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Theodore Roosevelt and His Times, by Harold Howland

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By the successful prosecution of this case the Sherman act was
made once more a potentially valuable instrument for the
prevention of the more flagrant evils that flow from
"combinations in restraint of trade." During the remaining years
of the Roosevelt Administrations, this legal instrument was used
with aggressive force for the purpose for which it was intended.
In seven years and a half, forty-four prosecutions were brought
under it by the Government, as compared with eighteen in the
preceding eleven years. The two most famous trust cases, next to
the Northern Securities case and even surpassing it in popular
interest, because of the stupendous size of the corporations
involved, were those against the Standard Oil Company and the
American Tobacco Company. These companion cases were not finally
decided in the Supreme Court until the Administration of
President Taft; but their prosecution was begun while Roosevelt
was in office and by his direction. They were therefore a
definite part of his campaign for the solution of the vexed
trust problem. Both cases were decided, by every court through
which they passed, in favor of the Government. The Supreme
Court finally in 1911 decreed that both the Standard Oil and the
Tobacco trusts were in violation of the Sherman act and ordered
their dissolution. There could now no longer be any question that
the Government could in fact exercise its sovereign will over
even the greatest and the most powerful of modern business

The two cases had one other deep significance which at first
blush looked like a weakening of the force of the anti-trust law
but which was in reality a strengthening of it. There had been
long and ardent debate whether the Sherman act should be held to
apply to all restraints of trade or only to such as were
unreasonable. It was held by some that it applied to ALL
restraints and therefore should be amended to cover only
unreasonable restraints. It was held by others that it applied to
all restraints and properly so. It was held by still others that
it applied only to unreasonable restraints. But the matter had
never been decided by competent authority. The decision of the
Supreme Court in these two outstanding cases, however, put an end
to the previous uncertainty. Chief Justice White, in his two
opinions, laid it down with definiteness that in construing and
applying the law recourse must be had to the "rule of reason." He
made clear the conviction of the court that it was "undue"
restraints of trade which the law forbade and not incidental or
inconsiderable ones. This definitive interpretation of the law,
while it caused considerable criticism at the moment, in ultimate
effect so cleared the air about the Sherman act as effectually to
dispose of the demands for its amendment in the direction of
greater leniency or severity.

But the proving of the anti-trust law as an effective weapon
against the flagrantly offending trusts, according to Roosevelt's
conviction, was only a part of the battle. As he said,
"monopolies can, although in rather cumbrous fashion, be broken
up by lawsuits. Great business combinations, however, cannot
possibly be made useful instead of noxious industrial agencies
merely by lawsuits, and especially by lawsuits supposed to be
carried on for their destruction and not for their control and
regulation." He took, as usual, the constructive point of view.
He saw both sides of the trust question--the inevitability and
the beneficence of combination in modern business, and the danger
to the public good that lay in the unregulated and uncontrolled
wielding of great power by private individuals. He believed that
the thing to do with great power was not to destroy it but to use
it, not to forbid its acquisition but to direct its application.
So he set himself to the task of securing fresh legislation
regarding the regulation of corporate activities.

Such legislation was not easy to get; for the forces of reaction
were strong in Congress. But several significant steps in this
direction were taken before Roosevelt went out of office. The new
Federal Department of Commerce and Labor was created, and its
head became a member of the Cabinet. The Bureau of Corporations
was established in the same department. These new executive
agencies were given no regulatory powers, but they did perform
excellent service in that field of publicity on the value of
which Roosevelt laid so much stress.

In the year 1906 the passing of the Hepburn railway rate bill for
the first time gave the Interstate Commerce Commission a measure
of real control over the railways, by granting to the Commission
the power to fix maximum rates for the transportation of freight
in interstate commerce. The Commission had in previous years,
under the authority of the act which created it and which
permitted the Commission to decide in particular cases whether
rates were just and reasonable, attempted to exercise this power
to fix in these specific cases maximum rates. But the courts had
decided that the Commission did not possess this right. The
Hepburn act also extended the authority of the Commission over
express companies, sleeping-car companies, pipe lines, private
car lines, and private terminal and connecting lines. It
prohibited railways from transporting in interstate commerce any
commodities produced or owned by themselves. It abolished free
passes and transportation except for railway employees and
certain other small classes of persons, including the poor and
unfortunate classes and those engaged in religious and charitable
work. Under the old law, the Commission was compelled to apply to
a Federal court on its own initiative for the enforcement of any
order which it might issue. Under the Hepburn act the order went
into effect at once; the railroad must begin to obey the order
within thirty days; it must itself appeal to the court for the
suspension and revocation of the order, or it must suffer a
penalty of $5000 a day during the time that the order was
disobeyed. The act further gave the Commission the power to
prescribe accounting methods which must be followed by the
railways, in order to make more difficult the concealment of
illegal rates and improper favors to individual shippers. This
extension and strengthening of the authority of the Interstate
Commerce Commission was an extremely valuable forward step, not
only as concerned the relations of the public and the railways,
but in connection with the development of predatory corporations
of the Standard Oil type. Miss Ida Tarbell, in her frankly
revealing "History of the Standard Oil Company", which had been
published in 1904, had shown in striking fashion how secret
concessions from the railways had helped to build up that great
structure of business monopoly. In Miss Tarbell's words, "Mr.
Rockefeller's great purpose had been made possible by his
remarkable manipulation of the railroads. It was the rebate which
had made the Standard Oil trust, the rebate, amplified,
systematized, glorified into a power never equalled before or
since by any business of the country." The rebate was the device
by which favored shippers--favored by the railways either
voluntarily or under the compulsion of the threats of retaliation
which the powerful shippers were able to make--paid openly the
established freight rates on their products and then received
back from the railways a substantial proportion of the charges.
The advantage to the favored shipper is obvious. There were other
more adroit ways in which the favoritism could be accomplished;
but the general principle was the same. It was one important
purpose--and effect--of the Hepburn act to close the door to this
form of discrimination.

One more step was necessary in order to eradicate completely this
mischievous condition and to "keep the highway of commerce open
to all on equal terms." It was imperative that the law relative
to these abuses should be enforced. On this point Roosevelt's own
words are significant: "Although under the decision of the courts
the National Government had power over the railways, I found,
when I became President, that this power was either not exercised
at all or exercised with utter inefficiency. The law against
rebates was a dead letter. All the unscrupulous railway men had
been allowed to violate it with impunity; and because of this, as
was inevitable, the scrupulous and decent railway men had been
forced to violate it themselves, under penalty of being beaten by
their less scrupulous rivals. It was not the fault of these
decent railway men. It was the fault of the Government."

Roosevelt did not propose that this condition should continue to
be the fault of the Government while he was at its head, and he
inaugurated a vigorous campaign against railways that had given
rebates and against corporations that had accepted--or
extorted-them. The campaign reached a spectacular peak in a
prosecution of the Standard Oil Company, in which fines
aggregating over $29,000,000 were imposed by Judge Kenesaw M.
Landis of the United States District Court at Chicago for the
offense of accepting rebates. The Circuit Court of Appeals
ultimately determined that the fine was improperly large, since
it had been based on the untenable theory that each shipment on
which a rebate was paid constituted a separate offense. At the
second trial the presiding judge ordered an acquittal. In spite,
however, of the failure of this particular case, with its
spectacular features, the net result of the rebate prosecutions
was that the rebate evil was eliminated for good and all from
American railway and commercial life.

