« PreviousContinue »
A TYPICAL AMERICAN.
Roosevelt represents the entire American nation. He is the first President of the New United States. His antecedents make him the typical American. He inherited no prejudices. He owes party allegiance to no political machine. A hero before the election, he is now an inspiration to every American boy. Though born in New York, the entire country claims him. His mother was from Georgia, and he himself was a cowboy in the West. One of his uncles was a commodore in the Confederate navy, and he recently remarked that more than half of the Rough Riders were the sons of men who fought in the army of the South. It would be difficult to find a man so “geographically universal.” For the first time in our history a man of letters is at the head of the Government. Nearly all of our Presidents have been strong and graceful writers on economic subjects—some of them
have made startling phrases and have dealt in periods that would put to shame the literary hack; but Roosevelt is an all-round literary worker. He is prepared to write anything, on any subject—adventure, philosophy, international law. His education is thorough; he represents the college student and the college athlete. He is of the new and the old. While he reveres the traditions of his grandfather, he recognizes the force of his brother. With him old things have become new. He is the epitome of David's strength. Old things may have been wise for that day, but new things represent our power this day. If the man who is struggling on the hill-side will only stop to think of this fact it may be of advantage to him. We revere the past, but tradition may have hampered us. America, the most progressive of nations, may have been hampered by tradition. For their day our forefathers were unquestionably wise. To them the Constitution was a dead-set faith. At that time man's vision extended only to the limit bordering his lands. Beyond that was dark experiment. Shrinking within the limits of a narrow shell, “hands off.” was the nation’s watchword. Broad-minded Jeffersonism did not comprehend the entire world. It did not gather the spreading force of geography. Isolation was his watchword and the national cry of his successors. “Hands off.” they said, and our Congressmen were on that platform elected. Europe smiled, and we contented ourselves with what they condemned as Our narrowneSS. Years passed, and we had a merciless war. Premiers said, “I told you so.” There was no hope for America. With the hot wax of impulsiveness, she had sealed the letter of her doom. Germany, believing in the failure of all republics, gathered herself into a sardonic laugh. England, though a monarchy—the father, the mother of all modern republics—cried “Long live the queen,” and yet mourned for us. Our war came to an end. In one part of the country there seemed to be chaos. Senators said, “We have failed.” But out of that chaos came order. Up arose leaders of men who declared that secession had been a failure. They joined the Government without having changed their principle of the rights of States. Upon that platform they were elected, and the world of mankind was forced to declare that history had been baffled. The old order of things, the kings and queens,
said they, were sleeping. Soon they will wake up. Rome taught us that such a thing could not be. Ancient Egypt declared its failure. Modern France laughs with us. The French revolution was a failure. Therefore this thing cannot stand. They called it a thing. They had lost sight of immortality. The assassin lifted his weapon as if to prove that monarchy was the only enduring form of government. Presidents sank down to die, but the Government still lived. Office may be ephemeral, but the people are eternal. The crown did not know this. They said that the scepter was God's word. We have taught the world that this is wrong. The people are immortal. The death of McKinley proved the ever-enduring life of his nation. Before the day of enlightenment such a death would have meant chaos. The education of man means the eternal element of society. Presidents die; the country lives.
But confidence is the essence of prosperity. Without confidence we are unsteady of gaze, fixing cross-eyes upon uncertainty. With confidence we are strong, and Roosevelt gives us strength. They said that he was lacking in dignity and he became the most dignified of men.
They said that he might not be executive, and one word put the nation at rest. They acknowledged that he was brave, but they said that bravery was not wisdom. The bravest were the wisest men of Rome. Bravery, sobered with responsibility, is the most conservative ruler. They did not know this at first but they know it now. Roosevelt is a patriot, and of such is the safe statesman composed. Men who stood closest to him were astonished. He surprised his most intimate friends. They had not taken into account his devoted study of governments. Now they wonder at our short-sightedness. While riding in a carriage toward the McKinley house, Roosevelt pointed to a large building and remarked: “There is the future President for all time.” It was a public school. Some of the men who were with him did not understand this, but some of them did; and one man, a Congressman, reached over and took his hand. To Roosevelt old men came and centered their hope. They felt that American institutions were safe. In him they knew was centered the entire country. At Canton were men of every party. For the first time in the history of the States there was no political creed. America was united