilderness and in the capitals of the mightiest and most highly polished of civilized nations. I have thoroughly enjoyed myself, and now I am more glad than I can say to get home, to be back in my own country, back among the people I love.
“And I am ready and eager to do my part, so far as I am able, in helping solve problems which must be solved if we of this, the greatest democratic Republic upon which the sun has ever shone, are to see its destinies rise to the high level of our hopes and its opportunities.
"This is the duty of every citizen, but it is peculiarly my duty, for any man who has ever been favored by being made President of the United States is thereby forever after rendered the debtor of the American people, and is bound throughout his life to remember this as his prime obligation, and in private life as much as in public life so to carry himself that the American people may never have cause to feel regret that once they placed him at their head.'
A procession, composed of citizens, members of various civic societies and associations in the city and from other parts of the land, escorted him over lower Broadway and Fifth Avenue to Forty-second Street through solid walls of
cheering humanity that crowded the sidewalks, windows and even roofs of buildings, all eager to get a glimpse of him. A squad of his old regiment of Rough Riders, who had gathered from the West to join in the welcome, acted as a guard of honor. On the afternoon of the same day, accompanied by members of his family, he went to his home in Oyster Bay, where he was greeted on arrival by his fellow townsmen, who assembled en masse to welcome him back.
The closing part of his speech at the Battery indicated clearly the course that he intended to pursue in future in regard to public affairs. By a few of the extreme radicals among his followers it was interpreted to mean that he would return to active politics, but his intimates knew that he had no such intention. He had said, before retiring from the Presidency, that the role of sage had no attractions for him; that he considered it both his privilege and duty to take active part in the discussion of public questions, commending or criticizing as his judgment dictated, but that he should never again be a candidate for political office, or engage in active political work. That he was firmly determined on this point when he landed in New York, there is no question; yet he had been in the country only ten days when he was persuaded, greatly against his will, to take sides in a factional political contest in New York State, and become the leader of one of the parties to it.
His first public appearance after his return was at the Commencement exercises at Harvard University. While there he met Governor Hughes of New York, who fairly besieged him to champion his cause in a contest that he was waging against the most powerful of the leaders of the Republican party organization for the enactment of a direct primary law. The Governor's appeal proved to be irresistible, and in explanation of his yielding, Roosevelt said in introducing him to the Alumni luncheon over which he was presiding on June 29, 1910:
“Our Governor has a very persuasive way with him. I had intended to keep absolutely clear from any kind of public or political question after coming home, and I could carry out my resolution all right until I met the Governor this morning, and he then explained to me that I had come back to live in New York now; that I had to help him out, and after a very brief conversation, I put up my hands and agreed to help him.''
On the same day he sent a telegram to the chairman of the New York Republican State Committee, giving his approval to the direct primary bill and expressing his earnest hope that it would be made law. From the minute that he took this action he became, of course, the leader of those supporting the bill, consequently the chief figure in an intensely bitter partisan contest.
It was not in New York alone that his aid was sought. He was overwhelmed on his arrival in the United States with a multitude of requests to visit various parts of the country and make addresses. Before he had been at home two months he had received about two thousand of these. One of them which appealed to him especially was to attend the Frontier Celebration at Cheyenne, Wyoming. He had many things in mind that he wished to say, for he felt that during his absence from the country the causes that were nearest to his heart had lacked a champion through the disinclination of the national administration to uphold them, and in consequence were slipping into the background of the public mind. To visit Cheyenne he would have to traverse many states and stop at many cities where addresses would be expected of him. He arranged an itinerary, prepared addresses for many of the principal points at which he was to speak, and in August, 1910, he set his face westward on a journey which covered more than five thousand miles and traversed fourteen States. He was accompanied by a host of newspaper correspondents and his formal addresses and occasional speeches were reported fully in the press. One of the first addresses to excite interest and hostile comment was made before the Colorado Legislature on August 29, 1910. In this he condemned the action of the
Supreme Court of the United States in two cases, in one of which it had declared unconstitutional a law enacted in New York State designed to abolish unhealthy conditions in bakeshops. Of this decision Roosevelt said: “The decision was nominally against State rights, really against popular rights. Such decisions, arbitrarily and irresponsibly limiting the power of the people, are of course fundamentally hostile to every species of real popular government." He was accused of "attacking the courts," and in a later speech at Syracuse, New York, on September 17, 1910, and in an article in the Outlook, of which he had been a contributing editor since leaving the Presidency, he explained fully his first utterance, citing in defense of his course the words of Lincoln in regard to the Dred Scott decision: “I believe the decision was improperly made, and I go for reversing it." He quoted also the dissenting opinion of three Justices of the Supreme Court in the Bake Shop
Another address which aroused even more bitter criticism was that made on August 31, 1910, at the dedication of the John Brown battlefield at Ossawatomie, Kansas, under the title of the “New Nationalism." In this he reiterated the views which he had held when he was President in regard to governmental regulation and control of corporations, and in regard to labor and capital and other subjects. One passage in particular was sharply criticized as an "attack on property.” It was:
“The true friend of property, the true conservative, is he who insists that property shall be the servant and not the master of the commonwealth; who insists that the creature of man's making shall be the servant and not the master of the man who made it. The citizens of the United States must effectively control the mighty commercial forces which they have themselves called into being."
Writing to Senator Lodge, on September 12, 1910, in regard to the criticisms, he said:
Now what I said about the courts. This was suggested