When Roosevelt demanded the "square deal" between business and
the people, he meant precisely what he said. He had no intention
of permitting justice to be required from the great corporations
without insisting that justice be done to them in turn. The most
interesting case in point was that of the Tennessee Coal and Iron
Company. To this day the action which Roosevelt took in the
matter is looked upon, by many of those extremists who can see
nothing good in "big business," as a proof of his undue sympathy
with the capitalist. But thirteen years later the United States
Supreme Court in deciding the case against the United States
Steel Corporation in favor of the Corporation, added an obiter
dictum which completely justified Roosevelt's action.

In the fall of 1907 the United States was in the grip of a
financial panic. Much damage was done, and much more was
threatened. One great New York trust company was compelled to
close its doors, and others were on the verge of disaster. One
evening in the midst of this most trying time, the President was
informed that two representatives of the United States Steel
Corporation wished to call upon him the next morning. As he was
at breakfast the next day word came to him that Judge Gary and
Mr. Frick were waiting in the Executive Office. The President
went over at once, sending word to Elihu Root, then Secretary of
State, to join him. Judge Gary and Mr. Frick informed the
President that a certain great firm in the New York financial
district was upon the point of failure. This firm held a large
quantity of the stock of the Tennessee Coal and Iron Company. The
Steel Corporation had been urged to purchase this stock in order
to avert the failure. The heads of the Steel Corporation asserted
that they did not wish to purchase this stock from the point of
view of a business transaction, as the value which the property
might be to the Corporation would be more than offset by the
criticism to which they would be subjected. They said that they
were sure to be charged with trying to secure a monopoly and to
stifle competition. They told the President that it had been the
consistent policy of the Steel Corporation to have in its control
no more than sixty per cent of the steel properties of the
country; that their proportion of those properties was in fact
somewhat less than sixty per cent; and that the acquisition of
the holdings of the Tennessee Company would raise it only a
little above that point. They felt, however, that it would be
extremely desirable for them to make the suggested purchase in
order to prevent the damage which would result from the failure
of the firm in question. They were willing to buy the stocks
offered because in the best judgment of many of the strongest
bankers in New York the transaction would be an influential
factor in preventing a further extension of the panic. Judge Gary
and Mr. Frick declared that they were ready to make the purchase
with this end in view but that they would not act without the
President's approval of their action.

Immediate action was imperative. It was important that the
purchase, if it were to be made, should be announced at the
opening of the New York Stock Exchange at ten o'clock that
morning. Fortunately Roosevelt never shilly-shallied when a
crisis confronted him. His decision was instantaneous. He assured
his callers that while, of course, he could not advise them to
take the action, proposed, he felt that he had no public duty to
interpose any objection.

This assurance was quite sufficient. The pure chase was made and
announced, the firm in question did not fail, and the panic was
arrested. The immediate reaction of practically the whole country
was one of relief. It was only later, when the danger was past,
that critics began to make themselves heard. Any one who had
taken the trouble to ascertain the facts would have known beyond
question that the acquisition of the Tennessee properties was not
sufficient to change the status of the Steel Corporation under
the anti-trust law. But the critics did not want to know the
facts. They wanted--most of them, at least--to have a stick with
which to beat Roosevelt. Besides, many of them did not hold
Roosevelt's views about the square deal. Their belief was that
whatever big business did was ipso facto evil and that it was the
duty of public officials to find out what big business wanted to
do and then prevent its accomplishment.

Under a later Administration, Roosevelt was invited to come
before a Congressional investigating committee to explain what he
did in this famous case. There he told the complete story of the
occurrence simply, frankly, and emphatically, and ended with this
statement: "If I were on a sailboat, I should not ordinarily
meddle with any of the gear; but if a sudden squall struck us,
and the main sheet jammed, so that the boat threatened to
capsize, I would unhesitatingly cut the main sheet, even though I
were sure that the owner, no matter how grateful to me at the
moment for having saved his life, would a few weeks later, when
he had forgotten his danger and his fear, decide to sue me for
the value of the cut rope. But I would feel a hearty contempt
for the owner who so acted."

Two laws passed during the second Roosevelt Administration had an
important bearing on the conduct of American business, though in
a different way from those which have already been considered.
They were the Pure Food law, and the Meat Inspection act. Both
were measures for the protection of the public health; but both
were at the same time measures for the control of private
business. The Pure Food law did three things: it prohibited the
sale of foods or drugs which were not pure and unadulterated; it
prohibited the sale of drugs which contained opium, cocaine,
alcohol, and other narcotics unless the exact proportion of them
in the preparation were stated on the package; and it prohibited
the sale of foods and drugs as anything else than what they
actually were. The Meat Inspection law required rigid inspection
by Government officials of all slaughterhouses and packing
concerns preparing meat food products for distribution in
interstate commerce. The imperative need for the passage of this
law was brought forcibly and vividly to the popular attention
through a novel, "The Jungle", written by Upton Sinclair, in
which the disgraceful conditions of uncleanliness and revolting
carelessness in the Chicago packing houses were described with
vitriolic intensity. An official investigation ordered by the
President confirmed the truth of these timely revelations.

These achievements on the part of the Roosevelt Administrations
were of high value. But, after all Roosevelt performed an even
greater service in arousing the public mind to a realization of
facts of national significance and stimulating the public
conscience to a desire to deal with them vigorously and justly.
>From the very beginning of his Presidential career he realized
the gravity of the problems created by the rise of big business;
and he began forthwith to impress upon the people with hammer
blows the conditions as he saw them, the need for definite
corrective action, and the absolute necessity for such treatment
of the case as would constitute the "square deal." An interesting
example of his method and of the response which it received is to
be found in the report of an address which he made in 1907. It
runs thus:

"From the standpoint of our material prosperity there is only one
other thing as important as the discouragement of a spirit of
envy and hostility toward business men, toward honest men of
means; this is the discouragement of dishonest business men.
[Great applause.]

"Wait a moment; I don't want you to applaud this part unless you
are willing to applaud also the part I read first, to which you
listened in silence. [Laughter and applause.] I want you to
understand that I will stand just as straight for the rights of
the honest man who wins his fortune by honest methods as I will
stand against the dishonest man who wins a fortune by dishonest
methods. And I challenge the right to your support in one
attitude just as much as in the other. I am glad you applauded
when you did, but I want you to go back now and applaud the other
statement. I will read a little of it over again. 'Every
manifestation of ignorant envy and hostility toward honest men
who acquire wealth by honest means should be crushed at the
outset by the weight of a sensible public opinion.' [Tremendous
applause.] Thank you. Now I'll go on."

Roosevelt's incessant emphasis was placed upon conduct as the
proper standard by which to judge the actions of men. "We are,"
he once said, "no respecters of persons. If a labor union does
wrong, we oppose it as firmly as we oppose a corporation which
does wrong; and we stand equally stoutly for the rights of the
man of wealth and for the rights of the wage-worker. We seek to
protect the property of every man who acts honestly, of every
corporation that represents wealth honestly accumulated and
honestly used. We seek to stop wrongdoing, and we desire to
punish the wrongdoer only so far as is necessary to achieve this

At another time he sounded the same note--sounded it indeed with
a "damnable iteration" that only proved how deeply it was
imbedded in his conviction

Let us strive steadily to secure justice as between man and man
without regard to the man's position, social or otherwise. Let us
remember that justice can never be justice unless it is equal. Do
justice to the rich man and exact justice from him; do justice to
the poor man and exact justice from him--justice to the
capitalist and justice to the wage-worker . . . . I have an
equally hearty aversion for the reactionary and the demagogue;
but I am not going to be driven out of fealty to my principles
because certain of them are championed by the reactionary and
certain others by the demagogue. The reactionary is always
strongly for the rights of property; so am I . . . . I will not
be driven away from championship of the rights of property upon
which all our civilization rests because they happen to be
championed by people who champion furthermore the abuses of
wealth . . . . Most demagogues advocate some excellent popular
principles, and nothing could be more foolish than for decent men
to permit themselves to be put into an attitude of ignorant and
perverse opposition to all reforms demanded in the name of the
people because it happens that some of them are demanded by

Such an attitude on the part of a man like Roosevelt could not
fail to be misunderstood, misinterpreted, and assailed. Toward
the end of his Presidential career, when he was attacking with
peculiar vigor the "malefactors of great wealth" whom the
Government had found it necessary to punish for their predatory
acts in corporate guise, it was gently intimated by certain
defenders of privilege that he was insane. At other times, when
he was insisting upon justice even to men who had achieved
material success, he was placed by the more rabid of the radical
opponents of privilege in the hierarchy of the worshipers of the
golden calf. His course along the middle of the onward way
exposed him peculiarly to the missiles of invective and scorn
from the partisans on either side. But neither could drive him
into the arms of the other.

