« PreviousContinue »
short space of one hundred and thirteen days politicians and parties have been forced to meet new questions and to take sides upon startling issues. The face of the whole world has been changed. The maps of yesterday are obsolete. Columbus, looking for the Orient and its fabled treasures, sailed four hundred years ago into the land-locked harbor of Santiago, and to-day his spirit sees his bones resting under the flag of a new and great country, which has found the way and conquered the outposts, and is knocking at the door of the farthest East. “The wife of a cabinet officer told me that when Assistant Secretary Roosevelt announced that he had determined to resign and raise a regiment for the war, some of the ladies in the administration thought it their duty to remonstrate with him. They said: ‘Mr. Roosevelt, you have six children, the youngest a few months old, and the eldest not yet in the teens. While the country is full of young men who have no such responsibilities and are eager to enlist, you have no right to leave the burden upon your wife of the care, support, and bringing up of that family.” Roosevelt’s answer was a Roosevelt answer: “I have dome as much as any one to bring on this war, because I believed it must come, and the sooner the better, and now that the war has come I have no right to ask others to do the fighting and stay at home myself.” “The regiment of Rough Riders was an original American suggestion, and to demonstrate that patriotism and indomitable courage are common to all conditions of American life. The same great qualities are found under the slouch hat of the cowboy and the elegant imported tile of New York's gilded youth. Their mannerisms are the veneers of the West and the East; their manhood is the same. “In that hot and pest-cursed climate of Cuba officers had opportunities for protection from miasma and fever which were not possible for the men. But the Rough Riders endured no hardships nor dangers which were not shared by their colonel. He helped them dig the ditches; he stood beside them in the deadly dampness of the trenches. No floored tent for him if his comrades must sleep on the ground and under the sky. In that world-famed charge of the Rough Riders through the hail of shot and up the hill of San Juan their colonel was a hundred feet in advance. The bullets whistling by him are rapidly thinning the ranks of those desperate fighters. The colonel trips and falls and the line wavers, but in a moment he is up again, waving his sword, climbing and shouting. He bears a charmed life. He climbs the barbed-wire fence and plunges through, yelling, ‘Come on, boys; come on, and we will lick hell out of them.” The moral force of that daring cowed and awed the Spaniards, and they fled from their fortified heights and Santiago was ours. “Colonel Roosevelt is the typical citizen-soldier. The sanitary condition of our army in Cuba might not have been known for weeks through the regular channels of inspection and report to the various departments. Here the citizen in the colonel overcame the official routine and reticence of the soldier. His graphic letter to the Government and the round robin he initiated brought suddenly and sharply to our attention the frightful dangers of disease and death, and resulted in our boys being brought immediately home. He may have been subject to court-martial for violating the articles of war, but the humane impulses of the people gave him gratitude and applause. “It is seldom in political conflicts, when new and unexpected issues have to be met and decided, that a candidate can be found who personifies the popular and progressive side of these issues. Representative men move the masses to enthusiasm and are more easily understood than measures. Lincoln, with his immortal declaration, made at a time when to make it assured his defeat by Douglas for the United States Senate, that “a house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this Government cannot endure permanently half-slave and half-free,” embodied the anti-slavery doctrine. Grant, with Appomattox and the parole of honor to the Confederate army behind him, stood for the perpetuity of union and liberty. McKinley, by his long and able advocacy of its principles, is the leading spirit for the protection of American industries. For this year, for this crisis, for the voters of the Empire State, for the young men of the country and the upward, onward and outward trend of the United States, the candidate of candidates is the hero of Santiago, the idol of the Rough Riders—Colonel Theodore Roosevelt.” There were other speeches for the candidates, and then came the call of the roll. The count stood seven hundred and fifty-three votes for
Roosevelt and two hundred and eighteen for Black. Judge Cady, who had placed Governer Black in nomination, immediately moved to make the nomination of Colonel Roosevelt unanimous, and Senator Hobart Krum, of Schoharie, who had been one of Governor Black's chief advisers, assured harmony in the party by saying: “On behalf of Governor Black and on behalf of every delegate who voted for him in this convention I say they will stand by the nomination of Colonel Roosevelt, as Colonel Roosevelt has stood by the country. More than that, we will take the executive chair for Colonel Roosevelt as he took the heights at San Juan.” This was very eloquent, but the sequel proved that Colonel Roosevelt was himself obliged to go into the campaign and lead the forces if he wished to see victory perching upon his banner.
When the nomination was made, Colonel Roosevelt went in to win as he had always done, once he had decided to make the race. The campaign was as picturesque and as full of surprises as even the Gascon comrades of the hero of Las Guasimas could have desired. B. B. Odell, Chairman of the State Committee and since Gov. ernor of New York, was opposed to Colonel