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Theodore Roosevelt An Autobiography by Theodore Roosevelt by Theodore Roosevelt

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Etext prepared by Dagny, dagnyj@hotmail.com
and John Bickers, jbickers@ihug.co.nz


This Etext was prepared from a 1920 edition, published by Charles
Scribner's Sons. The book was first published in 1913.

Theodore Roosevelt

An autobiography by Theodore Roosevelt


Boyhood and Youth
The Vigor of Life
Practical Politics
In Cowboy Land
Applied Idealism
The New York Police
The War of America the Unready
The New York Governorship
Outdoors and Indoors
The Presidency; Making an Old Party Progressive
The Natural Resources of the Nation
The Big Stick and the Square Deal
Social and Industrial Justice
The Monroe Doctrine and the Panama Canal
The Peace of Righteousness


Naturally, there are chapters of my autobiography which cannot now
be written.

It seems to me that, for the nation as for the individual, what is
most important is to insist on the vital need of combining certain
sets of qualities, which separately are common enough, and, alas,
useless enough. Practical efficiency is common, and lofty idealism
not uncommon; it is the combination which is necessary, and the
combination is rare. Love of peace is common among weak, short-
sighted, timid, and lazy persons; and on the other hand courage is
found among many men of evil temper and bad character. Neither
quality shall by itself avail. Justice among the nations of
mankind, and the uplifting of humanity, can be brought about only
by those strong and daring men who with wisdom love peace, but who
love righteousness more than peace. Facing the immense complexity
of modern social and industrial conditions, there is need to use
freely and unhesitatingly the collective power of all of us; and
yet no exercise of collective power will ever avail if the average
individual does not keep his or her sense of personal duty,
initiative, and responsibility. There is need to develop all the
virtues that have the state for their sphere of action; but these
virtues are as dust in a windy street unless back of them lie the
strong and tender virtues of a family life based on the love of
the one man for the one woman and on their joyous and fearless
acceptance of their common obligation to the children that are
theirs. There must be the keenest sense of duty, and with it must
go the joy of living; there must be shame at the thought of
shirking the hard work of the world, and at the same time delight
in the many-sided beauty of life. With soul of flame and temper of
steel we must act as our coolest judgment bids us. We must
exercise the largest charity towards the wrong-doer that is
compatible with relentless war against the wrong-doing. We must be
just to others, generous to others, and yet we must realize that
it is a shameful and a wicked thing not to withstand oppression
with high heart and ready hand. With gentleness and tenderness
there must go dauntless bravery and grim acceptance of labor and
hardship and peril. All for each, and each for all, is a good
motto; but only on condition that each works with might and main
to so maintain himself as not to be a burden to others.

We of the great modern democracies must strive unceasingly to make
our several countries lands in which a poor man who works hard can
live comfortably and honestly, and in which a rich man cannot live
dishonestly nor in slothful avoidance of duty; and yet we must
judge rich man and poor man alike by a standard which rests on
conduct and not on caste, and we must frown with the same stern
severity on the mean and vicious envy which hates and would
plunder a man because he is well off and on the brutal and selfish
arrogance which looks down on and exploits the man with whom life
has gone hard.


SAGAMORE HILL, October 1, 1913.




My grandfather on my father's side was of almost purely Dutch blood.
When he was young he still spoke some Dutch, and Dutch was last used
in the services of the Dutch Reformed Church in New York while he was
a small boy.

About 1644 his ancestor Klaes Martensen van Roosevelt came to New
Amsterdam as a "settler"--the euphemistic name for an immigrant who
came over in the steerage of a sailing ship in the seventeenth century
instead of the steerage of a steamer in the nineteenth century. From
that time for the next seven generations from father to son every one
of us was born on Manhattan Island.

My father's paternal ancestors were of Holland stock; except that
there was one named Waldron, a wheelwright, who was one of the
Pilgrims who remained in Holland when the others came over to found
Massachusetts, and who then accompanied the Dutch adventurers to New
Amsterdam. My father's mother was a Pennsylvanian. Her forebears had
come to Pennsylvania with William Penn, some in the same ship with
him; they were of the usual type of the immigration of that particular
place and time. They included Welsh and English Quakers, an Irishman,
--with a Celtic name, and apparently not a Quaker,--and peace-loving
Germans, who were among the founders of Germantown, having been driven
from their Rhineland homes when the armies of Louis the Fourteenth
ravaged the Palatinate; and, in addition, representatives of a by-no-
means altogether peaceful people, the Scotch Irish, who came to
Pennsylvania a little later, early in the eighteenth century. My
grandmother was a woman of singular sweetness and strength, the
keystone of the arch in her relations with her husband and sons.
Although she was not herself Dutch, it was she who taught me the only
Dutch I ever knew, a baby song of which the first line ran, "Trippe
troppa tronjes." I always remembered this, and when I was in East
Africa it proved a bond of union between me and the Boer settlers, not
a few of whom knew it, although at first they always had difficulty in
understanding my pronunciation--at which I do not wonder. It was
interesting to meet these men whose ancestors had gone to the Cape
about the time that mine went to America two centuries and a half
previously, and to find that the descendants of the two streams of
emigrants still crooned to their children some at least of the same
nursery songs.

Of my great-grandfather Roosevelt and his family life a century and
over ago I know little beyond what is implied in some of his books
that have come down to me--the Letters of Junius, a biography of John
Paul Jones, Chief Justice Marshall's "Life of Washington." They seem
to indicate that his library was less interesting than that of my
wife's great-grandfather at the same time, which certainly included
such volumes as the original /Edinburgh Review/, for we have them now
on our own book-shelves. Of my grandfather Roosevelt my most vivid
childish reminiscence is not something I saw, but a tale that was told
me concerning him. In /his/ boyhood Sunday was as dismal a day for
small Calvinistic children of Dutch descent as if they had been of
Puritan or Scotch Covenanting or French Huguenot descent--and I speak
as one proud of his Holland, Huguenot, and Covenanting ancestors, and
proud that the blood of that stark Puritan divine Jonathan Edwards
flows in the veins of his children. One summer afternoon, after
listening to an unusually long Dutch Reformed sermon for the second
time that day, my grandfather, a small boy, running home before the
congregation had dispersed, ran into a party of pigs, which then
wandered free in New York's streets. He promptly mounted a big boar,
which no less promptly bolted and carried him at full speed through
the midst of the outraged congregation.

By the way, one of the Roosevelt documents which came down to me
illustrates the change that has come over certain aspects of public
life since the time which pessimists term "the earlier and better days
of the Republic." Old Isaac Roosevelt was a member of an Auditing
Committee which shortly after the close of the Revolution approved the
following bill:

The State of New York, to John Cape Dr.

To a Dinner Given by His Excellency the Governor
and Council to their Excellencies the Minnister of
France and General Washington & Co.
To 120 dinners at 48: 0:0
To 135 Bottles Madira 54: 0:0
" 36 ditto Port 10:16:0
" 60 ditto English Beer 9: 0:0
" 30 Bouls Punch 9: 0:0
" 8 dinners for Musick 1:12:0
" 10 ditto for Sarvts 2: 0:0
" 60 Wine Glasses Broken 4:10:0[oops, broken--dag]
" 8 Cutt decanters Broken 3: 0:0
" Coffee for 8 Gentlemen 1:12:0
" Music fees &ca 8: 0:0
" Fruit & Nuts 5: 0:0
By Cash . . . 100:16:0
WE a Committee of Council having examined
the above account do certify it (amounting to
one hundred and fifty-six Pounds ten Shillings)
to be just.
December 17th 1783.
Received the above Contents in full
New York 17th December 1783

Think of the Governor of New York now submitting such a bill for such
an entertainment of the French Ambassador and the President of the
United States! Falstaff's views of the proper proportion between sack
and bread are borne out by the proportion between the number of bowls
of punch and bottles of port, Madeira, and beer consumed, and the
"coffee for eight gentlemen"--apparently the only ones who lasted
through to that stage of the dinner. Especially admirable is the
nonchalant manner in which, obviously as a result of the drinking of
said bottles of wine and bowls of punch, it is recorded that eight
cut-glass decanters and sixty wine-glasses were broken.

During the Revolution some of my forefathers, North and South, served
respectably, but without distinction, in the army, and others rendered
similar service in the Continental Congress or in various local
legislatures. By that time those who dwelt in the North were for the
most part merchants, and those who dwelt in the South, planters.

My mother's people were predominantly of Scotch, but also of Huguenot
and English, descent. She was a Georgian, her people having come to
Georgia from South Carolina before the Revolution. The original
Bulloch was a lad from near Glasgow, who came hither a couple of
centuries ago, just as hundreds of thousands of needy, enterprising
Scotchmen have gone to the four quarters of the globe in the
intervening two hundred years. My mother's great-grandfather,
Archibald Bulloch, was the first Revolutionary "President" of Georgia.
My grandfather, her father, spent the winters in Savannah and the
summers at Roswell, in the Georgia uplands near Atlanta, finally
making Roswell his permanent home. He used to travel thither with his
family and their belongings in his own carriage, followed by a baggage
wagon. I never saw Roswell until I was President, but my mother told
me so much about the place that when I did see it I felt as if I
already knew every nook and corner of it, and as if it were haunted by
the ghosts of all the men and women who had lived there. I do not mean
merely my own family, I mean the slaves. My mother and her sister, my
aunt, used to tell us children all kinds of stories about the slaves.
One of the most fascinating referred to a very old darky called Bear
Bob, because in the early days of settlement he had been partially
scalped by a black bear. Then there was Mom' Grace, who was for a time
my mother's nurse, and whom I had supposed to be dead, but who greeted
me when I did come to Roswell, very respectable, and apparently with
years of life before her. The two chief personages of the drama that
used to be repeated to us were Daddy Luke, the Negro overseer, and his
wife, Mom' Charlotte. I never saw either Daddy Luke or Mom' Charlotte,
but I inherited the care of them when my mother died. After the close
of the war they resolutely refused to be emancipated or leave the
place. The only demand they made upon us was enough money annually to
get a new "critter," that is, a mule. With a certain lack of ingenuity
the mule was reported each Christmas as having passed away, or at
least as having become so infirm as to necessitate a successor--a
solemn fiction which neither deceived nor was intended to deceive, but
which furnished a gauge for the size of the Christmas gift.

My maternal grandfather's house was on the line of Sherman's march to
the sea, and pretty much everything in it that was portable was taken
by the boys in blue, including most of the books in the library. When
I was President the facts about my ancestry were published, and a
former soldier in Sherman's army sent me back one of the books with my
grandfather's name in it. It was a little copy of the poems of "Mr.
Gray"--an eighteenth-century edition printed in Glasgow.

On October 27, 1858, I was born at No. 28 East Twentieth Street, New
York City, in the house in which we lived during the time that my two
sisters and my brother and I were small children. It was furnished in
the canonical taste of the New York which George William Curtis
described in the /Potiphar Papers/. The black haircloth furniture in
the dining-room scratched the bare legs of the children when they sat
on it. The middle room was a library, with tables, chairs, and
bookcases of gloomy respectability. It was without windows, and so was
available only at night. The front room, the parlor, seemed to us
children to be a room of much splendor, but was open for general use
only on Sunday evening or on rare occasions when there were parties.
The Sunday evening family gathering was the redeeming feature in a day
which otherwise we children did not enjoy--chiefly because we were all
of us made to wear clean clothes and keep neat. The ornaments of that
parlor I remember now, including the gas chandelier decorated with a
great quantity of cut-glass prisms. These prisms struck me as
possessing peculiar magnificence. One of them fell off one day, and I
hastily grabbed it and stowed it away, passing several days of furtive
delight in the treasure, a delight always alloyed with fear that I
would be found out and convicted of larceny. There was a Swiss wood-
carving representing a very big hunter on one side of an exceedingly
small mountain, and a herd of chamois, disproportionately small for
the hunter and large for the mountain, just across the ridge. This
always fascinated us; but there was a small chamois kid for which we
felt agonies lest the hunter might come on it and kill it. There was
also a Russian moujik drawing a gilt sledge on a piece of malachite.
Some one mentioned in my hearing that malachite was a valuable marble.
This fixed in my mind that it was valuable exactly as diamonds are
valuable. I accepted that moujik as a priceless work of art, and it
was not until I was well in middle age that it occurred to me that I
was mistaken.

