Page images

the Constitutional provision, and the laws fixing the succession. His candidacy was not that of an opponent of the McKinley Administration, though he certainly was not the choice of the Cabinet as a body for the Vice-Presidential nomination, one of themselves being preferred. This was, however, all in good part, and an honorable competition, and the same people, in the largest dimensions of the word as applicable to the Republicans, were for Roosevelt, as they were for McKinley, and for substantially the same reasons, one being that they were beyond question the strongest combination that could be presented. The association was a happy one, and the bearing of Roosevelt has been observed by all observers, and praised by those whose good words are praise indeed. He has answered admirably all reasonable anticipations, and strengthened the confidence of the people.

Notwithstanding this, there are persons who have control of a share of publicity, and use it to insist there will presently be a storm that will blow in an altogether new Cabinet, and substantially a new policy.

The rumor that the Honorable John Hay, who, as Secretary of State, stands next to Roosevelt in the Presidential line, is about to leave the Cabinet, is offered in the same places and by the same persons, and with some shapes that were given the same story at nearly the same intervals, during the Administration of McKinley. The fact behind this is, Mr. Hay does not care to hold office, and his weariness of official labor has for some time been known to his friends. This feeling has no doubt been made more acute by his bereavement in the loss of his son. There is, perhaps, another cause; the Honorable Secretary of State may be sensible of increasing fatigue in the endless struggle in the Senate over treaties, which, no matter what their merit, are, as a custom, subjected to a line of criticism by Senators who care for treaties only as a mark for their arrows, tipped, not with deadly poison, but touched with various tinctures of Senatorial sensibility, that are irritating. An exception was made of the recent Nicaragua treaty, which was speedily confirmed, increasing Hay's freedom and fame.

President Roosevelt assuredly met all the requirements of courtesy, sympathy, personal politeness, the consideration of the public requirements of conservatism. He not only told the Cabinet he wanted them to remain with him, but there was one thing on which his mind was fixed, irrespective of their wishes, he “could not accept any resignations.” He felt it an obligation of public duty to say this, and mean it with the full force of his words. This was neither the promise nor the mandate for a term of years or months. He held the Cabinet as emergency men. He did no more than his duty, and they accepted the situation in the spirit with which he gave it interpretation. The Cabinet has many strong points, the stronger that it is composed of the friends, in a special sense, of the late President, who loved them as they loved him. All the members of the Cabinet were agreeable to and devoted to him. As a happy family they gave united strength to the public service with individual zeal. The fact of the special personal regard between the Cabinet and the late President cannot be applied to assure the endurance of the relations under the changed conditions. President Roosevelt's demand that the Cabinet should stay with him implied the presence of possibilities that there are influences with a tendency to disintegration. One thing accepted is that if Roosevelt was setting out to make a certain journey, he probably would not pursue without deviation the path of McKinley. There is no man with more striking characteristics than those of Roosevelt. He and McKinley were good friends, not because they moved in the same ways. Their differences were mutually attractive. This principle might not apply to the half dozen men of the Cabinet. There is no occasion for public alarm because the Cabinet has changed. The new appointments are satisfactory. There may at any time arise public questions upon which there must be action, and respectable differences of opinion respected. The President's powers are not in any degree impaired or limited by the circumstances of the succession.

Truthfully and very handsomely the London Standard of September 16th, said:

"The case of President Roosevelt differs from that of his predecessors. He was made Vice-President, not because he was an obscure 'safe' man, but because he was just the reverse. So far from being ineligible for the Presidency, he might, if he had pleased, have put himself forward against Mr. McKinley himself, with some chance of defeating him. But the party managers would not have him. He was too independent of them, too little disposed to resign his will to dictation, too strong a personality to be acceptable to any clique or caucus. Yet he had attracted the enthusiastic regard of so large a body of the American electors, that he might perhaps have defied the 'bosses,' and forced his way to the White House. He was too loyal to his party and to his colleagues, to set up the banner of revolt. He consented to stand aside and devote himself to his duties as Governor of New York State. But the party managers were not satisfied, and they would not rest till Mr. Roosevelt was manoeuvered into the position of Vice-President of the Republic. He submitted to the nomination with contemptuous acquiescence."

There is one word very wrong here, though it is evidently not a misprint, for contemptuous read considerate. But there was no thought by Roosevelt of contesting the Presidential nomination then. The question some of his friends raised was whether the Vice-Presidency was on the road to the Presidency, and the thought that a Vice-President should be fit to be President carried Roosevelt into the second place.

The cable agency gave Europe the news of Roosevelt's succession in these terms, when told by the Secretary of War he should take the oath of office:

“Mr. Roosevelt, coming closer to Mr. Root, said, in a voice that at first wavered but finally came deep and strong, while he held firm the lapel of his coat with his right hand, 'I shall take the oath at once in accordance with your request, and in this hour of deep and national bereavement, I wish to state that it shall be my aim to continue absolutely unbroken the policy of Mr. McKinley, for the peace, prosperity and honor of our beloved country.

The English account of the Washington funeral of McKinley, gives the following as to the presence of the new President:

“Mr. Roosevelt's demeanor was scrupulously retiring. He kept close to his car, except when paying sympathetic respects to Mrs. McKinley, and he saw few people, and these only his intimates. He seemed to be deeply reflecting. Never before did a President move up Pennsylvania avenue unacclaimed, with the throng singing in subdued strains the hymn which has marked Mr. McKinley's last progress over hundreds of miles. Mr. Roosevelt followed the hearse to the White House, and stood beside the coffin in the East room.”

