Theodore Roosevelt; An Intimate Biography,
William Roscoe Thayer

Part 6 out of 6

every one of the great civilized nations of mankind. Peace
treaties and windy Fourth-of-July eloquence and the base
materialism which seeks profit as an incident to the abandonment
of duty will not help us now. For five years our rulers at
Washington have believed that all this people cared for was easy
money, absence of risk and effort, and sounding platitudes which
were not reduced to action. We have so acted as to convince other
nations that in very truth we are too proud to fight; and the man
who is too proud to fight is in practice always treated as just
proud enough to be kicked. We have held our peace when our women
and children were slain. We have turned away our eyes from the
sight of our brother's woe.

"He kept us out of war," was a paradoxical battle-cry for one who
in a very short time thereafter wished to pose as the winner of
the greatest war in history.

But the battle-cry, it turned out, was used chiefly for political
purposes. The year 1916 was a Presidential year and his opponents
suspected that every thing President Wilson had done at home or
abroad had been planned by him with a view to the effect which it
might have on his reelection. Politicians of all parties saw that
the war was the vital question to be decided by the political
campaign. For the Democrats, Wilson was, of course, the only
candidate; but the Republicans and the Progressives had their own
schism to settle. First of all, they must attempt to reunite and
to present a candidate whom both factions would support; if they
did not, the catastrophe of 1912 would be repeated, and Wilson
would again easily win against two warring Progressive and
Republican candidates. The elections in 194 showed that the
Progressive Party was disintegrating. Should its leaders strive
now to revive its strength or should they bow to the inevitable,
combine with the Republicans on a satisfactory candidate, and
urge all the Progressives as a patriotic duty to support him?

All depended on Roosevelt's decision. After reflection, he
consented to run for nomination by the Progressives. It soon
became plain, however, that the Republicans would not take him
back. The Machine did not want him on any terms: many of the
Republicans blinding themselves to the fact that, as the number
of votes cast in 1912 proved, Taft and not he had split the
Republican Party, held Roosevelt responsible for the defeat in
that year. One heard also of some Republicans who, for lack of a
better reason, opposed Roosevelt because, they said, that
Roosevelt having put Taft into the Presidency, ought not to have
"gone back" on him. Yet these same persons, if they had taken a
partner into their firm to carry on a certain policy, and had
found him pursuing a different one, would hardly have argued that
they were in loyalty bound to continue to support this partner as
long as he chose. The consideration which weighed with a much
larger number, however, was that Roosevelt had so antagonized the
German vote and the Pacifist vote and all the other anti-American
votes, that he might not be a winning candidate. Accordingly, the
Republicans sought for somebody who would please everybody, and
yet would have enough personal strength to be a leader. They
pitched on Charles E. Hughes, former Governor of New York State,
and then a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. The
unwisdom of going to the Supreme Bench for a standard-bearer was
immediately apparent; because all the proprieties prevented
justice Hughes from expressing any opinion on political subjects
until he resigned from the Court. Hence, it followed that no
great enthusiasm could be aroused over his candidacy for
nomination since nobody knew what his policy would be.

The Progressives held their Convention in Chicago on June 5th,
the same day that the Republicans met there. Some of the
original, Simon-Pure Progressives disapproved of this collusion,
declaring that it represented a "deal," and that the Progressive
Party, which had come into existence as a rebuke of Machine
politics, ought never to soil itself by entering into a "deal."
Nevertheless, the will of the more worldly-minded prevailed, and
they probably thought that there would be a better chance to have
the Republicans nominate Roosevelt if he were already the nominee
of the Progressives. But they were disappointed. They nominated
Roosevelt and the Republicans Justice Hughes. Suspense followed
as to whether Roosevelt, by accepting, would oblige the
Progressives to organize another campaign. He sent only a
conditional acceptance to the Progressive Committee and, a few
days later, he announced publicly that he would support justice
Hughes, because he regarded the defeat of Wilson as the most
vital object before the American people. I find among my
correspondence from him a reply to a letter of mine in which I
had quite needlessly urged this action upon him. I quote this
passage because it epitomizes what might be expanded over many
pages. The letter is dated June 16, 1916:

I agree entirely with you. I shall do all I can for Mr. Hughes.
But don't forget that Mr. Hughes alone can make it possible for
me to be efficient in his behalf. If he merely speaks like Mr.
Wilson, only a little more weakly, he will rob my support of its
effectiveness. Speeches such as those of mine, to which you
kindly allude, have their merit only if delivered for a man who
is himself speaking uncompromisingly and without equivocation. I
have just sent word to Hughes through one of our big New York
financiers to make a smashing attack on Wilson for his actions,
and to do it immediately, in connection with this Democratic
Nominating Convention. Wilson was afraid of me. He never dared
answer me; but if Hughes lets him, he will proceed to take the
offensive against Hughes. I shall do everything I can for him,
but don't forget that the efficiency of what I do must largely
depend upon Hughes.

