Theodore Roosevelt; An Intimate Biography,
William Roscoe Thayer

Part 5 out of 6

acquaintances on both sides of the feud. There are some facts not
yet known; there are others which must be touched upon very
delicately if at all; and, in the main, so much of the episode
grew out of personal likes and dislikes that it is hard to base
one's account of it on documents. In trying to get at the truth,
I have been puzzled by the point-blank contradictions of
antagonistic witnesses, whose veracity has not been questioned.
Equally perplexing are the lapses of memory in cases where I
happen to have seen letters or documents written at the time and
giving real facts. The country would assuredly have been alarmed
if it had suspected that, during the years from 1909 to 1912, the
statesmen who had charge of it, were as liable to attacks of
amnesia as they proved to be later.

The head and front of the quarrel which wrecked the Republican
Party must be sought in Roosevelt's thoroughly patriotic desire
to have a successor who should carry on the principles which he
had fought for and had embodied in national laws during the
nearly eight years of his Presidency. He felt more passionately
than anybody else the need of continuing the work he had begun,
not because it was his work, but because on it alone, as he
thought, the reconciliation between Capital and Labor in the
United States could be brought about, and the impending war of
classes could be prevented. So he chose Judge Taft as the person
who, he believed, would follow his lead in this undertaking. But
the experience of a hundred and ten years, since Washington was
succeeded by John Adams, might have taught him that no President
can quite reproduce the qualities of his predecessor and that the
establishment of a Presidential dynasty is not congenial to the
spirit of the American people. Jefferson did, indeed, hand on his
mantle to Madison, and the experiment partially succeeded. But
Madison was much nearer Jefferson in ability and influence than
Judge Taft was near Roosevelt.

During the campaign of 1908, and immediately after the election,
we can imagine that Mr. Taft was sincerely open to Roosevelt's
suggestions, and that he quite naturally gave Roosevelt the
impression that he intended to follow them, not because they were
Roosevelt's, but because they were his own also. As soon as he
began to realize that he was President, and that a President has
a right to speak and act on his own motion, Mr. Taft saw other
views rising within him, other preferences, other resolves. From
the bosom of his family he may have heard the exhortation, "Be
your own President; don't be any body's man or rubber stamp." No
doubt intimate friends strengthened this advice. The desire to be
free and independent, which lies at the bottom of every normal
heart, took possession of him also; further, was it not the
strict duty of a President to give the country the benefit of his
best judgment instead of following the rules laid down by
another, or to parrot another's doctrines?

Whatever may have been the process by which the change came, it
had come before Taft's inauguration. He chose a new Cabinet,
although Roosevelt supposed that several of the members of his
Cabinet would be retained. Before the Colonel started for Africa
he felt that a change had come, but he went away with the hope
that things would turn out better than he feared. His long
absence under the Equator would relieve any anxiety Taft might
have as to Roosevelt's intention to dictate or interfere.

Very little political news reached the Colonel while he was
hunting. On reaching Italy, on his return journey, he met Mr.
Gifford Pinchot, who had come post-haste from New York, and
conveyed to him the latest account of the political situation at
home. It was clear that the Republican Party had split into two
factions-the Regulars, who regarded President Taft as their
standard-bearer, and the Insurgents, who rallied round Roosevelt,
and longed desperately for his return. To the enemies of the
Administration, it seemed that Mr. Taft had turned away from the
Rooseveltian policies. In his appointments he had replaced
Roosevelt men by Regulars. His Secretary of the Interior, Mr.
Ballinger, came into conflict with Mr. Pinchot over conservation,
and the public assumed that the President was not only
unconcerned to uphold conservation, but was willing that the
natural resources of the Nation should fall again into the hands
of greedy private corporations. This assumption proved to be
false, and Secretary Ballinger was exonerated by a public
investigation; but for two years, at least, the cloud hung over
Mr. Taft's reputation, and, as always happens, the correction
being far less nimble than the accusation, took a much longer
time in remedying the harm that it had done.

When, therefore, Roosevelt landed at the Battery on June 18,
1910, the day of his apotheosis, he knew that a factional fight
was raging in the Republican Party. His trusty followers, and
every one who bore a grudge against the Administration, urged him
to unfurl his flag and check any further disintegration; but
prudence controlled him and he announced that he should not speak
on political matters for at least two months. He was sincere; but
a few days later at the Harvard Commencement exercises he met
Governor Hughes, of New York State, who was waging a fierce
struggle against the Machine to put through a bill on primary
elections. The Governor begged the Colonel as a patriotic
boss-hating citizen, to help him, and Roosevelt hastily wrote and
dispatched to Albany a telegram urging Republicans to support
Hughes. In the result, his advice was not heeded, a straw which
indicated that the Machine no longer feared to disregard him.

For several weeks Roosevelt waited and watched, and found out by
personal investigation how the Republican Party stood. It took
little inspection to show him that the Taft Administration was
not carrying out his policies, and that the elements against
which he had striven for eight years were creeping back. Indeed,
they had crept back. It would be unjust to Mr. Taft to assert
that he had not continued the war on Trusts. Under his able
Attorney-General, Mr. George W. Wickersham, many prosecutions
were going forward, and in some cases the legislation begun by
Roosevelt was extended and made more effective. I speak now as to
the general course of Mr. Taft's Administration and not specially
of the events of 1910. In spite of this continuation of the
battle with the Octopus--as the Big Interests, Wall Street, and
Trusts were indiscriminately nicknamed--the public did not
believe that Mr. Taft and his assistants pushed the fight with
their whole heart. Perhaps they were misjudged. Mr. Taft being in
no sense a spectacular person, whatever he did would lack the
spectacular quality which radiated from all Roosevelt's actions.
Then, too, the pioneer has deservedly a unique reward. Just as
none of the navigators who followed Columbus on the voyage to the
Western Continent could win credit like his, so the prestige
which Roosevelt gained from being the first to grapple with the
great monopolies could not be shared by any successor of his, who
simply carried on the work of "trust-busting," as it was called,
which had be come commonplace.

Nevertheless, although nobody doubted Mr. Wickersham's legal
ability, the country felt that during the Taft Administration
zeal had gone out of the campaign of the Administration against
the Interests. Roosevelt had plunged into the fray with the
enthusiasm of a Crusader. Taft followed him from afar, but
without feeling the Crusader's consecration or his terrible
sincerity. And during the first six months of his Administration,
President Taft had unwittingly given the country the measure of

The Republican platform adopted at Chicago declared
"unequivocally for a revision of the tariff by a special session
of Congress, immediately following the inauguration of the next
President .... In all tariff legislation the true principle of
protection is best maintained by the imposition of such duties as
will equal the difference between the cost of production at home
and abroad, together with a reasonable profit to American
industries. We favor the establishment of maximum and minimum
rates to be administered by the President under limitations fixed
in the law, the maximum to be available to meet discriminations
by foreign countries against American goods entering their
markets, and the minimum to represent the normal measure of
protection at home." The American public, regardless of party,
assumed that the "revision" referred to in this plank of the
Republican platform meant a revision downward; and it supposed,
from sayings and opinions of Mr. Taft, that he put the same
construction upon it. He at once called a special session of
Congress, and a new tariff bill was framed under the direction of
Sereno E. Payne, a Stand-Pat Republican member of Congress,
Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means, and Nelson W.
Aldrich, Senator from Rhode Island, and guardian angel and
factotum for the Big Interests. For several months these
gentlemen conducted the preparation of the new bill. Payne had
already had experience in putting through the McKinley Tariff in
1890, and the Dingley Tariff in 1897. Again the committee-room
was packed by greedy protectionists who, for a consideration, got
from the Government whatever profit they paid for. Neither Payne
nor Aldrich had the slightest idea that to fix tariff rates to
enrich special individuals and firms was a most corrupt practice.
When a Republican Senator, who honestly supposed that the
revision would be downward, privately remonstrated, the reply he
heard was, "Where shall we get our campaign funds?" Finally,
after some discussion between the House and the Senate--a
discussion which did not lessen the enormities of the
measure--the Payne-Aldrich Bill was passed by Congress and signed
by President Taft, and it enjoyed the bad eminence of being worse
than the McKinley and the Dingley tariffs which had preceded it.

The public, which had seen more clearly than on former occasions,
how such charters to legalize industrial piracy were devised, was
somewhat dashed--by President Taft's approval. Perhaps it still
hoped that the creation of a non-partisan Tariff Commission of
experts would put an end to this indecent purchase and sale of
privileges and would establish rates after the scientific
investigation of each case. Soon, however, these hopes were swept
away; for on September 17, 1909, the President delivered at
Winona, Minnesota, a laudatory speech on the new tariff. He
admitted that some points in Schedule K--that comprising wool and
woolen goods--were too high. But, he said solemnly that this was
"the best tariff law the Republicans ever made, and, therefore,
the best the country ever had." In that Winona speech, Mr. Taft
hung a millstone round his own neck. His critics and his friends
alike had thrust upon them this dilemma: either he knew that the
Payne-Aldrich Tariff had been arrived at by corrupt ways and was
not a revision downward--in spite of which he pronounced it the
"best ever"; or he did not know its nature and the means used in
framing it. In the latter case, he could not be considered a
person sufficiently informed on great financial questions, or on
the practices of some of the politicians who made laws for him to
sign, to be qualified to sit in the President's chair. If, on the
other hand, knowing the measure to be bad he declared it the
"best ever," he was neither sincere nor honest, and in this case
also he was not a President whom the country could respect.

I would not imply that the American public went through this
process of reasoning at once, or arrived at such clear-cut
conclusions; Demos seldom indulges in the luxury of logic; but
the shock caused by the Winona speech vibrated through the
country and never after that did the public fully trust Mr. Taft.
It knew that the Interests had crawled back and dictated the
Payne-Aldrich Tariff, and it surmised that, although he
prosecuted the Trusts diligently, they did not feel greatly
terrified. But nobody whispered or suspected that he was not

While President Taft slowly lost his hold on the American people,
he gained proportionately with the Republican Machine. That
Machine was composed of the Regulars of the party, or the
Conservatives, as they preferred to be called, and it was losing
its hold on the country. There comes a time in every sect, party,
or institution when it stops growing, its arteries harden, its
young men see no visions, its old men dream no dreams; it lives
in the past and desperately tries to perpetuate the past. In
politics when this process of petrifaction is reached, we call it
Bourbonism, and the sure sign of the Bourbon is that, being
unconscious that he is the victim of sclerosis, he sees no reason
for seeking a cure. Unable to adjust himself to change and new
conditions he falls back into the past, as an old man drops into
his worn-out armchair.

Now Roosevelt had been, of course, the negation of Bourbonism. He
had led the Republican Party into new fields and set it to do new
work, and far off, shining clearly, its goal beckoned it on. His
followers were mostly young men; they saw that the world had
changed, and would change still further, and they went forward
valiantly to meet it and, if possible, to shape its changes. For
ten years past, these Radicals, as the Regulars named them some
what reproachfully, and who were better defined as "Insurgents,"
had played an increasingly important part in Congress. They would
not submit to the Bosses and the Machine, but voted
independently, and, although they were not all of them avowed
Rooseveltians, they all were going in his direction. In the
second year of Mr. Taft's Administration, they rebelled against
the rigid dictatorship of Joseph G. Cannon, the Speaker of the
House. "Uncle Joe," as the public nicknamed him, dated from
before the Civil War, and entered Congress in 1863, forty-seven
years before 1910. It was as if a rigid Bourbon, who had served
under Louis XV in France in 1763, had been chief law-maker under
Napoleon I in 1810. Mr. Cannon, however, had never learned that
the Civil War was over, whereas every Frenchman who survived the
Revolution knew that it had taken place. So the Insurgents rose
up against him, in his old age, deprived him of his dictatorial
power, and, at the next election, Democrats and Republicans
combined to sweep him out of office altogether.

