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INAUGURAL ADDRESS OF THEODORE ROOSEVELT, Gov
ERNOR, JANUARY 2, 1899 On Monday, January 2, 1899, at 12 o'clock, noon, in the Assembly Chamber at the Capitol in the city of Albany, Theodore Roosevelt took the constitutional oath of office as Governor of the State of New York. Having been appropriately addressed by the outgoing Governor, the Honorable Frank S. Black, Governor Roosevelt spoke as follows:
I appreciate very deeply all you say, and the spirit that prompts you to say it. We have the same ends in view; we are striving to accomplish the same results; each of us, according to the light that is in him, is seeking to advance the welfare of the people.
A very heavy responsibility rests upon the Governor of New York State, a State of seven millions of inhabitants, of great wealth, of widely varied industries and with a population singularly diversified, not merely in occupation, but in race origin, in habits of life and in ways of thought. It is not an easy task so to frame our laws that justice may be done to all alike in such a population, so many of whom have interests that seem entirely antagonistic. But upon the great and fundamental issues of good government there must always be a unity of interest among all persons who wish well to the commonwealth. There is much less need of genius or of any special brilliancy in the administration of our government than there is need of such homely virtues and qualities as common sense, honesty and courage. There are very many difficult problems to face, some of which are as old as government itself, while others have sprung into being in consequence of the growing complexity and steadily increasing tension of our social life for the last two generations. It is not given to any man, or to any set of men, to see with absolutely clear vision into the future. All that can be done is to face the facts as we find them, to meet each difficulty in practical fashion and to strive steadily for the betterment both of our civic and our social conditions.
We must realize on the one hand, that we can do little if we do not set ourselves a high ideal, and, on the other, that we will fail in accomplishing even this little if we do not work through practical methods and with a readiness to face life as it is, and not as we think it ought to be. Under no form of government is it so necessary thus to combine efficiency and morality, high principle and rough common sense, justice and the sturdiest physical and moral courage, as in a republic. It is absolutely impossible for a republic long to endure if it becomes either corrupt or cowardly; if its public men, no less than its private men, lose the indispensable virtue of honesty, if its leaders of thought become visionary doctrinaires, or if it shows a lack of courage in dealing with the many grave problems which it must surely face, both at home and abroad, as it strives to work out the destiny meet for a mighty nation.
It is only through the party system that free governments are now successfully carried on, and yet we must keep ever vividly before us that the usefulness of a party is strictly limited by its usefulness to the State, and that in the long run, he serves his party best who most helps to make it instantly responsive to every need of the people and to the higliest demands of that spirit which tends to drive us onward and upward.
It shall be my purpose, so far as I am given strength, to administer my office with an eye single to the welfare of all the people of this great commonwealth.
Immediately after leaving the Assembly Chamber, the Governor, accompanied by those officers whom he had designated as his Military Staff, retired to the Executive Chamber. The first official act of the Governor after his inauguration, was the acceptance of the resignation of William J. Youngs as District Attorney of the county of Queens, and the appointment of the said William J. Youngs to be his Private Secretary.
RESPONSE TO THE Toast “THE STATE OF NEW YORK,”
AT THE STATE BAR ASSOCIATION BANQUET, JANUARY
8, 1899 MR. PRESIDENT, AND GENTLEMEN: I am particularly glad to have the chance of speaking to you to-night, because you represent that kind of citizenship which more than any other has weight and influence in shaping the conduct of our social and legislative development. I do not say that to compliment you. I say it because I wish you would realize the responsibility that it puts upon you. Would it were in my power to make each of you feel how dependent the public servant is in the way
of doing good work upon popular opinion, which you, and the men like you, must shape. A public man can learn to a certain extent, but he has got to keep in touch with the people whom he represents. If he gets too far away from them, so that he is out of touch with them, then his usefulness is almost as much impaired, as if he were too far behind. All that can be done is this: he can get a certain distance away, and he must take care that that certain distance is in the right direction. It is not possible for any man ever to do or to get all that he would like to do, or all that he would like to get in the way of good government and in the way of striving to see his ideals realized.
Mr. President, you have spoken very kindly of the fact that you believed I would be a good Governor. Now I intend to try. But the measure of my success is going to largely depend upon the support that I get from just such men as I see before me tonight. I am a loyal party man, but I believe very firmly that I can best render aid to my party by doing all that in me lies to make that party responsive to the needs of the State, responsive to the needs of the people, and just so far as I work along those lines I have the right to challenge the support of every decent man, no matter what his party may be. It is not an easy thing, when you come down to the practical realities, to work for the best; it is a good deal easier to sit at home in one's parlor and decide what the best is than to get out in the field and try to win it. When one is in the midst of the strife, with the dust, and the blood and the rough handling, and is receiving blows, (and if he is worth anything, is returning them) it is difficult always to see per