Roosevelt was as good as his word, and made four or five powerful
speeches in behalf of Mr. Hughes, speeches which gave a sharper
edge to the Republicans' fight. But their campaign was obviously
mismanaged. They put their candidate to the torture of making two
transcontinental journeys, in which he had to speak incessantly,
and they warned him against uttering any downright criticism of
the anti-American throng, whose numbers being unknown were
feared. President Wilson, on the other hand, unexpectedly flared
up in a retort which doubtless won votes for him. Jeremiah
O'Leary, an Irish agitator in relations with the German
propagandists, tried to catch Mr. Wilson in a pro-British snare.
The President replied: " I would feel deeply mortified to have
you or anybody like you vote for me. Since you have access to so
many disloyal Americans, and I have not, I will ask you to convey
this message to them."

The result of the election, which took place on November 5th,
hung in suspense for many days. Then it appeared that Wilson, by
capturing thirteen California votes, had won by 277 electoral
votes to 254. for Hughes. Of the popular vote, Wilson got
9,128,00 and Hughes, 8,536,000. So the slogan, "He kept us out of
war," accomplished its purpose.


During the winter of 1916-17, Roosevelt never relaxed his
criticism of President Wilson's dilatory and evasive policy, or
his efforts to arouse the American people to a sense of their
duty to civilization. By this time the President himself felt
that it was safe for him to speak up in behalf of Americanism.
The year before, Roosevelt having been assured that it would be
dangerous to make American and pro-Ally speeches in the Middle
West, went straight to the so-called German cities, and was most
enthusiastically received where it had been predicted he would be
hooted and even mobbed. President Wilson ventured to follow him
some time later, and suffered no harm. By the summer of 1916 he
became almost reckless, as it seemed, in his utterances. He said
to the graduating cadets at West Point: "My conception of America
is a conception of infinite dignity, along with quiet,
unquestionable power. I ask you, gentlemen, to join with me in
that conception, and let us all in our several spheres be
soldiers together to realize it."* Once he declared that he too
came of fighting blood. Meanwhile, how ever, the German
submarines went on sinking ships; Bernstorff made his frequent
calls of studied impudence at the White House; German agents blew
up munitions factories and the warehouses where shells were
stored before shipment; and the process of spreading Prussian
gangrene throughout our country went on unchecked.

* July 14, 1916.

Worse than this, the military situation in Europe was almost
disheartening. Imperial Russia had disappeared and the Germans
were preparing to carve up the vast amorphous Russian carcass.
Having driven their way through the Balkans to Constantinople
they were on the point of opening their boasted direct route from
Berlin to Bagdad. England, France and Italy began to feel
war-weary. The German submarines threatened to cut off their
supplies of food, and unless the Allied countries could be
succored they might be starved into making peace. When they
looked across the Atlantic they beheld this mighty Republic
leaving them in the lurch, too busy piling up millions of dollars
drawn from the Allies in their distress to heed that distress,
and drugging their compunctions, if they had any, by saying to
themselves that a nation may be "too proud to fight," and that
they had the best authority for remembering that they must remain
"neutral even in thought."

I need not describe in detail what Roosevelt thought of this. He
himself expressed his scorn for making war by rhetoric. He knew
that a man may boast of coming of fighting blood, and come so
late that all the fighting quality in the blood has evaporated.
Could not many of the Pacifists trace back to Revolutionary and
to Puritan ancestors, who fought as they prayed, without
hesitation or doubt, for the Lord of Hosts? They could, and their
present attitude simply made their shame the greater. The Colonel
had said very early in the conflict: "I do not believe that the
firm assertion of our rights means war, but in any event, it is
well to remember there are things worse than war." In 1917 he
declared: "For two years after the Lusitania was sunk, we
continued to fawn on the blood-stained murderers of our people,
we were false to ourselves and we were false to the cause of
right and of liberty and democracy through out the world." He
kept hammering at our need of preparation. He told a great
audience at Detroit:* "We first hysterically announced that we
would not prepare because we were afraid that preparation might
make us lose our vantage-ground as a peace loving people. Then we
became frightened and announced loudly that we ought to prepare;
that the world was on fire; that our national structure was in
danger of catching aflame; and that we must immediately make
ready. Then we turned an other somersault and abandoned all talk
of preparedness; and we never did anything more than talk."

* May 9,1916.