The best evidence of the soundness of the strategy with which he
assailed the enemies of the common good, with whirling war-club
but with scrupulous observance of the demands of justice and fair
play, is to be found in the measure of what he actually achieved.
He did arouse the popular mind and sting the popular conscience
broad awake. He did enforce the law without fear or favor. He did
leave upon the statute-book and in the machinery of government
new means and methods for the control of business and for the
protection of the general welfare against predatory wealth.


It should go without saying that Roosevelt was vigorously and
deeply concerned with the relations between capital and labor,
for he was interested in everything that concerned the men and
women of America, everything that had to do with human relations.
>From the very beginning of his public life he had been a
of the workingman when the workingman needed defense against
exploitation and injustice. But his advocacy of the workers'
rights was never demagogic nor partial. In industrial relations,
as in the relations between business and the community, he
believed in the square deal. The rights of labor and the rights
of capital must, he firmly held, be respected each by the other--
and the rights of the public by both.

Roosevelt believed thoroughly in trade unions. He realized that
one of the striking accompaniments of the gigantic developments
in business and industry of the past few generations was a gross
inequality in the bargaining relation between the employer and
the individual employee standing alone.

Speaking of the great coal strike which occurred while he was
President, he developed the idea in this way:

"The great coal-mining and coal-carrying companies, which
employed their tens of thousands, could easily dispense with the
services of any particular miner. The miner, on the other hand,
however expert, could not dispense with the companies. He needed
a job; his wife and children would starve if he did not get one.
What the miner had to sell--his labor--was a perishable
commodity; the labor of today--if not sold today was lost
forever. Moreover, his labor was not like most commodities--a
mere thing; it was a part of a living, human being. The workman
saw, and all citizens who gave earnest thought to the matter saw
that the labor problem was not only an economic, but also a
moral, a human problem. Individually the miners were impotent
when they sought to enter a wage contract with the great
companies; they could make fair terms only by uniting into trade
unions to bargain collectively. The men were forced to cooperate
to secure not only their economic, but their simple human rights.
They, like other workmen, were compelled by the very conditions
under which they lived to unite in unions of their industry or
trade, and those unions were bound to grow in size, in strength,
and in power for good and evil as the industries in which the men
were employed grew larger and larger."*

* Autobiography (Scribner), pp. 471-78.

He was fond of quoting three statements of Lincoln's as
expressing precisely what he himself believed about capital and
labor. The first of these sayings was this: "Labor is prior to,
and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor,
and could never have existed if labor had not first existed.
Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher

This statement, Roosevelt used to say, would have made him, if it
had been original with him, even more strongly denounced as a
communist agitator than he already was! Then he would turn from
this, which the capitalist ought to hear, to another saying of
Lincoln's which the workingman ought to hear: "Capital has its
rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights . .
. . Nor should this lead to a war upon the owners of property.
Property is the fruit of labor; . . . property is desirable; it
is a positive good in the world."

Then would come the final word from Lincoln, driven home by
Roosevelt with all his usual vigor and fire: "Let not him who is
houseless pull down the house of another, but let him work
diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring
that his own shall be safe from violence when built."

In these three sayings, Roosevelt declared, Lincoln "showed the
proper sense of proportion in his relative estimates of capital
and labor, of human rights and property rights." Roosevelt's own
most famous statement of the matter was made in an address which
he delivered before the Sorbonne in Paris, on his way back from
Africa: "In every civilized society property rights must be
carefully safeguarded. Ordinarily, and in the great majority of
cases, human rights and property rights are fundamentally and in
the long run identical; but when it clearly appears that there is
a real conflict between them, human rights must have the upper
hand, for property belongs to man and not man to property."

Several times it happened to Roosevelt to be confronted with the
necessity of meeting with force the threat of violence on the
part of striking workers. He never refused the challenge, and his
firmness never lost him the respect of any but the worthless
among the workingmen. When he was Police Commissioner, strikers
in New York were coming into continual conflict with the police.
Roosevelt asked the strike leaders to meet him in order to talk
things over. These leaders did not know the man with whom they
were dealing; they tried to bully him. They truculently announced
the things that they would do if the police were not compliant to
their wishes. But they did not get far in that direction.
Roosevelt called a halt with a snap of his jaws. "Gentlemen!" he
said, "we want to understand one another. That was my object in
coming here. Remember, please, that he who counsels violence does
the cause of labor the poorest service. Also, he loses his case.
Understand distinctly that order will be kept. The police will
keep it. Now, gentlemen!" There was surprised silence for a
moment, and then smashing applause. They had learned suddenly
what kind of a man Roosevelt was. All their respect was his.

It was after he became President that his greatest opportunity
occurred to put into effect his convictions about the industrial
problem. In 1909. there was a strike which brought about a
complete stoppage of work for several months in the anthracite
coal regions. Both operators and workers were determined to make
no concession. The coal famine became a national menace as the
winter approached. "The big coal operators had banded together,"
so Roosevelt has described the situation, "and positively refused
to take any steps looking toward an accommodation. They knew that
the suffering among the miners was great; they were confident
that if order was kept, and nothing further done by the
Government, they would win; and they refused to consider that the
public had any rights in the matter."

As the situation grew more and more dangerous, the President
directed the head of the Federal Labor Bureau to make an
investigation of the whole matter. From this investigation it
appeared that the most feasible solution of the problem was to
prevail upon both sides to agree to a commission of arbitration
and promise to accept its findings. To this proposal the miners
agreed; the mine owners insolently declined it. Nevertheless,
Roosevelt persisted, and ultimately the operators yielded on
condition that the commission, which was to be named by the
President, should contain no representative of labor. They
insisted that it should be composed of (1) an officer of the
engineer corps of the army or navy, (2) a man with experience in
mining, (3) a "man of prominence, eminent as a sociologist," (4)
a Federal Judge of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and (5)
a mining engineer. In the course of a long and grueling
conference it looked as though a deadlock could be the only
outcome, since the mine owners would have no representative of
labor on any terms. But it suddenly dawned on Roosevelt that the
owners were objecting not to the thing but to the name. He
discovered that they would not object to the appointment of any
man, labor man or not, so long as he was not appointed as a labor
man or as a representative of labor. "I shall never forget," he
says in his "Autobiography", "the mixture of relief and amusement
I felt when I thoroughly grasped the fact that while they would
heroically submit to anarchy rather than have Tweedledum, yet if
I would call it Tweedledee they would accept with rapture." All
that he needed to do was to "commit a technical and nominal
absurdity with a solemn face." When he realized that this was the
case, Roosevelt announced that he was glad to accept the terms
laid down, and proceeded to appoint to the third position on the
Commission the labor man whom he had wanted from the first to
appoint, Mr. E. E. Clark, the head of the Brotherhood of Railway
Conductors. He called him, however, an "eminent sociologist,"
adding in his announcement of the appointment this explanation:
"For the purposes of such a Commission, the term sociologist
means a man who has thought and studied deeply on social
questions and has practically applied his knowledge."

