Page images
PDF
EPUB
[graphic][merged small]

President, and said, he stood, as he "always had done,” on the platform of his party. The Republican party has repeatedly suffered disaster that might have been avoided if it had not been for the people who were too particular about some views they entertained, to treat the party organization with the consideration due its power. The Hon. Seth Low might as well as not have been the first instead of the second Mayor of Greater New York, if supporters had not believed they were certain of victory with Low's name alone, and turned the city over to Tammany, by confiding management to presumptuous inexperience.

Mr. Roosevelt was strong enough to support Blaine as the candidate, though his opponent in the Convention; and if thousands of those who wandered, had moved in a direct line as he did, the Republican party would not have been beaten then by the vote of the City of New York. There are those pleased still that they were irregulars, and the country has a way of going ahead and doing better than is expected by those who are sensitive.

Of the Theodore Roosevelts, father and son, Dr. Shaw has given us a pleasing picture destly drawn:

“His father was a very prominent and greatly respected citizen of New York; his character must always be a source of inspiration to a son who could not hope to surpass his father in much except in the wider fame that comes with the holding of political offices. Theodore Roosevelt, through his many college friendships, and through his even larger acquaintance in the City and State of New York, entered upon his career of public service with a greater number of young men of acute minds and the literary habit taking note of his progress than in the case of any other young man who has ever made a figure in American politics. Some men have attributed a part of their success in public life to methods of reserve, and to habits of comparative inaccessibility. But since the sphinx-like and mysterious have always been foreign to the nature of the new President, he has never cultivated those methods. He is naturally frank, outspoken and unreserved. Having a good conscience and a good courage, having absolutely no gift at all for finesse, he has been so free from restraint in the expression of his convictions and in the disclosure of his plans and intentions, and he has been so approachable and hospitable, moreover, that he now finds himself in the position of President of the United States, with at least a hundred acquaintances of earlier and later days who are both gifted with the pen, and in their own estimation qualified by personal knowledge to write an anecdotal narrative of his career, or an analytical estimate of his character."

The fine words of the last lines of the quotation above must be left to the appreciation and application of the reader, undisturbed by "anecdotal” annotation. There is, however, affluence of information in the paragraphs that follow

from the same source, whose accuracy of statement of fact that are not matters of opinion, is absolute.

“Mr. Roosevelt's six years' experience, extending from 1889 to 1895, in the Civil Service Office, gave him an invaluable understanding of the working of the so-called classified services, of all the methods of office-seekers and patronage brokers, and, in short, of the whole make-up of the work of the Federal Government so far as its personnel is concerned.

"His intense interest in the work of the Naval Office was heightened by the fact that he had been one of the first in the country to perceive that armed intervention on the part of the United States to end the war between Spain and the insurgents in Cuba was inevitable. His whole object, therefore, was to do his part in seeing that the Navy of the United States was in readiness to meet the naval forces of Spain. To that end, he caused the greatest attention to be paid to gunnery practice, and was instrumental in the sending of Admiral Dewey to command the Pacific Squadron.

“Private life never had any terrors for him, because to a young man of his discernment and talents abundant opportunities for good work lay in all directions. As he had come from a family not of great wealth but of ample means, he fortunately escaped that mania for wealth which thwarts the highest development and usefulness of so many talented young men in the United States. He prized his independence and his freedom above all things, and very early in life perceived the great advantage that comes from simple and unpretentious living. Mr. Bigelow made it plain that Mr. Roosevelt is a good specimen of what is sometimes called 'the muscular Christian;' but his devotion to physical exercises, his fondness for athletic games and pursuits, his zest for outdoor life, and the stir of the chase for big game in mountain wildernesses, have never for him meant mere distractions or time-consuming pursuits, but rather a part of that wise use of a busy man's time whereby he expands, matures and conserves his powers for the more serious business of life.”

CHAPTER XIII.

THE PRESIDENT'S ORATIONS.

Two of them as Lofty Examples—The Famous "Stenuous Life" and "Manhood and State

hood”—The Boldness with Which the President Expresses Himself—The Literary Men of the World in Great Affairs.

THE very interesting fact that three days before President McKinley made T his last speech, Vice-President Roosevelt spoke at Minneapolis, and

that without consultation or exchange of views, there were, touching the issues of the future, coincidences in expression and doctrine, in the two speeches, drew public attention to the Minneapolis utterance of Roosevelt to such an extent that other addresses by him were almost forgotten for a time. The President and Vice-President were moved to dwell in the first week of September upon the problems before the country that needed discussion, for there were changes in the world that called for something more than drifting in the stream of prosperity, and the two first officers of our Government proposed identical steps of progress.

There is in Roosevelt's speeches a quality that is heroic. He has a way of saying all that can be said. This does not mean going to extremes of radicalism, but that the speaking is unreserved. There is nothing left out or put in because there would be according to the common production of a politician, a phrase to parry a possible attack, or one omitted, because it would provoke. He has often been appealed to for a retraction of something in color or the softening of a severe saying, but if the truth has been fairly told in his judge ment it is never compromised by him. As a case of plain speaking the President had to say in Chicago some time before the latest murder of a President:

“I am in all my feelings national, and neither local nor sectional, and I am happy to add, parenthetically, I am not in the least cosmopolitan, and it is a pleasure for me to speak to you of Chicago, because Chicago is intensely and typically an American city. Of recent years, Chicago has done two things because of which she deserves well of the whole nation. You have put down and punished (even if not altogether adequately) two foul, foreign conspiracies, which were hatched in your midst; dealt with the anarchist dynamite throwers as they deserved, and also dealt with, though not as thoroughly as they deserved, the members of a foreign dynamite society, who, on account of a factional quarrel, had murdered an American citizen. I have full faith any future offenders of the same sort will be visited with even prompter and severer punishment, whether they are found in the ranks of the anarchists on one hand or of the Clan-na-Gael or some kindred organization on the other."

The method of Roosevelt could not have a better illustration of a way of speaking that does not call for annotation.

The speech before the Hamilton Club of Chicago, April 15th, 1899, on “The Strenuous Life," has added a word to the language, and accomplished a great deal of good in pointing young men to the higher life of activity-to hold idleness in contempt. It is such an unconscious history of the President himself, that it is indispensable as an autographic biography.

THE STRENUOUS LIFE. "Gentlemen: In speaking to you, men of the greatest city of the West, men of the State which gave to the country Lincoln and Grant, men who preeminently and distinctly embody all that is most American in the American character, I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of strenuous life; the life of toil and effort; of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires more easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.

“A life of ignoble ease, a life of that peace which springs merely from lack either of desire or of power to strive after great things, is as little worthy of a nation as of an individual. I ask only that what every self-respecting American demands from himself, and from his sons, shall be demanded of the American nation as whole. Who among you would teach your boys that ease, that peace is to be the first consideration in their eyes—to be the ultimate goal after which they strive. You men of Chicago have made this city great, you men of Illinois have done your share, and more than your share, in making America great, because you neither preach nor practice such a doctrine. You work yourselves, and you bring up your sons to work. If you are rich, and are worth your salt, you will teach your sons that though they may have leisure, it is not to be spent in idleness; for wisely used leisure merely means that those who possess it, being free from the necessity of working for their livelihood, are all the more bound to carry on some kind of non-remunerative work in science, in letters, in art, in exploration, in historical research-work of the type we most need in this country, the successful carrying out of which reflects most honor upon the nation. We do not admire the man of timid peace. We admire the man who embodies victorious effort; the man who never wrongs his neighbors; who is prompt to help a friend; but who has those virile qualities neces

« PreviousContinue »