At last, at the beginning of 1917, the German truculence became
too great even for President Wilson to palliate. The Kaiser,
whose atrocious submarine policy had already failed, decided that
it could be made to succeed by increasing its horror. He proposed
to sink indiscriminately all ships, whether neutral or enemy; but
out of his Imperial generosity he would allow the Americans to
send one ship a week to Falmouth, England, provided it followed a
certain line marked out by him on the chart, flew a certain flag,
and was painted a color which he specified. As late as December
18, 1916, the President had put forth a message only less
startling than his "too-proud-to-fight" dictum, in which he
announced that the warring world must plan for a "peace without
victory" if it would hope to end the war at all. "Peace without
victory" would mean, of course, a peace favorable to Germany. But
the Germans, with characteristic stupidity, instead of using even
a specious courtesy towards the President who had been
long-suffering in their favor, immediately sent out their
"Once-a-week-to-Falmouth" order. Perhaps they thought that Mr.
Wilson would consent even to that.

President Wilson's friends have assured us that he devotes
himself to finding out what the American people wants and then in
doing it. He soon learned what the American people wanted, after
it understood the purport of the "Once-a-week-to-Falmouth" order;
and after the interchange of two or three more notes, he broke
off relations with Germany on April 6, 1917. At last, at the
eleventh hour, the United States by President Wilson's consent
joined the great alliance of free nations in their life and-death
struggle to make the world safe for Democracy. Now the President
had to prepare for war, and prepare in haste, which rendered
careful plans and economy impossible. At the start, there was
much debate over the employment of Volunteers, the rating of
Regulars, and the carrying out of a selective draft. True to his
policy of timidity and evasion President Wilson did not openly
declare war on Germany, but allowed us to drift into a state of
war; so executives who do not wish either to sign or veto a bill
let it become a law without their signatures. His Secretary of
War, Lindley M. Garrison, the only member of his Cabinet who had
marked ability, had resigned the year before, having apparently
found the official atmosphere uncongenial. At the Plattsburg
camp, commanded by General Leonard Wood, Colonel Roosevelt made a
speech of ringing patriotism and of unveiled criticism of the
lack of energy in the Administration. It was not a politic thing
to do, although there seems to have been some confusion between
what the Colonel said to the Volunteers in camp, and what he said
that same evening to a gathering of civilians in the town. The
indiscretion, how ever, gave the Administration the opportunity
it had been waiting for; but, being unable to punish Roosevelt,
it severely reprimanded General Wood, who had not been aware of
what the Colonel intended to say. Indeed, the offensive remarks
seem to have been extemporaneous, because, as it was too dark for
him to read his prepared speech, he spoke impromptu. In any
event, Secretary Garrison had due notice that Roosevelt was to
speak, and if he had had any doubts he should have sent word to
General Wood to cancel the engagement. The Administration made as
much as it could out of this impropriety, but the public saw the
humor of it, because it knew that Secretary Garrison agreed with
Roosevelt and Wood in their crusade for preparedness.

Later, when Mr. Garrison resigned, President Wilson put Mr.
Newton D. Baker, a Pacifist, in his place, and after war came,
the military preparation and direction of the United States were
entrusted to him. But it does not belong to this biographical
sketch to narrate the story of the American conduct of the war
under the Wilson Administration.

To Roosevelt, the vital fact was that war was at hand, the great
object for which he had striven during two years and eight
months, the participation in the war which would redeem the honor
of the United States, call forth the courage of its citizens,
make Americans alone dominant in America and so purge this
Republic of the taints of pro-Germanism, of commercial greed, and
of ignoble worship of material safety, that it could take its
part again at the head of the democracies of the world. He
thanked God that his country could stand out again untarnished.
And then a great exultation came over him, as he believed that at
last he himself having put on his sword, would be allowed to join
the American army bound overseas, share its dangers and glories
in the field, and, if Fate so willed it, pay with his body the
debt of patriotism which nothing else could pay. He wrote
immediately to the War Department, offering his services and
agreeing to raise a division or more of Volunteers, to be sent to
the front with the briefest delay. But Secretary Baker replied
that without authorization by Congress, he could not accept such
bodies of Volunteers. On being pressed further, Mr. Baker replied
that the War College Division of the General Staff wished the
officers of the Regular Army to be kept at home, in order to
train new men, and then to lead the first contingents which might
go abroad.*

* The entire correspondence between General Wood and President
Wilson and Secretary Baker is given in The Foes of Our Own House
hold, by Theodore Roosevelt (Doran, New York, 1917, pp. 304-47.)

Meanwhile, at the first suggestion that Roosevelt might head a
body of troops himself, letters poured upon him from every State
in the Union, from men of all classes eager to serve under him,
and eager, in this way, to wipe out the shame which they felt the
Administration, by its delays and supineness, had put upon the
nation. Then Congress passed the Draft Law, and, on May 18,
Roosevelt appealed again, this time directly to President Wilson,
offering to raise four divisions. The President, in a public
statement, declared that purely military reasons caused him to
reject the plan. In a telegram to Colonel Roosevelt he said that
his action was "based entirely upon imperative considerations of
public policy, and not upon personal or private choice."
Roosevelt summed up the contention with this flat contradiction:
"President Wilson's reasons for refusing my offer had nothing to
do either with military considerations or with public needs."