The Jews who ridiculed Noah when he began to build the Ark were,
it proved, Bourbons, but they had some excuse, for when Noah was
working there was no portent of a flood and not even a black
cloud with a shower wrapped up in it hung on the horizon. But the
Republican Regulars, under Mr. Taft, could not complain that no
sign had been vouchsafed to them. The amazing rise in power and
popularity of Roosevelt during the decade, the surging unrest of
Labor throughout the world, the obviously altered conditions
which immense fortunes and the amassing of wealth by a few
corporations had produced, and such special symptoms as the
chafing at the Payne Aldrich Tariff, the defeat of Speaker
Cannon, and the election of a Democratic House of Representatives
ought to have warned even the dullest Republican. For good, or
for ill, a social and industrial revolution was under way, and,
instead of trimming their sails to meet it, they had not even
taken ship. Roosevelt and the Insurgents had long understood the
revolution of which they were a part, and had taken measures to
control it. Roosevelt's first achievement, as we have seen, was
to bring the Big Interests under the power of the law. The hawks
and vultures whose wings he clipped naturally did not like it or
him, but the laws had force behind them, and they submitted. The
leaders of the popular movement, however, declared that this was
not enough. They preached the right of the people to rule. The
people, they urged, must have a real share in electing the men
who were to make the laws and to administer and interpret them.

Every one knew that the system of party government resulted in a
Machine, consisting of a few men who controlled the preliminary
steps which led to the nomination of candidates and then decided
the election, so far as their control of the regular party
members could do this. It would be idle, said the advocates of
these popular rights, to make the best of laws in behalf of the
people and allow them to be enforced by representatives and
judges chosen, under whatever disguise, by the great capitalists.
And so these Progressives, bent on trusting implicitly the
intelligence, the unselfishness, and the honesty of the People,
proposed three novel political instruments for obtaining the pure
Democracy they dreamed of. First, the Initiative, by which a
certain number of voters could suggest new laws; second, the
Referendum, by which a vote should be taken to decide whether the
People approved or not of a law that was in operation; and third,
the judicial Recall, by which a majority of the voters could
nullify a decision handed down by a judge. This last was often
misnamed and misconstrued, the "Recall of Judges," but so far as
I know very few of the Progressive leaders, certainly not Colonel
Roosevelt, proposed to put the tenure of office of a judge at the
mercy of a sudden popular vote.

When Roosevelt returned from Africa, he found that the
Progressive movement had developed rapidly, and the more he
thought over its principles, the more they appealed to him. To
arrive at Social Justice was his life-long endeavor. In a speech
delivered on August 31, 1910, at Ossawatomie, Kansas, he
discoursed on the "New Nationalism." As if to push back hostile
criticism at the start, he quoted Abraham Lincoln: "Labor is
prior to, and independent of capital; capital is only the fruit
of labor and could never have existed but for labor. Labor is the
superior of capital and deserves much the higher consideration.
Capital has its rights which are as worthy of protection as any
other rights .... Nor should this lead to a war upon the owners
of property. Property is the fruit of labor; property is
desirable; it is a positive good in the world. Let not him who is
houseless pull down the house of another, but let him work
diligently and build one for him self, thus, by example, showing
that his own shall be safe from violence when built."

Not all those who cry "Plato! Plato!" are Platonists. So, not all
those who now appeal to Lincoln's mighty name for sanction of
their own petty caprices and crazy creeds, have learned the first
letter of the alphabet which Lincoln used; but Roosevelt, I
believe, knew Lincoln better, knew the spirit of Lincoln better,
than any other President has known it. And Lincoln would have
approved of most, if not of all, of the measures which, in that
Ossawatomie speech, Roosevelt declared must be adopted. Whenever
he spoke or wrote after that, he repeated his arguments in
defense of the "New Nationalism," and they sank deep into the
public conscience. He took no active part in politics, as he
thought, but the country knew better than he did that, wherever
he was, politics was active. Every one consulted him; his
occasional speeches roused a storm of criticism; a dozen would-be
candidates in each party sat on the anxious seat and waited for
his decision. So he watched the year 1910 draw to its close and
1911 wheel by, without his giving the final word. Although he was
very really the centre of attention, he nevertheless felt lonely,
and a friend tells me of going to Oyster Bay, late in the autumn,
and finding Roosevelt in fact alone, as his family were away, and
depressed by the thought that he was cut off, probably forever,
from throwing himself into work which would be of public benefit.
But Roosevelt was a fighter, not a sulker, and he was too healthy
in spirit to give way to disappointment.

That he resented the purpose, as he supposed, of the Taft
Administration to throw over his policies, I do not doubt,
although there are letters in existence which indicate that he
still had courteous if not friendly relations with President
Taft. But what ate into him more than any personal resentment was
his chagrin at seeing the Great Cause, for which he had spent his
life, neglected and denied by the Republican Party. Progressivism
seemed to be slowly in process of suffocation by the Big
Interests which it had come into being to protest against, to
curb, and to control.

There were other leaders in this Cause, the most prominent being
Senator La Follette, of Wisconsin. He had caught up very early
some of Bryan's demagogic doctrines, which he had softened a good
deal and made palatable to the Republicans of his State. Then he
had stood out as a Liberal in Congress, and from Liberal he
became Insurgent, and now that the Insurgents were being defined
as Progressives, he led the Progressives in Congress. The same
spirit was permeating the Democrats; only the hide-bound Regular
Republicans appeared not to notice that a new day had dawned.
"Uncle Joe" Cannon, their Speaker of the House, reveled in his
Bourbonism, made it as obnoxious as he could, and then was swept
away by the enraged Liberals.

By the summer of 1911 the discussion of possible candidates grew
more heated. Roosevelt still kept silent, but he told his
intimates that he would not run. He did not wish to be President
again, especially at the cost of an internecine struggle. I
believe that he was sincere; so is the consummate actor or the
prima donna, whom the world applauds, sincere in bidding farewell
to the stage forever. Nevertheless, which of them is conscious of
the strength of the passion, which long habit, and supremacy, and
the intoxication of success have evoked, dwells in them? Given
the moment and the lure, they forget their promise of farewell.

By this time the politicians began to foresee that the dissension
in the Republican Party would make it difficult to choose a
candidate who could win. Every President desires to be reelected
if he can be, not necessarily because he is greedy of power, but
because reelection is equivalent to public approval of his first
term. Mr. Taft, therefore, stood out as the logical candidate of
the Conservatives. The great majority of the Progressives desired
Roosevelt, but, since he would say neither yes nor no, they
naturally turned to Senator La Follette. And La Follette launched
a vigorous campaign for the nomination and was undoubtedly
gaining ground except in the East, where some of his views had
been regarded as too extreme even for the Liberals. To his great
misfortune, in a speech at Philadelphia on February 2, 1912, he
showed signs of a temporary mental collapse and, although his
friends protested that this mishap was not serious, much less
permanent, he never got back into the running.

Meanwhile, Roosevelt's nearest zealots not only urged upon him
the duty of coming out squarely as the Progressive aspirant, but
they set up throughout the country their propaganda for him. He
received letters by the bushel and every letter appealed to his
patriotism and to his sense of duty. The Progressives were in
dead earnest. They believed that the country, if not
civilization, had reached a crisis on the outcome of which would
depend the future health and peace of Society. They had a
crusade, not a mere political campaign, ahead of them, and they
could not believe that Roosevelt, their peerless champion, would
fail them.

The average person, who calmly sits back in his easy-chair and
passes his verdict on the acts of great men, does not always
allow for the play of emotions which may have influenced them.
What sort of reaction must appeals like these have stimulated?
How can the unimaginative man, who has never been urged by his
fellow townspeople to be even Trustee of the Town library or
graveyard, put himself in the place of a Leader, who is told by
millions of persons, possibly fanatics but not flatterers, that
the destiny of the Nation depends upon his listening to their

Everything conspired to win Roosevelt over: La Follette being
eliminated, there was no other Progressive whom the majority
would agree upon. The party spoke with only one voice, and
uttered only one name. And, presently, the Governors of seven
States--Bass of New Hampshire, Hadley of Missouri, Osborn of
Michigan, Glasscock of West Virginia, Carey of Wyoming, Aldrich
of Nebraska, and Stubbs of Kansas--issued an appeal to him which
seemed to give an official stamp to the popular entreaties.
Roosevelt's enemies insinuated that the seven Governors had been
moved to act at his own instigation, and they tried to belittle
the entire movement as a "frame-up," in the common phrase of the
day. No doubt he was consulted in the general direction of the
campaign; no doubt, being a very alert student of political
effects, he suggested many things; but the rush of enthusiasts to
him was genuine and spontaneous.

I happened to spend the evening of February 25, 1912, with him at
the house of Judge Robert Grant in Boston. Judge Grant and I were
not politicians, and I, at least, had never voted for a
Republican Presidential candidate. But both of us were very old
personal friends of the Colonel, and for five hours we three
talked with the utmost frankness. He knew that he could trust us,
and, I think, he planned to get the views of non-partisan friends
before announcing his final decision. Three days earlier, at
Columbus, Ohio, he gave a great speech, in which he proclaimed a
new charter for Democracy and vigorously advocated the
Initiative, Referendum, and Recall. We discussed these from every
side; he got the Outlook in which his speech was printed and read
to us passages which he thought corrected popular
misunderstanding of it. When I objected to the platform in
general, because it would tend to destroy representative
government and substitute therefor the whims of the populace at
the moment, he replied that we had no representative government.
"I can name forty-six Senators," he said, "who secured their
seats and hold them by the favor of a Wall Street magnate and his
associates, in all parts of the country. Do you call that
popular, representative government?" he asked.

The evening wore on, and in similar fashion he parried all our
criticism. We urged him not to be a candidate, because, we said,
we thought that the public ought to be reined in and disciplined,
instead of being encouraged to be more lawless and self-willed. I
defended our judiciary system and said that the American people
needed most of all to be taught respect for the Courts. He
explained that his Recall of Judicial Decisions did not mean, as
the Opposition alleged, the Recall of Judges. Then we urged him,
for the sake of his own future, not to engage in a factional
strife which might end his usefulness to the country, but he
brushed aside every argument based on his selfish advantage. "I
wish," he said to me, "to draw into one dominant stream all the
intelligent and patriotic elements, in order to prepare against
the social upheaval which will other wise overwhelm us." "A great
Central Party, such as Cavour founded for the liberation of
Italy?" said I. "Exactly," said he.

The thing which mainly struck me at the time, and which I still
vividly remember, was the Colonel's composure throughout all this
debate. Vehement he was--because he could not describe even a
butterfly without vividness which easily passed into vehemence-
-but he was in no sense mentally overwrought; nor did he
continually return to one subject like a man with an obsession.
His humor flashed out, even at his own expense, but he had
throughout the underlying gravity of one who knows that he is
about to make a very important decision. I mention these facts
because at the time, and afterward, Roosevelt's enemies
circulated the assertion that his mind was unbalanced, and that
this fact accounted for his break with the regular Republicans. I
have in my hand a printed circular, issued by a Chicago lawyer,
offering five thousand dollars apiece to each of several
hospitals and other charitable institutions, if Roosevelt would
allow himself to be examined by competent alienists and they did
not pronounce him to be a "madman"! No! he was not mad, but he
had the fervor, the courage, the impatience of a Crusader about
to undergo ordeal by battle.