Now and then we children were taken round to our grandfather's house;
a big house for the New York of those days, on the corner of
Fourteenth Street and Broadway, fronting Union Square. Inside there
was a large hall running up to the roof; there was a tessellated
black-and-white marble floor, and a circular staircase round the sides
of the hall, from the top floor down. We children much admired both
the tessellated floor and the circular staircase. I think we were
right about the latter, but I am not so sure as to the tessellated

The summers we spent in the country, now at one place, now at another.
We children, of course, loved the country beyond anything. We disliked
the city. We were always wildly eager to get to the country when
spring came, and very sad when in the late fall the family moved back
to town. In the country we of course had all kinds of pets--cats,
dogs, rabbits, a coon, and a sorrel Shetland pony named General Grant.
When my younger sister first heard of the real General Grant, by the
way, she was much struck by the coincidence that some one should have
given him the same name as the pony. (Thirty years later my own
children had /their/ pony Grant.) In the country we children ran
barefoot much of the time, and the seasons went by in a round of
uninterrupted and enthralling pleasures--supervising the haying and
harvesting, picking apples, hunting frogs successfully and woodchucks
unsuccessfully, gathering hickory-nuts and chestnuts for sale to
patient parents, building wigwams in the woods, and sometimes playing
Indians in too realistic manner by staining ourselves (and
incidentally our clothes) in liberal fashion with poke-cherry juice.
Thanksgiving was an appreciated festival, but it in no way came up to
Christmas. Christmas was an occasion of literally delirious joy. In
the evening we hung up our stockings--or rather the biggest stockings
we could borrow from the grown-ups--and before dawn we trooped in to
open them while sitting on father's and mother's bed; and the bigger
presents were arranged, those for each child on its own table, in the
drawing-room, the doors to which were thrown open after breakfast. I
never knew any one else have what seemed to me such attractive
Christmases, and in the next generation I tried to reproduce them
exactly for my own children.

My father, Theodore Roosevelt, was the best man I ever knew. He
combined strength and courage with gentleness, tenderness, and great
unselfishness. He would not tolerate in us children selfishness or
cruelty, idleness, cowardice, or untruthfulness. As we grew older he
made us understand that the same standard of clean living was demanded
for the boys as for the girls; that what was wrong in a woman could
not be right in a man. With great love and patience, and the most
understanding sympathy and consideration, he combined insistence on
discipline. He never physically punished me but once, but he was the
only man of whom I was ever really afraid. I do not mean that it was a
wrong fear, for he was entirely just, and we children adored him. We
used to wait in the library in the evening until we could hear his key
rattling in the latch of the front hall, and then rush out to greet
him; and we would troop into his room while he was dressing, to stay
there as long as we were permitted, eagerly examining anything which
came out of his pockets which could be regarded as an attractive
novelty. Every child has fixed in his memory various details which
strike it as of grave importance. The trinkets he used to keep in a
little box on his dressing-table we children always used to speak of
as "treasures." The word, and some of the trinkets themselves, passed
on to the next generation. My own children, when small, used to troop
into my room while I was dressing, and the gradually accumulating
trinkets in the "ditty-box"--the gift of an enlisted man in the navy--
always excited rapturous joy. On occasions of solemn festivity each
child would receive a trinket for his or her "very own." My children,
by the way, enjoyed one pleasure I do not remember enjoying myself.
When I came back from riding, the child who brought the bootjack would
itself promptly get into the boots, and clump up and down the room
with a delightful feeling of kinship with Jack of the seven-league

The punishing incident I have referred to happened when I was four
years old. I bit my elder sister's arm. I do not remember biting her
arm, but I do remember running down to the yard, perfectly conscious
that I had committed a crime. From the yard I went into the kitchen,
got some dough from the cook, and crawled under the kitchen table. In
a minute or two my father entered from the yard and asked where I was.
The warm-hearted Irish cook had a characteristic contempt for
"informers," but although she said nothing she compromised between
informing and her conscience by casting a look under the table. My
father immediately dropped on all fours and darted for me. I feebly
heaved the dough at him, and, having the advantage of him because I
could stand up under the table, got a fair start for the stairs, but
was caught halfway up them. The punishment that ensued fitted the
crime, and I hope--and believe--that it did me good.

I never knew any one who got greater joy out of living than did my
father, or any one who more whole-heartedly performed every duty; and
no one whom I have ever met approached his combination of enjoyment of
life and performance of duty. He and my mother were given to a
hospitality that at that time was associated more commonly with
southern than northern households; and, especially in their later
years when they had moved up town, in the neighborhood of Central
Park, they kept a charming, open house.

My father worked hard at his business, for he died when he was forty-
six, too early to have retired. He was interested in every social
reform movement, and he did an immense amount of practical charitable
work himself. He was a big, powerful man, with a leonine face, and his
heart filled with gentleness for those who needed help or protection,
and with the possibility of much wrath against a bully or an
oppressor. He was very fond of riding both on the road and across the
country, and was also a great whip. He usually drove four-in-hand, or
else a spike team, that is, a pair with a third horse in the lead. I
do not suppose that such a team exists now. The trap that he drove we
always called the high phaeton. The wheels turned under in front. I
have it yet. He drove long-tailed horses, harnessed loose in light
American harness, so that the whole rig had no possible resemblance to
anything that would be seen now. My father always excelled in
improving every spare half-hour or three-quarters of an hour, whether
for work or enjoyment. Much of his four-in-hand driving was done in
the summer afternoons when he would come out on the train from his
business in New York. My mother and one or perhaps two of us children
might meet him at the station. I can see him now getting out of the
car in his linen duster, jumping into the wagon, and instantly driving
off at a rattling pace, the duster sometimes bagging like a balloon.
The four-in-hand, as can be gathered from the above description, did
not in any way in his eyes represent possible pageantry. He drove it
because he liked it. He was always preaching caution to his boys, but
in this respect he did not practice his preaching overmuch himself;
and, being an excellent whip, he liked to take chances. Generally they
came out all right. Occasionally they did not; but he was even better
at getting out of a scrape than into it. Once when we were driving
into New York late at night the leaders stopped. He flicked them, and
the next moment we could dimly make out that they had jumped. It then
appeared that the street was closed and that a board had been placed
across it, resting on two barrels, but without a lantern. Over this
board the leaders had jumped, and there was considerable excitement
before we got the board taken off the barrels and resumed our way.
When in the city on Thanksgiving or Christmas, my father was very apt
to drive my mother and a couple of friends up to the racing park to
take lunch. But he was always back in time to go to the dinner at the
Newsboys' Lodging-House, and not infrequently also to Miss Sattery's
Night School for little Italians. At a very early age we children were
taken with him and were required to help. He was a staunch friend of
Charles Loring Brace, and was particularly interested in the Newsboys'
Lodging-House and in the night schools and in getting the children off
the streets and out on farms in the West. When I was President, the
Governor of Alaska under me, Governor Brady, was one of these ex-
newsboys who had been sent from New York out West by Mr. Brace and my
father. My father was greatly interested in the societies to prevent
cruelty to children and cruelty to animals. On Sundays he had a
mission class. On his way to it he used to drop us children at our
Sunday-school in Dr. Adams's Presbyterian Church on Madison Square; I
remember hearing my aunt, my mother's sister, saying that when he
walked along with us children he always reminded her of Greatheart in
Bunyan. Under the spur of his example I taught a mission class myself
for three years before going to college and for all four years that I
was in college. I do not think I made much of a success of it. But the
other day on getting out of a taxi in New York the chauffeur spoke to
me and told me that he was one of my old Sunday-school pupils. I
remembered him well, and was much pleased to find that he was an
ardent Bull Mooser!

My mother, Martha Bulloch, was a sweet, gracious, beautiful Southern
woman, a delightful companion and beloved by everybody. She was
entirely "unreconstructed" to the day of her death. Her mother, my
grandmother, one of the dearest of old ladies, lived with us, and was
distinctly overindulgent to us children, being quite unable to harden
her heart towards us even when the occasion demanded it. Towards the
close of the Civil War, although a very small boy, I grew to have a
partial but alert understanding of the fact that the family were not
one in their views about that conflict, my father being a strong
Lincoln Republican; and once, when I felt that I had been wronged by
maternal discipline during the day, I attempted a partial vengeance by
praying with loud fervor for the success of the Union arms, when we
all came to say our prayers before my mother in the evening. She was
not only a most devoted mother, but was also blessed with a strong
sense of humor, and she was too much amused to punish me; but I was
warned not to repeat the offense, under penalty of my father's being
informed--he being the dispenser of serious punishment. Morning
prayers were with my father. We used to stand at the foot of the
stairs, and when father came down we called out, "I speak for you and
the cubby-hole too!" There were three of us young children, and we
used to sit with father on the sofa while he conducted morning
prayers. The place between father and the arm of the sofa we called
the "cubby-hole." The child who got that place we regarded as
especially favored both in comfort and somehow or other in rank and
title. The two who were left to sit on the much wider expanse of sofa
on the other side of father were outsiders for the time being.

My aunt Anna, my mother's sister, lived with us. She was as devoted to
us children as was my mother herself, and we were equally devoted to
her in return. She taught us our lessons while we were little. She and
my mother used to entertain us by the hour with tales of life on the
Georgia plantations; of hunting fox, deer, and wildcat; of the long-
tailed driving horses, Boone and Crockett, and of the riding horses,
one of which was named Buena Vista in a fit of patriotic exaltation
during the Mexican War; and of the queer goings-on in the Negro
quarters. She knew all the "Br'er Rabbit" stories, and I was brought
up on them. One of my uncles, Robert Roosevelt, was much struck with
them, and took them down from her dictation, publishing them in
/Harper's/, where they fell flat. This was a good many years before a
genius arose who in "Uncle Remus" made the stories immortal.

My mother's two brothers, James Dunwoodie Bulloch and Irvine Bulloch,
came to visit us shortly after the close of the war. Both came under
assumed names, as they were among the Confederates who were at that
time exempted from the amnesty. "Uncle Jimmy" Bulloch was a dear old
retired sea-captain, utterly unable to "get on" in the worldly sense
of that phrase, as valiant and simple and upright a soul as ever
lived, a veritable Colonel Newcome. He was an Admiral in the
Confederate navy, and was the builder of the famous Confederate war
vessel Alabama. My uncle Irvine Bulloch was a midshipman on the
/Alabama/, and fired the last gun discharged from her batteries in the
fight with the /Kearsarge/. Both of these uncles lived in Liverpool
after the war.

My uncle Jimmy Bulloch was forgiving and just in reference to the
Union forces, and could discuss all phases of the Civil War with
entire fairness and generosity. But in English politics he promptly
became a Tory of the most ultra-conservative school. Lincoln and Grant
he could admire, but he would not listen to anything in favor of Mr.
Gladstone. The only occasions on which I ever shook his faith in me
were when I would venture meekly to suggest that some of the
manifestly preposterous falsehoods about Mr. Gladstone could not be
true. My uncle was one of the best men I have ever known, and when I
have sometimes been tempted to wonder how good people can believe of
me the unjust and impossible things they do believe, I have consoled
myself by thinking of Uncle Jimmy Bulloch's perfectly sincere
conviction that Gladstone was a man of quite exceptional and nameless
infamy in both public and private life.