Roosevelt issued an announcement to the men who had applied for
service under him--they were said already to number over
300,000--regretting that they could not all go together on their
country's errand, and brushing aside the insinuation of his
enemies that he was merely seeking political and selfish ends.
That is a charge, of course, to which all of our statesmen, from
Washington down, have been exposed. Its final refutation comes
from examining the entire public career and the character of the
person accused. To any one who knew what Roosevelt's life had
been, and who knew how poignantly he felt the national dangers
and humiliation of the past three years, the idea that he was
playing politics, and merely pretending to be terribly in earnest
as a patriot, is grotesque. And I believe that no greater
disappointment ever came to him than when he was prohibited from
going out to battle in 1917. Mr. Wilson and the obsolescent
members of the General Staff had obviously a plausible reason
when they said that the European War was not an affair for
amateurs; that no troops, however brave and willing, could, like
the Rough Riders in the Spanish War, be fitted for action in a
month. Only by long drill and by the coordination of all branches
of the service, organized on a vaster scale than the world had
ever seen before, and commanded by experts, could an army enter
the field with any hope of holding its own against the veteran
armies of Europe. We may accept this plea, but the fact remains
that President Wilson refused to make the very obvious use of
Roosevelt which he might have made. Roosevelt was known
throughout the world as the incarnation of Americanism. If he had
been sent to Europe in April, 19 117, when he first requested,
with only a corporal's guard to attend him, he would have been a
visible proof to the masses in England, in France, and in Italy,
that the United States had actually joined the Allies. He would
have been the forerunner of the armies that were to. follow, and
his presence would have heartened immensely the then sorely
perplexed, if not discouraged, populations which the Hun seemed
sure to overwhelm. But President Wilson had shown no desire to
employ any American on any task where he might get credit which
the President coveted for himself. In his Cabinet, his rule was
to appoint only mediocre or third-class persons, whose opinions
he did not think it necessary to consult. It was quite unlikely,
there fore, that he would give Roosevelt any chance to shine in
the service of the country, for Roosevelt was not only his
political opponent, but his most formidable critic, who had laid
bare the weakness of the Wilson regime. When Cavour was
assembling all the elements in Italy to undertake the great
struggle for Italian liberty and independence, he adroitly
secured the cooperation of Garibaldi and his followers, although
Garibaldi had declared himself the personal enemy of Cavour.
Personal enemy or not, Cavour would have him as a symbol, and
Garibaldi's concurrence proved of immense value to Italy. So
would that of Roosevelt have proved to the Allies if he had been
officially accredited by President Wilson. But Cavour was a
statesman, who looked far ahead, a patriot uninfluenced by
personal likes and dislikes. Roosevelt felt his own deprivation
mightily, but the shutting-out of General Leonard Wood roused his
anger--all injustice roused his anger. As the motive for General
Wood's exclusion was not frankly avowed, the public naturally
drew its own inferences. To him, more than to any other American,
we owed what little preparation for war existed when we entered
the war. He founded the Plattsburg Camp; he preached very
solemnly our needs and our dangers; and he did these things at
the very period when President Wilson was assuring the country
that we ought not to think of preparing. Doubtless, in 1919, Mr.
Wilson would be glad to have those sayings of his, and many
others--including the "too proud to fight," the laudation of
German "humanity and justice," the "war-mad Europe," whose
ravings did not concern us, the "peace without victory"
forgotten; but that cannot be, and they rise to accuse him now.
Macbeth did not welcome the inopportune visit of the Murderers
and of Banquo's Ghost at his banquet.

General Wood had to be disciplined for allowing Colonel Roosevelt
to make his impolitic speech to the Plattsburg Volunteers; he was
accordingly removed from his New York headquarters to the South
and then to Camp Funston in Kansas. It was even proposed to
relegate him to the Philippines. When our troops began to go to
France, he earnestly hoped to accompany them. There were whispers
that he was physically unfit for the stress of active war: but
the most diligent physical examination by Army surgeons who would
have overlooked no defects, showed him to be a man of astonishing
health and vigor, as sound as hickory. On the technical side, the
best military experts regarded him as the best general officer in
the American Army. Nevertheless, in spite of his physical and
military qualifications, President Wilson rejected him. Why? The
unsympathetic asserted that Mr. Wilson took care to assign no
conspicuous officer to service abroad who might win laurels which
would bring him forward as a Presidential possibility in 1920. On
the other hand, cynics, remembering the immemorial jealousy
between the Regulars and Volunteers in both the Army and Navy,
declared that an outsider like General Wood, who had not come
into the Army through West Point, could expect no fairer
treatment from the Staff which his achievements and irregular
promotion had incensed. History may be trusted to judge equitably
on whom to place the blame. But as Americans recede from the
event, their amazement will increase that any personal pique or
class jealousy should have deprived the United States from using
the soldier best equipped for war at the point where war was