>From notes of the conversation Judge Grant made at the time I
quote the following. Judge Grant asked:

"Will any of the party leaders support you?"

"No," he said, "none of them; not even Lodge, I think. I don't
see how he can. My support will come from the people, officered
by a few lieutenants--young men principally like Governor Bass,
of New Hampshire." He said that he realized that the
probabilities were all against his nomination; that a President
in office had all the machinery on his side; but that of course
it wouldn't do to admit outside that he expected to lose; that if
he could reach the popular vote through direct primaries, he
could hope to win. It was manifest that he believed that it was
indispensable for the future good of the Republican Party that he
should make the breach. When he said as much, I asked, "But the
situation is complex, I suppose? You would like to be President?"
"You are right," he replied. "It is complex. I like power; but I
care nothing to be President as President. I am interested in
these ideas of mine and I want to carry them through, and feel
that I am the one to carry them through." He said that he
believed the most important questions today were the humanitarian
and economic problems, and intimated that the will of the people
had been thwarted in these ways, especially by the courts on
constitutional grounds, and that reforms were urgent.

As I went out into the midnight, I felt sad, as one might after
bidding farewell to a friend who has volunteered to lead a
forlorn hope. I did not realize then the moral depth from which
Roosevelt's resolve came, or that he would rather die for that
cause than be victorious in any other.

The next day, Monday, February 26th, he announced to the country
that he was a candidate for the Republican nomination.


During the weeks while Roosevelt had been deliberating over
"throwing his hat into the ring," his opponents had been busily
gathering delegates. By this delay they gained a strategic
advantage. According to the unholy custom which gave to the
Republicans in the Southern States a quota of delegates
proportioned to the population and not to the number of
Republican voters, a large Southern delegation was pledged for
Mr. Taft very early. Most of the few Southern Republicans were
either office-holders or negroes; the former naturally supported
the Administration on which their living depended; the latter,
whose votes were not counted, also supported the President from
whom alone they might expect favors. The former slave States
elected 216 delegates, nearly all of whom went to President Taft,
making a very good start for him. In the Northern, Western, and
Pacific States, however, Roosevelt secured a large proportion of
the delegates. In the system of direct primaries, by which the
people indicated their preference instead of having the
candidates chosen in the State Conventions, which were controlled
by the Machine, the Progressives came out far ahead. Thus, in
North Dakota, President Taft had less than 4000 votes out of
48,000 cast, the rest going to Roosevelt and La Follette. In
several of the great States he carried everything before him. In
Illinois, his majority was 139,000 over Taft's; in Pennsylvania,
67 of the 76 delegates went to him. In Ohio, the President's own
State, the Taft forces were "snowed under"; in California, a
stronghold of Progressivism, Roosevelt had a large plurality.
Nevertheless, wherever the Regulars controlled the voting, they
usually brought President Taft to the front. Even when they could
not produce the votes, they managed to send out contesting

On looking back, it appears indisputable that if the Republicans
could then have cast their ballots they would have been
overwhelmingly for Roosevelt; and if the Roosevelt delegates to
the Convention had not been hampered in voting, they too would
have nominated him. But the elections had been so artfully
manipulated that, when the Convention met, there were 220
contests. Everybody understood that the final result hung on the
way in which these should be decided.

The Convention assembled in the great Coliseum Hall at Chicago on
June 18, 1912. But for ten days the hosts had been coming in, one
delegation after another; the hotels were packed; each committee
had its special quarters; crowds of sight-seers, shouters, and
supporters swelled the multitude. The Republican National
Committee met; the managers of each candidate met. The
committees, which had not yet an official standing, conferred
unofficially. Rumors floated from every room; there were secret
conferences, attempts to win over delegates, promises to trade
votes, and even efforts at conciliation. Night and day this wild
torrent of excitement rushed on.

A spectator from Mars might have remarked: "But for so important
a business as the choice of a candidate who may become President
of the United States, you ought to have quiet, deliberation, free
play, not for those who can shout loudest, but for those who can
speak wisest." And to this remark, the howling and whirling
dervishes who attended the Convention would have replied, if they
had waited long enough to hear it through, by yelling,

"Hail! Hail! the gang's all here!
What the hell do we care?
What the hell do we care?"

and would have darted off to catch up with their fellow
Bacchanals. A smell of cocktails and of whiskey was ubiquitous; a
dense pall of tobacco smoke pervaded the committee-rooms; and out
of doors the clang of brass bands drowned even the incessant
noise of the throngs. There was no night, for the myriads of
electric lights made shadows but no darkness, and you wondered
when these strange creatures slept.

Such Saturnalia did not begin with the Convention of 1912. Most
of those who took part in them hardly thought it a paradox that
these should be the conditions under which the Americans
nominated their candidates for President.

Roosevelt had not intended to appear at the Convention, but when
he discovered that the long distance telephone from Chicago to
Oyster Bay, by which his managers conferred with him, was being
tapped, he changed his mind. He perceived, also, that there was a
lack of vigorous leadership among those managers which demanded
his presence. By going, he would call down much adverse
criticism, even from some of those persons whose support he
needed. On the other hand, he would immensely strengthen his
cause in Chicago, where the mere sight of him would stimulate

So he and Mrs. Roosevelt took the five-thirty afternoon train to
Chicago, on Friday, June 14th, leaving as privately as possible,
and accompanied by seven or eight of their children and cousins.
Late on Saturday, the train, having narrowly escaped being
wrecked by an accident, reached Chicago. At the station there was
an enormous crowd. Roosevelt's young kinsmen kept very close to
him and wedged their way to an automobile. With the greatest
difficulty his car slowly proceeded to the Congress Hotel. Never
was there such a furor of welcome. Everybody wore a Roosevelt
button. Everybody cheered for "Teddy." Here and there they passed
State delegations bearing banners and mottoes. Rough Riders, who
had come in their well-worn uniforms, added to the Rooseveltian
exultation. Whoever judged by this demonstration must think it
impossible that the Colonel could be defeated.

After he and his party had been shown to the suites reserved for
them, he went out on the balcony of a second-floor room and spoke
a few words to the immense multitude waiting below. He said, in
substance, that he was glad to find from their cheers that
Chicago did not believe in the thieves who stole delegates. Some
who saw him say that his face was red with anger; others aver
that he was no more vehement than usual, and simply strained
himself to the utmost to make his voice carry throughout his
audience. Still, if he said what they report, he was not politic.

Then followed days and nights of incessant strain.

The Colonel and Mrs. Roosevelt had their personal apartment in
the northeast corner of the hotel, at some distance from the
Florentine Room, which served as the official headquarters for
the Progressives. He had, besides, a private office with a
reception-room, and Tyree, one of the devoted detectives who had
served under him in old times, carefully guarded the entrance.
There was hardly a moment when one or two persons were not
closeted with him. Occasionally, he would come out into the
reception room and speak to the throng waiting there. No matter
what the news, no matter how early or late the hour, he was
always cheerful, and the mere sight of him brought joy and
confidence to his followers.

The young kinsmen went everywhere and brought back reports of
what they had seen or heard. One of them kept a diary of the
events as they whirled past, hour by hour, and in this one can
note many of the fleeting but vivid touches, which recall to the
reader now the reality of those feverish days. He attended a big
Taft rally at the Taft headquarters. Bell-boys ran up and down
the hotel corridors announcing it. "After each announcement,"
writes the young cousin, "a group of Roosevelt men would cry out,
'All postmasters attend!'" Two Taftites spoke briefly and "were
greeted by a couple of hand claps apiece; and then the star
performer of the evening was announced in the most glowing terms
as a model of political propriety, and the foremost and most
upright citizen of the United States--William Barnes, Jr., of
Albany." Mr. Barnes was supposed, at that time, to lead the New
York Republican Machine. "We have got to save the country," he
said, " save the constitution, save our liberty. We are in danger
of monarchy. The country must be saved!!" The Roosevelt cousin
thought that he spoke "without fervor to a listless, sedate, and
very polite audience. It was made all the more preposterous by
the fact that a very ancient colored gentleman stood back of
Barnes, and whenever Barnes paused, would point to the crowd and
feebly begin clapping his hands. They would then slowly and very
politely take up the applause, in every case waiting for his
signal. It was almost pathetic." At one time the Roosevelt scouts
alleged that "Timothy Woodruff is wavering, with four other
delegates, and will soon fall to us," and told "of delegates
flopping over, here and there." A still more extraordinary piece
of news came from Hooker to the effect that he had in some way
intercepted a telegram "from Murray Crane to his nephew saying
that Crane and Barnes would 'fight or ruin' and that it was now
'use any means and sacrifice the Republican Party.' Had it not
been for the way he told us, I couldn't have believed such a
thing possible."

Rumors like these were not verified at the time, and they are
assuredly unverifiable now. I repeat them merely to show how
suspense and excitement were constantly fed before the Convention
met. Remembering how long ex-Senator Crane and Mr. Barnes had had
their hands on the throttle of the Republican Machine, we are not
surprised at the young Rooseveltian's statement: "The Taft forces
control anything that has to do with machinery, but all the
feeling is for Roosevelt, and the Congress Hotel, at any rate,
favors the 'Big Noise,' as you will sometimes hear him called in
the lobbies or in the streets." Apparently, stump speeches were
made at any moment, and without provocation, in any hall; room,
or lobby of the hotel, by any one who felt the spirit move him;
and, lest silence should settle down and soothe the jaded nerves,
a band would strike up unexpectedly. The marching to and fro of
unrestrained gangs, shouting, "We-want-Teddy!" completed the

Monday came. The young scouts were as busy as ever in following
the trails which led to Taft activities. The news they had to
tell was always very cheering. They found little enthusiasm among
the President's supporters. They heard, from the most trustworthy
sources, that this or that Taft leader or delegation was coming
over. And, in truth, the Taft body probably did not let off a
tenth of the noise which their opponents indulged in. The
shallows murmur, but the deeps are dumb, does not exactly apply
to the two opposing hosts. The Taft men resorted very little to
shouting, because they knew that if they were to win at all it
must be by other means. The Rooseveltians, on the other hand,
really felt a compelling surge of enthusiasm which they must

Meanwhile Colonel Roosevelt and his lieutenants knew that the
enemy was perfecting his plan to defeat them. On Monday evening
his zealots packed the Auditorium and he poured himself out to
them in one of his torrential speeches calculated to rouse the
passions rather than the minds of his hearers. But it fitly
symbolized the situation. He, the daunt less leader, stood there,
the soul of sincerity and courage, impressing upon them all that
they were engaged in a most solemn cause and defying the
opposition as if it were a legion of evil spirits. His closing
words--" We stand at Armageddon and we battle for the
Lord"--summed it all up so completely that the audience burst
into a roar of approval, and never doubted that he spoke the

Tuesday at noon, a crowd of fifteen thousand persons, delegates
and visitors, packed the vast Convention Hall of the Coliseum.
Mr. Victor Rosewater, of Nebraska, presided at the opening. As it
was known that the Republican National Committee intended to
place on the temporary roll of delegates seventy-two names of
persons whose seats were contested, Governor Hadley, of Missouri,
made a motion that only those delegates, whose right was not
contested, should sit and vote during the preliminary
proceedings. Had he been successful, the Regulars would have lost
the battle from the beginning. But he was ruled out of order on
the ground that the only business before the Convention was the
election of a Temporary Chairman. This took place, and Senator
Root, from New York, was elected by 558 votes; McGovern, the
Roosevelt candidate, received 501 votes; there were 14
scattering, and 5 persons did not vote. Senator Root, therefore,
won his election by 38 votes over the combined opposition, but
his plurality was secured by the votes of the 72 whose seats were

During the three following days the Roosevelt men fought
desperately to secure what they believed to be justice. They
challenged every delegate, they demanded a roll-call on the
slightest excuse, they deluged the Regulars with alternate
showers of sarcasm and anger. But it availed them nothing. They
soon perceived that victory lay with the Republican National
Committee, which had the organization of the Convention and the
framing of the rules of procedure. The Taft people, the Regulars,
controlled the National Committee, and they knew that the rules
would do the rest, especially since, the Chairman of the
Convention, Senator Root, was the interpreter of the rules.