I was a sickly, delicate boy, suffered much from asthma, and
frequently had to be taken away on trips to find a place where I could
breathe. One of my memories is of my father walking up and down the
room with me in his arms at night when I was a very small person, and
of sitting up in bed gasping, with my father and mother trying to help
me. I went very little to school. I never went to the public schools,
as my own children later did, both at the "Cove School" at Oyster Bay
and at the "Ford School" in Washington. For a few months I attended
Professor McMullen's school in Twentieth Street near the house where I
was born, but most of the time I had tutors. As I have already said,
my aunt taught me when I was small. At one time we had a French
governess, a loved and valued "mam'selle," in the household.

When I was ten years old I made my first journey to Europe. My
birthday was spent in Cologne, and in order to give me a thoroughly
"party" feeling I remember that my mother put on full dress for my
birthday dinner. I do not think I gained anything from this particular
trip abroad. I cordially hated it, as did my younger brother and
sister. Practically all the enjoyment we had was in exploring any
ruins or mountains when we could get away from our elders, and in
playing in the different hotels. Our one desire was to get back to
America, and we regarded Europe with the most ignorant chauvinism and
contempt. Four years later, however, I made another journey to Europe,
and was old enough to enjoy it thoroughly and profit by it.

While still a small boy I began to take an interest in natural
history. I remember distinctly the first day that I started on my
career as zoologist. I was walking up Broadway, and as I passed the
market to which I used sometimes to be sent before breakfast to get
strawberries I suddenly saw a dead seal laid out on a slab of wood.
That seal filled me with every possible feeling of romance and
adventure. I asked where it was killed, and was informed in the
harbor. I had already begun to read some of Mayne Reid's books and
other boys' books of adventure, and I felt that this seal brought all
these adventures in realistic fashion before me. As long as that seal
remained there I haunted the neighborhood of the market day after day.
I measured it, and I recall that, not having a tape measure, I had to
do my best to get its girth with a folding pocket foot-rule, a
difficult undertaking. I carefully made a record of the utterly
useless measurements, and at once began to write a natural history of
my own, on the strength of that seal. This, and subsequent natural
histories, were written down in blank books in simplified spelling,
wholly unpremeditated and unscientific. I had vague aspirations of in
some way or another owning and preserving that seal, but they never
got beyond the purely formless stage. I think, however, I did get the
seal's skull, and with two of my cousins promptly started what we
ambitiously called the "Roosevelt Museum of Natural History." The
collections were at first kept in my room, until a rebellion on the
part of the chambermaid received the approval of the higher
authorities of the household and the collection was moved up to a kind
of bookcase in the back hall upstairs. It was the ordinary small boy's
collection of curios, quite incongruous and entirely valueless except
from the standpoint of the boy himself. My father and mother
encouraged me warmly in this, as they always did in anything that
could give me wholesome pleasure or help to develop me.

The adventure of the seal and the novels of Mayne Reid together
strengthened my instinctive interest in natural history. I was too
young to understand much of Mayne Reid, excepting the adventure part
and the natural history part--these enthralled me. But of course my
reading was not wholly confined to natural history. There was very
little effort made to compel me to read books, my father and mother
having the good sense not to try to get me to read anything I did not
like, unless it was in the way of study. I was given the chance to
read books that they thought I ought to read, but if I did not like
them I was then given some other good book that I did like. There were
certain books that were taboo. For instance, I was not allowed to read
dime novels. I obtained some surreptitiously and did read them, but I
do not think that the enjoyment compensated for the feeling of guilt.
I was also forbidden to read the only one of Ouida's books which I
wished to read--"Under Two Flags." I did read it, nevertheless, with
greedy and fierce hope of coming on something unhealthy; but as a
matter of fact all the parts that might have seemed unhealthy to an
older person made no impression on me whatever. I simply enjoyed in a
rather confused way the general adventures.

I think there ought to be children's books. I think that the child
will like grown-up books also, and I do not believe a child's book is
really good unless grown-ups get something out of it. For instance,
there is a book I did not have when I was a child because it was not
written. It is Laura E. Richard's "Nursery Rhymes." My own children
loved them dearly, and their mother and I loved them almost equally;
the delightfully light-hearted "Man from New Mexico who Lost his
Grandmother out in the Snow," the adventures of "The Owl, the Eel, and
the Warming-Pan," and the extraordinary genealogy of the kangaroo
whose "father was a whale with a feather in his tail who lived in the
Greenland sea," while "his mother was a shark who kept very dark in
the Gulf of Caribee."

As a small boy I had /Our Young Folks/, which I then firmly believed
to be the very best magazine in the world--a belief, I may add, which
I have kept to this day unchanged, for I seriously doubt if any
magazine for old or young has ever surpassed it. Both my wife and I
have the bound volumes of /Our Young Folks/ which we preserved from
our youth. I have tried to read again the Mayne Reid books which I so
dearly loved as a boy, only to find, alas! that it is impossible. But
I really believe that I enjoy going over /Our Young Folks/ now nearly
as much as ever. "Cast Away in the Cold," "Grandfather's Struggle for
a Homestead," "The William Henry Letters," and a dozen others like
them were first-class, good healthy stories, interesting in the first
place, and in the next place teaching manliness, decency, and good
conduct. At the cost of being deemed effeminate, I will add that I
greatly liked the girls' stories--"Pussy Willow" and "A Summer in
Leslie Goldthwaite's Life," just as I worshiped "Little Men" and
"Little Women" and "An Old-Fashioned Girl."

This enjoyment of the gentler side of life did not prevent my reveling
in such tales of adventure as Ballantyne's stories, or Marryat's
"Midshipman Easy." I suppose everybody has kinks in him, and even as a
child there were books which I ought to have liked and did not. For
instance, I never cared at all for the first part of "Robinson Crusoe"
(and although it is unquestionably the best part, I do not care for it
now); whereas the second part, containing the adventures of Robinson
Crusoe, with the wolves in the Pyrenees, and out in the Far East,
simply fascinated me. What I did like in the first part were the
adventures before Crusoe finally reached his island, the fight with
the Sallee Rover, and the allusion to the strange beasts at night
taking their improbable bath in the ocean. Thanks to being already an
embryo zoologist, I disliked the "Swiss Family Robinson" because of
the wholly impossible collection of animals met by that worthy family
as they ambled inland from the wreck. Even in poetry it was the
relation of adventures that most appealed to me as a boy. At a pretty
early age I began to read certain books of poetry, notably
Longfellow's poem, "The Saga of King Olaf," which absorbed me. This
introduced me to Scandinavian literature; and I have never lost my
interest in and affection for it.

Among my first books was a volume of a hopelessly unscientific kind by
Mayne Reid, about mammals, illustrated with pictures no more artistic
than but quite as thrilling as those in the typical school geography.
When my father found how deeply interested I was in this not very
accurate volume, he gave me a little book by J. G. Wood, the English
writer of popular books on natural history, and then a larger one of
his called "Homes Without Hands." Both of these were cherished
possessions. They were studied eagerly; and they finally descended to
my children. The "Homes Without Hands," by the way, grew to have an
added association in connection with a pedagogical failure on my part.
In accordance with what I believed was some kind of modern theory of
making education interesting and not letting it become a task, I
endeavored to teach my eldest small boy one or two of his letters from
the title-page. As the letter "H" appeared in the title an unusual
number of times, I selected that to begin on, my effort being to keep
the small boy interested, not to let him realize that he was learning
a lesson, and to convince him that he was merely having a good time.
Whether it was the theory or my method of applying it that was
defective I do not know, but I certainly absolutely eradicated from
his brain any ability to learn what "H" was; and long after he had
learned all the other letters of the alphabet in the old-fashioned
way, he proved wholly unable to remember "H" under any circumstances.

Quite unknown to myself, I was, while a boy, under a hopeless
disadvantage in studying nature. I was very near-sighted, so that the
only things I could study were those I ran against or stumbled over.
When I was about thirteen I was allowed to take lessons in taxidermy
from a Mr. Bell, a tall, clean-shaven, white-haired old gentleman, as
straight as an Indian, who had been a companion of Audubon's. He had a
musty little shop, somewhat on the order of Mr. Venus's shop in "Our
Mutual Friend," a little shop in which he had done very valuable work
for science. This "vocational study," as I suppose it would be called
by modern educators, spurred and directed my interest in collecting
specimens for mounting and preservation. It was this summer that I got
my first gun, and it puzzled me to find that my companions seemed to
see things to shoot at which I could not see at all. One day they read
aloud an advertisement in huge letters on a distant billboard, and I
then realized that something was the matter, for not only was I unable
to read the sign but I could not even see the letters. I spoke of this
to my father, and soon afterwards got my first pair of spectacles,
which literally opened an entirely new world to me. I had no idea how
beautiful the world was until I got those spectacles. I had been a
clumsy and awkward little boy, and while much of my clumsiness and
awkwardness was doubtless due to general characteristics, a good deal
of it was due to the fact that I could not see and yet was wholly
ignorant that I was not seeing. The recollection of this experience
gives me a keen sympathy with those who are trying in our public
schools and elsewhere to remove the physical causes of deficiency in
children, who are often unjustly blamed for being obstinate or
unambitious, or mentally stupid.

This same summer, too, I obtained various new books on mammals and
birds, including the publications of Spencer Baird, for instance, and
made an industrious book-study of the subject. I did not accomplish
much in outdoor study because I did not get spectacles until late in
the fall, a short time before I started with the rest of the family
for a second trip to Europe. We were living at Dobbs Ferry, on the
Hudson. My gun was a breech-loading, pin-fire double-barrel, of French
manufacture. It was an excellent gun for a clumsy and often absent-
minded boy. There was no spring to open it, and if the mechanism
became rusty it could be opened with a brick without serious damage.
When the cartridges stuck they could be removed in the same fashion.
If they were loaded, however, the result was not always happy, and I
tattooed myself with partially unburned grains of powder more than

When I was fourteen years old, in the winter of '72 and '73, I visited
Europe for the second time, and this trip formed a really useful part
of my education. We went to Egypt, journeyed up the Nile, traveled
through the Holy Land and part of Syria, visited Greece and
Constantinople; and then we children spent the summer in a German
family in Dresden. My first real collecting as a student of natural
history was done in Egypt during this journey. By this time I had a
good working knowledge of American bird life from the superficially
scientific standpoint. I had no knowledge of the ornithology of Egypt,
but I picked up in Cairo a book by an English clergyman, whose name I
have now forgotten, who described a trip up the Nile, and in an
appendix to his volume gave an account of his bird collection. I wish
I could remember the name of the author now, for I owe that book very
much. Without it I should have been collecting entirely in the dark,
whereas with its aid I could generally find out what the birds were.
My first knowledge of Latin was obtained by learning the scientific
names of the birds and mammals which I collected and classified by the
aid of such books as this one.

The birds I obtained up the Nile and in Palestine represented merely
the usual boy's collection. Some years afterward I gave them, together
with the other ornithological specimens I had gathered, to the
Smithsonian Institution in Washington, and I think some of them also
to the American Museum of Natural History in New York. I am told that
the skins are to be found yet in both places and in other public
collections. I doubt whether they have my original labels on them.
With great pride the directors of the "Roosevelt Museum," consisting
of myself and the two cousins aforesaid, had printed a set of
Roosevelt Museum labels in pink ink preliminary to what was regarded
as my adventurous trip to Egypt. This bird-collecting gave what was
really the chief zest to my Nile journey. I was old enough and had
read enough to enjoy the temples and the desert scenery and the
general feeling of romance; but this in time would have palled if I
had not also had the serious work of collecting and preparing my
specimens. Doubtless the family had their moments of suffering--
especially on one occasion when a well-meaning maid extracted from my
taxidermist's outfit the old tooth-brush with which I put on the skins
the arsenical soap necessary for their preservation, partially washed
it, and left it with the rest of my wash kit for my own personal use.
I suppose that all growing boys tend to be grubby; but the
ornithological small boy, or indeed the boy with the taste for natural
history of any kind, is generally the very grubbiest of all. An added
element in my case was the fact that while in Egypt I suddenly started
to grow. As there were no tailors up the Nile, when I got back to
Cairo I needed a new outfit. But there was one suit of clothes too
good to throw away, which we kept for a "change," and which was known
as my "Smike suit," because it left my wrists and ankles as bare as
those of poor Smike himself.

