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1. PRESIDING JUDGE PARKER, Court of Appeals 2. GOVERNOR ODELL
3. LIEUT.-Gov. WOODRUFF 4. VICE-PRESIDENT ELECT THEODORE ROOSEVELT
NEW YORK'S FAREWELL TO GOV. ROOSEVELT, DINNER GIVEN AT THE FORT ORANGE CLUB,
ALBANY, NEW YEAR'S EVE, 1900
men whose motives were equally high in 1861 opposed any effort to restore the Union by force of arms. The error was almost as great in one case as in the other, and will be so adjudged by history. But back of the high motives of these men lay the two great impulses—the impulses now in 1899 as in 1861– the impulses of sloth and fear; and well it was for us that the Administration and the Senate disregarded them.”
There is a class of Republicans in New York who condemn any man who is in friendly relation with Senator Platt; but Roosevelt was never that kind of a Republican, for he knew Mr. Platt's ability and amiability, and opposed the creed that it was immoral not to tear the party to pieces whenever the Senator's name was mentioned. The President never, or hardly ever, more clearly, specifically and defiantly defined his position as a party man, and the inside way of going with the party, than in responding to the toast, “The State of New York,” at the State Bar Association banquet, on the 8th of January, 1899. Governor Roosevelt said to the President, who stated he believed Roosevelt 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 to-night. 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 reality, 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 perfectly straight in the direction the right lies.”
There is something almost pathetic in this statement the strong man makes of the difficulty of overcoming the obstacles in his path. He goes on with wise words, explaining that to accomplish much, is after all by gradual approaches. He adds :
"Perhaps we must always advance a little by zig-zags; only we must always advance; and the zig-zags should go toward the right goal. One thing I believe that we are realizing more and more, and that is the valuelessness of mere virtue that does not take a tangible and efficient shape. I do not give the snap of my finger for a very good man who possesses that peculiar kind of goodness that benefits only himself, in his own home. I think we all understand more and more that the virtue that is worth having is the virtue that can sustain the rough shock of actual living; the virtue that can achieve practical results, that finds expression in actual life. There may be a more
objectionable class in the community than the timid good, but I do not know it. I earnestly hope that all of you here will thoroughly appreciate what you now know in the abstract, but what we none of us realize entirely in practice, that here in this government it is not the public officials that really govern, it is the people themselves. It is the people who must make their ideals take tangible shape.”
Those who have undertaken controversy with Theodore Roosevelt, whether as member of the Legislature, Police or Civil Service Reform Commissioner, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Governor of New York, or President of the United States, found him a well armed man, never surprised, always equipped. What he said and did when Governor is matter of uncommon interest to the people of the United States. There is no question that his Administration as President will be like that of the Gubernatorial office. His earnestness in seeking the wish of the people, his energy in conforming to their will, his comprehensive enlightenment as to that which is his duty to know in all the Departments, his prompt and even peremptory methods of hastening business, by taking speedy action upon sufficient testimony, will if justly esteemed and cordially co-operated with, aid enormously the usefulness of his office in promotion of the general welfare of the people. And there is nothing that will, in a greater degree declare the principle and the policy of that which is to come than the study of that which has come to pass.
It has been said of several of our Presidents, and notably of President McKinley, that he grew in office, that he gathered strength for the performance of duty in proportion to the elevation of it and the gravity of responsibility it was necessary for him to accept as pertaining to himself, and that he was spurred by the exigencies upon him, in war and in peace, and the command that it was a requirement he should have of the affairs of other Nations and the devotion it was essential he should give in promoting the prosperity of the people at home.
Like language applies exactly to President Roosevelt.
No Governor ever gave more careful attention to the bills he vetoed than Governor Roosevelt did, and when he offered a recommendation, he covered the whole field. A fine example of his solicitude for the welfare and all the rights of the people is found in his message relative to rapid transit in the City of New York.
"State of New York, Executive Chamber,
“Albany, April 21, 1899. "To the Legislature:
“There is now before your body a measure looking toward the securing of rapid transit for the City of New York. I deem it of very great importance that a scheme providing for rapid transit in the city should be passed at the earliest practicable moment. But it is even more important that this scheme should be one which will work for the ultimate benefit of the city. It does not seem to me wise that a franchise of this nature should be given in perpetuity. It would, of course, be best to have it owned by the municipality; although I would point out to the advocates of municipal ownership that it is doubly incumbent upon them to take the most efficient means of rebuking municipal corruption and of insisting upon a high standard of continuous fidelity to duty among municipal employees. Only if the government of this municipality is honest will it be possible ever to justify fully the workings of municipal ownership.
“While, however, giving full weight to these considerations, it yet seems unquestionable that if this measure can be undertaken by the municipality, it should be so undertaken. But if the measure must be undertaken by a private company, then the bill should be so framed as to throw open the competition to all responsible bidders, and the franchise should not, in my opinion, be given for more than fifty years, then to be revalued by arbitrators or by the Supreme Court; the franchise to be thereafter continued for terms of twenty-five years, unless the city desires to take the road at the valuation agreed on.
“We are most fortunate in having as Commissioners under the present rapid transit act, men of the highest character and standing, in whose judgment the city has the utmost confidence. I believe that it is safe to give these Commissioners a very large liberty in dealing with the rapid transit plan. Nevertheless, in my judgment, certain broad lines should be laid down within which they are to work. What the value of this franchise may be fifty years hence, no one can tell; and while, in the view of the formidable difficulties of the undertaking, full provision should be made for ample reward to the private capitalists who go into the scheme, if it is deemed advisable to have it undertaken by private capital, yet the franchise should not be given in perpetuity, and provisions should be made to remunerate the city if the franchise turns out to possess exceptional capital.”
Governor Roosevelt was severe upon those he knew were politicians for personal profit, not merely careless as to the public good, but engaged as an occupation in corruption, and was fiery with zeal for the betterment of the Civil Service, by taking it, so far as was practicable, out of politics. With all his feeling against the commercial features of the functions of Government, he was not of the professional independents who dwell so nigh the frontiers of the organizations of partizans, that are arrayed in hostile lines and seeking majorities of the people for the sake of patronage, that they gained superior facilities for changing sides, and, indeed, dwelt in ambuscade that they might mingle the offices of warfare with peace proclamations, and refine finesse into prevarication. The Governor was gracious to opponents, who seemed to enjoy