At no other National Convention in American history did a
Chairman keep his head and his temper so admirably as did Mr.
Root on this occasion. His intellect, burning with a cold, white
light,illumined every point, but betrayed no heat of passion. He
applied the rules as impartially as if they were theorems of
algebra. Time after time the Rooseveltians protested against the
holders of contested seats to vote, but he was unmoved because
the rule prescribed that the person had a right to vote. When the
contests were taken up, the Taft men always won, the Roosevelt
men always lost. The Machine went as if by clock-work or like the
guillotine. More than once some Rooseveltian leader, like
Governor Hadley, stung by a particularly shocking display of
overbearing injustice, taunted the majority with shouts of
"Robbers" and "Theft." Roars of passion swept through the hall.
The derision of the minority was countered by the majority with
equal vigor, but the majority did not always feel, in spite of
its truculent manner, confident of the outcome.

By what now seems shameless theft, the Credentials Committee
approved the seating of two Taft delegates from California, in
spite of the fact that the proper officials of that State had
certified that its twenty-six delegates were all for Roosevelt,
and had been elected by a majority of 76,000 votes. Chairman Root
put the question to the Convention, however, and those two
discredited delegates were admitted for Taft by a vote of 542 to
529. This indicates how close the Convention then stood, when a
change of seven votes would have given Roosevelt a majority of
one and have added to his list the two California delegates who
were counted out. Had such a change taken place, those who
watched the Convention believed there would have been a
"landslide" to Roosevelt. But the Republican Committee's sorely
tested rules held. After that, the Rooseveltians saw no gleam of

On Saturday, June 22d, the list of delegates to the Convention
having been drawn up as the Republican Machine intended, Mr. Taft
was nominated by a vote of 561; Roosevelt received 107, La
Follette 41, Cummins 17, Hughes 2; 344 delegates did not vote.
The last were all Roosevelt men, but they had been requested by
Roosevelt to refuse to vote. Through Mr. Henry J. Allen, of
Kansas, he sent this message:

'The Convention has now declined to purge the roll of the
fraudulent delegates placed thereon by the defunct National
Committee, and the majority which thus endorsed fraud was made a
majority only because it included the fraudulent delegates
themselves, who all sat as judges on one another's cases. If
these fraudulent votes had not thus been cast and counted the
Convention would have been purged of their presence. This action
makes the Convention in no proper sense any longer a Republican
Convention representing the real Republican Party. Therefore, I
hope the men elected as Roosevelt delegates will now decline to
vote on any matter before the Convention. I do not release any
delegate from his honorable obligation to vote for me if he votes
at all, but under the actual conditions I hope that he will not
vote at all. The Convention as now composed has no claim to
represent the voters of the Republican Party. It represents
nothing but successful fraud in overriding the will of the rank
and file of the party. Any man nominated by the Convention as now
constituted would be merely the beneficiary of this successful
fraud; it would be deeply discreditable to any man to accept the
Convention's nomination under these circumstances; and any man
thus accepting it would have no claim to the support of any
Republican on party grounds, and would have forfeited the right
to ask the support of any honest man of any party on moral

Mr. Allen concluded with these words of his own:

'We do not bolt. We merely insist that you, not we, are making
the record. And we refuse to be bound by it. We have pleaded with
you ten days. We have fought with you five days for a square
deal. We fight no more, we plead no longer. We shall sit in
protest and the people who sent us here shall judge us.

'Gentlemen, you accuse us of being radical. Let me tell you that
no radical in the ranks of radicalism ever did so radical a thing
as to come to a National Convention of the great Republican Party
and secure through fraud the nomination of a man whom they knew
could not be elected.'*

* Fifteenth Republican National Convention (New York, 1912), 333,

Every night during that momentous week the Roosevelt delegates
met in the Congress Hotel, talked over the day's proceedings,
gave vent to their indignation, confirmed each other's
resolution, and took a decision as to their future action. The
powerful Hiram Johnson, Governor of California, led them, and
through his eloquence he persuaded all but 107 of them to stand
by Roosevelt whether he were nominated by the Convention or not.

And this they did. For when the vote for the nomination was taken
at the Convention only 107 of the Roosevelt men cast their
ballots. They favored Roosevelt, but they were not prepared to
quit the Republican Party. During the roll-call the Roosevelt
delegates from Massachusetts refused to vote. Thereupon, Mr.
Root, the Chairman, ruled that they must vote, to which Frederick
Fosdick replied, when his name was read again, "Present, and not
voting. I defy the Convention to make me vote for any man"; and
seventeen other Roosevelt delegates refrained. Mr. Root then
called up the alternates of these abstainers and three of them
recorded their votes for Taft, but there was such a demonstration
against this ruling that Mr. Root thought better of it and
proceeded in it no farther. Many of his Republican associates at
the time thought this action high-handed and unjustified, and
many more agree in this opinion today.

Except for this grave error, Mr. Root's rulings were strictly
according to the precedents and directions of the Republican
National Committee, and we may believe that even he saw the
sardonic humor of his unvarying application of them at the
expense of the Rooseveltians. Before the first day's session was
over, the process was popularly called the "steam roller." Late
in the week, a delegate rose to a point of order, and on being
recognized by the Chairman, he shouted that he wished to call the
attention of the Chairman to the fact that the steam roller was
exceeding its speed limit, at which Mr. Root replied, "The
Chairman rules that the gentleman's point of order is well
taken." And everybody laughed. There was one dramatic moment
which, as Dean Lewis remarks, has had no counterpart in a
National Convention. When the Machine had succeeded, in spite of
protests and evidence, in stealing the two delegates from
California, the friends of Mr. Taft gave triumphant cheers. Then
the Roosevelt men rose up as one man and sent forth a mighty
cheer which astonished their opponents. It was a cheer in which
were mingled indignation and scorn, and, above all, relief.
Strictly interpreted, it meant that those men who had sat for
four days and seen their wishes thwarted, by what they regarded
as fraud, and had held on in the belief that this fraud could not
continue to the end, that a sense of fairness would return and
rule the Regulars, now realized that Fraud would concede nothing
and that their Cause was lost. And they felt a great load lifted.
No obligation bound them any longer to the Republican Party which
had renounced honesty in its principles and fair play in its
practice. Henceforth they could go out and take any step they
chose to promote their Progressive doctrines. *

* Lewis, 363.

Shortly after the Convention adjourned, having, by these methods,
nominated Mr. Taft and James S. Sherman for President and
Vice-President, the Rooseveltians held a great meeting in
Orchestra Hall. Governor Johnson presided and apparently a
majority of the Rooseveltians wished, then and there, to organize
a new party and to nominate Roosevelt as its candidate. Several
men made brief but earnest addresses. Then Roosevelt himself
spoke, and although he lacked nothing of his usual vehemence, he
seemed to be controlled by a sense of the solemnity of their
purpose. He told them that it was no more a question of
Progressivism, which he ardently believed in, but a question of
fundamental honesty and right, which everybody ought to believe
in and uphold. He advised them to go to their homes, to discuss
the crisis with their friends; to gain what adherence and support
they could, and to return in two months and formally organize
their party and nominate their candidate for President. And he
added: "If you wish me to make the fight, I will make it, even if
only one State should support me. The only condition I impose is
that you shall feel entirely free, when you come together, to
substitute any other man in my place, if you deem it better for
the movement, and in such case, I will give him my heartiest

And so the defeated majority of the Republicans at Chicago,
Republicans no longer, broke up. There were many earnest
hand-shakings, many pledges to meet again in August, and to take
up the great work. Those who intended to stay by the Republican
Party, not less than those who cast their lot with the
Progressives, bade farewell, with deep emotion, to the Leader
whom they had wished to see at the head of the Republican Party.
Chief among these was Governor Hadley, of Missouri, who at one
moment, during the Convention, seemed likely to be brought
forward by the Regulars as a compromise candidate. Some of the
Progressives resented his defection from them; not so Roosevelt,
who said: "He will not be with us, but we must not blame him."

Six weeks later, the Progressives returned to Chicago. Again,
Roosevelt had his headquarters at the Congress Hotel. Again, the
delegates, among whom were several women, met at the Coliseum.
Crowds of enthusiastic supporters and larger crowds of curiosity-
seekers swarmed into the vast building. On Monday, August 5, the
first session of the Progressive Party's Convention was held.
Senator Albert J. Beveridge, of Indiana, made the opening
address, in which he defined the principles of their party and
the objects it hoped to obtain. Throughout the proceedings there
was much enthusiasm, but no battle. It was rather the gathering
of several thousand very earnest men and women bent on
consecrating themselves to a new Cause, which they believed to be
the paramount Cause for the political, economic, and social
welfare of. their country. Nearly all of them were Idealists,
eager to secure the victory of some special reform. And, no
doubt, an impartial observer might have detected among them
traces of that "lunatic fringe," which Roosevelt himself had long
ago humorously remarked clung to the skirts of every reform. But
the whole body, judged without prejudice, probably contained the
largest number of disinterested, public-spirited, and devoted
persons, who had ever met for a national and political object
since the group which formed the Republican Party in 1854.

The professional politician who usually preponderates in such
Conventions, and, in the last, had usurped control both of the
proceedings and decisions, had little place here. The chief topic
of discussion turned on the admission of negro delegates from the
South. Roosevelt believed that an attempt to create a negro
Progressive Party, as such, would alienate the Southern whites
and would certainly sharpen their hostility towards the blacks.
Therefore, he advised that the negro delegates ought to be
approved by the White Progressives in their several districts. In
other words, the Progressive Party in the South should be a white
party with such colored members as the whites found acceptable.

On Monday and Tuesday the work done in the Convention was much
less important than that done by the Committee on Resolutions and
by the Committee on Credentials. On Wednesday the Convention
heard and adopted the Platform and then nominated Roosevelt by
acclamation. Miss Jane Addams, of Hull House, Chicago, seconded
the nomination, praising Roosevelt as "one of the few men in our
public life who has been responsive to modern movement." "The
program," she said, "will need a leader of invincible courage, of
open mind, of democratic sympathies--one endowed with power to
interpret the common man, and to identify himself with the common
lot." Governor Hiram Johnson, from California, was nominated for
Vice-President. Over the platform, to which the candidates were
escorted, hung Kipling's stanza:

"For there is neither East nor West,
Border nor breed nor birth,
When two strong men stand face to face,
Though they come from the ends of the earth."

Portraits of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Jackson, and
Hamilton, a sufficiently inclusive group of patriots, looked down
upon them. After Roosevelt and Johnson addressed the audience,
the trombones sounded "Old Hundred" and the great meeting closed
to the words--

"Praise God from whom all blessings flow."