When we reached Dresden we younger children were left to spend the
summer in the house of Herr Minckwitz, a member of either the
Municipal or the Saxon Government--I have forgotten which. It was
hoped that in this way we would acquire some knowledge of the German
language and literature. They were the very kindest family imaginable.
I shall never forget the unwearied patience of the two daughters. The
father and mother, and a shy, thin, student cousin who was living in
the flat, were no less kind. Whenever I could get out into the country
I collected specimens industriously and enlivened the household with
hedge-hogs and other small beasts and reptiles which persisted in
escaping from partially closed bureau drawers. The two sons were
fascinating students from the University of Leipsic, both of them
belonging to dueling corps, and much scarred in consequence. One, a
famous swordsman, was called /Der Rothe Herzog/ (the Red Duke), and
the other was nicknamed /Herr Nasehorn/ (Sir Rhinoceros) because the
tip of his nose had been cut off in a duel and sewn on again. I
learned a good deal of German here, in spite of myself, and above all
I became fascinated with the Nibelungenlied. German prose never became
really easy to me in the sense that French prose did, but for German
poetry I cared as much as for English poetry. Above all, I gained an
impression of the German people which I never got over. From that time
to this it would have been quite impossible to make me feel that the
Germans were really foreigners. The affection, the /Gemuthlichkeit/ (a
quality which cannot be exactly expressed by any single English word),
the capacity for hard work, the sense of duty, the delight in studying
literature and science, the pride in the new Germany, the more than
kind and friendly interest in three strange children--all these
manifestations of the German character and of German family life made
a subconscious impression upon me which I did not in the least define
at the time, but which is very vivid still forty years later.

When I got back to America, at the age of fifteen, I began serious
study to enter Harvard under Mr. Arthur Cutler, who later founded the
Cutler School in New York. I could not go to school because I knew so
much less than most boys of my age in some subjects and so much more
in others. In science and history and geography and in unexpected
parts of German and French I was strong, but lamentably weak in Latin
and Greek and mathematics. My grandfather had made his summer home in
Oyster Bay a number of years before, and my father now made Oyster Bay
the summer home of his family also. Along with my college preparatory
studies I carried on the work of a practical student of natural
history. I worked with greater industry than either intelligence or
success, and made very few additions to the sum of human knowledge;
but to this day certain obscure ornithological publications may be
found in which are recorded such items as, for instance, that on one
occasion a fish-crow, and on another an Ipswich sparrow, were obtained
by one Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., at Oyster Bay, on the shore of Long
Island Sound.

In the fall of 1876 I entered Harvard, graduating in 1880. I
thoroughly enjoyed Harvard, and I am sure it did me good, but only in
the general effect, for there was very little in my actual studies
which helped me in after life. More than one of my own sons have
already profited by their friendship with certain of their masters in
school or college. I certainly profited by my friendship with one of
my tutors, Mr. Cutler; and in Harvard I owed much to the professor of
English, Mr. A. S. Hill. Doubtless through my own fault, I saw almost
nothing of President Eliot and very little of the professors. I ought
to have gained much more than I did gain from writing the themes and
forensics. My failure to do so may have been partly due to my taking
no interest in the subjects. Before I left Harvard I was already
writing one or two chapters of a book I afterwards published on the
Naval War of 1812. Those chapters were so dry that they would have
made a dictionary seem light reading by comparison. Still, they
represented purpose and serious interest on my part, not the
perfunctory effort to do well enough to get a certain mark; and
corrections of them by a skilled older man would have impressed me and
have commanded my respectful attention. But I was not sufficiently
developed to make myself take an intelligent interest in some of the
subjects assigned me--the character of the Gracchi, for instance. A
very clever and studious lad would no doubt have done so, but I
personally did not grow up to this particular subject until a good
many years later. The frigate and sloop actions between the American
and British sea-tigers of 1812 were much more within my grasp. I
worked drearily at the Gracchi because I had to; my conscientious and
much-to-be-pitied professor dragging me through the theme by main
strength, with my feet firmly planted in dull and totally idea-proof

I had at the time no idea of going into public life, and I never
studied elocution or practiced debating. This was a loss to me in one
way. In another way it was not. Personally I have not the slightest
sympathy with debating contests in which each side is arbitrarily
assigned a given proposition and told to maintain it without the least
reference to whether those maintaining it believe in it or not. I know
that under our system this is necessary for lawyers, but I
emphatically disbelieve in it as regards general discussion of
political, social, and industrial matters. What we need is to turn out
of our colleges young men with ardent convictions on the side of the
right; not young men who can make a good argument for either right or
wrong as their interest bids them. The present method of carrying on
debates on such subjects as "Our Colonial Policy," or "The Need of a
Navy," or "The Proper Position of the Courts in Constitutional
Questions," encourages precisely the wrong attitude among those who
take part in them. There is no effort to instill sincerity and
intensity of conviction. On the contrary, the net result is to make
the contestants feel that their convictions have nothing to do with
their arguments. I am sorry I did not study elocution in college; but
I am exceedingly glad that I did not take part in the type of debate
in which stress is laid, not upon getting a speaker to think rightly,
but on getting him to talk glibly on the side to which he is assigned,
without regard either to what his convictions are or to what they
ought to be.

I was a reasonably good student in college, standing just within the
first tenth of my class, if I remember rightly; although I am not sure
whether this means the tenth of the whole number that entered or of
those that graduated. I was given a Phi Beta Kappa "key." My chief
interests were scientific. When I entered college, I was devoted to
out-of-doors natural history, and my ambition was to be a scientific
man of the Audubon, or Wilson, or Baird, or Coues type--a man like
Hart Merriam, or Frank Chapman, or Hornaday, to-day. My father had
from the earliest days instilled into me the knowledge that I was to
work and to make my own way in the world, and I had always supposed
that this meant that I must enter business. But in my freshman year
(he died when I was a sophomore) he told me that if I wished to become
a scientific man I could do so. He explained that I must be sure that
I really intensely desired to do scientific work, because if I went
into it I must make it a serious career; that he had made enough money
to enable me to take up such a career and do non-remunerative work of
value /if I intended to do the very best work there was in me/; but
that I must not dream of taking it up as a dilettante. He also gave me
a piece of advice that I have always remembered, namely, that, if I
was not going to earn money, I must even things up by not spending it.
As he expressed it, I had to keep the fraction constant, and if I was
not able to increase the numerator, then I must reduce the
denominator. In other words, if I went into a scientific career, I
must definitely abandon all thought of the enjoyment that could
accompany a money-making career, and must find my pleasures elsewhere.

After this conversation I fully intended to make science my life-work.
I did not, for the simple reason that at that time Harvard, and I
suppose our other colleges, utterly ignored the possibilities of the
faunal naturalist, the outdoor naturalist and observer of nature. They
treated biology as purely a science of the laboratory and the
microscope, a science whose adherents were to spend their time in the
study of minute forms of marine life, or else in section-cutting and
the study of the tissues of the higher organisms under the microscope.
This attitude was, no doubt, in part due to the fact that in most
colleges then there was a not always intelligent copying of what was
done in the great German universities. The sound revolt against
superficiality of study had been carried to an extreme; thoroughness
in minutiae as the only end of study had been erected into a fetish.
There was a total failure to understand the great variety of kinds of
work that could be done by naturalists, including what could be done
by outdoor naturalists--the kind of work which Hart Merriam and his
assistants in the Biological Survey have carried to such a high degree
of perfection as regards North American mammals. In the entirely
proper desire to be thorough and to avoid slipshod methods, the
tendency was to treat as not serious, as unscientific, any kind of
work that was not carried on with laborious minuteness in the
laboratory. My taste was specialized in a totally different direction,
and I had no more desire or ability to be a microscopist and section-
cutter than to be a mathematician. Accordingly I abandoned all thought
of becoming a scientist. Doubtless this meant that I really did not
have the intense devotion to science which I thought I had; for, if I
had possessed such devotion, I would have carved out a career for
myself somehow without regard to discouragements.

As regards political economy, I was of course while in college taught
the /laissez-faire/ doctrines--one of them being free trade--then
accepted as canonical. Most American boys of my age were taught both
by their surroundings and by their studies certain principles which
were very valuable from the standpoint of National interest, and
certain others which were very much the reverse. The political
economists were not especially to blame for this; it was the general
attitude of the writers who wrote for us of that generation. Take my
beloved /Our Young Folks/, the magazine of which I have already
spoken, and which taught me much more than any of my text-books.
Everything in this magazine instilled the individual virtues, and the
necessity of character as the chief factor in any man's success--a
teaching in which I now believe as sincerely as ever, for all the laws
that the wit of man can devise will never make a man a worthy citizen
unless he has within himself the right stuff, unless he has self-
reliance, energy, courage, the power of insisting on his own rights
and the sympathy that makes him regardful of the rights of others. All
this individual morality I was taught by the books I read at home and
the books I studied at Harvard. But there was almost no teaching of
the need for collective action, and of the fact that in addition to,
not as a substitute for, individual responsibility, there is a
collective responsibility. Books such as Herbert Croly's "Promise of
American Life" and Walter E. Weyl's "New Democracy" would generally at
that time have been treated either as unintelligible or else as pure

The teaching which I received was genuinely democratic in one way. It
was not so democratic in another. I grew into manhood thoroughly
imbued with the feeling that a man must be respected for what he made
of himself. But I had also, consciously or unconsciously, been taught
that socially and industrially pretty much the whole duty of the man
lay in thus making the best of himself; that he should be honest in
his dealings with others and charitable in the old-fashioned way to
the unfortunate; but that it was no part of his business to join with
others in trying to make things better for the many by curbing the
abnormal and excessive development of individualism in a few. Now I do
not mean that this training was by any means all bad. On the contrary,
the insistence upon individual responsibility was, and is, and always
will be, a prime necessity. Teaching of the kind I absorbed from both
my text-books and my surroundings is a healthy anti-scorbutic to the
sentimentality which by complacently excusing the individual for all
his shortcomings would finally hopelessly weaken the spring of moral
purpose. It also keeps alive that virile vigor for the lack of which
in the average individual no possible perfection of law or of
community action can ever atone. But such teaching, if not corrected
by other teaching, means acquiescence in a riot of lawless business
individualism which would be quite as destructive to real civilization
as the lawless military individualism of the Dark Ages. I left college
and entered the big world owing more than I can express to the
training I had received, especially in my own home; but with much else
also to learn if I were to become really fitted to do my part in the
work that lay ahead for the generation of Americans to which I



Looking back, a man really has a more objective feeling about himself
as a child than he has about his father or mother. He feels as if that
child were not the present he, individually, but an ancestor; just as
much an ancestor as either of his parents. The saying that the child
is the father to the man may be taken in a sense almost the reverse of
that usually given to it. The child is father to the man in the sense
that his individuality is separate from the individuality of the
grown-up into which he turns. This is perhaps one reason why a man can
speak of his childhood and early youth with a sense of detachment.

Having been a sickly boy, with no natural bodily prowess, and having
lived much at home, I was at first quite unable to hold my own when
thrown into contact with other boys of rougher antecedents. I was
nervous and timid. Yet from reading of the people I admired--ranging
from the soldiers of Valley Forge, and Morgan's riflemen, to the
heroes of my favorite stories--and from hearing of the feats performed
by my Southern forefathers and kinsfolk, and from knowing my father, I
felt a great admiration for men who were fearless and who could hold
their own in the world, and I had a great desire to be like them.
Until I was nearly fourteen I let this desire take no more definite
shape than day-dreams. Then an incident happened that did me real
good. Having an attack of asthma, I was sent off by myself to
Moosehead Lake. On the stage-coach ride thither I encountered a couple
of other boys who were about my own age, but very much more competent
and also much more mischievous. I have no doubt they were good-hearted
boys, but they were boys! They found that I was a foreordained and
predestined victim, and industriously proceeded to make life miserable
for me. The worst feature was that when I finally tried to fight them
I discovered that either one singly could not only handle me with easy
contempt, but handle me so as not to hurt me much and yet to prevent
my doing any damage whatever in return.

