Page images
PDF
EPUB

CHAPTER XXI

THE CONVENTION AT

PHILADELPHIA - THEODORE ROOSEVELT SECONDS THE NOMINATION OF PRESIDENT MCKINLEY — BECOMES CANDIDATE FOR THE VICE-PRESIDENCY - REMARKABLE TOURS THROUGH MANY STATES

As the time came on to nominate parties for the office of President and Vice-President of the United States, in 1900, there was considerable speculation in the Republican party regarding who should be chosen for the second name on the ticket.

It was felt by everybody that President McKinley had honestly earned a second term, not alone by his management of the war with Spain, but also because of his stand touching the rebellion in the Philippines, and on other matters of equal importance.

About the Vice-Presidency the political managers were not so sure, and they mentioned several names. But in the hearts of the people there was but one name, and that was Theodore Roosevelt.

“We must have him," was heard upon every side. “He will be just the right man in the right place. He will give to the office an importance never before attached to it, and an importance which it deserves."

Personally, Governor Roosevelt did not wish this added honor. As the Executive of the greatest State in our Union, he had started great reforms, and he wanted to finish them.

My work is here,” he said to many. “Let me do what I have been called to do, and then I will again be at the service of the whole nation once more.'

The National Republican Convention met in Philadelphia, June 19, in Exposition Hall, beautifully decorated with flags and banners. Senator Mark Hanna, President McKinley's warmest personal friend, was chairman, and the delegates, numbering over seven hundred, came, as usual at such conventions, from every State in the Union. Governor Roosevelt himself was a delegate, and sat near the middle aisle, five or six seats from the front. He was recognized by everybody, and it is safe to say that

he was the most conspicuous figure at the convention.

Up to the last minute many of the political leaders were, in a measure, afraid of Theodore Roosevelt. They understood his immense popularity, and were afraid that the convention might be “stampeded” in his favor.

“If they once start to yell for Roosevelt, it will be good-by to everybody else,” said one old politician. “ They are just crazy after the leader of the Rough Riders.”

But this man did not understand the stern moral honesty of the man under consideration. Roosevelt believed in upholding William McKinley, and had said so, and it was no more possible for him to seek the Presidential nomination by an underhanded trick than it was for President McKinley to do an equally base thing when he was asked to allow his name to be mentioned at the time he had pledged himself to support John Sherman. Both men were of equal loyalty, and the word of each was as good as his bond.

1 See “ American Boys' Life of William McKinley,”

p. 191.

It was Senator Foraker who put up President McKinley for nomination, and the vigorous cheering at that time will never be forgotten. Fifteen thousand throats yelled themselves hoarse, and then broke into the ringing words and music of “The Union Forever!” in a manner that made the

very convention hall tremble. Then came cries for Roosevelt, “ For our own Teddy of the Rough Riders!” and, written speech in hand, he arose amid that vast multitude to second the candidacy of William McKinley. Not once did he look at the paper he held in his hand, but with a force that could not be misunderstood he addressed the assemblage.

“I rise to second the nomination of William McKinley, because with him as a leader this people has trod the path of national greatness and prosperity with the strides of a giant,” said he, “ and because under him we can and will succeed in the election. Exactly as in the past we have remedied the evils which we undertook to remedy, so now when we say that a wrong shall be righted, it most assuredly will be righted.

66 We stand on the threshold of a new

century, a century big with the fate of the great nations of the earth. It rests with us to decide now whether in the opening years of that century we shall march forward to fresh triumphs, or whether at the outset we shall deliberately cripple ourselves for the contest.”

His speech was the signal for another burst of applause, and when finally Theodore Roosevelt was named as the candidate for Vice-President, the crowd yelled until it could yell no longer, while many sang 66 Yankee Doodle” and other more or less patriotic airs, keeping time with canes and flag-sticks. When the vote was cast, only one delegate failed to vote for Theodore Roosevelt, and that was Theodore Roosevelt himself.

The platform of the party was largely a repetition of the platform of four years before. Again the cry was for “sound money," and for the continuance of President McKinley's policy in the Philippines.

The campaign which followed was truly a strenuous one — to use a favorite word of the candidate. President McKinley decided not to make many speeches, and

« PreviousContinue »