* In June, 1915, Colonel Paul Azan, who came to this country to
command the French officers who taught American Volunteers at
Harvard, and subsequently was commissioned by the French
Government to oversee the work of all the French officers in the
United States, told me that the Camp and Division commanded by
General Wood were easily the best in the country and that General
Wood was the only General we had who in knowledge and efficiency
came up to the highest French standard. Colonel Azan added that
he was suggesting to the French War Department to invite the
United States Government to send General Wood to France, but this
request, if ever made, was not followed.

While Roosevelt could not denounce the Administration for
debarring himself from military service abroad, he could, and
did, attack it for its treatment of General Wood, treatment which
both did injustice to a brave and very competent soldier and
deprived our Army in its need of a precious source of strength.
Perhaps he drew some grim amusement from the banal utterances of
the Honorable Newton D. Baker, Secretary of War, whom he
frequently referred to with appropriate comment. Two months after
we entered the war, Mr. Baker issued an official bulletin in
which he admitted the "difficulty, disorder, and confusion in
getting things started, but," he said, "it is a happy confusion.
I delight in the fact that when we entered this war we were not,
like our adversary, ready for it, anxious for it, prepared for
it, and inviting it. Accustomed to peace, we were not ready."*
Could any one, except a very young child at a soap-bubble party
in the nursery, have spoken thus? But Mr. Baker was not a very
young child, he was a Pacifist; he did not write from a nursery,
but from the War Department of the United States. In the
following October he announced with undisguised
self-satisfaction: "We are well on the way to the battle-field."
This was too much for Roosevelt, who wrote: "For comparison with
this kind of military activity we must go back to the days of
Tiglath Pileser, Nebuchadnezzar and Pharaoh. The United States
should adopt the standard of speed in war which belongs to the
twentieth century A.D.; we should not be content with, and still
less boast about, standards which were obsolete in the
seventeenth century B.C."

*Official War Bulletin, June 7, 1917.

Roosevelt had now made a contract with the Metropolitan Magazine
to furnish to it a monthly article on any topic he chose, and he
was also writing for the Kansas City Stay frequent, and often
daily, editorial articles. Through these he gave vent to his
passionate patriotism and the reader who wishes to measure both
the variety and the vigor of his polemics at this time should
look through the files of those journals. But this work by no
means limited his activity. As occasion stirred him, he
dispatched his communications to other journals. He wrote
letters, which were really elaborated arguments, to chance
correspondents, and he made frequent addresses. The necessity of
hurrying on the preparation of our army and of backing up our
troops with undivided enthusiasm were his main theme. But he
delivered himself on other subjects almost equally important. He
paid his respects to the "Conscientious Objector," and he
insisted at all times that "Murder is not debatable." "Murder is
murder," he wrote Professor Felix Frankfurter, "and it is rather
more evil when committed in the name of a professed social
movement." * Mr. Frankfurter was then acting, by appointment of
President Wilson, as counsel to a Mediation Commission, which was
dealing with recent crimes of the Industrial Workers of the
World. Anarchists, when arrested, had a suspicious way of
professing that they espoused anarchism only as a "philosophical"
theory. Roosevelt branded several of the palliators of
these--"the Hearsts and La Follettes and Bergers and Hillquits,"
and others--as reactionaries, as the "Bolsheviki of America," who
really abetted the violent criminals by pleading for leniency for
them on the ground that after all they were only "philosophical"
theorists. Roosevelt was not fooled by any such plea. "When you,"
he told Mr. Frankfurter, "as representing President Wilson, find
yourself obliged to champion men of this stamp [the
"philosophical" criminals], you ought by unequivocal affirmative
action to make it evident that you are sternly against their
general and habitual line of conduct."

* December 19, 1917. Letter printed in full in the Boston Herald,
June 6, 1919.

So Roosevelt pursued, without resting, his campaign to stimulate
the patriotic zeal of his country men and to rebuke the delays
and blunders of the Administration. If any one had said that he
was making rhetoric a substitute for warfare--the accusation with
which he charged President Wilson--he would have replied that
Wilson condemned him to use the pen instead of the sword.
Forbidden to go himself, he felt supreme satisfaction in the
going of all his four sons, and of his son-in-law, Dr. Richard
Derby. They did honor to the Roosevelt name. Theodore, Jr.,
became a Lieutenant-Colonel, Kermit and Archibald became
Captains; and Quentin, the youngest, a Lieutenant of Aviation,
was killed in an air battle.