The experience taught me what probably no amount of good advice could
have taught me. I made up my mind that I must try to learn so that I
would not again be put in such a helpless position; and having become
quickly and bitterly conscious that I did not have the natural prowess
to hold my own, I decided that I would try to supply its place by
training. Accordingly, with my father's hearty approval, I started to
learn to box. I was a painfully slow and awkward pupil, and certainly
worked two or three years before I made any perceptible improvement
whatever. My first boxing-master was John Long, an ex-prize-fighter. I
can see his rooms now, with colored pictures of the fights between Tom
Hyer and Yankee Sullivan, and Heenan and Sayers, and other great
events in the annals of the squared circle. On one occasion, to excite
interest among his patrons, he held a series of "championship" matches
for the different weights, the prizes being, at least in my own class,
pewter mugs of a value, I should suppose, approximating fifty cents.
Neither he nor I had any idea that I could do anything, but I was
entered in the lightweight contest, in which it happened that I was
pitted in succession against a couple of reedy striplings who were
even worse than I was. Equally to their surprise and to my own, and to
John Long's, I won, and the pewter mug became one of my most prized
possessions. I kept it, and alluded to it, and I fear bragged about
it, for a number of years, and I only wish I knew where it was now.
Years later I read an account of a little man who once in a fifth-rate
handicap race won a worthless pewter medal and joyed in it ever after.
Well, as soon as I read that story I felt that that little man and I
were brothers.

This was, as far as I remember, the only one of my exceedingly rare
athletic triumphs which would be worth relating. I did a good deal of
boxing and wrestling in Harvard, but never attained to the first rank
in either, even at my own weight. Once, in the big contests in the
Gym, I got either into the finals or semi-finals, I forget which; but
aside from this the chief part I played was to act as trial horse for
some friend or classmate who did have a chance of distinguishing
himself in the championship contests.

I was fond of horseback-riding, but I took to it slowly and with
difficulty, exactly as with boxing. It was a long time before I became
even a respectable rider, and I never got much higher. I mean by this
that I never became a first-flight man in the hunting field, and never
even approached the bronco-busting class in the West. Any man, if he
chooses, can gradually school himself to the requisite nerve, and
gradually learn the requisite seat and hands, that will enable him to
do respectably across country, or to perform the average work on a
ranch. Of my ranch experiences I shall speak later. At intervals after
leaving college I hunted on Long Island with the Meadowbrook hounds.
Almost the only experience I ever had in this connection that was of
any interest was on one occasion when I broke my arm. My purse did not
permit me to own expensive horses. On this occasion I was riding an
animal, a buggy horse originally, which its owner sold because now and
then it insisted on thoughtfully lying down when in harness. It never
did this under the saddle; and when he turned it out to grass it would
solemnly hop over the fence and get somewhere where it did not belong.
The last trait was what converted it into a hunter. It was a natural
jumper, although without any speed. On the hunt in question I got
along very well until the pace winded my ex-buggy horse, and it turned
a somersault over a fence. When I got on it after the fall I found I
could not use my left arm. I supposed it was merely a strain. The
buggy horse was a sedate animal which I rode with a snaffle. So we
pounded along at the tail of the hunt, and I did not appreciate that
my arm was broken for three or four fences. Then we came to a big
drop, and the jar made the bones slip past one another so as to throw
the hand out of position. It did not hurt me at all, and as the horse
was as easy to sit as a rocking-chair, I got in at the death.

I think August Belmont was master of the hunt when the above incident
occurred. I know he was master on another occasion on which I met with
a mild adventure. On one of the hunts when I was out a man was thrown,
dragged by one stirrup, and killed. In consequence I bought a pair of
safety stirrups, which I used the next time I went out. Within five
minutes after the run began I found that the stirrups were so very
"safe" that they would not stay in at all. First one went off at one
jump, and then the other at another jump--with a fall for me on each
occasion. I hated to give up the fun so early, and accordingly
finished the run without any stirrups. My horse never went as fast as
on that run. Doubtless a first-class horseman can ride as well without
stirrups as with them. But I was not a first-class horseman. When
anything unexpected happened, I was apt to clasp the solemn buggy
horse firmly with my spurred heels, and the result was that he laid
himself out to do his best in the way of galloping. He speedily found
that, thanks to the snaffle bit, I could not pull him in, so when we
came to a down grade he would usually put on steam. Then if there was
a fence at the bottom and he checked at all, I was apt to shoot
forward, and in such event we went over the fence in a way that
reminded me of Leech's picture, in /Punch/, of Mr. Tom Noddy and his
mare jumping a fence in the following order: Mr. Tom Noddy, I; his
mare, II. However, I got in at the death this time also.

I was fond of walking and climbing. As a lad I used to go to the north
woods, in Maine, both in fall and winter. There I made life friends of
two men, Will Dow and Bill Sewall: I canoed with them, and tramped
through the woods with them, visiting the winter logging camps on
snow-shoes. Afterward they were with me in the West. Will Dow is dead.
Bill Sewall was collector of customs under me, on the Aroostook
border. Except when hunting I never did any mountaineering save for a
couple of conventional trips up the Matterhorn and the Jungfrau on one
occasion when I was in Switzerland.

I never did much with the shotgun, but I practiced a good deal with
the rifle. I had a rifle-range at Sagamore Hill, where I often took
friends to shoot. Once or twice when I was visited by parties of
released Boer prisoners, after the close of the South African War,
they and I held shooting matches together. The best man with both
pistol and rifle who ever shot there was Stewart Edward White. Among
the many other good men was a stanch friend, Baron Speck von
Sternberg, afterwards German Ambassador at Washington during my
Presidency. He was a capital shot, rider, and walker, a devoted and
most efficient servant of Germany, who had fought with distinction in
the Franco-German War when barely more than a boy; he was the hero of
the story of "the pig dog" in Archibald Forbes's volume of
reminiscences. It was he who first talked over with me the raising of
a regiment of horse riflemen from among the ranchmen and cowboys of
the plains. When Ambassador, the poor, gallant, tender-hearted fellow
was dying of a slow and painful disease, so that he could not play
with the rest of us, but the agony of his mortal illness never in the
slightest degree interfered with his work. Among the other men who
shot and rode and walked with me was Cecil Spring-Rice, who has just
been appointed British Ambassador to the United States. He was my
groomsman, my best man, when I was married--at St. George's, Hanover
Square, which made me feel as if I were living in one of Thackeray's

My own experience as regards marksmanship was much the same as my
experience as regards horsemanship. There are men whose eye and hand
are so quick and so sure that they achieve a perfection of
marksmanship to which no practice will enable ordinary men to attain.
There are other men who cannot learn to shoot with any accuracy at
all. In between come the mass of men of ordinary abilities who, if
they choose resolutely to practice, can by sheer industry and judgment
make themselves fair rifle shots. The men who show this requisite
industry and judgment can without special difficulty raise themselves
to the second class of respectable rifle shots; and it is to this
class that I belong. But to have reached this point of marksmanship
with the rifle at a target by no means implies ability to hit game in
the field, especially dangerous game. All kinds of other qualities,
moral and physical, enter into being a good hunter, and especially a
good hunter after dangerous game, just as all kinds of other qualities
in addition to skill with the rifle enter into being a good soldier.
With dangerous game, after a fair degree of efficiency with the rifle
has been attained, the prime requisites are cool judgment and that
kind of nerve which consists in avoiding being rattled. Any beginner
is apt to have "buck fever," and therefore no beginner should go at
dangerous game.

Buck fever means a state of intense nervous excitement which may be
entirely divorced from timidity. It may affect a man the first time he
has to speak to a large audience just as it affects him the first time
he sees a buck or goes into battle. What such a man needs is not
courage but nerve control, cool-headedness. This he can get only by
actual practice. He must, by custom and repeated exercise of self-
mastery, get his nerves thoroughly under control. This is largely a
matter of habit, in the sense of repeated effort and repeated exercise
of will power. If the man has the right stuff in him, his will grows
stronger and stronger with each exercise of it--and if he has not the
right stuff in him he had better keep clear of dangerous game hunting,
or indeed of any other form of sport or work in which there is bodily

After he has achieved the ability to exercise wariness and judgment
and the control over his nerves /which will make him shoot as well at
the game as at a target/, he can begin his essays at dangerous game
hunting, and he will then find that it does not demand such abnormal
prowess as the outsider is apt to imagine. A man who can hit a soda-
water bottle at the distance of a few yards can brain a lion or a bear
or an elephant at that distance, and if he cannot brain it when it
charges he can at least bring it to a standstill. All he has to do is
to shoot as accurately as he would at a soda-water bottle; and to do
this requires nerve, at least as much as it does physical address.
Having reached this point, the hunter must not imagine that he is
warranted in taking desperate chances. There are degrees in
proficiency; and what is a warrantable and legitimate risk for a man
to take when he has reached a certain grade of efficiency may be a
foolish risk for him to take before he has reached that grade. A man
who has reached the degree of proficiency indicated above is quite
warranted in walking in at a lion at bay, in an open plain, to, say,
within a hundred yards. If the lion has not charged, the man ought at
that distance to knock him over and prevent his charging; and if the
lion is already charging, the man ought at that distance to be able to
stop him. But the amount of prowess which warrants a man in relying on
his ability to perform this feat does not by any means justify him in
thinking that, for instance, he can crawl after a wounded lion into
thick cover. I have known men of indifferent prowess to perform this
latter feat successfully, but at least as often they have been
unsuccessful, and in these cases the result has been unpleasant. The
man who habitually follows wounded lions into thick cover must be a
hunter of the highest skill, or he can count with certainty on an
ultimate mauling.

The first two or three bucks I ever saw gave me buck fever badly, but
after I had gained experience with ordinary game I never had buck
fever at all with dangerous game. In my case the overcoming of buck
fever was the result of conscious effort and a deliberate
determination to overcome it. More happily constituted men never have
to make this determined effort at all--which may perhaps show that the
average man can profit more from my experiences than he can from those
of the exceptional man.

I have shot only five kinds of animals which can fairly be called
dangerous game--that is, the lion, elephant, rhinoceros, and buffalo
in Africa, and the big grizzly bear a quarter of a century ago in the
Rockies. Taking into account not only my own personal experience, but
the experiences of many veteran hunters, I regard all the four African
animals, but especially the lion, elephant, and buffalo, as much more
dangerous than the grizzly. As it happened, however, the only narrow
escape I personally ever had was from a grizzly, and in Africa the
animal killed closest to me as it was charging was a rhinoceros--all
of which goes to show that a man must not generalize too broadly from
his own personal experiences. On the whole, I think the lion the most
dangerous of all these five animals; that is, I think that, if fairly
hunted, there is a larger percentage of hunters killed or mauled for a
given number of lions killed than for a given number of any one of the
other animals. Yet I personally had no difficulties with lions. I
twice killed lions which were at bay and just starting to charge, and
I killed a heavy-maned male while it was in full charge. But in each
instance I had plenty of leeway, the animal being so far off that even
if my bullet had not been fatal I should have had time for a couple
more shots. The African buffalo is undoubtedly a dangerous beast, but
it happened that the few that I shot did not charge. A bull elephant,
a vicious "rogue," which had been killing people in the native
villages, did charge before being shot at. My son Kermit and I stopped
it at forty yards. Another bull elephant, also unwounded, which
charged, nearly got me, as I had just fired both cartridges from my
heavy double-barreled rifle in killing the bull I was after--the first
wild elephant I had ever seen. The second bull came through the thick
brush to my left like a steam plow through a light snowdrift,
everything snapping before his rush, and was so near that he could
have hit me with his trunk. I slipped past him behind a tree. People
have asked me how I felt on this occasion. My answer has always been
that I suppose I felt as most men of like experience feel on such
occasions. At such a moment a hunter is so very busy that he has no
time to get frightened. He wants to get in his cartridges and try
another shot.

