« PreviousContinue »
thus the hard work previous to election day fell upon Theodore Roosevelt. He did not shirk the task. As with
everything he undertook, he entered into the campaign with vigor, resolved to deserve success even if he did not win it.
“I will do my best in the interests of our party, and for the benefit of the people at large,” said Theodore Roosevelt. “No man can do more than that.”
In the few short months between the time when he was nominated and when the election was held, Governor Roosevelt travelled over 20,000 miles by rail, visiting nearly 600 towns, and addressing, on a rough estimate, fully 3,000,000 of people! In that time he delivered 673 speeches, some of them half an hour and some an hour in length.
In his thousands of miles of travel the candidate for the Vice-Presidency visited many States, particularly those lying between New York and Colorado. At nearly every town he was greeted by an immense crowd, all anxious to do the leader of the Rough Riders honor. In the large cities great banquets were held, and he was shown
much respect and consideration. In many places those who had fought under him came to see and listen to him, and these meetings were of especial pleasure. Often he would see an old Rough Rider hanging back in the crowd, and would call him to the front or do his best to reach the ex-soldier and shake him by the hand.
One occurrence is worthy of special mention. The Democratic party had nominated William Jennings Bryan as their candidate for President. There was a great labor picnic and demonstration at Chicago, and both Governor Roosevelt and Mr. Bryan were invited to speak.
6 You had better not accept, governor, said some friends to Theodore Roosevelt. “ There may be trouble.”
“I am not afraid," answered the former leader of the Rough Riders.
“But Mr. Bryan and yourself are to be there at practically the same time.”
“ That does not matter," said the governor. And he went to Chicago on September 3, to attend the Labor Day celebrations. The picnic was held at Electric Park, and in the presence of fifteen thousand people Gov
ernor Roosevelt and Mr. Bryan “buried the hatchet” for the time being, and spoke to those surrounding them on the dignity of labor and the duties of the laboring man to better himself and his social conditions. In that motley collection of people there were frequent cries of “Hurrah for Teddy!” and “What's the matter with Bryan ? He's all right !” but there was no disturbance, and each speaker was listened to with respectful attention from start to finish. It was without a doubt a meeting to show true American liberty and free speech at its best.
But all of the stops on his tours were not so pleasant to Governor Roosevelt. In every community there are those who are low-bred and bound to make an exhibition of their baseness. At Waverly, New York, a stone was flung at him through the car window, breaking the glass but missing the candidate for whom it was intended. At once there was excitement.
“Are you hurt, Governor ?” was the question asked.
“No," returned Theodore Roosevelt. And then he added, with a faint smile, “It's
only a bouquet, but I wish, after this, they wouldn't make them quite so hard.”
There was also a demonstration against the candidate at Haverstraw, New York, which threatened for a while to break up an intended meeting. But the worst rowdyism was encountered at Victor, a small town in Colorado, near the well-known mining centre of Cripple Creek. Victor was full of miners who wanted not “sound money,' but “free silver,” for free silver, so styled, meant a great booming of silver mining.
6 We don't want him here,” said these miners. “We have heard enough about him and his gold standard. He had better keep away, or he'll regret it.”
When Theodore Roosevelt was told he might have trouble in the mining camps, he merely shrugged his shoulders.
“I know these men,” he said. “The most of them are as honest and respectable as the citizens of New York. I am not afraid of the vicious element. The better class are bound to see fair play.”
The governor spoke at a place called Armory Hall, and the auditorium was packed. He had just begun his speech when there
was a wild yelling and cat-calling, all calculated to drown him out. He waited for a minute, and then, as the noise subsided, tried to go on once more, when a voice cried out:
66 What about rotten beef ?” referring to the beef furnished during the Santiago campaign, which had, of course, come through a Republican Commissary Department.
“I ate that beef,” answered the governor, quickly. And then he added to the fellow who had thus questioned him: “ You will never get near enough to be hit with a bullet, or within five miles of it.” At this many burst into applause, and the man, who was a coward at heart, sneaked from the hall in a hurry. He was no soldier and had never suffered the hardships of any campaign, and many hooted him as he deserved. But the trouble was not yet over.
Theodore Roosevelt finished his address, and then started to leave the hall in company with a number of his friends. On the way to the train a crowd of rowdies followed the candidate's party, and threw all sorts of things at them. One man made a personal at