Page images

9:31 a. m.-Entered carriage and started for the White House.

9:40 a. m.-Reached the executive mansion, accompanied by Secretary Cortelyou and Commander Cowles.

9:45 a. m.-Entered private office formerly occupied by Mr. McKinley and seated himself at the desk of his predecessor, ready to transact the business of his high office.

9:55 a. m.-Met Secretary Long in the cabinet-room and held informal discussion over matters pertaining to the navy department and the Government generally.

10:20 a. m.-Received Colonel Sanger to talk over some army appointments.

10:35 a. m.-Signed appointment of General J. M. Bell and other minor appointments.

10:40 a. m.-Received Senator Cullom and Senator Proctor.

10:45 a. m.-Began receiving members of the Cabinet assembling for meeting.

11:00 a. m.-Called to order for first time formal meeting of Cabinet for the transaction of business.

12:30 p. m.-Adjourned Cabinet meeting.

12:35 p. m.-Received General Wood in private office and held conference with Wood and Secretary Root relative to Cuban election laws.

1:15 p. m.-Secretary Root and General Wood left.

1:20 p. m.-President left White House unattended and on foot to take lunch with Secretary Hay at the latter's residence.

3:30 p. m.-Returned to the White House accompanied by Assistant Secretary of War Sanger.

3:40 p. m.-Re-entered cabinet-room, where he received a few personal friends.

3:55 p. m.-Engaged with Secretary Cortelyou attending business matters.

6:30 p. m.-Mr. Roosevelt bade the clerks and doorkeepers good night and left the executive mansion alone. He walked without attendants through the semi-darkness to 1733 N street, the residence of his brother-in-law.

7:30 p. m.-The president dined with Captain Cowles and his family. No special guests were present.

9:00 p. m.-The president met some old friends, who informally called to pay their respects.

11:00 p. m.—The president retired for the night.

It is related, with perhaps an infusion of colored paint, that the way the President first appeared at the White House "gave his Cabinet a shock.” It is fairly and fully stated, however, that this was occasioned by the way he

T. R.-19

"plunged into business.” The first day he sat in the White House with his Cabinet, he expressed the desire to acquaint himself with all matters, great and small, pertaining to the management of the departments which are likely to be brought to his consideration in the future, and by his apparent disinclination to enter upon abstruse discussion of general topics that were dear to the late President, except on occasions when public welfare demanded the closest attention to pressing matters of state.

The President arrived in the city from Canton at 9:26, and went directly from the railway station to the White House. The crowds that assembled to witness his return were surprised and pleased to find that he had resumed his famous old campaign hat, which every one supposed he had abandoned for at least four years upon the day of his return to Buffalo to take the oath of office. The hat looked so familiar that people smiled. It seemed to recall to them memories of the time when the President was the popular hero of Washington and the country during the days that preceded the declaration of war against Spain.

The president alighted from the train almost before the wheels had ceased to revolve, and made his way to a carriage with swinging strides that caused his brother-in-law, Commander Cowles, and other personal attendants and aides, to increase their gaits to a dog trot, in order to keep up with him. He left the members of his cabinet so far behind, that when they reached their carriages he was briskly crossing the front portico of the White House with the air of a man who had a great task before him, and little time in which to perform it. He proceeded directly to the cabinet-room, on the executive floor, where his predecessors had made their headquarters since the famous old executive mansion was first dedicated in the early years of the last century. Seating himself at the end of the table near the south end of the little council chamber, he was quickly immersed in a great mass of delayed business that had been accumulating for two weeks.

Secretary Cortelyou was his only attendant for the period of about an hour and a half, and together they disposed of the papers at a rate that was perhaps never equaled by any of the previous twenty-five Presidents of the Republic. They were interrupted only four times during that hour and a half.

The four visitors were Senators Cullom and Proctor and Secretary Long, and Colonel Sanger, and President Roosevelt exhibited a desire to find out all about the Navy Department from Secretary Long. He was especially anxious to acquaint himself with the personnel of the officers who are now attached to the several bureaus of the department.