Rhinoceros are truculent, blustering beasts, much the most stupid of
all the dangerous game I know. Generally their attitude is one of mere
stupidity and bluff. But on occasions they do charge wickedly, both
when wounded and when entirely unprovoked. The first I ever shot I
mortally wounded at a few rods' distance, and it charged with the
utmost determination, whereat I and my companion both fired, and more
by good luck than anything else brought it to the ground just thirteen
paces from where we stood. Another rhinoceros may or may not have been
meaning to charge me; I have never been certain which. It heard us and
came at us through rather thick brush, snorting and tossing its head.
I am by no means sure that it had fixedly hostile intentions, and
indeed with my present experience I think it likely that if I had not
fired it would have flinched at the last moment and either retreated
or gone by me. But I am not a rhinoceros mind reader, and its actions
were such as to warrant my regarding it as a suspicious character. I
stopped it with a couple of bullets, and then followed it up and
killed it. The skins of all these animals which I thus killed are in
the National Museum at Washington.

But, as I said above, the only narrow escape I met with was not from
one of these dangerous African animals, but from a grizzly bear. It
was about twenty-four years ago. I had wounded the bear just at
sunset, in a wood of lodge-pole pines, and, following him, I wounded
him again, as he stood on the other side of a thicket. He then charged
through the brush, coming with such speed and with such an irregular
gait that, try as I would, I was not able to get the sight of my rifle
on the brain-pan, though I hit him very hard with both the remaining
barrels of my magazine Winchester. It was in the days of black powder,
and the smoke hung. After my last shot, the first thing I saw was the
bear's left paw as he struck at me, so close that I made a quick
movement to one side. He was, however, practically already dead, and
after another jump, and while in the very act of trying to turn to
come at me, he collapsed like a shot rabbit.

By the way, I had a most exasperating time trying to bring in his
skin. I was alone, traveling on foot with one very docile little
mountain mare for a pack pony. The little mare cared nothing for bears
or anything else, so there was no difficulty in packing her. But the
man without experience can hardly realize the work it was to get that
bearskin off the carcass and then to pack it, wet, slippery, and
heavy, so that it would ride evenly on the pony. I was at the time
fairly well versed in packing with a "diamond hitch," the standby of
Rocky Mountain packers in my day; but the diamond hitch is a two-man
job; and even working with a "squaw hitch," I got into endless trouble
with that wet and slippery bearskin. With infinite labor I would get
the skin on the pony and run the ropes over it until to all seeming it
was fastened properly. Then off we would start, and after going about
a hundred yards I would notice the hide beginning to bulge through
between two ropes. I would shift one of them, and then the hide would
bulge somewhere else. I would shift the rope again; and still the hide
would flow slowly out as if it was lava. The first thing I knew it
would come down on one side, and the little mare, with her feet
planted resolutely, would wait for me to perform my part by getting
that bearskin back in its proper place on the McClellan saddle which I
was using as a makeshift pack saddle. The feat of killing the bear the
previous day sank into nothing compared with the feat of making the
bearskin ride properly as a pack on the following three days.

The reason why I was alone in the mountains on this occasion was
because, for the only time in all my experience, I had a difficulty
with my guide. He was a crippled old mountain man, with a profound
contempt for "tenderfeet," a contempt that in my case was accentuated
by the fact that I wore spectacles--which at that day and in that
region were usually held to indicate a defective moral character in
the wearer. He had never previously acted as guide, or, as he
expressed it, "trundled a tenderfoot," and though a good hunter, who
showed me much game, our experience together was not happy. He was
very rheumatic and liked to lie abed late, so that I usually had to
get breakfast, and, in fact, do most of the work around camp. Finally
one day he declined to go out with me, saying that he had a pain.
When, that afternoon, I got back to camp, I speedily found what the
"pain" was. We were traveling very light indeed, I having practically
nothing but my buffalo sleeping-bag, my wash kit, and a pair of socks.
I had also taken a flask of whisky for emergencies--although, as I
found that the emergencies never arose and that tea was better than
whisky when a man was cold or done out, I abandoned the practice of
taking whisky on hunting trips twenty years ago. When I got back to
camp the old fellow was sitting on a tree-trunk, very erect, with his
rifle across his knees, and in response to my nod of greeting he
merely leered at me. I leaned my rifle against a tree, walked over to
where my bed was lying, and, happening to rummage in it for something,
I found the whisky flask was empty. I turned on him at once and
accused him of having drunk it, to which he merely responded by asking
what I was going to do about it. There did not seem much to do, so I
said that we would part company--we were only four or five days from a
settlement--and I would go in alone, taking one of the horses. He
responded by cocking his rifle and saying that I could go alone and be
damned to me, but I could not take any horse. I answered "all right,"
that if I could not I could not, and began to move around to get some
flour and salt pork. He was misled by my quietness and by the fact
that I had not in any way resented either his actions or his language
during the days we had been together, and did not watch me as closely
as he ought to have done. He was sitting with the cocked rifle across
his knees, the muzzle to the left. My rifle was leaning against a tree
near the cooking things to his right. Managing to get near it, I
whipped it up and threw the bead on him, calling, "Hands up!" He of
course put up his hands, and then said, "Oh, come, I was only joking";
to which I answered, "Well, I am not. Now straighten your legs and let
your rifle go to the ground." He remonstrated, saying the rifle would
go off, and I told him to let it go off. However, he straightened his
legs in such fashion that it came to the ground without a jar. I then
made him move back, and picked up the rifle. By this time he was quite
sober, and really did not seem angry, looking at me quizzically. He
told me that if I would give him back his rifle, he would call it
quits and we could go on together. I did not think it best to trust
him, so I told him that our hunt was pretty well through, anyway, and
that I would go home. There was a blasted pine on the trail, in plain
view of the camp, about a mile off, and I told him that I would leave
his rifle at that blasted pine if I could see him in camp, but that he
must not come after me, for if he did I should assume that it was with
hostile intent and would shoot. He said he had no intention of coming
after me; and as he was very much crippled with rheumatism, I did not
believe he would do so.

Accordingly I took the little mare, with nothing but some flour,
bacon, and tea, and my bed-roll, and started off. At the blasted pine
I looked round, and as I could see him in camp, I left his rifle
there. I then traveled till dark, and that night, for the only time in
my experience, I used in camping a trick of the old-time trappers in
the Indian days. I did not believe I would be followed, but still it
was not possible to be sure, so, after getting supper, while my pony
fed round, I left the fire burning, repacked the mare and pushed ahead
until it literally became so dark that I could not see. Then I
picketed the mare, slept where I was without a fire until the first
streak of dawn, and then pushed on for a couple of hours before
halting to take breakfast and to let the little mare have a good feed.
No plainsman needs to be told that a man should not lie near a fire if
there is danger of an enemy creeping up on him, and that above all a
man should not put himself in a position where he can be ambushed at
dawn. On this second day I lost the trail, and toward nightfall gave
up the effort to find it, camped where I was, and went out to shoot a
grouse for supper. It was while hunting in vain for a grouse that I
came on the bear and killed it as above described.

When I reached the settlement and went into the store, the storekeeper
identified me by remarking: "You're the tenderfoot that old Hank was
trundling, ain't you?" I admitted that I was. A good many years later,
after I had been elected Vice-President, I went on a cougar hunt in
northwestern Colorado with Johnny Goff, a famous hunter and mountain
man. It was midwinter. I was rather proud of my achievements, and
pictured myself as being known to the few settlers in the neighborhood
as a successful mountain-lion hunter. I could not help grinning when I
found out that they did not even allude to me as the Vice-President-
elect, let alone as a hunter, but merely as "Johnny Goff's tourist."

Of course during the years when I was most busy at serious work I
could do no hunting, and even my riding was of a decorous kind. But a
man whose business is sedentary should get some kind of exercise if he
wishes to keep himself in as good physical trim as his brethren who do
manual labor. When I worked on a ranch, I needed no form of exercise
except my work, but when I worked in an office the case was different.
A couple of summers I played polo with some of my neighbors. I shall
always believe we played polo in just the right way for middle-aged
men with stables of the general utility order. Of course it was polo
which was chiefly of interest to ourselves, the only onlookers being
the members of our faithful families. My two ponies were the only
occupants of my stable except a cart-horse. My wife and I rode and
drove them, and they were used for household errands and for the
children, and for two afternoons a week they served me as polo ponies.
Polo is a good game, infinitely better for vigorous men than tennis or
golf or anything of that kind. There is all the fun of football, with
the horse thrown in; and if only people would be willing to play it in
simple fashion it would be almost as much within their reach as golf.
But at Oyster Bay our great and permanent amusements were rowing and
sailing; I do not care for the latter, and am fond of the former. I
suppose it sounds archaic, but I cannot help thinking that the people
with motor boats miss a great deal. If they would only keep to
rowboats or canoes, and use oar or paddle themselves, they would get
infinitely more benefit than by having their work done for them by
gasoline. But I rarely took exercise merely as exercise. Primarily I
took it because I liked it. Play should never be allowed to interfere
with work; and a life devoted merely to play is, of all forms of
existence, the most dismal. But the joy of life is a very good thing,
and while work is the essential in it, play also has its place.

When obliged to live in cities, I for a long time found that boxing
and wrestling enabled me to get a good deal of exercise in condensed
and attractive form. I was reluctantly obliged to abandon both as I
grew older. I dropped the wrestling earliest. When I became Governor,
the champion middleweight wrestler of America happened to be in
Albany, and I got him to come round three or four afternoons a week.
Incidentally I may mention that his presence caused me a difficulty
with the Comptroller, who refused to audit a bill I put in for a
wrestling-mat, explaining that I could have a billiard-table,
billiards being recognized as a proper Gubernatorial amusement, but
that a wrestling-mat symbolized something unusual and unheard of and
could not be permitted. The middleweight champion was of course so
much better than I was that he could not only take care of himself but
of me too and see that I was not hurt--for wrestling is a much more
violent amusement than boxing. But after a couple of months he had to
go away, and he left as a substitute a good-humored, stalwart
professional oarsman. The oarsman turned out to know very little about
wrestling. He could not even take care of himself, not to speak of me.
By the end of our second afternoon one of his long ribs had been caved
in and two of my short ribs badly damaged, and my left shoulder-blade
so nearly shoved out of place that it creaked. He was nearly as
pleased as I was when I told him I thought we would "vote the war a
failure" and abandon wrestling. After that I took up boxing again.
While President I used to box with some of the aides, as well as play
single-stick with General Wood. After a few years I had to abandon
boxing as well as wrestling, for in one bout a young captain of
artillery cross-countered me on the eye, and the blow smashed the
little blood-vessels. Fortunately it was my left eye, but the sight
has been dim ever since, and if it had been the right eye I should
have been entirely unable to shoot. Accordingly I thought it better to
acknowledge that I had become an elderly man and would have to stop
boxing. I then took up jiu-jitsu for a year or two.

When I was in the Legislature and was working very hard, with little
chance of getting out of doors, all the exercise I got was boxing and
wrestling. A young fellow turned up who was a second-rate prize-
fighter, the son of one of my old boxing teachers. For several weeks I
had him come round to my rooms in the morning to put on the gloves
with me for half an hour. Then he suddenly stopped, and some days
later I received a letter of woe from him from the jail. I found that
he was by profession a burglar, and merely followed boxing as the
amusement of his lighter moments, or when business was slack.