The Commission as finally constituted was an admirable one. Its
report, which removed every menace to peace in the coal industry,
was an outstanding event in the history of the relations of labor
and capital in the United States.

But the most interesting and significant part of Roosevelt's
relation to the great coal strike concerned something that did
not happen. It illustrates his habit of seeing clearly through a
situation to the end and knowing far in advance just what action
he was prepared to take in any contingency that might possibly
arise. He was determined that work should be resumed in the mines
and that the country should have coal. He did not propose to
allow the operators to maintain the deadlock by sheer refusal to
make any compromise. In case he could not succeed in making them
reconsider their position, he had prepared a definite and drastic
course of action. The facts in regard to this plan did not become
public until many years after the strike was settled, and then
only when Roosevelt described it in his "Autobiography".

The method of action which Roosevelt had determined upon in the
last resort was to get the Governor of Pennsylvania to appeal to
him as President to restore order. He had then determined to put
Federal troops into the coal fields under the command of some
first-rate general, with instructions not only to preserve order
but to dispossess the mine operators and to run the mines as a
receiver, until such time as the Commission should make its
report and the President should issue further orders in view of
that report. Roosevelt found an army officer with the requisite
good sense, judgment, and nerve to act in such a crisis in the
person of Major General Schofield. Roosevelt sent for the General
and explained the seriousness of the crisis. "He was a fine
fellow," says Roosevelt in his "Autobiography", "a most
respectable-looking old boy, with side whiskers and a black
skull-cap, without any of the outward aspect of the conventional
military dictator; but in both nerve and judgment he was all
right." Schofield quietly assured the President that if the order
was given he would take possession of the mines, and would
guarantee to open them and run them without permitting any
interference either by the owners or by the strikers or by any
one else, so long as the President told him to stay. Fortunately
Roosevelt's efforts to bring about arbitration were ultimately
successful and recourse to the novel expedient of having the army
operate the coal mines proved unnecessary. No one was more
pleased than Roosevelt himself at the harmonious adjustment of
the trouble, for, as he said, "It is never well to take drastic
action if the result can be achieved with equal efficiency in
less drastic fashion." But there can be no question that the
drastic action would have followed if the coal operators had not
seen the light when they did.

In other phases of national life Roosevelt made his influence
equally felt. As President he found that there was little which
the Federal Government could do directly for the practical
betterment of living and working conditions among the mass of the
people compared with what the State Governments could do. He
determined, however, to strive to make the National Government an
ideal employer. He hoped to make the Federal employee feel, just
as much as did the Cabinet officer, that he was one of the
partners engaged in the service of the public, proud of his work,
eager to do it efficiently, and confident of just treatment. The
Federal Government could act in relation to laboring conditions
only in the Territories, in the District of Columbia, and in
connection with interstate commerce. But in those fields it
accomplished much.

The eight-hour law for workers in the executive departments had
become a mere farce and was continually violated by officials who
made their subordinates work longer hours than the law
stipulated. This condition the President remedied by executive
action, at the same time seeing to it that the shirk and the
dawdler received no mercy. A good law protecting the lives and
health of miners in the Territories was passed; and laws were
enacted for the District of Columbia, providing for the
supervision of employment agencies, for safeguarding workers
against accidents, and for the restriction of child labor. A
workmen's compensation law for government employees, inadequate
but at least a beginning, was put on the statute books. A similar
law for workers on interstate railways was declared
unconstitutional by the courts; but a second law was passed and
stood the test.

It was chiefly in the field of executive action, however, that
Roosevelt was able to put his theories into practice. There he
did not have to deal with recalcitrant, stupid, or
medieval-minded politicians, as he so often did in matters of
legislation. One case which confronted him found him on the side
against the labor unions, but, being sure that he was right, he
did not let that fact disturb him. A printer in the Government
Printing Office, named Miller, had been discharged because he was
a non-union man. The President immediately ordered him

Samuel Gompers, President of the American Federation of Labor,
with several members of its Executive Council, called upon him to
protest. The President was courteous but inflexible. He answered
their protest by declaring that, in the employment and dismissal
of men in the Government service, he could no more recognize the
fact that a man did or did not belong to a union as being for or
against him, than he could recognize the fact that he was a
Protestant or a Catholic, a Jew or a Gentile, as being for or
against him. He declared his belief in trade unions and said that
if he were a worker himself he would unquestionably join a union.
He always preferred to see a union shop. But he could not allow
his personal preferences to control his public actions. The
Government was bound to treat union and non-union men exactly
alike. His action in causing Miller to be reinstated was final.

Another instance which illustrated Roosevelt's skill in handling
a difficult situation occurred in 1908 when the Louisville and
Nashville Railroad and certain other lines announced a reduction
in wages. The heads of that particular road laid the necessity
for the reduction at the door of "the drastic laws inimical to
the interests of the railroads that have in the past year or two
been enacted." A general strike, with all the attendant
discomfort and disorder, was threatened in retaliation. The
President wrote a letter to the Interstate Commerce Commission,
in which he said:

"These reductions in wages may be justified or they may not. As
to this the public, which is a vitally interested party, can form
no judgment without a more complete knowledge of the essential
facts and real merits of the case than it now has or than it can
possibly obtain from the special pleadings, certain to be put
forth by each side in case their dispute should bring about
serious interruption to traffic. If the reduction in wages is due
to natural causes, the loss of business being such that the
burden should be, and is, equitably distributed, between
capitalist and wageworker, the public should know it. If it is
caused by legislation, the public and Congress should know it;
and if it is caused by misconduct in the past financial or other
operations of any railroad, then everybody should know it,
especially if the excuse of unfriendly legislation is advanced as
a method of covering up past business misconduct by the railroad
managers, or as a justification for failure to treat fairly the
wage-earning employees of the company."

The letter closed with a request to the Commission to investigate
the whole matter with these points in view. But the investigation
proved unnecessary; the letter was enough. The proposed reduction
of wages was never heard of again. The strength of the
President's position in a case of this sort was that he was
cheerfully prepared to accept whatever an investigation should
show to be right. If the reduction should prove to be required by
natural causes, very well--let the reduction be made. If it was
the result of unfair and unwise legislation, very well--repeal
the legislation. If it was caused by misconduct on the part of
railroad managers, very well--let them be punished. It was hard
to get the better of a man who wanted only the truth, and was
ready to act upon it, no matter which way it cut.