Roosevelt was prevented from fighting in France, indeed, but he
was gratified to learn from good authority that his efforts in
the spring of 1917 to secure a commission and lead troops over
seas were the immediate cause of the sending of any American
troops. President Wilson, it was reported had no intention, when
we went to war, of risking American lives over there, and the
leisurely plans which he made for creating and training an army
seemed to confirm this report. But Roosevelt's insistence and the
great mass of volunteers who begged to be allowed to join his
divisions, if they were organized, awakened the President to the
fact that the American people expected our country to give valid
military support to the Allies, at death-grapple with the Hun.
The visit in May, 1917, of a French Mission with Marshal Joffre
at its head, and of an English Mission under Mr. Arthur Balfour,
and their plain revelation of the dire distress of the French and
British armies, forced Mr. Wilson to promise immediate help; for
Joffre and Balfour made him under stand that unless help came
soon, it would come too late. So President Wilson, who hoped to
go down in history as the Peacemaker of the World War, and as the
organizer of an American Army, which, without shedding a drop of
blood, had brought peace about, was compelled to send the only
too willing American soldiers, by the hundred thousand and the
million, to join the Allied veterans in France.

Persons who do not penetrate beneath the flickering surfaces of
life, regard these last years of Roosevelt's as an anticlimax
which he passed in eclipse; as if they were the eight lean and
overshadowed years, following the splendid decade in which as
Governor and President he had the world's admiration and consent.
But this view wholly misconceives him. It takes a man who had
proved himself to be the greatest moral force in the public life
of the world, and drops him when he steps down from the seat of
power. Now, of course, Theodore Roosevelt did not require to walk
on a high platform or to sit in the equivalent of a throne in
order to be Roosevelt; and if we would read the true meaning of
his life we must understand, that the years which followed 1910
were the culmination and crown of all that went before. He was a
fighter from the days when, as a little boy, he fought the
disease which threatened to make his existence puny and crippled.
He was a fighter, and from his vantage-ground as President, he
fought so valiantly that the world took notice and he brought new
ideals into the hearts of the American people. He was just as
brave and resourceful and tenacious a fighter when he led the
forlorn hope, as when he marched at the head of the Nation in his
campaigns against corruption and the mercenaries of Mammon.
During these later years he gave up everything - his ease, his
probable restoration to power, the friendships that were very
dear to him, even his party which no longer, as he thought,
followed the path of righteousness, or desired righteous ends -
for the Cause to which he had been dedicated since youth. Analyze
his acts at any period, and you will find that they were
determined by his loyalty to that Cause.

And how could so great a soul exercise itself to the full, except
by grappling with adversity? The prosperous days seemed to fit
him like a skin, but only in these days of apparent thwarting and
disappointment could he show himself equal to any blows of Fate.
At first he struggled magnificently against crushing odds, asking
no allowances and no favors. He founded and led the Progressive
Party and, in 1912, received the most amazing popular tribute in
our history. And he would have pushed on his work for that party
had not the coming of the World War changed his perspective.
Thenceforth, he devoted himself to saving civilization from the
reptilian and atrocious Hun; that was a task, in comparison with
which the fortune of a political party sank out of sight.

His work demanded of him to rouse his country men from the apathy
and indifference which a timid Administration breathed upon it,
and from the lethargic slumber into which the pro-Germans drugged
it. During four years, his was the one voice in the United States
which could not be silenced. He was listened to everywhere. Men
might agree with him or not, but they listened to him, and they
trusted him. Never for a moment did they suspect that he was
slyly working for the enemy, or for special interests here or

He, the supreme American, spoke for America and for the
civilization which he believed America fulfilled. His attacks on
the delays and the incompetence, on the faint-heartedness and
contradictions of the Administration had no selfish object. His
heart was wrenched by the humiliation into which the honor of the
United States had been dragged. The greatest patriotic service
which he could render was to lift it out of that slough, and he
did. The best evidence that he was right lies in the fact that
President Wilson, tardily, reluctantly, adopted, one by one,
Roosevelt's demands. He rejected Preparedness, when it could have
been attained with comparative leisure; he accepted it, when it
had to be driven through at top speed. And so of the other
vitally necessary things. He ceased to warn Americans that they
must be neutral "even in thought"; he ceased to comfort them by
the assurance that a nation may be "too proud to fight"; he
ceased to extol the "justice and humanity of the Germans." That
he suffered these changes was owing to the fact that American
public opinion, largely influenced by Roosevelt's word and
example, would not tolerate them any more. And President Wilson,
when he can, follows public opinion.