The Progressive Platform contained many planks which have since
been made laws by the Democratic Party, which read the signs of
the times more quickly than did the Republicans. Especially many
of the suggestions relating to Labor, the improvement of the
currency, the control of corporate wealth, and oversight over
public hygiene, should be commended. In general, it promised to
bring the Government nearer to the people by giving the people a
more and more direct right over the Government. It declared for a
rational tariff and the creation of a non-partisan Tariff
Commission of experts, and it denounced alike the Republicans for
the Payne-Aldrich Bill, which dishonestly revised upwards, and
the Democrats, who wished to abolish protection altogether. It
urged proper military and naval preparation and the building of
two battleships a year--a plank which we can imagine Roosevelt
wrote in with peculiar satisfaction. It advocated direct
primaries; the conservation of natural resources; woman suffrage.

So rapidly has the country progressed in seven years that most of
the recommendations have already been adopted, and are among the
common places which nobody disputes any longer. But the
Initiative, the Referendum, and the Recall of Judicial Decisions
were the points, as I remarked above, over which the country
debated most hotly. The Recall, in particular, created a
widespread alarm, and just as Roosevelt's demand for it in his
Columbus speech prevented, as I believe, his nomination by the
Republican Convention in June, so it deprived the Progressives at
the election in November of scores of thousands of votes. The
people of the United States--every person who owned a bit of
property, a stock or a bond, or who had ten dollars or more in
the savings bank--looked upon it almost with consternation. For
they knew that they were living in a time of flux, when old
standards were melting away like snow images in the sun, when new
ideals, untried and based on the negation of some of the oldest
principles in our civilization, were being pushed forward. They
instinctively rallied to uphold Law, the slow product of
centuries of growth, the sheet anchor of Society in a time of
change. Where could we look for solidity, or permanence, if
judicial decisions could be recalled at the caprice of the
mob--the hysterical, the uninstructed, the fickle mob? The
opinion of one trained and honest judge outweighs the whims of
ten thousand of the social dregs.

The Recall of Judicial Decisions, therefore, caused many of
Roosevelt's friends, and even Republicans who would otherwise
have supported him, to balk. They not only rejected the proposal
itself, but they feared that he, by making it, indicated that he
had lost his judgment and was being swept into the vortex of
revolution. Judges and courts and respect for law, like
lighthouses on granite foundations, must be kept safe from the
fluctuations of tides and the crash of tempests.

The campaign which followed is chiefly remarkable for Roosevelt's
amazing activity. He felt that the success of the Progressive
Party at the polls depended upon him as its Leader. The desire
for personal success in any contest into which he plunged would
have been a great incentive, but this was a cause which dwarfed
any personal considerations of his. Senator Joseph M. Dixon, of
Montana, managed the campaign; Roosevelt himself gave it a
dynamic impulse which never flagged. He went to the Pacific
Coast, speaking at every important centre on the way, and
returning through the Southern States to New York City. In
September he swept through New England, and he was making a final
tour through the Middle West, when, on October 14th, just as he
was leaving his hotel to make a speech in the Auditorium in
Milwaukee, a lunatic named John Schranck shot him with a
revolver. The bullet entered his body about an inch below the
right nipple and would probably have been fatal but for an eye
glass-case and a roll of manuscript he had in his pocket. Before
the assassin could shoot again, his hand was caught and deflected
by the Colonel's secretary. "Don't hurt the poor creature,"
Roosevelt said, when Schranck was overpowered and brought before
him. Not knowing the extent of his wound, and waiting only long
enough to return to his hotel room and change his white shirt, as
the bosom of the one he had on was soaked with blood, and
disregarding the entreaties of his companions to stay quiet, he
went to the Auditorium and spoke for more than an hour. Only
towards the end did the audience perceive that he showed signs of
fatigue. This extraordinary performance was most foolhardy, and
some of his carping critics said that, as usual, Roosevelt wanted
to be theatrical. But there was no such purpose in him. He felt
to the depths of his soul that neither his safety nor that of any
other individual counted in comparison with the triumph of the
Cause he was fighting for.

After a brief examination the surgeons stated that he had better
be removed to the Mercy Hospital in Chicago. They put him on his
special car and by an incredible negligence they sent him off to
make the night journey without any surgical attendant. On
reaching the Mercy Hospital, Dr. Ryan made a further examination
and reported that there seemed to be no immediate danger,
although he could not be sure whether the Colonel would live or
not. Roosevelt, who was advertised to make a great speech in
Louisville, Kentucky, that evening, summoned Senator Beveridge
and sent him off with the manuscript of the address to take his
place. Mrs. Roosevelt reached Chicago by the first train
possible, and stayed with him while he underwent, impatiently,
nearly a fortnight's convalescence. Then, much sooner than the
surgeons thought wise, although his wound had healed with
remarkable speed, he returned to Oyster Bay, and on October 30th
he closed his campaign by addressing sixteen thousand persons in
the Madison Square Garden. He spoke with unwonted calm and
judicial poise; and so earnestly that the conviction which he
felt carried conviction to many who heard him. "I am glad beyond
measure," he said, "that I am one of the many who in this fight
have stood ready to spend and be spent, pledged to fight, while
life lasts, the great fight for righteousness and for brotherhood
and for the welfare of mankind."

President Taft and the members of his Cabinet took little or no
active part in the campaign. Indeed, the Republicans seemed
unable to arouse enthusiasm. They relied upon their past
victories and the robust campaign fund, which the Interests
gladly furnished. The Democratic candidate was Woodrow Wilson,
Governor of New Jersey, who had been professor at Princeton
University, and then its president. As Governor, he had commended
himself by fighting the Machine, and by advocating radical
measures. As candidate, he asserted his independence by declaring
that "a party platform is not a program." He spoke effectively,
and both he and his party had the self-complacency that comes to
persons who believe that they are sure to win. And how could
their victory be in doubt since the united Democrats had for
opponents the divided Republicans? When Colonel Roosevelt was
shot, Governor Wilson magnanimously announced that he would make
no more speeches. Roosevelt objected to this, believing that a
chance accident to him, personally, ought not to stop any one
from criticising him politically. "What ever could with truth and
propriety have been said against me and my cause before I was
shot, can," he urged, "with equal truth and equal propriety, be
said against me now, and it should so be said; and the things
that cannot be said now are merely the things that ought not to
have been said before. This is not a contest about any man; it is
a contest concerning principles."

At the election on November 5th, Wilson was elected by 6,286,000
votes out of 15,310,000 votes, thus being a minority President by
two million and a half votes. Roosevelt received 4,126,000 and
Taft 3,483,000 votes. The combined vote of what had been the
Republican Party amounted to 7,609,000 votes, or 1,323,000 more
than those received by Mr. Wilson. When it came to the Electoral
College, the result was even more significant. Wilson had 435,
Roosevelt 88, and Taft, thanks to Vermont and Utah, secured 8
votes. Roosevelt carried Pennsylvania the rock-bound Republican
State, Missouri which was usually Democratic, South Dakota,
Washington, Michigan, and eleven out of the thirteen votes of
California. These figures, analyzed calmly, after the issues and
passions have cooled into history, indicate two things. First,
the amazing personal popularity of Roosevelt, who, against the
opposition of the Republican Machine and all its ramifications,
had so easily defeated President Taft, the candidate of that
Machine. And secondly, it proved that Roosevelt, and not Taft,
really represented a large majority of what had been the
Republican Party. Therefore, it was the Taft faction which, in
spite of the plain evidence given at the choice of the delegates,
and at the Convention itself--evidence which the Machine tried to
ignore and suppress--it was the Taft faction and not Roosevelt
which split the Republican Party in 1912.

Had it allowed the preference of the majority to express itself
by the nomination of Roosevelt, there is every reason to believe
that he would have been elected. For we must remember that the
Democratic Platform was hardly less progressive than that of the
Progressives themselves. Counting the Wilson and the Roosevelt
vote together, we find 10,412,000 votes were cast for Progressive
principles against 3,483,000 votes for the reactionary
Conservatives. And yet the gray wolves of the Republican Party,
and its Old Guard, and its Machine, proclaimed to the country
that its obsolescent doctrines represented the desires and the
ideals of the United States in 1912!

Although the campaign, as conducted by the Republicans, seemed
listless, it did not lack venom. Being a family fight between the
Taft men and the Roosevelt men, it had the bitterness which
family quarrels develop. Mr. Taft and most of his Secretaries had
known the methods of Mr. Roosevelt and his Ministers. They could
counter, therefore, charges of incompetence and indifference by
recalling the inconsistencies, or worse, of Roosevelt's regime.
When the Progressives charged the Taft Administration with being
easy on the Big Interests, Attorney-General Wickersham resorted
to a simple sum in arithmetic in order to contradict them,
showing that whereas Roosevelt began forty-four Anti-Trust suits,
and concluded only four important cases during his seven and a
half years in office, under Taft sixty-six new suits were begun
and many of the old ones were successfully concluded. Some great
cases, like that of the Standard Oil and of the Railroad Rates,
had been settled, which equaled in importance any that Roosevelt
had taken up. In the course of debate on the stump, each side
made virulent accusations against the other, and things were said
which were not true then and have long since been regretted by
the sayers. That happens in all political contests.

Roosevelt himself, being the incarnation, if not indeed the
cause, of the Progressive Party, had to endure an incessant
volley of personal attack. They charged him with inordinate
ambition. We heard how Mr. William Barnes, Jr., the would-be
savior of the country, implied that Roosevelt must be defeated in
order to prevent the establishment of monarchy in the United
States. Probably Mr. Barnes, in his moments of reflection,
admitted to himself that he did not really mean that, but many
campaign orators and editors repeated the insinuation and
besought free-born Americans not to elect a candidate who would
assume the title of King Theodore. Many of his critics could
account for his leaving the Republican Party and heading another,
only on the theory that he was moved by a desire for revenge. If
he could not rule he would ruin. The old allegation that he must
be crazy was of course revived.

After the election, the Republican Regulars, who had stubbornly
refused, to read the handwriting on the wall during the previous
four years, heaped new abuse upon him. They said that he had
betrayed the Party. They said that he had shown himself an
ingrate towards Taft, whose achievements in the Presidency awoke
his envy. And more recently, many persons who have loathed the
Administration of President Wilson, blame Roosevelt for having
brought down this curse upon the country.

These various opinions and charges seem to me to be mistaken; and
in the foregoing chapters, if I have truly divined Theodore
Roosevelt's character, every reader should see that his action in
entering the field for the Republican nomination in 1912, and
then in founding the Progressive Party, was the perfectly natural
culmination of his career. Some one said that he went off at a
tangent in 1912. Some one else has said better that this tangent
was a straight line leading back to 1882, when he sat in the New
York Assembly. Remember that the love of Justice was from boyhood
his leading principle. Remember that, after he succeeded in
having a law passed relieving the miserably poor cigar-makers
from the hideous conditions under which they had to work, a judge
declared the law unconstitutional, thereby proving to Roosevelt
that the courts, which should be the citadels of justice, might
and did, in this case, care more for the financial interests of
landowners than for the health, life, and soul of human beings.
That example of injustice was branded on his heart, and he
resolved to combat the judicial league with in humanity, wherever
he met it. So Abraham Lincoln, when, at the age of twenty-two he
first saw a slave auction in New Orleans, said, in indignant
horror, to his companion, John Hanks: "If I ever get a chance to
hit that thing [meaning slavery] I'll hit it hard." Exactly
thirty years later, Abraham Lincoln, as President, was hitting
that thing--slavery--so hard that it perished. Roosevelt's
experience as Assemblyman, as Civil Service Commissioner, as
Police Commissioner, as Governor, and as President, had confirmed
his belief that the decisions of the courts often stood between
the People and Justice.

