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Standard Act had been found timely and judicious.
“President Roosevelt is all right,” was the general comment, after the message had been printed in the various papers of our country. “He is looking ahead, and he knows exactly what this country wants and needs. We are prosperous now, and if we want to continue so, we must keep our hands on the plough, and not look backward.”
The first break in the old Cabinet occurred on December 17, when Postmaster General Charles E. Smith resigned. His place was immediately filled by the appointment of Henry C. Payne, of Wisconsin. Soon after this Secretary Gage of the Treasury resigned, and his place was filled by former governor Leslie M. Shaw, of Iowa.
For a long time there had been before the American people various suggestions to build a canal across Central America, to join the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans, so that the ships wanting to go from one body of water to the other would not have to take the long and expensive trip around Cape Horn.
In years gone by the French had also
contemplated such a canal, and had even gone to work at the Isthmus of Panama, making an elaborate survey and doing not a little digging. But the work was beyond them, and the French Canal Company soon ran out of funds and went into the hands of a receiver.
“ We ought to take hold and dig a canal,” was heard on all sides in the United States. But where to dig the canal was a question. Some said the Isthmus of Panama was the best place, while others preferred a route through Nicaragua. The discussion waxed very warm, and at last a Commission was appointed to go over both routes and find out which would be the more satisfactory from every point of view.
The Commission was not very long in reaching a decision. The Panama Canal Company was willing to sell out all its interest in the work already done for forty millions of dollars, and it was recommended that the United States accept this offer. President Roosevelt received the report, and lost no time in submitting it to Congress.
At the beginning of the new year, 1902, there was a grand ball at the White House,
attended by a large gathering of people, including many of the foreign representatives accredited to Washington. The occasion was the introduction into society of Miss Alice Roosevelt, and the affair was a most pleasing one from beginning to end.
One of the President's sons, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., had been sent to a boarding school at Groton, Massachusetts. Early in February he was taken down with a cold that developed into pneumonia. It looked as if the youth might die, and both Mrs. Roosevelt and the President lost no time in leaving Washington and going to his bedside. The sympathy of the whole country was with the anxious parents, and when it was announced that the crisis had been passed in safety there was much relief in all quarters.
Before this illness occurred there came to the Roosevelts an invitation which pleased them, and especially Miss Alice, not a little. The German Emperor William was having a yacht built in this country, at Shooter's Island. He sent his brother, Prince Henry of Prussia, over to attend the launching, and requested Miss Roosevelt to christen
the yacht, which was to be called the Meteor.
The arrival of Prince Henry was made a gala day by many who wished to see the friendship between the United States and Germany more firmly cemented than ever, and the royal visitor was treated with every consideration wherever he went. From New York he journeyed to Washington, where he dined with the President. He returned to New York with President Roosevelt and with Miss Roosevelt, and on February 25 the launching occurred, in the presence of thousands of people and a great many craft of all sorts. Miss Roosevelt performed the christening in appropriate style, and this was followed by music from a band and the blowing of hundreds of steam whistles. After these ceremonies were over, there followed an elaborate dinner given by the mayor of New York, and then the Prince started on a tour of the country lasting two weeks. His visit made a good impression wherever he went, and he was universally put down as a right good fellow.
It was about this time that President
Roosevelt showed he was not to be led altogether by what his party did. So far he had not vetoed any measures sent to him for his signature. Now, however, a bill came to him touching the desertion of a sailor in the navy. Congress was willing to strike the black record of the sailor from the books, but President Roosevelt would not have it.
“ The sailor did wrong," he said. “He knew what he was doing, too. The record against him must stand.” And he vetoed the bill. On the other hand he was prompt to recognize real worth in those who had served the government, and when over two hundred private pension bills came before him for his approval, he signed them without a murmur.
The people of Charleston, South Carolina, had been arranging for a long time to hold an exposition which should set forth the real advance and worth of the leading southern industries. This exposition was now open to the public, and President Roosevelt and his wife were invited to attend the exhibit. With so much southern blood in his veins, the President could