In 1910, after his return from Africa, a speaking trip happened
to take him to Columbus, Ohio, which had for months been in the
grasp of a street railway strike. There had been much violence,
many policemen had refused to do their duty, and many officials
had failed in theirs. It was an uncomfortable time for an
outsider to come and make a speech. But Roosevelt did not dodge.
He spoke, and straight to the point. His speech had been
announced as on Law and Order. When he rose to speak, however, he
declared that he would speak on Law, Order, and Justice. Here are
some of the incisive things that he said:

"Now, the first requisite is to establish order; and the first
duty of every official, in State and city alike, high and low, is
to see that order obtains and that violence is definitely stopped
. . . . I have the greatest regard for the policeman who does his
duty. I put him high among the props of the State, but the
policeman who mutinies, or refuses to perform his duty, stands on
a lower level than that of the professional lawbreaker . . . . I
ask, then, not only that civic officials perform their duties,
but that you, the people, insist upon their performing them . . .
. I ask this particularly of the wage-workers, and employees, and
men on strike . . . . I ask them, not merely passively, but
actively, to aid in restoring order. I ask them to clear their
skirts of all suspicion of sympathizing with disorder, and, above
all, the suspicion of sympathizing with those who commit brutal
and cowardly assaults . . . . What I have said of the laboring
men applies just as much to the capitalists and the capitalists'
representatives . . . . The wage-workers and the representatives
of the companies should make it evident that they wish the law
absolutely obeyed; that there is no chance of saying that either
the labor organization or the corporation favors lawbreakers or
lawbreaking. But let your public servants trust, not in the good
will of either side, but in the might of the civil arm, and see
that law rules, that order obtains, and that every miscreant,
every scoundrel who seeks brutally to assault any other
man--whatever that man's status--is punished with the utmost
severity . . . . When you have obtained law and order, remember
that it is useless to have obtained them unless upon them you
build a superstructure of justice. After finding out the facts,
see that justice is done; see that injustice that has been
perpetrated in the past is remedied, and see that the chance of
doing injustice in the future is minimized."

Now, any one might in his closet write an essay on Law, Order,
and Justice, which would contain every idea that is here
expressed. The essayist might even feel somewhat ashamed of his
production on the ground that all the ideas that it contained
were platitudes. But it is one thing to write an essay far from
the madding crowd, and it was quite another to face an audience
every member of which was probably a partisan of either the
workers, the employers, or the officials, and give them straight
from the shoulder simple platitudinous truths of this sort
applicable to the situation in which they found themselves. Any
one of them would have been delighted to hear these things said
about his opponents; it was when they were addressed to himself
and his associates that they stung. The best part of it, however,
was the fact that those things were precisely what the situation
needed. They were the truth; and Roosevelt knew it. His sword had
a double edge, and he habitually used it with a sweep that cut
both ways. As a result he was generally hated or feared by the
extremists on both sides. But the average citizen heartily
approved the impartiality of his strokes.

In the year 1905 the Governor of Idaho was killed by a bomb as he
was leaving his house. A former miner, who had been driven from
the State six years before by United States troops engaged in
putting down industrial disorder, was arrested and confessed the
crime. In his confession he implicated three officers of the
Western Federation of Miners, Moyer, Haywood, and Pettibone.
These three men were brought from Colorado into Idaho by a method
that closely resembled kidnaping, though it subsequently received
the sanction of the United States Supreme Court. While these
prominent labor leaders were awaiting trial, Colorado, Idaho, and
Nevada seethed and burst into eruption. Parts of the mining
districts were transformed into two hostile armed camps. Violence
was common. At this time Roosevelt coupled the name of a giant
among American railroad financiers, with those of Moyer and
Haywood, and described them all as "undesirable citizens." The
outbursts of resentment from both sides were instantaneous and
vicious. There was little to choose between them. Finally the
President took advantage of a letter of criticism from a
supporter of the accused labor leaders to reply to both groups of
critics. He referred to the fact that certain representatives of
the great capitalists had protested, because he had included a
prominent financier with Moyer and Haywood, while certain
representatives of labor had protested on precisely the opposite
grounds. Then Roosevelt went on to say:

"I am as profoundly indifferent to the condemnation in one case
as in the other. I challenge as a right the support of all good
Americans, whether wage-workers or capitalists, whatever their
occupation or creed, or in whatever portion of the country they
live, when I condemn both the types of bad citizenship which I
have held up to reprobation . . . . You ask for a 'square deal'
for Messrs. Moyer and Haywood. So do I. When I say 'square deal',
I mean a square deal to every one; it is equally a violation of
the policy of the square deal for a capitalist to protest against
denunciation of a capitalist who is guilty of wrongdoing and for
a labor leader to protest against the denunciation of a labor
leader who has been guilty of wrongdoing. I stand for equal
justice to both; and so far as in my power lies I shall uphold
justice, whether the man accused of guilt has behind him the
wealthiest corporation, the greatest aggregations of riches in
the country, or whether he has behind him the most influential
labor organizations in the country."

It should be recorded for the sake of avoiding misapprehension
that Roosevelt's denunciation of Moyer and Haywood was not based
on the assumption that they were guilty of the death of the
murdered' Governor, but was predicated on their general attitude
and conduct in the industrial conflicts in the mining fields.

The criticisms of Roosevelt because of his actions in the complex
relations of capital and labor were often puerile. For instance,
he was sternly taken to task on one or two occasions because he
had labor leaders lunch with him at the White House. He replied
to one of his critics with this statement of his position: "While
I am President I wish the labor man to feel that he has the same
right of access to me that the capitalist has; that the doors
swing open as easily to the wageworker as to the head of a big
corporation--AND NO EASIER."


The first message of President Roosevelt to Congress contained
these words: "The forest and water problems are perhaps the most
vital internal questions of the United States." At that moment,
on December 3, 1901, the impulse was given that was to add to the
American vocabulary two new words, "reclamation" and
"conservation," that was to create two great constructive
movements for the preservation, the increase, and the utilization
of natural resources, and that was to establish a new
relationship on the part of the Federal Government to the
nation's natural wealth.

Reclamation and conservation had this in common: the purpose of
both was the intelligent and efficient utilization of the natural
resources of the country for the benefit of the people of the
country. But they differed in one respect, and with conspicuous
practical effects. Reclamation, which meant the spending of
public moneys to render fertile and usable arid lands hitherto
deemed worthless, trod on no one's toes. It took from no one
anything that he had; it interfered with no one's enjoyment of
benefits which it was not in the public interest that he should
continue to enjoy unchecked. It was therefore popular from the
first, and the new policy went through Congress as though on
well-oiled wheels. Only six months passed between its first
statement in the Presidential message and its enactment into law.
Conservation, on the other hand, had to begin by withholding the
natural resources from exploitation and extravagant use. It had,
first of all, to establish in the national mind the principle
that the forests and mines of the nation are not an inexhaustible
grab-bag into which whosoever will may thrust greedy and wasteful
hands, and by this new understanding to stop the squandering of
vast national resources until they could be economically
developed and intelligently used. So it was inevitable that
conservation should prove unpopular, while reclamation gained an
easy popularity, and that those who had been feeding fat off the
country's stores of forest and mineral wealth should oppose, with
tooth and nail, the very suggestion of conservation. It was on
the first Sunday after he reached Washington as President, before
he had moved into the White House, that Roosevelt discussed with
two men, Gifford Pinchot and F. H. Newell, the twin policies that
were to become two of the finest contributions to American
progress of the Roosevelt Administrations. Both men were already
in the Government service, both were men of broad vision and high
constructive ability; with both Roosevelt had already worked when
he was Governor of New York. The name of Newell, who became chief
engineer of the Reclamation Service, ought to be better known
popularly than it is in connection with the wonderful work that
has been accomplished in making the desert lands of western
America blossom and produce abundantly. The name of Pinchot, by a
more fortunate combination of events, has become synonymous in
the popular mind with the conservation movement.

On the very day that the first Roosevelt message was read to the
Congress, a committee of Western Senators and Congressmen was
organized, under the leadership of Senator Francis G. Newlands of
Nevada, to prepare a Reclamation Bill. The only obstacle to the
prompt enactment of the bill was the undue insistence upon State
Rights by certain Congressmen, "who consistently fought for local
and private interests as against the interests of the people as a
whole." In spite of this shortsighted opposition, the bill became
law on June 17, 1902, and the work of reclamation began without
an instant's delay. The Reclamation Act set aside the proceeds of
the sale of public lands for the purpose of reclaiming the waste
areas of the arid West.

