Page images

the phrase and its meaning for sixteen years, holding it ready for usage when the opportune moment arrived.

In prefacing his speech in which the phrase was used Roosevelt gave this delicious thrust at two noted pacifists:

“I don't have to deal with Mr. Bryan and Mr. Ford. I regard them both as nice, amiable men, and I like them in private life; but I decline to take part in any such wild mental joy rides as would be necessary if I had to discuss seriously their attitude."

The two conventions assembled in separate halls in Chicago on June 7, 1916. From the first, the Republican body refused to give any sign of yielding to the demand of the Progressive assemblage for the nomination of Roosevelt. Conference committees were appointed and conferences were held by them without result. A great majority of the delegates were solidly and surely pledged against Roosevelt and could not be moved a particle from their fixed position. Their convention nominated Justice Charles E. Hughes, of the United States Supreme Court, on the third ballot, on June 10. The Progressive convention nominated Roosevelt by acclamation on the same day, but with little hope that he would consent to run. The news of his nomination was telegraphed to him at Oyster Bay. He responded at once by telegraph expressing gratitude for the honor, and saying that he could not consent to accept at this time, adding: “I do not know the attitude of the candidate of the Republican party toward the vital questions of the day. Therefore, if you desire an immediate decision, I must decline the nomination. But if you prefer it, I suggest that my conditional refusal be placed in the hands of the Progressive National Committee." It was so placed by vote of the convention. On June 26, Mr. Hughes having in the meantime defined his views on the vital questions of the day, Roosevelt wrote a letter to the Progressive National Committee announcing his satisfaction with Mr. Hughes as a candidate and his intention to support him, at the same time urging his Progressive followers to do the same. This action marked the final dissolution of the Progressive party. The great bulk of its members followed Roosevelt's lead and supported Mr. Hughes, thereby returning to the Republican fold. A few went over to the Democratic side and supported President Wilson for reelection.

Writing to James Bryce, in England, on June 19, 1916, Roosevelt said:

“You have, of course, seen the result of the Presidential nominations here. I am having my own troubles with my fellow Progressives. They are wild to have me run on a third ticket. They feel that the Republican Convention was a peculiarly sordid body, a feeling with which I heartily sympathize. They feel that Mr. Hughes was nominated largely in consequence of the German-Americans who were against me, and largely also for the very reason that nobody knew anything of his views on living subjects of the day,--and a nomination made for such a cause is in my own judgment evidence of profound political immorality on the part of those making it. But Hughes is an able, up-right man whose instincts are right, and I believe in international matters he will learn with comparative quickness, especially as I hope he will put Root into office as Secretary of State. Under these circumstances there is in my mind no alternative but to support him. At his worst he will be better than Wilson, and there is always the chance that he will do very well indeed.”

[ocr errors]

A letter to Mr. Van Valkenberg, on September 5, 1916, is of value as showing Roosevelt's own estimate of the scope and usefulness of his public services:

Of course, we can never be absolutely certain, but my usefulness to this country depended so largely upon conditions of national and international politics that its real need of me has probably passed. My great usefulness as President came in connection with the Anthracite Coal Strike, the voyage of the battle fleet around the world, the taking of Panama, the handling of Germany in the

Venezuela business, England in the Alaska boundary matter, the irrigation business in the West, and finally, I think, the toning up of the Government service generally.

“Any decent and forceful man could handle the irrigation business, and could tone up the Government service, and build up our navy and regular army. But, as to the other matters I am less sure. My usefulness in 1912 and again this year would have been because we were facing a period when there was need of vision in both national and international matters. I would have done my best work in connection with the European war, the Mexican situation, and the Japanese and Chinese situation; and also in connection with universal military service, which would not only be of prime military consequence, but of prime consequence to us socially and industrially. I would, moreover, have fought for the industrial regeneration of this country along the lines of the 1912 platform, and would have fought hard and, I think, effectively for that wise and farsighted justice which no more fears organized labor than it fears Wall Street. But when 1920 arrives no human being can tell what the issues will be. I am already an old man, and the chances are very small that I will ever again grow into touch with the people of this country to the degree that will make me useful as a leader; and a man who has been a leader, is very rarely useful as an adviser when the period of his leadership has passed.

“People always used to say of me that I was an astonishingly good politician and divined what the people were going to think. This really was not an accurate way of stating the case. I did not ‘divine how the people were going to think; I simply made up my mind what they ought to think, and then did my best to get them to think it. Sometimes I failed, and then my critics said that my ambition had overleaped itself.' Sometimes I succeeded; and then they said that I was an uncommonly astute creature to have detected what the people were going to think and to pose as their leader in thinking it.'

In the campaign of 1916 Roosevelt took the stump for Hughes and made vigorous speeches in his behalf in various parts of the country, laying stress upon the issues which he had been advocating for two years previous-namely national preparedness, loyal Americanism—and criticizing severely the policy of the Wilson Administration, both in regard to Mexico and in regard to Germany and the European war.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]



For a short time after the election in November, 1916, Roosevelt was silent on the course pursued by the Wilson Administration, but in December he renewed his open criticism. He had now a very large audience throughout the country. In addition to writing editorial articles each month for the Metropolitan Magazine he was making similar contributions almost daily to the Kansas City Star. At the same time he was making frequent speeches in various parts of the country, thus coming in contact with many thousands of people. The demand from all quarters for his services was overwhelming. More than ever he was the accepted leader of the opposition to the dilatory and pacifist tendencies of the Wilson Administration, and the foremost champion of vigorous, militant and unadulterated Americanism. His views found expression in editorial articles and speeches as well as in private letters, and from all of these I shall quote.

His first utterance was a protest against the note which the Secretary of State, Mr. Lansing, had sent to the belligerent nations, on December 18, 1916, in which the Secretary had said in behalf of the President: “He takes the liberty of calling attention to the fact that the objects, which the statesmen of the belligerent nations on both sides have in mind in this war, are virtually the same, as stated in general terms to their own people and to the world." The note suggested that all the nations at war make an avowal of their respective views as to the terms upon which the war might be concluded and the arrangements which would be

« PreviousContinue »