There is something vastly more than the mechanical, automatic succession of Mr. Roosevelt to the Presidency. The place is his by inheritance, by the will of the people, by the suitableness that was perfectly comprehended when he was named for the place that he accepted; and to this, not only his party, but the people at large, have assented heartily.

The most powerful influence for peace that exists in the Philippines, is the knowledge that has reached the Filipinos that President Roosevelt will not tolerate insurrection, or make pets of those shown by the captured documents, that give from true inwardness the proof that they are traitors, to their own people, the Spaniards and the Americans; and they know a regiment of Rough Riders could ride through disturbed districts, and do all that might be found necessary to restore order.

There are foreshadowings in the public press. The agitation of the people is a part of the business of publicity. When, in the same week of September last, McKinley at Buffalo, and Roosevelt at Minneapolis referred to "reciprocity” in aid of the preservation of the markets that protection provided, there was evidence of the existence of a common current of thoughtfulness moving to momentous ends. Now all the friends of protection are not agreed about the quantity and quality of reciprocity. Disagreement about ways and means is not surprising. Perhaps Roosevelt will not hesitate to proceed on a carefully considered cause, having exhausted the arts of candid diplomacy to agree with the majorities in the two Houses of Congress.

McKinley and Roosevelt seemed in their latest utterances to be in close relations on the reciprocity matter, just as Blaine and McKinley once were.

President Roosevelt is absolutely committed to the reform of the Civil Service, by the extension of the classification of the employed. That he will fight for it if opposed to the edge of resistance, all the acts of his life tell; and here he encounters the Senators who have the appointments to confirm, and the Representatives who need friends to maintain their potency; and those who care to cultivate grief, can find their cause in the revision of tariff schedules, and the refusal of the President to yield to the favoritism of patronage. There is much of interest to be speedily taken into consideration. Fortunately for us, the fashion that the defeat of a Cabinet is the fall of a government in the British sense does not prevail. A complete reorganization of the Cabinet would not cause high temperature or a low barometer, though certainly there are places hard to fill.

There was forecast of stormy weather, because we had a second treaty with England signed by Secretary Hay and the British Ambassador Pauncefote. We have a good many intelligent and excitable citizens not pleased with the colonial system of England, or the accession of King Edward VII, as a royal ruler, which does not mean actual sovereignty beyond seas, over certain great possessions. The idea of another Hay-Pauncefote treaty was abominable to these people, no matter what it was. However, there happened a pressure of public opinion obeyed by the Senate. The ratification was a mere ceremony, and mourners do not crowd the streets.

There is such transparency in the words and acts of President Roosevelt, that the men of news about Washington have not had a difficult task in understanding and imparting his proceedings. A writer who has been studying the President (not by snapping a kodak at him) pronounces him a reformer all through, who not only does not hesitate to put his reforms in practice, but has no thought or fancy of doing anything else; not even an idea that he is doing a courageous thing. He can not help acting on his convictions. That is what is to be depended on, for he fears nothing, and walks straight lines across horizons.

As to the nomination and election of the next President, that is a detail, and must take care of itself. He is not, says the gentleman with the swift pencil, “playing to the next National Republican Convention. He is not giving that a thought. No doubt he desires the nomination; no doubt he will get it; but that nomination would have no value in his eyes if secured by the manipulation of official patronage. Nobody is going to be appointed to office by Roosevelt simply because he can secure a seat in the next National Convention or control somebody who may take a seat therein. Nobody is going to be appointed to office now merely because he was defeated for a State office. Nobody is going to be appointed to office solely because he is recommend i by somebody or other and is a cog in the machine. That halcyon old time is past, and, let us hope, past forever.”

And the conclusion of the correspondent is: “Roosevelt will not owe his inevitable nomination and election to office holders, but to his manliness, his arrogant integrity, his superb independence, to his industry in dispatching public business, and the admirable quality of instantaneous decision; to his keen insight of affairs present, and to his foresight as to things to be.”

The Philadelphia Press says of the course the President has pursued: “In the South he has unhesitatingly taken the best man he could obtain outside of the Republican party when there was lack inside of the party of a man precisely suited to the post to be filled. In the North, where no such lack existed, he has made selections from within the party. He has consulted with all. He has heard all. He has frankly recognized the claims of party leaders to give party advice. He has refused to antagonize any one or to be controlled by any one. And when all was over he has acted as the President of the United States.

"He has made no appointments to which any party leader could take offense; but he has insisted on taking a broad view of party relations, and he has recognized and acted on the conclusion, that in a great State like New York or a small State like Delaware party responsibility and party claims cannot be narrowed to a single man, confined to a single group, or limited to a single following. All Republicans working for and in the party, possessing its confidence and holding office through its call and choice, must be considered in selections for office; and the manifest justice of this has made it both unwise and inexpedient for any man and any leader publicly to object to this broad, catholic, and impartial policy.

"The army, the navy, and the colonial service of the country, President Roosevelt has recognized as being essentially non-partizan and non-political. The President has sought, as have few Presidents, to cut off from these selections social as well as political influence; and of the two, every man familiar with the army and navy knows that social influence has been, in the army and navy, both more deleterious and more dangerous than political, ten times over. The worst appointments in our military service have had an insidious social influence behind them. In the army, navy, and colonial service President Roosevelt purposes to recognize no claim whatever based on political influence or a social pull.”

The first change in the Cabinet after the death of McKinley, was the resignation of the Postmaster General, Charles Emery Smith, to resume the Editorial Chair of the Press. The President accepted Mr. Smith's resignation reluctantly, for the administration of the vast Postoffice Department had been intelligent, prompt and clean.

« PreviousContinue »