Lands otherwise worthless were to be irrigated and in those new
regions of agricultural productivity homes were to be
established. The money so expended was to be repaid in due course
by the settlers on the land and the sums repaid were to be used
as a revolving fund for the continuous prosecution of the
reclamation work. Nearly five million dollars was made
immediately available for the work. Within four years, twenty-six
"projects" had been approved by the Secretary of the Interior and
work was well under way on practically all of them. They were
situated in fourteen States--Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas,
Montana, Nebraska, Washington, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, North
Dakota, Oregon, California, South Dakota. The individual projects
were intended to irrigate areas of from eight thousand to two
hundred thousand acres each; and the grand total of arid lands to
which water was thus to be brought by canals, tunnels, aqueducts,
and ditches was more than a million and a half acres.

The work had to be carried out under the most difficult and
adventurous conditions. The men of the Reclamation Service were
in the truest sense pioneers, building great engineering works
far from the railroads, where the very problem of living for the
great numbers of workers required was no simple one. On the
Shoshone in Wyoming these men built the highest dam in the world,
310 feet from base to crest. They pierced a mountain range in
Colorado and carried the waters of the Gunnison River nearly six
miles to the Uncompahgre Valley through a tunnel in the solid
rock. The great Roosevelt dam on the Salt River in Arizona with
its gigantic curved wall of masonry 280 feet high, created a lake
with a capacity of fifty-six billion cubic feet, and watered in
1915 an area of 750,000 acres.

The work of these bold pioneers was made possible by the fearless
backing which they received from the Administration at
Washington. The President demanded of them certain definite
results and gave them unquestioning support. In Roosevelt's own
words, "the men in charge were given to understand that they must
get into the water if they would learn to swim; and, furthermore,
they learned to know that if they acted honestly, and boldly and
fearlessly accepted responsibility, I would stand by them to the
limit. In this, as in every other case, in the end the boldness
of the action fully justified itself."

The work of reclamation was first prosecuted under the United
States Geological Survey; but in the spring of 1908 the United
States Reclamation Service was established to carry it on, under
the direction of Mr. Newell, to whom the inception of the plan
was due. Roosevelt paid a fine and well-deserved tribute to the
man who originated and carried through this great national
achievement when he said that "Newell's single-minded devotion to
this great task, the constructive imagination which enabled him
to conceive it, and the executive power and high character
through which he and his assistant, Arthur P. Davis, built up a
model service--all these made him a model servant. The final
proof of his merit is supplied by the character and records of
the men who later assailed him."

The assault to which Roosevelt thus refers was the inevitable
aftermath of great accomplishment. Reclamation was popular, when
it was proposed, while it was being carried out, and when the
water began to flow in the ditches, making new lands of fertile
abundance for settlers and farmers. But the reaction of
unpopularity came the minute the beneficiaries had to begin to
pay for the benefits received. Then arose a concerted movement
for the repudiation of the obligation of the settlers to repay
the Government for what had been spent to reclaim the land. The
baser part of human nature always seeks a scapegoat; and it might
naturally be expected that the repudiators and their supporters
should concentrate their attacks upon the head of the Reclamation
Service, to whose outstanding ability and continuous labor they
owed that for which they were now unwilling to pay. But no
attack, not even the adverse report of an ill-humored
congressional committee, can alter the fact of the tremendous
service that Newell and his loyal associates in the Reclamation
Service did for the nation and the people of the United States.
By 1915 reclamation had added to the arable land of the country a
million and a quarter acres, of which nearly eight hundred
thousand acres were already "under water," and largely under
tillage, producing yearly more than eighteen million dollars'
worth of crops.

When Roosevelt became President there was a Bureau of Forestry in
the Department of Agriculture, but it was a body entrusted with
merely the study of forestry problems and principles. It
contained all the trained foresters in the employ of the
Government; but it had no public forest lands whatever to which
the knowledge and skill of these men could be applied. All the
forest reserves of that day were in the charge of the Public Land
Office in the Department of the Interior. This was managed by
clerks who knew nothing of forestry, and most, if not all, of
whom had never seen a stick of the timber or an acre of the
woodlands for which they were responsible. The mapping and
description of the timber lay with the Geological Survey. So the
national forests had no foresters and the Government foresters no

It was a characteristic arrangement of the old days. More than
that, it was a characteristic expression of the old attitude of
thought and action on the part of the American people toward
their natural resources. Dazzled and intoxicated by the
inexhaustible riches of their bountiful land, they had concerned
themselves only with the agreeable task of utilizing and
consuming them. To their shortsighted vision there seemed always
plenty more beyond. With the beginning of the twentieth century a
prophet arose in the land to warn the people that the supply was
not inexhaustible. He declared not only that the "plenty more
beyond" had an end, but that the end was already in sight. This
prophet was Gifford Pinchot. His warning went forth reinforced by
all the authority of the Presidential office and all the
conviction and driving power of the personality of Roosevelt
himself. Pinchot's warning cry was startling:

"The growth of our forests is but one-third of the annual cut;
and we have in store timber enough for only twenty or thirty
years at our present rate of use . . . . Our coal supplies are so
far from being inexhaustible that if the increasing rate of
consumption shown by the figures of the last seventy-five years
continues to prevail, our supplies of anthracite coal will last
but fifty years and of bituminous coal less than two hundred
years . . . . Many oil and gas fields, as in Pennsylvania, West
Virginia, and the Mississippi Valley, have already failed, yet
vast quantities of gas continue to be poured into the air and
great quantities of oil into the streams. Cases are known in
which great volumes of oil were systematically burned in order to
get rid of it . . . . In 1896, Professor Shaler, than whom no one
has spoken with greater authority on this subject, estimated that
in the upland regions of the States South of Pennsylvania, three
thousand square miles of soil have been destroyed as the result
of forest denudation, and that destruction was then proceeding at
the rate of one hundred square miles of fertile soil per year . .
. . The Mississippi River alone is estimated to transport yearly
four hundred million tons of sediment, or about twice the amount
of material to be excavated from the Panama Canal. This material
is the most fertile portion of the richest fields, transformed
from a blessing to a curse by unrestricted erosion . . . . The
destruction of forage plants by overgrazing has resulted, in the
opinion of men most capable of judging, in reducing the grazing
value of the public lands by one-half."

Here, then, was a problem of national significance, and it was
one which the President attacked with his usual promptness and
vigor. His first message to Congress called for the unification
of the care of the forest lands of the public domain in a single
body under the Department of Agriculture. He asked that legal
authority be granted to the President to transfer to the
Department of Agriculture lands for use as forest reserves. He
declared that "the forest reserves should be set apart forever
for the use and benefit of our people as a whole and not
sacrificed to the shortsighted greed of a few." He supplemented
this declaration with an explanation of the meaning and purpose
of the forest policy which he urged should be adopted: "Wise
forest protection does not mean the withdrawal of forest
resources, whether of wood, water, or grass, from contributing
their full share to the welfare of the people, but, on the
contrary, gives the assurance of larger and more certain
supplies. The fundamental idea of forestry is the perpetuation of
forests by use. Forest protection is not an end in itself; it is
a means to increase and sustain the resources of our country and
the industries which depend upon them. The preservation of our
forests is an imperative business necessity. We have come to see
clearly that whatever destroys the forest, except to make way for
agriculture, threatens our wellbeing."