Naturally, being fond of boxing, I grew to know a good many prize-
fighters, and to most of those I knew I grew genuinely attached. I
have never been able to sympathize with the outcry against prize-
fighters. The only objection I have to the prize ring is the
crookedness that has attended its commercial development. Outside of
this I regard boxing, whether professional or amateur, as a first-
class sport, and I do not regard it as brutalizing. Of course matches
can be conducted under conditions that make them brutalizing. But this
is true of football games and of most other rough and vigorous sports.
Most certainly prize-fighting is not half as brutalizing or
demoralizing as many forms of big business and of the legal work
carried on in connection with big business. Powerful, vigorous men of
strong animal development must have some way in which their animal
spirits can find vent. When I was Police Commissioner I found (and
Jacob Riis will back me up in this) that the establishment of a boxing
club in a tough neighborhood always tended to do away with knifing and
gun-fighting among the young fellows who would otherwise have been in
murderous gangs. Many of these young fellows were not naturally
criminals at all, but they had to have some outlet for their
activities. In the same way I have always regarded boxing as a first-
class sport to encourage in the Young Men's Christian Association. I
do not like to see young Christians with shoulders that slope like a
champagne bottle. Of course boxing should be encouraged in the army
and navy. I was first drawn to two naval chaplains, Fathers Chidwick
and Rainey, by finding that each of them had bought half a dozen sets
of boxing-gloves and encouraged their crews in boxing.

When I was Police Commissioner, I heartily approved the effort to get
boxing clubs started in New York on a clean basis. Later I was
reluctantly obliged to come to the conclusion that the prize ring had
become hopelessly debased and demoralized, and as Governor I aided in
the passage of and signed the bill putting a stop to professional
boxing for money. This was because some of the prize-fighters
themselves were crooked, while the crowd of hangers-on who attended
and made up and profited by the matches had placed the whole business
on a basis of commercialism and brutality that was intolerable. I
shall always maintain that boxing contests themselves make good,
healthy sport. It is idle to compare them with bull-fighting; the
torture and death of the wretched horses in bull-fighting is enough of
itself to blast the sport, no matter how great the skill and prowess
shown by the bull-fighters. Any sport in which the death and torture
of animals is made to furnish pleasure to the spectators is debasing.
There should always be the opportunity provided in a glove fight or
bare-fist fight to stop it when one competitor is hopelessly
outclassed or too badly hammered. But the men who take part in these
fights are hard as nails, and it is not worth while to feel
sentimental about their receiving punishment which as a matter of fact
they do not mind. Of course the men who look on ought to be able to
stand up with the gloves, or without them, themselves; I have scant
use for the type of sportsmanship which consists merely in looking on
at the feats of some one else.

Some as good citizens as I know are or were prize-fighters. Take Mike
Donovan, of New York. He and his family represent a type of American
citizenship of which we have a right to be proud. Mike is a devoted
temperance man, and can be relied upon for every movement in the
interest of good citizenship. I was first intimately thrown with him
when I was Police Commissioner. One evening he and I--both in dress
suits--attended a temperance meeting of Catholic societies. It
culminated in a lively set-to between myself and a Tammany Senator who
was a very good fellow, but whose ideas of temperance differed
radically from mine, and, as the event proved, from those of the
majority of the meeting. Mike evidently regarded himself as my backer
--he was sitting on the platform beside me--and I think felt as
pleased and interested as if the set-to had been physical instead of
merely verbal. Afterward I grew to know him well both while I was
Governor and while I was President, and many a time he came on and
boxed with me.

Battling Nelson was another stanch friend, and he and I think alike on
most questions of political and industrial life; although he once
expressed to me some commiseration because, as President, I did not
get anything like the money return for my services that he aggregated
during the same term of years in the ring. Bob Fitzsimmons was another
good friend of mine. He has never forgotten his early skill as a
blacksmith, and among the things that I value and always keep in use
is a penholder made by Bob out of a horseshoe, with an inscription
saying that it is "Made for and presented to President Theodore
Roosevelt by his friend and admirer, Robert Fitzsimmons." I have for a
long time had the friendship of John L. Sullivan, than whom in his
prime no better man ever stepped into the ring. He is now a
Massachusetts farmer. John used occasionally to visit me at the White
House, his advent always causing a distinct flutter among the waiting
Senators and Congressmen. When I went to Africa he presented me with a
gold-mounted rabbit's foot for luck. I carried it through my African
trip; and I certainly had good luck.

On one occasion one of my prize-fighting friends called on me at the
White House on business. He explained that he wished to see me alone,
sat down opposite me, and put a very expensive cigar on the desk,
saying, "Have a cigar." I thanked him and said I did not smoke, to
which he responded, "Put it in your pocket." He then added, "Take
another; put both in your pocket." This I accordingly did. Having thus
shown at the outset the necessary formal courtesy, my visitor, an old
and valued friend, proceeded to explain that a nephew of his had
enlisted in the Marine Corps, but had been absent without leave, and
was threatened with dishonorable discharge on the ground of desertion.
My visitor, a good citizen and a patriotic American, was stung to the
quick at the thought of such an incident occurring in his family, and
he explained to me that it must not occur, that there must not be the
disgrace to the family, although he would be delighted to have the
offender "handled rough" to teach him a needed lesson; he added that
he wished I would take him and handle him myself, for he knew that I
would see that he "got all that was coming to him." Then a look of
pathos came into his eyes, and he explained: "That boy I just cannot
understand. He was my sister's favorite son, and I always took a
special interest in him myself. I did my best to bring him up the way
he ought to go. But there was just nothing to be done with him. His
tastes were naturally low. He took to music!" What form this debasing
taste for music assumed I did not inquire; and I was able to grant my
friend's wish.

While in the White House I always tried to get a couple of hours'
exercise in the afternoons--sometimes tennis, more often riding, or
else a rough cross-country walk, perhaps down Rock Creek, which was
then as wild as a stream in the White Mountains, or on the Virginia
side along the Potomac. My companions at tennis or on these rides and
walks we gradually grew to style the Tennis Cabinet; and then we
extended the term to take in many of my old-time Western friends such
as Ben Daniels, Seth Bullock, Luther Kelly, and others who had taken
part with me in more serious outdoor adventures than walking and
riding for pleasure. Most of the men who were oftenest with me on
these trips--men like Major-General Leonard Wood; or Major-General
Thomas Henry Barry; or Presley Marion Rixey, Surgeon-General of the
Navy; or Robert Bacon, who was afterwards Secretary of State; or James
Garfield, who was Secretary of the Interior; or Gifford Pinchot, who
was chief of the Forest Service--were better men physically than I
was; but I could ride and walk well enough for us all thoroughly to
enjoy it. Often, especially in the winters and early springs, we would
arrange for a point to point walk, not turning aside for anything--for
instance, swimming Rock Creek or even the Potomac if it came in our
way. Of course under such circumstances we had to arrange that our
return to Washington should be when it was dark, so that our
appearance might scandalize no one. On several occasions we thus swam
Rock Creek in the early spring when the ice was floating thick upon
it. If we swam the Potomac, we usually took off our clothes. I
remember one such occasion when the French Ambassador, Jusserand, who
was a member of the Tennis Cabinet, was along, and, just as we were
about to get in to swim, somebody said, "Mr. Ambassador, Mr.
Ambassador, you haven't taken off your gloves," to which he promptly
responded, "I think I will leave them on; we might meet ladies!"

We liked Rock Creek for these walks because we could do so much
scrambling and climbing along the cliffs; there was almost as much
climbing when we walked down the Potomac to Washington from the
Virginia end of the Chain Bridge. I would occasionally take some big-
game friend from abroad, Selous or St. George Littledale or Captain
Radclyffe or Paul Niedicke, on these walks. Once I invited an entire
class of officers who were attending lectures at the War College to
come on one of these walks; I chose a route which gave us the hardest
climbing along the rocks and the deepest crossings of the creek; and
my army friends enjoyed it hugely--being the right sort, to a man.

On March 1, 1909, three days before leaving the Presidency, various
members of the Tennis Cabinet lunched with me at the White House.
"Tennis Cabinet" was an elastic term, and of course many who ought to
have been at the lunch were, for one reason or another, away from
Washington; but, to make up for this, a goodly number of out-of-town
honorary members, so to speak, were present--for instance, Seth
Bullock; Luther Kelly, better known as Yellowstone Kelly in the days
when he was an army scout against the Sioux; and Abernathy, the wolf-
hunter. At the end of the lunch Seth Bullock suddenly reached forward,
swept aside a mass of flowers which made a centerpiece on the table,
and revealed a bronze cougar by Proctor, which was a parting gift to
me. The lunch party and the cougar were then photographed on the lawn.

Some of the younger officers who were my constant companions on these
walks and rides pointed out to me the condition of utter physical
worthlessness into which certain of the elder ones had permitted
themselves to lapse, and the very bad effect this would certainly have
if ever the army were called into service. I then looked into the
matter for myself, and was really shocked at what I found. Many of the
older officers were so unfit physically that their condition would
have excited laughter, had it not been so serious, to think that they
belonged to the military arm of the Government. A cavalry colonel
proved unable to keep his horse at a smart trot for even half a mile,
when I visited his post; a Major-General proved afraid even to let his
horse canter, when he went on a ride with us; and certain otherwise
good men proved as unable to walk as if they had been sedentary
brokers. I consulted with men like Major-Generals Wood and Bell, who
were themselves of fine physique, with bodies fit to meet any demand.
It was late in my administration; and we deemed it best only to make a
beginning--experience teaches the most inveterate reformer how hard it
is to get a totally non-military nation to accept seriously any
military improvement. Accordingly, I merely issued directions that
each officer should prove his ability to walk fifty miles, or ride one
hundred, in three days.

This is, of course, a test which many a healthy middle-aged woman
would be able to meet. But a large portion of the press adopted the
view that it was a bit of capricious tyranny on my part; and a
considerable number of elderly officers, with desk rather than field
experience, intrigued with their friends in Congress to have the order
annulled. So one day I took a ride of a little over one hundred miles
myself, in company with Surgeon-General Rixey and two other officers.
The Virginia roads were frozen and in ruts, and in the afternoon and
evening there was a storm of snow and sleet; and when it had been thus
experimentally shown, under unfavorable conditions, how easy it was to
do in one day the task for which the army officers were allowed three
days, all open objection ceased. But some bureau chiefs still did as
much underhanded work against the order as they dared, and it was
often difficult to reach them. In the Marine Corps Captain Leonard,
who had lost an arm at Tientsin, with two of his lieutenants did the
fifty miles in one day; for they were vigorous young men, who laughed
at the idea of treating a fifty-mile walk as over-fatiguing. Well, the
Navy Department officials rebuked them, and made them take the walk
over again in three days, on the ground that taking it in one day did
not comply with the regulations! This seems unbelievable; but Leonard
assures me it is true. He did not inform me at the time, being afraid
to "get in wrong" with his permanent superiors. If I had known of the
order, short work would have been made of the bureaucrat who issued

[*] One of our best naval officers sent me the following letter, after
the above had appeared:--

"I note in your Autobiography now being published in the Outlook
that you refer to the reasons which led you to establish a
physical test for the Army, and to the action you took (your 100-
mile ride) to prevent the test being abolished. Doubtless you did
not know the following facts:

"1. The first annual navy test of 50 miles in three days was
subsequently reduced to 25 miles in two days in each quarter.

"2. This was further reduced to 10 miles each month, which is the
present 'test,' and there is danger lest even this utterly
insufficient test be abolished.

"I enclose a copy of a recent letter to the Surgeon General which
will show our present deplorable condition and the worse condition
into which we are slipping back.

"The original test of 50 miles in three days did a very great deal
of good. It decreased by thousands of dollars the money expended
on street car fare, and by a much greater sum the amount expended
over the bar. It eliminated a number of the wholly unfit; it
taught officers to walk; it forced them to learn the care of their
feet and that of their men; and it improved their general health
and was rapidly forming a taste for physical exercise."