Especially in his war on the Interests was he angered at finding
corporate abuses, and even criminal methods, comfortably
protected by an upholstery of favoring laws. With that tact and
willingness to compromise on non-essentials in order to gain his
essential object, which mark him as a statesman, he used the
Republican Party, naturally the party of the plutocrats who
controlled the Interests, just as long as he could. Then, when
the Republican Machine rose against him, he quitted it and
founded the Progressive Party, to be the instrument for carrying
on and completing the great reforms he had at heart. Here was no
desertion, no betrayal; here was, first of all, common sense; if
the road no longer leads towards your goal, you leave it and take
an other. No one believed more sincerely than Roosevelt did, in
fealty to party. In 1884 he would not bolt, because he hoped that
the good which the Republican principles would accomplish would
more than offset the harm which the nomination of Blaine would
inflict. But in 1912, the Republicans cynically rejected his
cause which he had tried to make the Republican cause, and then,
as in 1884, he held that the cause was more important than the
individual, and he followed this idea loyally, lead where it

In trying thus to state Roosevelt's position fairly, I do not
mean to imply that I should agree with his conclusions in regard
to the Recall of the Judicial Decisions; and the experiments
which have already been made with the Referendum and Initiative
and Direct Primaries are so unsatisfactory that Roosevelt himself
would probably have recognized that the doubts, which many of us
felt when he first proposed those measures, have been justified.
But I wish to emphasize my admiration for the large consistency
of his career, and my conviction that, with out his crowning
action in 1912, he would have failed to be the moral force which
he was. If ambition, if envy, if a selfish desire to rule, had
been the motives which guided him, he would have lain low in
1912; for all his friends and the managers of the Republican
Party assured him that if he would stand aside then, he would be
unanimously nominated by the Republicans in 1916. But he could
not be tempted.


"They will be throwing rotten apples at me soon," Theodore had
said to his sister, on the day when New York went frantic in
placing him among the gods. His treatment, after he championed
Progressivism, showed him to be clairvoyant. Not only did his
political opponents belabor him--that was quite natural--but his
friends, having failed to persuade him not to take the fatal
leap, let him see plainly that, while he still had their
affection, they had lost their respect for his judgment. He
himself bore the defeat of 1912 with the same valiant
cheerfulness with which he took every disappointment and
thwarting. But he was not stolid, much less indifferent. " It is
all very well to talk with the Crusading spirit," he said after
the election, "and of the duty to spend and be spent; and I feel
it absolutely as regards myself; but I hate to see my Crusading
lieutenants suffer for the cause." He was thinking of the eager
young men, including some of his kinsmen, who had gone into the
campaign because they believed in him.

His close friends did not follow him, but they still loved him.
And it was a sign of his open-mindedness that he would listen to
their opinions and even consult them, although he knew that they
entirely rejected his Progressivism. General Luke E. Wright, who
remained a devoted friend but did not become a Progressive, used
to explain what the others called the Colonel's aberration, as
being really a very subtle piece of wisdom. Experienced ranchmen,
he would say, when their herds stampede in a sudden alarm, spur
their horses through the rushing cattle, fire their revolvers
into the air, and gradually, by making the herds suppose that men
and beasts are all together in their wild dash, work their way to
the front. Then they cleverly make the leaders swing round, and
after a long stampede the herd comes panting back to the place it
started from. This, General Wright said, is what Roosevelt was
doing with the multitudes of Radicals who seemed to be headed for

Just as he had absented himself in Africa for a year, after
retiring from the Presidency, so Roosevelt decided to make one
more trip for hunting and exploration. As he could not go to the
North Pole, he said, because that would be poaching on Peary's
field, he selected South America. He had long wished to visit the
Southern Continent, and invitations to speak at Rio Janeiro and
at Buenos Aires gave him an excuse for setting out. As before, he
started with the distinct purpose of collecting animal and
botanical specimens; this time for the American Museum of Natural
History in New York, which provided two trained naturalists to
accompany him. His son Kermit, toughened by the previous
adventure, went also.

Having paid his visits and seen the civilized parts of Brazil,
Uruguay, and Argentina, he ascended the Paraguay River and then
struck across the plateau which divides its watershed from that
of the tributaries of the Amazon; for he proposed to make his way
through an unexplored region in Central Brazil and reach the
outposts of civilization on the Great River. Dr. Osborn had
dissuaded him from going through a tract where the climate was
known to be most pernicious. The Brazilian Government had
informed him that, by the route he had chosen, he would meet a
large river--the Rio da Duvido, the River of Doubt--by which he
could descend to the Amazon. Roosevelt's account of this
exploration, given in his "The Brazilian Wilderness," belongs
among the masterpieces of explorers' records.

There were some twenty persons, including a dozen or fifteen
native rowers and pack-bearers, in his party. They had canoes and
dugouts, supplies of food for about forty days, and a carefully
chosen outfit. With high hopes they put their craft into the
water and moved downstream. But on the fourth day they found
rapids ahead, and from that time on they were constantly obliged
to land and carry their dugouts and stores round a cataract. The
peril of being swept over the falls was always imminent, and as
the trail which constituted their portages had to be cut through
the matted forest, their labors were increased. In the first
eleven days, they progressed only sixty miles. No one knew the
distance they would have to traverse nor how long the river would
be broken by falls and cataracts before it came down into the
plain of the Amazon. Some of their canoes were smashed on the
rocks; two of the natives were drowned. They watched their
provisions shrink. Contrary to their expectations, the forest had
almost no animals. If they could shoot a monkey or a monster
lizard, they rejoiced at having a little fresh meat. Tropical
insects--of which the pium seems to have been the worst--bit them
day and night and caused inflammation and even infection.
Man-eating fish lived in the river, making it dangerous for the
men when they tried to cool their inflamed bodies by a swim. Most
of the party had malaria, and could be kept going only by large
doses of quinine. Roosevelt, while in the water, wounded his leg
on a rock, inflammation set in, and prevented him from walking,
so that he had to be carried across the portages. The physical
strength of the party, sapped by sickness and fatigue, was
visibly waning. Still the cataracts continued to impede their
progress and to add terribly to their toil. The supply of food
had shrunk so much that the rations were restricted and amounted
to little more than enough to keep the men able to go forward
slowly. Then fever attacked Roosevelt, and they had to wait for a
few days because he was too weak to be moved. He besought them to
leave him and hurry along to safety, because every day they
delayed consumed their diminishing store of food, and they might
all die of starvation. They refused to leave him, however, and he
secretly determined to shoot himself unless a change for the
better in his condition came soon. It came; they moved forward.
At last, they left the rapids behind them and could drift and
paddle on the unobstructed river. Roosevelt lay in the bottom of
a dugout, shaded by a bit of canvas put up over his head, and too
weak from sickness, he told me, even to splash water on his face,
for he was almost fainting from the muggy heat and the tropical

On April 15th, forty-eight days after they began their voyage on
the River of Doubt, they saw a peasant, a rubber-gatherer, the
first human being they had met. Thenceforward they journeyed
without incident. The River of Doubt flowed into the larger river
Madeira where they found a steamer which took them to Manaos on
the Amazon. A regular line of steamers connects Manaos with New
York, where Roosevelt and Kermit and Cherrie, one of the
naturalists, landed on May 19, 1914. During the homeward voyage
Roosevelt slowly recovered his strength, but he had never again
the iron physique with which he had embarked the year before. His
friends had urged him not to go, warning him that a man of fifty
four was already too old to waste his reserve force on
unnecessary enterprises. But his love of adventure, his passion
for testing his endurance and pluck by facing the grimmest
dangers, and his wish to keep out of American political turmoil
for a time, prevailed against wiser counsel. The Brazilian
Wilderness stole away ten years of his life.

I do not know whether later, when he found himself checked by
recurrent illness, he regretted having chosen to encounter that
ordeal in Brazil. He was a man who wasted no time over regrets.
The past for him was done. The material out of which he wove his
life was the present or the future. Days gone were as water that
has flowed under the mill. Acting always from what he regarded as
the best motives of the present, he faced with equal heart
whatever result they brought. So when he found on his return home
that some geographers and South American explorers laughed at his
story of the River of Doubt, he laughed, too, at their
incredulity, and presently the Brazilian Government, having
established the truth of his exploration and named the river
after him, Rio Teodoro, his laughter prevailed. He took real
satisfaction in having placed on the map of Central Brazil a
river six hundred miles long.

New York made no festival for him on this second homecoming. The
city and the country welcomed him, but not effusively. The
American people, how ever, felt a void without Roosevelt. Whether
they always agreed with him or not, they found him perpetually
interesting, and during the ten or eleven weeks when he went into
the Brazilian silence and they did not know whether he was alive
or dead, they learned how much his presence and his ready speech
had meant to them. And so they rejoiced to know that he was safe
and at home again at Sagamore Hill.

Roosevelt insisted, imprudently, on accompanying his son Kermit
to Madrid, where he was to marry the daughter of the American
Minister. He made the trip to Spain and back, as quickly as
possible, and then he turned to politics. That year, Congress men
and several Governors were to be elected, and Roosevelt allowed
himself to be drawn into the campaign. As I have said, he was
like the consummate actor who, in spite of his protestations, can
never bid farewell to the stage. And now a peculiar obligation
moved him. He must help the friends who had followed him eagerly
into the conflict of 1912, and, in helping them, he must save the
Progressive principles and drive them home with still greater
cogency. He delivered a remarkable address at Pittsburgh; he
toured New York State in an automobile; he spoke to multitudes in
Pennsylvania from the back platform of a special train; he
visited Louisiana and several other States. But the November
elections disappointed him. The Progressive Party, if not dead,
had ceased to be a real power in politics; but Progressivism, as
an influence and an ideal, was surviving under other forms.

Probably the chief cause for this wane was the putting into
operation, by President Wilson and the triumphant Democrats, of
many of the Progressive suggestions which the Democratic Platform
had also contained. The psychological effect of success in
politics is always important and this accounted for the cooling
of the zeal of a certain number of enthusiasts who had
vociferously supported Roosevelt in 1912. The falling-off in the
vote measured further the potency of Roosevelt's personal
magnetism; thousands voted for him who would not vote for other
candidates professing his principles. Finally, other issues--the
imbroglio with Mexico, for instance--were looming up, and
exciting a different interest among the American people. Before
we discuss the greatest issue of all, in which Theodore
Roosevelt's career as a patriot culminated, we must recall two or
three events which absorbed him at the time and furnished
evidence of vital import to those who would appraise his
character fairly.

During the campaign of 1912, his enemies resorted to all sorts of
slanders, calumnies, lies, ignoble always, and often indecent, to
blacken him. On October 12th, the Iron Ore, a trade paper edited
by George A. Newett at Ishpeming, Michigan, pubished this
accusation: "Roosevelt lies and curses in a most disgusting way;
he gets drunk too, and that not infrequently, and all of his
intimates know about it." When he was President, Roosevelt had
appointed Newett as postmaster, but Newett stayed by the
Republican Party, and did not scruple to serve it, as he
supposed, in this way. The charge of drunkenness spread so far
and, as usual, so many persons said that where there is much
smoke there must be some fire, that Roosevelt determined to crush
that lie once for all. He would not have it stand unchallenged,
to shame his children after he was dead, or to furnish food for
the maggots which feed on the reputations of great men. So he
brought suit against Newett. His counsel, James H. Pound,
assembled nearly two-score witnesses, who had known Roosevelt
since he left College, men who had visited him, had hunted with
him, had served with him in the Spanish War, had been his Cabinet
Ministers, journalists who had followed him on his campaigning
tours, detectives, and his personal body-servant; General Leonard
Wood, and Jacob Riis, and Dr. Alexander Lambert, who had been his
family physician for a quarter of a century. This cloud of
witnesses all testified unanimously that they had never seen him
drink anything stronger than wine, except as a medicine; that he
took very little wine, and that they had never seen him drunk.
They also declared that he was not a curser or blasphemer.