Nevertheless it was four years before Congress could be brought
to the common-sense policy of administering the forest lands
still belonging to the Government. Pinchot and his associates in
the Bureau of Forestry spent the interval profitably, however, in
investigating and studying the whole problem of national forest
resources and in drawing up enlightened and effective plans for
their protection and development. Accordingly, when the act
transferring the National Forests to the charge of the newly
created United States Forest Service in the Department of
Agriculture was passed early in 1905, they were ready for the

The principles which they had formulated and which they now began
to apply had been summed up by Roosevelt in the statement "that
the rights of the public to the natural resources outweigh
private rights and must be given the first consideration." Until
the establishment of the Forest Service, private rights had
almost always been allowed to overbalance public rights in
matters that concerned not only the National Forests, but the
public lands generally. It was the necessity of having this new
principle recognized and adopted that made the way of the newly
created Forest Service and of the whole Conservation movement so
thorny. Those who had been used to making personal profit from
free and unrestricted exploitation of the nation's natural
resources would look only with antagonism on a movement which put
a consideration of the general welfare first.

The Forest Service nevertheless put these principles immediately
into practical application. The National Forests were opened to a
regulated use of all their resources. A law was passed throwing
open to settlement all land in the National Forests which was
found to be chiefly valuable for agriculture. Hitherto all such
land had been closed to the settler. Regulations were established
and enforced which favored the settler rather than the large
stockowner. It was provided that, when conditions required the
reduction in the number of head of stock grazed in any National
Forest, the vast herds of the wealthy owner should be affected
before the few head of the small man, upon which the living of
his family depended. The principle which excited the bitterest
antagonism of all was the rule that any one, except a bona fide
settler on the land, who took public property for private profit
should pay for what he got. This was a new and most unpalatable
idea to the big stock and sheep raisers, who had been accustomed
to graze their animals at will on the richest lands of the public
forests, with no one but themselves a penny the better off
thereby. But the Attorney-General of the United States declared
it legal to make the men who pastured their cattle and sheep in
the National Forests pay for this privilege; and in the summer of
1906 such charges were for the first time made and collected. The
trained foresters of the service were put in charge of the
National Forests. As a result, improvement began to manifest
itself in other ways. Within two years the fire prevention work
alone had completely justified the new policy of forest
regulation. Eighty-six per cent of the fires that did occur in
the National Forests were held down to an area of five acres or
less. The new service not only made rapid progress in saving the
timber, but it began to make money for the nation by selling the
timber. In 1905 the sales of timber brought in $60,000; three
years later the return was $850,000.

The National Forests were trebled in size during the two
Roosevelt Administrations with the result that there were
194,000,000 acres of publicly owned and administered forest lands
when Roosevelt went out of office. The inclusion of these lands
in the National Forests, where they were safe from the selfish
exploitation of greedy private interests, was not accomplished
without the bitterest opposition. The wisdom of the serpent
sometimes had to be called into play to circumvent the adroit
maneuvering of these interests and their servants in Congress. In
1907, for example, Senator Charles W. Fulton of Oregon obtained
an amendment to the Agricultural Appropriation Bill forbidding
the President to set aside any additional National Forests in six
Northwestern States.. But the President and the Forest Service
were ready for this bold attempt to deprive the public of some
16,000,000 acres for the benefit of land grabbers and special
interests. They knew exactly what lands ought to be set aside in
those States. So the President first unostentatiously signed the
necessary proclamations to erect those lands into National
Forests, and then quietly approved the Agricultural Bill. "The
opponents of the Forest Service," said Roosevelt, "turned
handsprings in their wrath; and dire were their threats against
the Executive; but the threats could not be carried out, and were
really only a tribute to the efficiency of our action."

The development of a sound and enlightened forest policy
naturally led to the consideration of a similar policy for
dealing with the water power of the country which had hitherto
gone to waste or was in the hands of private interests. It had
been the immemorial custom that the water powers on the navigable
streams, on the public domain, and in the National Forests should
be given away for nothing, and practically without question, to
the first comer. This ancient custom ran right athwart the newly
enunciated principle that public property should not pass into
private possession without being paid for, and that permanent
grants, except for home-making, should not be made. The Forest
Service now began to apply this principle to the water powers in
the National Forests, granting permission for the development and
use of such power for limited periods only and requiring payment
for the privilege. This was the beginning of a general water
power policy which, in the course of time, commended itself to
public approval; but it was long before it ceased to be opposed
by the private interests that wanted these rich resources for
their own undisputed use.

Out of the forest movement grew the conservation movement in its
broader sense. In the fall of 1907 Roosevelt made a trip down the
Mississippi River with the definite purpose of drawing general
attention to the subject of the development of the national
inland waterways. Seven months before, he had established the
Inland Waterways Commission and had directed it to "consider the
relations of the streams to the use of all the great permanent
natural resources and their conservation for the making and
maintenance of permanent homes." During the trip a letter was
prepared by a group of men interested in the conservation
movement and was presented to him, asking him to summon a
conference on the conservation of natural resources. At a great
meeting held at Memphis, Tennessee, Roosevelt publicly announced
his intention of calling such a conference.

In May of the following year the conference was held in the East
Room of the White House. There were assembled there the
President, the Vice-President, seven Cabinet members, the Supreme
Court Justices, the Governors of thirty-four States and
representatives of the other twelve, the Governors of all the
Territories, including Alaska, Hawaii, and Porto Rico, the
President of the Board of Commissioners of the District of
Columbia, representatives of sixty-eight national societies, four
special guests, William Jennings Bryan, James J. Hill, Andrew
Carnegie, and John Mitchell, forty-eight general guests, and the
members of the Inland Waterways Commission. The object of the
conference was stated by the President in these words: "It seems
to me time for the country to take account of its natural
resources, and to inquire how long they are likely to last. We
are prosperous now; we should not forget that it will be just as
important to our descendants to be prosperous in their time."

At the conclusion of the conference a declaration prepared by the
Governors of Louisiana, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Utah, and South
Carolina, was unanimously adopted. This Magna Charta of the
conservation movement declared "that the great natural resources
supply the material basis upon which our civilization must
continue to depend and upon which the perpetuity of the nation
itself rests," that "this material basis is threatened with
exhaustion," and that "this conservation of our natural resources
is a subject of transcendent importance, which should engage
unremittingly the attention of the Nation, the States, and the
people in earnest cooperation." It set forth the practical
implications of Conservation in these words:

"We agree that the land should be so used that erosion and soil
wash shall cease; and that there should be reclamation of arid
and semi-arid regions by means of irrigation, and of swamp and
overflowed regions by means of drainage; that the waters should
be so conserved and used as to promote navigation, to enable the
arid regions to be reclaimed by irrigation, and to develop power
in the interests of the people; that the forests which regulate
our rivers, support our industries, and promote the fertility
and productiveness of the soil should be preserved and
perpetuated; that the minerals found so abundantly beneath the
surface should be so used as to prolong their utility; that the
beauty, healthfulness, and habitability of our country should be
preserved and increased; that sources of national wealth exist
for the benefit of the people, and that monopoly thereof should
not be tolerated."

The conference urged the continuation and extension of the forest
policies already established; the immediate adoption of a wise,
active, and thorough waterway policy for the prompt improvement
of the streams, and the conservation of water resources for
irrigation, water supply, power, and navigation; and the
enactment of laws for the prevention of waste in the mining and
extraction of coal, oil, gas, and other minerals with a view to
their wise conservation for the use of the people. The
declaration closed with the timely adjuration, "Let us conserve
the foundations of our prosperity."