The enclosed letter ran in part as follows:--

"I am returning under separate cover 'The Soldiers' Foot and the
Military Shoe.'

"The book contains knowledge of a practical character that is
valuable for the men who HAVE TO MARCH, WHO HAVE SUFFERED FROM

"The words in capitals express, according to my idea, the gist of
the whole matter as regards military men.

"The army officer whose men break down on test gets a black eye.
The one whose men show efficiency in this respect gets a bouquet.

"To such men the book is invaluable. There is no danger that they
will neglect it. They will actually learn it, for exactly the same
reasons that our fellows learn the gunnery instructions--or did
learn them before they were withdrawn and burned.

"B U T, I have not been able to interest a single naval officer in
this fine book. They will look at the pictures and say it is a
good book, but they won't read it. The marine officers, on the
contrary, are very much interested, because they have to teach
their men to care for their feet and they must know how to care
for their own. But the naval officers feel no such necessity,
simply because their men do not have to demonstrate their
efficiency by practice marches, and they themselves do not have to
do a stunt that will show up their own ignorance and inefficiency
in the matter.

"For example, some time ago I was talking with some chaps about
shoes--the necessity of having them long enough and wide enough,
etc., and one of them said: 'I have no use for such shoes, as I
never walk except when I have to, and any old shoes do for the 10-
mile-a-month stunt,' so there you are!

"When the first test was ordered, Edmonston (Washington shoe man)
told me that he sold more real walking shoes to naval officers in
three months than he had in the three preceding years. I know
three officers who lost both big-toe nails after the first test,
and another who walked nine miles in practice with a pair of heavy
walking shoes that were too small and was laid up for three days--
could not come to the office. I know plenty of men who after the
first test had to borrow shoes from larger men until their feet
'went down' to their normal size.

"This test may have been a bit too strenuous for old hearts (of men
who had never taken any exercise), but it was excellent as a
matter of instruction and training of handling feet--and in an
emergency (such as we soon may have in Mexico) sound hearts are
not much good if the feet won't stand.

"However, the 25-mile test in two days each quarter answered the
same purpose, for the reason that 12.5 miles will produce sore
feet with bad shoes, and sore feet and lame muscles even with good
shoes, if there has been no practice marching.

"It was the necessity of doing 12.5 MORE MILES ON THE SECOND DAY
WITH SORE FEET AND LAME MUSCLES that made 'em sit up and take
notice--made 'em practice walking, made 'em avoid street cars, buy
proper shoes, show some curiosity about sox and the care of the
feet in general.

"All this passed out with the introduction of the last test of 10
miles a month. As one fellow said: 'I can do that in sneakers'--
but he couldn't if the second day involved a tramp on the sore

"The point is that whereas formerly officers had to practice
walking a bit and give some attention to proper footgear, now they
don't have to, and the natural consequence is that they don't do

"There are plenty of officers who do not walk any more than is
necessary to reach a street car that will carry them from their
residences to their offices. Some who have motors do not do so
much. They take no exercise. They take cocktails instead and are
getting beefy and 'ponchy,' and something should be done to remedy
this state of affairs.

"It would not be necessary if service opinion required officers so
to order their lives that it would be common knowledge that
they were 'hard,' in order to avoid the danger of being selected

"We have no such service opinion, and it is not in process of
formation. On the contrary, it is known that the 'Principal
Dignitaries' unanimously advised the Secretary to abandon all
physical tests. He, a civilian, was wise enough not to take the

"I would like to see a test established that would oblige officers
to take sufficient exercise to pass it without inconvenience. For
the reasons given above, 20 miles in two days every other month
would do the business, while 10 miles each month does not touch
it, simply because nobody has to walk on 'next day' feet. As for
the proposed test of so many hours 'exercise' a week, the flat
foots of the pendulous belly muscles are delighted. They are
looking into the question of pedometers, and will hang one of
these on their wheezy chests and let it count every shuffling step
they take out of doors.

"If we had an adequate test throughout 20 years, there would at the
end of that time be few if any sacks of blubber at the upper end
of the list; and service opinion against that sort of thing would
be established."

These tests were kept during my administration. They were afterwards
abandoned; not through perversity or viciousness; but through
weakness, and inability to understand the need of preparedness in
advance, if the emergencies of war are to be properly met, when, or
if, they arrive.

In no country with an army worth calling such is there a chance for a
man physically unfit to stay in the service. Our countrymen should
understand that every army officer--and every marine officer--ought to
be summarily removed from the service unless he is able to undergo far
severer tests than those which, as a beginning, I imposed. To follow
any other course is to put a premium on slothful incapacity, and to do
the gravest wrong to the Nation.

I have mentioned all these experiences, and I could mention scores of
others, because out of them grew my philosophy--perhaps they were in
part caused by my philosophy--of bodily vigor as a method of getting
that vigor of soul without which vigor of the body counts for nothing.
The dweller in cities has less chance than the dweller in the country
to keep his body sound and vigorous. But he can do so, if only he will
take the trouble. Any young lawyer, shopkeeper, or clerk, or shop-
assistant can keep himself in good condition if he tries. Some of the
best men who have ever served under me in the National Guard and in my
regiment were former clerks or floor-walkers. Why, Johnny Hayes, the
Marathon victor, and at one time world champion, one of my valued
friends and supporters, was a floor-walker in Bloomingdale's big
department store. Surely with Johnny Hayes as an example, any young
man in a city can hope to make his body all that a vigorous man's body
should be.

I once made a speech to which I gave the title "The Strenuous Life."
Afterwards I published a volume of essays with this for a title. There
were two translations of it which always especially pleased me. One
was by a Japanese officer who knew English well, and who had carried
the essay all through the Manchurian campaign, and later translated it
for the benefit of his countrymen. The other was by an Italian lady,
whose brother, an officer in the Italian army who had died on duty in
a foreign land, had also greatly liked the article and carried it
round with him. In translating the title the lady rendered it in
Italian as /Vigor di Vita/. I thought this translation a great
improvement on the original, and have always wished that I had myself
used "The Vigor of Life" as a heading to indicate what I was trying to
preach, instead of the heading I actually did use.

There are two kinds of success, or rather two kinds of ability
displayed in the achievement of success. There is, first, the success
either in big things or small things which comes to the man who has in
him the natural power to do what no one else can do, and what no
amount of training, no perseverance or will power, will enable any
ordinary man to do. This success, of course, like every other kind of
success, may be on a very big scale or on a small scale. The quality
which the man possesses may be that which enables him to run a hundred
yards in nine and three-fifths seconds, or to play ten separate games
of chess at the same time blindfolded, or to add five columns of
figures at once without effort, or to write the "Ode to a Grecian
Urn," or to deliver the Gettysburg speech, or to show the ability of
Frederick at Leuthen or Nelson at Trafalgar. No amount of training of
body or mind would enable any good ordinary man to perform any one of
these feats. Of course the proper performance of each implies much
previous study or training, but in no one of them is success to be
attained save by the altogether exceptional man who has in him the
something additional which the ordinary man does not have.

This is the most striking kind of success, and it can be attained only
by the man who has in him the quality which separates him in kind no
less than in degree from his fellows. But much the commoner type of
success in every walk of life and in every species of effort is that
which comes to the man who differs from his fellows not by the kind of
quality which he possesses but by the degree of development which he
has given that quality. This kind of success is open to a large number
of persons, if only they seriously determine to achieve it. It is the
kind of success which is open to the average man of sound body and
fair mind, who has no remarkable mental or physical attributes, but
who gets just as much as possible in the way of work out of the
aptitudes that he does possess. It is the only kind of success that is
open to most of us. Yet some of the greatest successes in history have
been those of this second class--when I call it second class I am not
running it down in the least, I am merely pointing out that it differs
in kind from the first class. To the average man it is probably more
useful to study this second type of success than to study the first.
From the study of the first he can learn inspiration, he can get
uplift and lofty enthusiasm. From the study of the second he can, if
he chooses, find out how to win a similar success himself.

I need hardly say that all the successes I have ever won have been of
the second type. I never won anything without hard labor and the
exercise of my best judgment and careful planning and working long in
advance. Having been a rather sickly and awkward boy, I was as a young
man at first both nervous and distrustful of my own prowess. I had to
train myself painfully and laboriously not merely as regards my body
but as regards my soul and spirit.

When a boy I read a passage in one of Marryat's books which always
impressed me. In this passage the captain of some small British man-
of-war is explaining to the hero how to acquire the quality of
fearlessness. He says that at the outset almost every man is
frightened when he goes into action, but that the course to follow is
for the man to keep such a grip on himself that he can act just as if
he was not frightened. After this is kept up long enough it changes
from pretense to reality, and the man does in very fact become
fearless by sheer dint of practicing fearlessness when he does not
feel it. (I am using my own language, not Marryat's.) This was the
theory upon which I went. There were all kinds of things of which I
was afraid at first, ranging from grizzly bears to "mean" horses and
gun-fighters; but by acting as if I was not afraid I gradually ceased
to be afraid. Most men can have the same experience if they choose.
They will first learn to bear themselves well in trials which they
anticipate and which they school themselves in advance to meet. After
a while the habit will grow on them, and they will behave well in
sudden and unexpected emergencies which come upon them unawares.

It is of course much pleasanter if one is naturally fearless, and I
envy and respect the men who are naturally fearless. But it is a good
thing to remember that the man who does not enjoy this advantage can
nevertheless stand beside the man who does, and can do his duty with
the like efficiency, if he chooses to. Of course he must not let his
desire take the form merely of a day-dream. Let him dream about being
a fearless man, and the more he dreams the better he will be, always
provided he does his best to realize the dream in practice. He can do
his part honorably and well provided only he sets fearlessness before
himself as an ideal, schools himself to think of danger merely as
something to be faced and overcome, and regards life itself as he
should regard it, not as something to be thrown away, but as a pawn to
be promptly hazarded whenever the hazard is warranted by the larger
interests of the great game in which we are all engaged.



When I left Harvard, I took up the study of law. If I had been
sufficiently fortunate to come under Professor Thayer, of the Harvard
Law School, it may well be that I would have realized that the lawyer
can do a great work for justice and against legalism.

But, doubtless chiefly through my own fault, some of the teaching of
the law books and of the classroom seemed to me to be against justice.
The /caveat emptor/ side of the law, like the /caveat emptor/ side of
business, seemed to me repellent; it did not make for social fair
dealing. The "let the buyer beware" maxim, when translated into actual
practice, whether in law or business, tends to translate itself
further into the seller making his profit at the expense of the buyer,
instead of by a bargain which shall be to the profit of both. It did
not seem to me that the law was framed to discourage as it should
sharp practice, and all other kinds of bargains except those which are
fair and of benefit to both sides. I was young; there was much in the
judgment which I then formed on this matter which I should now revise;
but, then as now, many of the big corporation lawyers, to whom the
ordinary members of the bar then as now looked up, held certain
standards which were difficult to recognize as compatible with the
idealism I suppose every high-minded young man is apt to feel. If I
had been obliged to earn every cent I spent, I should have gone whole-
heartedly into the business of making both ends meet, and should have
taken up the law or any other respectable occupation--for I then held,
and now hold, the belief that a man's first duty is to pull his own
weight and to take care of those dependent upon him; and I then
believed, and now believe, that the greatest privilege and greatest
duty for any man is to be happily married, and that no other form of
success or service, for either man or woman, can be wisely accepted as
a substitute or alternative. But it happened that I had been left
enough money by my father not to make it necessary for me to think
solely of earning bread for myself and my family. I had enough to get
bread. What I had to do, if I wanted butter and jam, was to provide
the butter and jam, but to count their cost as compared with other
things. In other words, I made up my mind that, while I must earn
money, I could afford to make earning money the secondary instead of
the primary object of my career. If I had had no money at all, then my
first duty would have been to earn it in any honest fashion. As I had
some money I felt that my need for more money was to be treated as a

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