Roosevelt took personal pleasure in the bridging of the chasm
which had opened between him and his former party intimates. On
neither side was there recantation, but they could unite again on
the question of the War and America's duty towards it, which
swallowed up partisan grievances. Many of the old time
Republicans who had broken politically from Roosevelt in 1912,
remained devoted personal friends, and they tried to reunite him
and the discordant fragments. One of these friends was Colonel
Robert Bacon, whom every one loved and trusted, a born
conciliator. He it was who brought Roosevelt and Senator Root
together, after more than five years' estrangement. He gave a
luncheon, at which they and General Leonard Wood met, and they
all soon fell into the old-time familiarity. Roosevelt urged
vehemently his desire to go to France, and said that he would go
as a private if he could not lead a regiment; that he was willing
to die in France for the Cause. At which Mr. Root, with his
characteristic wit, said: "Theodore, if you will promise to die
there, Wilson will give you any commission you want, tomorrow."

Roosevelt never fully recovered from the infection which the
fever he caught in Brazil left in his system. It manifested
itself in different ways and the one thing certain was that it
could not be cured. He paid little attention to it except when it
actually sent him to bed. In the winter of 1918, it caused so
serious an inflammation of the mastoid that he was taken to the
hospital and had to undergo an operation. For several days his
life hung by a thread. But, on his recovery, he went about as
usual, and the public was scarcely aware of his lowered
condition. He wrote and spoke, and seemed to be acting with his
customary vigor. That summer, however, on July 14th, his youngest
son, Quentin, First Lieutenant in the 95th American Aero
Squadron, was killed in an air battle near Chambray, France. The
lost child is the dearest. Roosevelt said nothing, but he never
got over Quentin's loss. No doubt he often asked, in silence, why
he, whose sands were nearly run, had not been taken and the
youth, who had a lifetime to look forward to, had not been
spared. The day after the news came, the New York State
Republican Convention met at Saratoga. Roosevelt was to address
it, and he walked up the aisle without hesitating, and spoke from
the platform as if he had no thoughts in his heart, except the
political and patriotic exhortation which he poured out. He
passed a part of the summer with his daughter, Mrs. Derby, on the
coast of Maine; and in the early autumn, at Carnegie Hall, he
made his last public speech, in behalf of Governor Whitman's
candidacy. A little after this, he appeared for the last time in
public at a meeting in honor of a negro hospital unit. In a few
days another outbreak of the old infection caused his removal to
the Roosevelt Hospital. The date was November 11th,--the day when
the Armistice was signed. He remained at the hospital until
Christmas Eve, often suffering acutely from inflammatory
rheumatism, the name the physicians gave to the new form the
infection took. He saw his friends for short intervals, he
followed the news, and even dictated letters on public subjects,
but his family understood that his marvelous physical strength
was being sadly exhausted. He longed to be taken home to Sagamore
Hill, and when his doctor allowed him to go home, he was greatly

To spend Christmas there, with his family, even though he had to
spend it very quietly, delighted him. For ten days he seemed to
be gaining, he read much, and dictated a good deal. On January
5th, he reviewed a book on pheasants and wrote also a little
message to be read at the meeting of the American Defense
Society, which he was unable to attend. That evening he spent
with the family, going to bed at eleven o'clock. "Put out the
light, please," he said to his attendant, James Amos, and no one
heard his voice again. A little after four o'clock the next
morning, Amos, noticing that he breathed strangely, called the
nurse, and when they reached his bedside, Roosevelt was dead. A
blood clot in his heart had killed him. Death had unbound

By noon on that day, the 6th of January, 1919, the whole world
knew of his death, and as the news sank in, the sense of an
unspeakable void was felt everywhere. He was buried on January
8th, on a knoll in the small country graveyard, which he and Mrs.
Roosevelt had long before selected, overlooking Oyster Bay and
the waters of the Sound. His. family and relatives and dear
friends, and a few persons who represented State and Nation, the
Rough Riders, and learned societies, attended the services in the
little church. Just as the coffin was being borne in, the sun
came out and streamed through the stained-glass windows. "The
services were most impressive in their simplicity, in their sense
of intimacy, in the sentiment that filled the hour and the place
of personal loss and of pride of possession of a priceless
memory." The bearers took the coffin through the grove, with its
bare trees and light sifting of snow, to the grave; and as it was
committed, there were many sobs and tears of old and young. Rough
Riders, who had fought by his side, cabinet ministers who had
served with him, companions of his work and of his playtime, were
all mourners now, and some of those men of affairs, who had done
their utmost to wreck him eight years before, now knew that they
had loved him, and they grieved as they realized what America and
the world had lost. "Death had to take him sleeping," said
Vice-President Marshall; "for if Roosevelt had been awake, there
would have been a fight."