After listening to this mass of evidence for a week, Newett
begged to withdraw his charge and to apologize, and he confessed
that he had nothing but hearsay on which to base his slanders.
Then Roosevelt addressed the court and asked it not to impose
damages upon the defendant, as he had not prosecuted the libeler
with the intention of getting satisfaction in money. He wrote one
of his sisters from Marquette, where the trial was held: "I
deemed it best not to demand money damages; the man is a country
editor, and while I thoroly* depise him, I do not care to seem to
persecute him." (May 31, 1913.)

* I copy "thoroly," as he wrote it, as a reminder that Roosevelt
practiced the spelling reform which he advocated.

Roosevelt had to undergo one other trial, this time as defendant.
The managers of the Republican Party-and the Interests behind
them, not content with blocking his way to the nomination in
1912, wished utterly to destroy him as a political factor; for
they still dreaded that, as a Progressive, he might have a
triumphant resurrection and recapture the confidence of the
American people. To accomplish their purpose they wished to
discredit him as a reform politician, and as a leader in civic
and social welfare.

Roosevelt himself gave the occasion for their on slaught upon
him. In supporting Harvey D. Hinman, the Progressive candidate
for the Governor of New York in 1914, he declared that William
Barnes, Jr., who managed the Republican Machine politics in that
State, had a bi-partisan alliance with the Democratic Machine in
the interest of crooked politics and crooked business. Mr.
Barnes, in whose ears the word "Boss" sounded obnoxious as
applied to himself, brought suit for libel, and it came to trial
at Syracuse on April 19, 1915. Mr. Barnes's counsel, Mr. Ivins,
peered into every item of Mr. Roosevelt's political career with a
microscope. Mr. Barnes had, of course, all the facts, all the
traditions that his long experience at Albany could give him. And
as he dated back to Boss Platt's time, he must have heard, at
first hand from the Senator, his relations with Roosevelt as
Governor. But the most searching examination by Mr. Barnes
brought him no evidence, and cross-examination, pursued for many
days, brought him no more. When it became Roosevelt's turn to
reply, he showed how the Albany Evening Journal, Mr. Barnes's
organ, had profited by illegal political advertising. He proved
the existence of the bi-partisan alliance with the Democratic
Machine, and showed its effects on legislation and elections.
After deliberating two days, the jury brought in a verdict in
favor of Roosevelt.

The trial, which had lasted two months, and cost Roosevelt
$52,000 (so expensive is it for an honest man to defend his
honesty against hostile politicians!) decided two things: first,
that Mr. Barnes was a Boss, and had used crooked methods; and
next, that Theodore Roosevelt, under the most intense scrutiny
which his enemies could employ, was freed from any suspicion of
dishonest political methods or acts. As William M. Ivins,
attorney for Mr. Barnes, left the New York Constitutional
Convention to try the case at Syracuse, he said with un concealed
and alluring self-satisfaction to Mr. Root: "I am going to nail
Roosevelt's hide to the barn door." Mr. Root replied: "Be sure it
is Roosevelt's and not some other hide that is nailed there."


The event which put Roosevelt's patriotism to the final test,
and, as it proved, evoked all his great qualities in a last
display, was the outbreak of the Atrocious World War in August,
1914. By the most brutal assault in modern times, Germany, and
her lackey ally, Austria, without notice, overran Belgium and
Northeastern France, and devastated Serbia. The other countries,
especially the United States, were too startled at first to
understand either the magnitude or the possible implications of
this war. On August 18th, President Wilson issued the first of
his many variegated messages, in which he gave this warning: "We
must be impartial in thought as well as in action, must put a
curb upon our sentiments as well as upon every transaction that
might be construed as a preference of one party to the struggle
before another." He added that his first thought was of America.
Any one who analyzed his message carefully must have wondered how
it was possible, in the greatest moral issue which had ever been
thrust before the world's judgment, to remain impartial "even in
thought" between good and evil. Perhaps it was right, though
hardly necessary, to impress upon Americans that they must look
after their own interests first. Would it not have been more
seemly, however, especially for President Wilson, who on the
previous Fourth of July had uttered his sanctimonious tribute to
the superiority in virtue of the United States to all other
nations, to urge his countrymen to put some of this virtue into
practice at that crisis?

But the masses did not reason. They used his admonition to remain
neutral "even in thought" to justify them in not having any great
anxiety as to who was right and who wrong; and they interpreted
his concern for "America first" as authorizing them to go about
their affairs and profit as much as they could in the warlike
conditions. Some of us, indeed, took an opposite view. We saw
that the conflict, if fought to a finish, would decide whether
Democracy or Despotism should rule the earth. We felt that the
United States, the vastest, strongest, and most populous Republic
in the world, pledged to uphold Democracy, should throw itself at
once on the side of the European nations which were struggling,
against great odds, to save Democracy from the most atrocious of
despots. Inevitably, we were regarded as incorrigible idealists
whose suggestions ran counter to etiquette and were, after all,

For several years, Roosevelt had been a contributing editor of
the Outlook, and although his first instinct, when the Germans
ravished Belgium, was to protest and then, if necessary, to
follow up our protest by a show of force, he wrote in the Outlook
an approval of our taking immediately a neutral attitude. Still,
he did not let this preclude stern action later. " Neutrality,"
he said, "may be of prime necessity to maintain peace . . . but
we pay the penalty of this action on behalf of peace for
ourselves, and possibly for others in the future, by forfeiting
our right to do anything on behalf of peace for the Belgians at
present." Three years afterwards these sentences of his were
unearthed by his enemies and flung against him; but his dominant
purpose, from the start, was too well known for any one to accuse
him of inconsistency. He assumed, when President Wilson issued
his impartial "even in thought" message, that the President must
have some secret diplomatic information which would vindicate it.

As the months went on, however, it became clear to him that Mr.
Wilson was pursuing towards the European War the same policy of
contradictions, of brief paroxysms of boldness, followed by long
periods of lassitude, which had marked his conduct of our
relations towards the Mexican bandits. He saw only too well,
also, into what ignoble depths this policy led us. Magnificent
France, throttled Belgium, England willing but not yet ready,
devastated Serbia, looked to us for sympathy and help, and all
the sympathy they got came from private persons in America, and
of help there was none. Meanwhile, the Germans undermined and
gangrened the American people. Every ship brought over their
slyest and most unscrupulous propagandists, who cooperated with
the despicable German professors and other agents already planted
here, and opened the sewers of their doctrines. Their spies began
to go up and down the land, without check. Count Bernstorff, the
German Ambassador, assumed to play with the Administration at
Washington as a cat might play with half a score of mice, feeling
sure that he could devour them when he chose. A European
gentleman, who came from a neutral country, and called on
Bernstorff in April, 1915, told me that when he asked the
Ambassador how he got on with the United States, he replied:
"Very well, indeed; we pay no attention to the Government, but go
ahead and do what we please." Within a fortnight the sinking of
the Lusitania showed that Bernstorff had not boasted idly.

Roosevelt understood the harm which the German conspiracy was
doing among our people, not only by polluting their ideals, but
actually strengthening the coils which the propagandists had been
winding, to strangle at the favorable moment American
independence itself. We discovered then that the process of
Germanization had been going on secretly during twenty years.
Since England was the chief enemy in the way of German world
domination, the German-Americans laid themselves out to render
the English odious here. And they worked to such good purpose
that the legal officers of the Administration admonished the
American people that the English, in holding up merchant vessels
laden with cargoes for Germany, committed breaches against
international law which were quite as heinous as the sinking by
German submarines of ships laden with American non-combatants.
They magnified the loss of a cargo of perishable food and set it
against the ferocious destruction of neutral human beings.
Senator Lodge, however, expressed the clear thought and right
feeling of Americans when he said that we were more moved by the
thought of the corpse of an innocent victim of the Hun submarines
than by that of a bale of cotton.

These enormities, these sins of omission and commission, of which
Roosevelt declared our Government guilty, amazed and exasperated
him, and from the beginning of 1915 onward, he set himself three
tasks. He wished to expose and circumvent German machinations
over here. Next, he deemed it a pressing duty to rouse our
country to the recognition that we must prepare at once for war.
He saw, as every other sensible person saw, that as the conflict
grew more terrible in Europe and spread into Asia and Africa, we
should be drawn into it, and that therefore we must make ready.
He seconded the plan of General Leonard Wood to organize a camp
for volunteers at Plattsburg and other places; and what that plan
accomplished in fitting American soldiers to meet and vanquish
the Kaiser's best troops, has since been proved. President
Wilson, however, would not officially countenance any preparation
which, so far as the public was allowed to know his reasons,
might be taken by the Germans as an unfriendly act. Finally,
Roosevelt labored unceasingly to revive and make militant the
ideals of true Americanism.

That the Germans accurately gauged that President Wilson would
not sanction any downright vigorous action against them, was
sufficiently proved on May 7, 1915, when German submarines
torpedoed and sank, at two o'clock in the afternoon, the British
passenger steamship Lusitania, eastward bound, a few miles south
of the Point of Kinsale on the Irish coast. With her went down
nearly thirteen hundred persons, all of them non-belligerents and
more than one hundred of them American men, women, and children.
This atrocious crime the Germans committed out of their stupid
miscalculation of the motives which govern non-German peoples.
They thought that the British and Americans would be so
terrorized that they would no longer dare to cross the ocean. The
effect was, of course, just the opposite. A cry of horror swept
over the civilized world, and swiftly upon it came a great demand
for punishment and retribution.

Then was the moment for President Wilson to break off diplomatic
relations with Germany. The very day after the waters of the
British Channel had closed over the innocent victims, President
Wilson made an address in which he announced that "a nation may
be too proud to fight." The country gasped for breath when it
read those words, which seemed to be the official statement of
the President of the United States that foreign nations might out
rage, insult, and degrade this nation with impunity, because, as
the rabbit retires into its hole, so we would burrow deep into
our pride and show neither resentment nor sense of honor. As soon
as possible, word came from the White House that, as the
President's speech had been written before the sinking of the
Lusitania, his remarks had no bearing on that atrocity. Pride is
a wonderful cloak for cowards, but it never saves them. Perhaps
the most amazing piece of impudence in Germany's long list was
the formal visit described by the newspapers which the German
Ambassador, Bernstorff, paid to Mr. Bryan, the Secretary--of
State, to present to our Government the formal condolence of
Germany and him self at this painful happening. Bernstorff, we
know now, planned the sinking and gave the German Government
notice by wireless just where the submarines could best destroy
the Lusitania, on that Friday afternoon.

