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This book is intended to serve a double purpose to provide a selection of striking passages from Theodore Roosevelt's writings, and to serve as an interpretation of his mental processes, of his moral, social, and political philosophy and of the life in which that philosophy expressed itself. The book is a unit; and, unless the compiler is altogether deceiving himself, the reader will find in the material contained in it a logical progression from the first page to the last.
The selections, the reader will note, are divided into three major parts. In the first will be found stories from Mr. Roosevelt's historical writings which reveal in vivid flashes the background of his mind. To understand fully the significance of his doctrine, it is important to realize with what ardor Mr. Roosevelt dwelt on heroic actions. In his mind, the memory of the Nation's inspiring past hung like a glowing tapestry the "back-drop" of the scene in which dream and thought and will fought out the tremendous drama of his life. No one can understand Roosevelt's approach to the problems of personal and national life who does not take into account how firmly his feet were planted on certain elementary conceptions of heroic virtue. It was not at all that he wished to turn back the hands of the clock, and, rejecting modern progress, return to the simpler customs of the fathers; but that, accepting the age of electricity, he wished to see it made sound and fundamentally progressive by being based on the same qualities which had made progress possible in the days of the pioneer.
Roosevelt's doctrine may be regarded as a pyramid, with the “pioneer yirtues” as the base and the brotherhood of man as the apex. The selections from his writings have been arranged to make clear this unity and coherence of his philosophy, and whereas the first principal division of the book reveals the background of his mind, the second emphasizes the simple, solid structure of his thinking. All his moral, social, political and economic ideas may be grouped about five fundamental conceptions, bound together into one compact and aspiring whole:
I. The elemental virtues - the basis of good citi
zenship; II. Good citizenship - the basis of just government; III. Just government — the basis of national unity; IV. National unity - the basis of national strength; V. National strength — the basis of international
peace. The supreme test of a preacher is, and always will be, the power of the gospel which he expounds to guide his own actions. In other words, does he practice what he preaches? There is, logically or illogically, justice in the popular conviction that there is something the matter with adjurations which notably fail to determine the acts of the man who utters them. The third main divi. sion of the book is, therefore, devoted to autobiographical narratives and letters intended to reveal how Roosevelt himself practiced the strenuous, the virtuous, the patriotic life in pursuit of “realizable ideals,” which he preached. “Be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only," was his favorite text. He could afford to preach it boldly and without shame.
The editor is indebted to the executors of the Estate of Theodore Roosevelt and to the following publishers for permission to reprint excerpts from Colonel Roosevelt's writings and speeches: Messrs. Charles Scribner's Sons (The Great Adventure, Autobiography, History as Literature, America and the World War, Outdoor Pastimes of an American Hunter, Theodore Roosevelt and His Time, African Game Trails); Messrs. G. P. Putnam's Sons (American Ideals, The Winning of the West, The Wilderness Hunter, Hunting Trips of a Ranchman); the Outlook Company (The New Nationalism and American Problems); The Century Company (Hero Tales from American History, The Strenuous Life); the George H. Doran Company (The Foes of Our Own Household, Fear God and Take Your Own Part); the Harvard University Press (Applied Ethics); the Harr Wagner Company (Realizable Ideals); The Review of Reviews Company (Presidential Addresses and State Papers); Houghton Mifflin Company (Roosevelt in the Bad Lands).
The compiler is conscious of a special debt of gratitude to Dr. John A. Lester, who has prepared the school edition of this book, for the aid of his discriminating and practical mind in making the selections.
THE NATION'S DEBT TO ITS HEROES
Every great nation oroes to the men whose lives have formed part of its greatness not merely the material effect of what they did, not merely the laws they placed upon the statute books or the victories they won over armed foes, but also the immense but indefinablo moral influence pro duced by their deeds and words themselves upon the national character. ... It is not only the country which these men helped to make and helped to save that is ours by inheritance; we inherit also all that is best and higher in their characters and in their lives.