The evil men do lives after them; so does the good. With the
passing of years, a man's name and fame either drift into
oblivion, or they are seen in their lasting proportions. You must
sail fifty miles over the Ionian Sea and look back before you can
fully measure the magnitude and majesty of Mount Aetna.

Not otherwise, I believe, will it be with Theodore Roosevelt,
when the people of the future look back upon him. The blemishes
due to misunderstanding will have faded away; the transient
clouds will have vanished; the world will see him as he was.

I do not mean that it will reduce him to an abstraction of
perfection, as ill-judged worshipers of George Washington
attempted to do with him. Theodore Roosevelt was so vastly human,
that no worshiper can make him abstract and retain recognizable
features. We have reached the time when we will not suffer
anybody to turn our great ones into gods or demigods, and to
remove them far from us to dwell, like absentee deities, on a
remote Olympus, or in an unimaginable Paradise; we must have them
near, intimates whom our souls can converse with, and our hearts
love. Such an intimate was Roosevelt living, and such an intimate
will he be dead. Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt--those are the
three whom Americans will cherish and revere; each of them a
leader and representative and example in a structural crisis in
our national life.

Those of us who knew him, knew him as the most astonishing human
expression of the Creative Spirit we had ever seen. His manifold
talents, his protean interests, his tireless energy, his
thunderbolts which he did not let loose, as well as those he did,
his masterful will sheathed in self-control like a sword in its
scabbard, would have rendered him superhuman, had he not
possessed other qualities which made him the best of playmates
for mortals. He had humor, which raises every one to the same
level. He had loyalty, which bound his friends to him for life.
He had sympathy, and capacity for strong, deep love. How tender
he was with little children! How courteous with women! No matter
whether you brought to him important things or trifles, he

I can think of no vicissitude in life in which Roosevelt's
participation would not have been welcome. If it were danger,
there could be no more valiant comrade than he; if it were sport,
he was a sports man; if it were mirth, he was a fountain of
mirth, crystal pure and sparkling. He would have sailed with
Jason on the ship Argo in quest of the Golden Fleece, and he
would have written a vivid description of the adventure. I can
imagine the delight he would have taken, as the comrade of
Ulysses, on his voyage through the Midland Sea, looking with
unjaded curiosity on strange towns and into strange faces, and
steering fearlessly out to the Hesperides, and beyond the baths
of all the western stars. What a Crusader he would have been! How
he would have smitten the Paynim with his sword, and then
unvisored and held chivalrous interview with Saladin!

Had he companioned Columbus, he would not have been one of those
who murmured and besought the great Admiral to turn back, but
would have counseled, "On! On! It is of little matter whether any
one man fails or succeeds; but the cause shall not fail, for it
is the cause of mankind." I can see him with the voyageurs of New
France, exploring the Canadian Wilderness, and the rivers and
forests of the North west. I can see him with Lasalle, beaming
with exultation as they looked on the waters of the Mississippi;
and I can think of no battle for man's welfare in which he would
not have felt at home. But he would have taken equal, perhaps
greater, delight in meeting the authors, sages, and statesmen,
whose words were his daily joy, and whose deeds were his study
and incentive. I can hear him question Thucydides for further
details as to the collapse of the Athenians at Syracuse; or
cross-examine Herodotus for information of some of his incredible
but fascinating stories. What hours he would have spent in
confabulation with Gibbon! What secrets he would have learned,
without asking questions, from Napoleon and Cavour!

His interest embraced them all, some of them he could have
taught, many of them would have welcomed him as their peer. As he
mixed with high and low in his lifetime, so would it have been in
the past; and so will it be in the future, if he has gone into a
world where personal identity continues, and the spiritual
standards and ideals of this world persist. But yesterday, he
seemed one who embodied Life to the utmost. With the assured step
of one whom nothing can frighten or surprise, he walked our
earth, as on granite. Suddenly, the granite grew more
unsubstantial than a bubble, and he dropped beyond sight into the
Eternal Silence. Happy we who had such a friend! Happy the
American Republic which bore such a son!


Mr. John Woodbury, Secretary of the Harvard Class of 1880, in
sending to his classmates a notice of Theodore Roosevelt's death
on January 6, 1919, added this quotation from the second part of
Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress:"

"After this it was noised abroad that Mr. Valiant for-truth was
taken with a summons by the same post as the other, and had this
for a token that the summons was true, 'That his pitcher was
broken at the fountain.' When he understood it, he called for his
friends and told them of it. Then he said, 'I am going to my
Father's, and though with great difficulty I have got hither, yet
now I do not repent me of all the trouble I have been at to
arrive where I am. My sword I give to him that shall succeed me
in my pilgrimage, and my courage and skill to him that can get
it. My marks and scars I carry with me, to be a witness for me
that I have fought His battles who now will be my rewarder.'"


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