Ten days later, Mr. Wilson sent a formal protest to Germany in
which he recalled "the humane and enlightened attitude hitherto
assumed by the Imperial German Government in matters of
international right, and particularly in regard to the freedom of
the seas"; and he professed to have "learned to recognize the
German views and the German influence in the field of
international obligation as always engaged upon the side of
justice and humanity." If Mr. Bryan had written this, no one
would have been astonished, because Mr. Bryan made no pretense of
knowing even the rudimentary facts of history; but that President
Wilson, by profession a historian, should laud, as being always
engaged in justice and humanity, the nation which, under
Frederick the Great, had stolen Silesia and dismembered Poland,
and which, in his own lifetime, had garroted Denmark, had forced
a wicked war on Austria, had trapped France by lies into another
war and robbed her of Alsace-Lorraine, and had only recently
wiped its hands, dripping with blood drawn from the Chinese, was
amazing! Small wonder if after that, the German hyphenates lifted
up their heads arrogantly in this country, or that the Kaiser in
Germany believed that the United States was a mere jelly-fish
nation which would tolerate any enormity he might concoct. This
was the actual comfort President Wilson's message gave Germany.
The negative result was felt among the Allied nations which,
struggling against the German Monster like Laocoon in the coils
of the Python, took Mr. Wilson's praise of Germany's imaginary
love of justice and humanity as a death-warrant for themselves.
They could not believe that he who wrote such words, or the
American people who swallowed them, could ever be roused to give
succor to the Allies in their desperation.

Three years later I asked Roosevelt what he would have done, if
he had been President in May, 1915. He said, in substance, that,
as soon as he had read in the New York newspaper* the
advertisement which Bernstorff had inserted warning all American
citizens from taking passage on the Lusitania, he would have sent
for Bernstorff and asked him whether the advertisement was
officially acknowledged by him. Even Bernstorff, arch-liar that
he was, could not have denied it. "I should then have sent to the
Department of State to prepare his passports; I should have
handed them to him and said, 'You will sail on the Lusitania
yourself next Friday; an American guard will see you on board,
and prevent your coming ashore.' The breaking off of diplomatic
relations with Germany," Roosevelt added, "would probably have
meant war, and we were horribly unprepared. But better war, than
submission to a humiliation which no President of this country
has ever before allowed; better war a thousand times, than to let
the Germans go on really making war upon us at sea, and
honeycombing the American people with plots on land, while our
Government shamelessly lavishes praise on the criminal for his
justice and humanity and virtually begs his pardon."

* The advertisement was printed in the New York Times of April
23, 1915.

Thus believed Roosevelt in the Lusitania crisis, and many others
of us agreed with him. The stopping of German intrigues here, the
breaking-off of diplomatic relations, would have been of
inestimable benefit to this country. It would have caused every
American to rally to the country's defense. It would have forced
the reluctant Administration to prepare a navy and an army. It
would have sifted the patriotic sheep from the sneaking and
spying goats. It would have brought immense comfort to the Allies
and corresponding despondency to the Huns. For Germany plunged
into the war believing that England would remain neutral. When
England came in, to redeem her word of honor, Germany's frantic
purpose was to have us keep neutral and supply her with food and
munitions. Had she known that there was any possibility of our
actively joining the Allies, she would have hastened to make
peace. Our first troops could have reached France in the early
spring of 1916. They would not have been, of course, shock
troops, but their presence in France would have been an assurance
to the Allies that we were coming with all our force, and the
Germans would soon have understood that this meant their doom. By
the summer of 1916, the war would have been over.

Think what this implies! Two years and a half of fighting would
never have taken place. At least three million lives among the
Allied armies would have been saved. Russia would have been
spared revolution, chaos, Bolshevism. Some, at least, of the
myriads of massacred Armenians would not have been slain.
Thousands of square miles of devastated territory would not have
been spoiled. A hundred billions of dollars for equipping and
carrying on the war would never have been spent. All this is not
an idle dream; it is the calm statement of what would probably
have happened if President Wilson, after the Lusitania outrage,
had dared to break with Germany. History will hold him
accountable for those millions of lives sacrificed, for the
unspeakable suffering which the people of the ravaged regions had
to endure, for the dissolution of Russia, which threatened to
throw down the bases of our civilization, and for the waste of
incalculable treasure. President Wilson's apologists assert that
the country was not ready for him to take any resolute attitude
towards Germany in May, 1915. They argue that if he had attempted
to do so there would have been great internal dissension, perhaps
even civil war, and especially that the German sections would
have opposed preparations for war so stubbornly as to have made
them impossible. This is pure assumption. The truth is that
whenever or wherever an appeal was made to American patriotism,
it met with an immediate response. The sinking of the Lusitania
created such a storm of horror and indignation that if the
President had lifted a finger, the manhood of America, and the
womanhood, too, would have risen to back him up. But instead of
lifting a finger, he wrote that message to Germany, praising the
Germans for their traditional respect for justice and humanity.
And a long time had yet to pass before he made the least sign of
encouragement to those Americans who would uphold the honor of
the United States and would have this, the greatest of Republics,
take its due part in defending Democracy against the Huns'
attempt to wipe Democracy off the earth forever.

Having missed his opportunity then, Mr. Wilson could of course
plead that the country was less and less inclined to go to war,
because he furnished the pro-German plotters the very respite
they had needed for carrying on their work. By unavowed ways they
secured a strong support among the members of the National House
of Representatives and the Senate. They disguised themselves as
pacifists, and they found it easy to wheedle the "lunatic fringe"
of native pacifists into working for the domination of William of
Hohenzollern over the United States, and for the establishing of
his world dominion. The Kaiser's propagandists spread evil
arguments to justify all the Kaiser's crimes, and they found
willing disciples even among the members of the Administration to
repeat and uphold these arguments.

They told us, for instance, that their massacre served the
victims of the Lusitania right for taking passage on a British
steamship. They even wished to pass a law forbidding Americans
from traveling on the ocean at all, because, by doing so, they
might be blown up by the Germans, and that would involve this
country in diplomatic difficulties with Germany. Next, the
Germans protested against our selling munitions of war to the
Allies. Neither custom nor international law forbade doing this,
and the protest stood out in :stark impudence when it came from
Germany, the country which, for fifty years and more, had sold
munitions to every one who asked and had not hesitated to sell
impartially to both antagonists in the Russo-Japanese War. By
playing on the sentimentality of this same "lunatic fringe," the
German intriguers almost succeeded in driving through a bill to
stop this traffic. They knew the true Prussian way of whimpering
when bullying did not avail them. And so they not only whimpered
about our sending shells over to kill- the German soldiers, but
they whimpered also over the dire effects which the Allied
blockade produced upon the non-combatant population of Germany.
These things went on, not only a whole year, but far into the
second after the sinking of the Lusitania. Roosevelt never
desisted from charging that the person ultimately responsible for
them was President Wilson, and he believed that the President's
apparent self-satisfaction would avail him little when he stands
at the bar of History.

It may be that an entire people may lose for a time its sense of
logic. We have just had the most awful proof that, through a
long-continued and deliberate education for that purpose, the
German people lost its moral sense and set up diabolical
standards in place of those common to all civilized races. We
know that religious hysteria has at different times, like the
influenza, swept over a nation, or that a society has lost its
taste for generations together in art, and in poetry. We remember
that the Witchcraft Delusion obsessed our ancestors. It is not
impossible, therefore, that between 194 and 1918 the American
people passed through a stage in which it threw logic to the
winds. This would account at least for its infatuation for
President Wilson, in spite of his undisguised inconsistencies and
appalling blunders. A people who thought logic ally and kept
certain principles steadily before it, could hardly otherwise
have tolerated Mr. Wilson's "too-proud-to-fight" speech, and his
message to Germany after the sinking of the Lusitania, or his
subsequent endeavor to make the Americans think that there was no
choice between the causes for which the Allies and the Teutons
were fighting. Was it not he who said that Europe was war-mad,
and that America had better mind her own business, and look the
other way? Did he not declare that we were forced into war, and
then that we were not? That a President of the United States
should assert or even insinuate these things during the great War
for Humanity -and by Humanity I mean every trait, every advance
which has lifted men above the level of the beast, where they
originated, to the level of the human with its potential ascent
to heights undreamed of--is amazing now: what will it be a
generation hence?

Roosevelt watched impatiently while these strange phases passed
before him. He listened angrily at the contradictory utterances.
He felt the ignominy of our country's being at such a depth. He
knew Germany too well to suppose that she could be deterred by
President Wilson's messages. He saw something comic in shaking a
long fore-finger and saying, "Tut, tut! I shall consider being
very harsh, if you commit these outrages three more times.." To
shake your fist at all, and then to shake your finger, seemed to
Roosevelt almost imbecile. Cut off from serving the cause of
American patriotism in any public capacity, Roosevelt struggled
to take his part by writing. Every month in the Outlook, and
subsequently in the Metropolitan Magazine, he gave vent to his
pent-up indignation. The very titles of some of his papers reveal
his animus: "Fear God and Take Your Own Part"; "A Sword for
Defense"; "America First: A Phrase or a Fact?"; "Uncle Sam's Only
Friend is Uncle Sam"; "Dual Nationality"; "Preparedness." In each
of these he poured forth with unflagging vehemence the
fundamental verities on which our American society should rest.
He showed that it was not a mere competition in letter-writing
between the honey-worded Mr. Wilson and the sophisticated
Bernstorff or the Caliban-sly Bethmann Hollweg, but that God was
in the crisis, and that no adroitness of phrase or trick of
diplomacy could get rid of Him. He showed that there could not be
two kinds of Americans: one genuine, which believed wholly and
singly in the United States, and the other cunning and mongrel,
which swore allegiance to the United States--lip service--and
kept its allegiance to Germany--heart service. He lost no
opportunity to make his illustrations clear. On resigning as
Secretary of State after the sinking of the Lusitania, because
President Wilson insisted on mildly calling Germany's attention
to that crime, Mr. Bryan addressed a large audience of Germans.

Then Roosevelt held him up to the gaze of the American people as
a man who had no true Americanism. Lest I should be suspected of
misinterpreting or exaggerating Roosevelt's opinion of President
Wilson, during the first two years of the war, I quote two or
three passages, taken at random, which will prove, I hope, that I
have summarized him truly. He says, for instance:

Professional pacifists of the type of Messrs. Bryan, Jordan, and
Ford, who in the name of peace preach doctrines that would entail
not merely utter infamy, but utter disaster to their own country,
never in practice venture to denounce concrete wrong by dangerous
wrongdoers .... These professional pacifists, through President
Wilson, have forced the country into a path of shame and dishonor
during the past eighteen months. Thanks to President Wilson, the
most powerful of Democratic nations has refused to recognize the
binding moral force of international public law. Our country has
shirked its clear duty. One outspoken and straightforward
declaration by this government against the dreadful iniquities
perpetrated in Belgium, Armenia, and Servia would have been worth
to humanity a thousand times as much as all that the professional
pacifists have done in the past fifty years .... Fine phrases
become sickening when they represent nothing whatever but
adroitness in phrase making, with no intention of putting deeds
behind the phrases.

After the American messages in regard to the sinking of the
Lusitania had brought no apology, much less any suggestion of
redress, Roosevelt said: Apparently President Wilson has believed
that the American people would permanently forget their dead and
would slur over the dishonor and disgrace to the United States by
that basest of all the base pleas of cowardly souls which finds
expression in the statement: "Oh, well, anyhow the President kept
us out of war!" The people who make this plea assert with
quavering voices that they "are behind the President." So they
are; well behind him. The farther away from the position of duty
and honor and hazard he has backed, the farther behind him these
gentry have stood--or run.

Finally, Roosevelt stated with deadly clearness the position into
which Wilson's vacillating policy had driven us:

The United States has not a friend in the world. Its conduct,
under the leadership of its official representatives, for the
last five years and, above all, for the last three years, has
deprived it of the respect and has secured for it the contempt of


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