« PreviousContinue »
and early in the season he removed to Oyster Bay, there to enjoy himself as best he might during the short time allowed him for recreation
That the business of the administration might not be too seriously interrupted, he hired a few rooms over a bank building in the village of Oyster Bay, and these were fitted up for himself and his several secretaries and assistants. To the bank building he rode or drove every day, spending an hour or more over the routine work required. By this means undesirable visitors were kept away from his private residence, and he was permitted to enjoy himself as he pleased in company with his family.
While Mr. Roosevelt was summering at Oyster Bay, it was arranged that he should make a short tour through New England, to last from August 22 to September 3. The trip covered every New England State, and was one of great pleasure to the President until the last day. Everywhere he went he was greeted by enthusiastic crowds, and, of course, had to make one of his characteristic speeches, accompanied by a great deal of hand-shaking.
On the last day of the trip he was at Dalton, Massachusetts, the home of Governor Crane. It had been planned to drive from Dalton to Lenox, a beautiful spot, adjoining Laurel Lake, where are located the summer homes of many American millionnaires.
The trip was begun without a thought of what was to follow. In the party, besides President Roosevelt, were Governor Crane, Secretary Cortelyou (afterward made a member of the Cabinet), United States Secret Service officer William Craig, and the driver of the carriage. It may be mentioned here that William Craig was detailed as a special guard for the President, and had been with him since the tour was begun.
There are a number of trolley lines in this section of Massachusetts, all centring in Pittsfield. As the mass of the people were very anxious to see President Roosevelt, the trolleys going to the points where he would pass were crowded, and the cars were run with more than usual speed.
As the carriage containing the President and his companions attempted to cross the
trolley tracks a car came bounding along at a rapid rate of speed. There seemed to be no time in which to stop the car, and in an instant the long and heavy affair crashed into the carriage with all force, hurling the occupants to the street in all directions. The Secret Service officer, William Craig, was instantly killed, and the driver of the carriage was seriously hurt.
There was immediate and great excitement, and for the time being it was feared that President Roosevelt had been seriously injured. He had been struck a sharp blow on the leg, and had fallen on his face, cutting it not a little. The shock was a severe one, but in a little while he was himself once more, although his face was much swollen. Later still a small abscess formed on the injured limb, but this was skilfully treated by his physician, and soon disappeared. The others in the carriage escaped with but a few bruises and a general shaking-up.
The result of this accident, small as it was to the President personally, showed well how firmly he was seated in the affection of his fellow-citizens. From all over the country, as well as from his friends in
foreign climes, telegrams of congratulation came pouring in. Everybody was glad that he had escaped, and everybody wished to show how he felt over the affair.
“ President Roosevelt was much affected by the messages received,” said one who was in a position to know. “It showed him that his friends were in every walk of life, from the highest to the lowest. Had he met death, as did the Secret Service officer detailed to guard over him, the shock to the people, coming so soon after the assassination of President McKinley, would have been tremendous."
The President had already been persuaded to consent to a short trip to the South, from September 5 to 10, and then a trip to the West, lasting until September 19, or longer. The trips came to an end on September 23, in Indiana, because of the abscess on the lower limb already mentioned, yet on November 19 he was given a grand reception by the people of Memphis, Tennessee, who flocked around him and were glad to see him as well as ever.
“ We are so glad you escaped from that
trolley accident !” was heard a hundred times.
“We can't afford to lose you, Mr. President,” said others. “Really good men are too scarce.' And then a cheer would go up for “ The hero of San Juan Hill !”
His speeches on these trips were largely about the trusts and monopolies that are trying to control various industries of our country. It is an intricate subject, yet it can be said that Mr. Roosevelt understands it as well as any one, and is laboring hard to do what is right and best, both for the consumer and the capitalist.
Congress had, some time before, voted a large sum for the extension and improvement of the White House, and while Mr. Roosevelt and his family were at Oyster Bay these improvements were begun. They continued during the fall, and the President made his temporary home at a private residence in the capital city. Here it was he was treated for his wounded limb, and here he ended the coal strike, as already chronicled.