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IT is a pleasure to say the author of this book has found the material for it of extraordinary interest. The President's ancestors may be traced in events for many generations. Their records are of authenticity, and their reputations, honorable. There is ample information of the families of Theodore Roosevelt's father and mother. On both sides they appear in public affairs with distinction, with a spirit of adventure and of generosity, in works of charity, and enterprises of integrity and usefulness.
The sources of information consulted and quoted, yield history at every step of investigation, and the first surprise is that with less than twenty-five years of manhood, the President has done so much, and that his good labors are so many and varied. His work as an Assemblymen in New York, was greater than that of any man of like years and opportunities. He earned his winnings in every field. It is but twenty-five years ago that his courage and ability gave him rare prominence in state legislation and national politics; and before he sought the Wild West as a new world, he was a man of reputation, broad as the country, and biographical material appears in public records— those of the Assembly and of Conventions—an attempt to grasp the municipal government of the City of New York, that failed because his competitors for the Mayoralty were Abram Hewitt and Henry George.
He had hardly reached manhood, when he was a competent writer of history, and he is to-day the most reliable of the historians of our wars with England, of the early celebrities of the City of New York, and of the Winning of the West, a work that would make him famous if he had done nothing else conspicuous. He told the world how the Great West became the heart of our country. His education in public trusts was in the Civil Service Commission of the Nation and the Police Commission of New York. No more difficult tasks could have been selected, and while his success was imperfect, his impressions upon the situations were those of marked improvement, indelible and indestructible. He became an enthusiastic toiler in the Navy, and his works there were excellent and most apt. He put the fighting edge on the American warships. Then came his war service in the Army, with an element of power that he chiefly discovered or invented and exclusively
applied. His reports, letters, testimony before boards, would crowd many volumes with matter of value, before the great office of Governor of New York was placed in his hands, and his personal record in that position is told in his volumes of public papers, one for each year he held the high office, The history of the country will not be written again without many references to those admirable books and liberal quotations from them. His speeches and orations as Vice President, and his twenty-two thousand mile journey through twenty-two States, appealing to the people wherever the combat thickened in 1900, closed with the vindication of New York through the courage and power of the Governor of the State, and her contribution to a national victory.
Through this immensity of public care and political experience, Mr. Roosevelt was an unwearied workingman in literature. There are twenty volumes to his credit, all making known our country to our countrymen, not only the great game animals of America introduced to Americans, but appreciation of our resources made known to the world, and a higher intelligence of them familiar to the people at large.
The light of the lamps that reveal the experiences of the past, will guide us aright in tracing the footsteps and following the example of the President in the future.
THIS is not to announce a purpose entertained, but a work done. The writing of the Life of Theodore Roosevelt, XXVth President of the United States, is a fact accomplished. There runs through his history the strong lines of defined purpose, and the clear logic of fixed principles. The task of statement has been made easy by an interest in the subject, that has increased at every step. It seems to one who has for months been a student of the successive chapters of the President's career, that his countrymen have not yet appreciated the extraordinary scope and remarkable fitness of his representative character, in the circumstances of his country, for the responsibility placed in his hands by the people under the Constitution. No man who has been called to the greatest office of a Republican form of Government, has exceeded him in the excellence of his education for it. The favors of fortune in youth would have permitted the indulgences of leisure, and united the blandishments of effeminate gentleness, or impassive lethargy; but be found his pleasure in energetic endeavor, and added to the advantages of the schools, the iron-clad resources of self-made manliness, gained in the "strenuous life," that he sustained by precept and example.
His progressive labors were joined to each other, and their ruggedness conformed to symmetrical lines of endowment. The details of his rise to leadership would suggest a regular course of culture for public duty, and illustrates the degree with which the will of man has its way, straight through the entanglement of accidents, if he is indomitable. His appearance in the New York Assembly, and as a Senatorial Delegate to a National Republican Convention, resembles the solution of a very intelligent young man in pursuing preparatory studies for a course of politics, with the intention of taking, by practical attainment, exceptionally high degrees. Whichever way his footsteps tended, there were always permanent traces of them. He never lost and was always gaining ground. It is a saying of lawyers, there is "one point in a case." Napoleon and Nelson did not strike the array of their foes, ashore or afloat, with random purposes. They had the far-reaching vision of genius. There was added to it prescience and painstaking. They made it a business to
know why, when and where to deliver the blows that aimed with accuracy were driven home, like iron wedges with all the thunder strokes at command.
Where Theodore Roosevelt walked, he made straight roads, and where he rode there remained highways. In school at Albany in the Assembly, as at Cambridge classified in Harvard, he moved into a higher class, wherever he changed his situation. In the Bad Lands he ascended an elevation, from which the whole continent was visible. There were two other courses of study to take before entering the departments of armed nationality—the Civil Service and the New York Police Commissions.
The shifting of Presidential terms by Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison, gave to Roosevelt the opportunity to give a practical inauguration to civil service reformation. Mayor Strong's municipal administration placed the militant civil service reformer at the head of the police of the great misgoverned city. This had the attraction of antagonism, but the fetters of incapable legislation had to be worn. The most considerable gain was the knowledge that provided utilities for the future. Repeatedly, thus far, Roosevelt had been equally happy in the offices he held and the dates and occasions, when he had taught himself their lessons, of quitting them.
The further evidences that the tide that bore him was rising were still more exemplary and effective. He was Assistant Secretary of the Navy long enough to prepare it for war, and sprang ashore to reveal the great and until then undiscovered secret of our military power—the finest cavalry in the world, the Rough Riders—and dismounted cavalry though they were in Cuba, he had them at the front in the only fighting on land, and there was "glory enough to go around."
The war ended, our army was snatched from Cuban fevers, and recovered health on Long Island. Roosevelt left Cuba, as he left the Assembly, the Civil Service Commission and the Police Commission, at the right time, and made no personal mistake, for he bettered at every change his opportunity to serve the country. He set the fashion of doing the right thing at the right time, in the right way, and pushing things with a rush never relaxed. The war over, he was called to be Governor of New York, and in that office made an illustrious record, in which we read the precedents of the Presidency. Then, as now, the enmity of his foes complimented him no less than the praise of his friends. When he was Governor there was an effort to "limit" him, and he made transiently a mistake, thinking he ought to take another term of the great State office, but was over-ruled by an irresistible public demand that he should accept the second office in the National Government. Happily, he did that.
So far as careful examinations of his public papers, as Governor of New York, were made, they prepared readers for his magnificent message to Congress; one worthy the country that the McKinley policy of peace and war