The Cabinet meeting began promptly at eleven o'clock, which has been the usual hour of meeting for many years past. The members of the Cabinet

took their places around the table according to the official order of precedence, President Roosevelt opened the Cabinet meeting by expressing gratitude for the conduct of the counselors of his predecessor in consenting to retain their, portfolios. He said he knew that some of them had done so at a considerable personal sacrifice. The meeting lasted about an hour and a half. No important business was transacted.

Secretary Root said the Cuban constitutional convention had completed its work by framing an election law for the proposed independent government of the islands. The President expressed a desire to see, as soon as possible, Governor General Wood, who had arrived in Washington the night before, and discuss the law with him and Secretary Root. The law is subject to the approval of the President. Later, General Wood called at the White House and had a long chat with President Roosevelt, partly personal and partly official. These two men are bound together by strong ties of personal friendship. They joined their fortunes at the outset of the war with Spain, and together organized the regiment of Rough Riders that brought fame and political and professional preferment.

September 21st, President Roosevelt rode out with General Wood. The President's saddle horse was at Oyster Bay, and as there are no good riding animals in the White House stables, two cavalry horses were brought over from Fort Myer, across the Potomac; one a handsome, spirited bay, and the other a black. “The horses arrived at 3:45, and when it became noised about that the President was going for a ride a little coterie of spectators assembled on the portico of the Executive Mansion. At 3:55 o'clock a cab drove up and General Wood alighted. He wore stiff leather hunting leggings, and carried a short riding crop. He joined the President inside and at four o'clock they emerged. The President wore the same suit he had on all day, a black cutaway coat, with a band of mourning crepe on his left arm. The same soft felt hat was on his head. Tan riding gloves were on his hands. His trousers were buckled under his instep, and he wore at his heels small hunting spurs.

"As they paused at the main entrance, the horses were led under the porte cochere. The President at once advanced, and descended the steps to the side of the bay. Like an old horseman, he measured the stirrup length beneath his left arm. Then placing his left foot in the steel stirrup, he vaulted easily into the saddle.

“At the same time General Wood mounted the other horse, and in an instant they were off, cantering slowly down the west driveway. The President presented a handsome figure on his spirited animal. He had a fine seat, and handled his mount like the skilled and veteran horseman that he is. General Wood is also an excellent horseman.

“After leaving the White House grounds the President and General Wood rode out through the northwest section of the city. To those who saw them the sight brought memories of the great steps in the career of each since the early days of the Spanish War, when these two men, one President of the United States, and the other Governor General of Cuba, together organized the Rough Riders.

"The last President who rode horseback to any considerable extent since the days of Grant was Arthur. Neither Mr. Cleveland nor General Harrison while in the White House ever got on a horse. President McKinley in the early days of his first administration occasionally took a horseback ride, but he never mounted at the White House steps. He drove to the outskirts of the city, where a saddle horse was in waiting. Mr. McKinley, however, discontinued the practice after the first spring of his occupancy of the executive mansion.”

General Wood left for Havana the next day.

Of course, President Roosevelt never failed to show the highest consideration for Mrs. McKinley, and did not in any way promote the removal of the personal property of his predecessor from the White House. On the 21st of September the last goods of the McKinley family were packed and shipped. The work of collecting, boxing and caring for these things was performed by trusted servants of the late President and Mrs. McKinley, under the supervision of Secretary Cortelyou and Colonel Bingham, Superintendent of Public Buildings and Grounds.

"Various boxes and pieces of furniture, of which there are a large number, were sent by express, addressed to Mrs. McKinley.

“President McKinley and his wife had only a little furniture of their own in the White House, all necessary articles of that sort being provided by the Government, but of clothing and bric-a-brac and various valuable souvenirs of McKinley's term in office there was an interesting collection.

"Some of the articles are of considerable intrinsic value, and among the number are at least a score or two dearly prized by Mrs. McKinley as mementos of her husband's great career, and as reminders of the loving esteem in which he was held by his people.”

President Roosevelt took possession of the White House September 23rd, 1901. The flag on the House Alies when the President is there. It was at half-mast when Roosevelt entered as President, and there was a double signal of the passing of a President and the coming of another. The official world in Washington does not accept a President as such until he actually comes into the White House. It was difficult for many people to realize the great change, because President Roosevelt had been living a half mile from the White House, and going backward and forward without guards or ceremony. September

« PreviousContinue »