As a result of the conference President Roosevelt created the
National Conservation Commission, consisting of forty-nine men of
prominence, about one-third of whom were engaged in politics,
one-third in various industries, and one-third in scientific
work. Gifford Pinchot was appointed chairman. The Commission
proceeded to make an inventory of the natural resources of the
United States. This inventory contains the only authentic
statement as to the amounts of the national resources of the
country, the degree to which they have already been exhausted,
and their probable duration. But with this inventory there came
to an end the activity of the Conservation Commission, for
Congress not only refused any appropriation for its use but
decreed by law that no bureau of the Government should do any
work for any commission or similar body appointed by the
President, without reference to the question whether such work
was appropriate or not for such a bureau to undertake. Inasmuch
as the invaluable inventory already made had been almost entirely
the work of scientific bureaus of the Government instructed by
the President to cooperate with the Commission, the purpose and
animus of this legislation were easily apparent. Congress had
once more shown its friendship for the special interests and its
indifference to the general welfare.

In February, 1909, on the invitation of President Roosevelt, a
North American Conservation Conference, attended by
representatives of the United States, Canada, and Mexico, was
held at the White House. A declaration of principles was drawn up
and the suggestion made that all the nations of the world should
be invited to meet in a World Conservation Conference. The
President forthwith addressed to forty-five nations a letter
inviting them to assemble at The Hague for such a conference;
but, as he has laconically expressed it, "When I left the White
House the project lapsed."


Perhaps the most famous of Roosevelt's epigrammatic sayings is,
"Speak softly and carry a big stick." The public, with its
instinctive preference for the dramatic over the significant,
promptly seized upon the "big stick" half of the aphorism and
ignored the other half. But a study of the various acts of
Roosevelt when he was President readily shows that in his mind
the "big stick" was purely subordinate. It was merely the ultima
ratio, the possession of which would enable a nation to "speak
softly" and walk safely along the road of peace and justice and
fair play.

The secret of Roosevelt's success in foreign affairs is to be
found in another of his favorite sayings: "Nine-tenths of wisdom
is to be wise in time." He has himself declared that his whole
foreign policy "was based on the exercise of intelligent
foresight and of decisive action sufficiently far in advance of
any likely crisis to make it improbable that we would run into
serious trouble."

When Roosevelt became President, a perplexing controversy with
Great Britain over the boundary line between Alaska and Canada
was in full swing. The problem, which had become acute with the
discovery of gold in the Klondike in 1897, had already been
considered, together with eleven other subjects of dispute
between Canada and the United States, by a Joint Commission which
had been able to reach no agreement. The essence of the
controversy was this: The treaty of 1825 between Great Britain
and Russia had declared that the boundary, dividing British and
Russian America on that five-hundred-mile strip of land which
depends from the Alaskan elephant's head like a dangling halter
rope, should be drawn "parallel to the windings of the coast" at
a distance inland of thirty miles. The United States took the
plain and literal interpretation of these words in the treaty.
The Canadian contention was that within the meaning of the treaty
the fiords or inlets which here break into the land were not part
of the sea, and that the line, instead of following, at the
correct distance inland, the indentations made by these arms of
the sea, should leap boldly across them, at the agreed distance
from the points of the headlands. This would give Canada the
heads of several great inlets and direct access to the sea far
north of the point where the Canadian coast had, always been
assumed to end. Canada and the United States were equally
resolute in upholding their claims. It looked as if the matter
would end in a deadlock.

John Hay, who had been Secretary of State in McKinley's Cabinet,
as he now was in Roosevelt's, had done his best to bring the
matter to a settlement, but had been unwilling to have the
dispute arbitrated, for the very good reason that, as he said,
"although our claim is as clear as the sun in heaven, we know
enough of arbitration to foresee the fatal tendency of all
arbitrators to compromise." Roosevelt believed that the "claim of
the Canadians for access to deep water along any part of the
Alaskan coast is just exactly as indefensible as if they should
now claim the island of Nantucket." He was willing, however, to
refer the question unconfused by other issues to a second Joint
Commission of six. The commission was duly constituted. There was
no odd neutral member of this body, as in an arbitration, but
merely three representatives from each side. Of the British
representatives two were Canadians and the third was the Lord
Chief Justice of England, Lord Alverstone.

But before the Commission met, the President took pains to have
conveyed to the British Cabinet, in an informal but
diplomatically correct way, his views and his intentions in the
event of a disagreement. "I wish to make one last effort," he
said, "to bring about an agreement through the Commission which
will enable the people of both countries to say that the result
represents the feeling of the representatives of both countries.
But if there is a disagreement, I wish it distinctly understood,
not only that there will be no arbitration of the matter, but
that in my message to Congress I shall take a position which will
prevent any possibility of arbitration hereafter." If this should
seem to any one too vigorous flourishing of the "big stick," let
him remember that it was all done through confidential diplomatic
channels, and that the judgment of the Lord Chief Justice of
England, when the final decision was made, fully upheld
Roosevelt's position.

The decision of the Commission was, with slight immaterial
modifications, in favor of the United States. Lord Alverstone
voted against his Canadian than colleagues. It was a just
decision, as most well-informed Canadians knew at the time. The
troublesome question was settled; the time-honored friendship of
two great peoples had suffered no interruption; and Roosevelt
had secured for his country its just due, without public parade
or bluster, by merely being wise--and inflexible--in time.

During the same early period of his Presidency, Roosevelt found
himself confronted with a situation in South America, which
threatened a serious violation of the Monroe Doctrine. Venezuela
was repudiating certain debts which the Venezuelan Government had
guaranteed to European capitalists. German capital was chiefly
involved, and Germany proposed to collect the debts by force.
Great Britain and Italy were also concerned in the matter, but
Germany was the ringleader and the active partner in the
undertaking. Throughout the year 1902 a pacific blockade of the
Venezuelan coast was maintained and in December of that year an
ultimatum demanding the immediate payment of the debts was
presented. When its terms were not complied with, diplomatic
relations were broken off and the Venezuelan fleet was seized.
At this point the United States entered upon the scene, but with
no blare of trumpets.

In fact, what really happened was not generally known until
several years later.

In his message of December, 1901, President Roosevelt had made
two significant statements. Speaking of the Monroe Doctrine, he
said, "We do not guarantee any state against punishment, if it
misconducts itself." This was very satisfactory to Germany. But
he added--"provided the punishment does not take the form of
the acquisition of territory by any non-American power." This
did not suit the German book so well. For a year the matter was
discussed. Germany disclaimed any intention to make "permanent"
acquisitions in Venezuela but contended for its right to make
"temporary" ones. Now the world had already seen "temporary"
acquisitions made in China, and it was a matter of common
knowledge that this convenient word was often to be interpreted
in a Pickwickian sense.

When the "pacific blockade" passed into the stage of active
hostilities, the patience of Roosevelt snapped. The German
Ambassador, von Holleben, was summoned to the White House. The
President proposed to him that Germany should arbitrate its
differences with Venezuela. Von Holleben assured him that his
"Imperial Master" would not hear of such a course. The President
persisted that there must be no taking possession, even
temporarily, of Venezuelan territory. He informed the Ambassador
that Admiral Dewey was at that moment maneuvering in Caribbean
waters, and that if satisfactory assurances did not come from
Berlin in ten days, he would be ordered to proceed to Venezuela
to see that no territory was seized by German forces. The
Ambassador was firm in his conviction that no assurances would be

A week later Von Holleben appeared at the White House to talk of
another matter and was about to leave without mentioning
Venezuela. The President stopped him with a question. No, said
the Ambassador, no word had come from Berlin. Then, Roosevelt
explained, it would not be necessary for him to wait the
remaining three days. Dewey would be instructed to sail a day
earlier than originally planned. He added that not a word of all
this had been put upon paper, and that if the German Emperor
would consent to arbitrate, the President would praise him
publicly for his broadmindedness. The Ambassador was still
convinced that no arbitration was conceivable.

But just twelve hours later he appeared at the White House, his
face wreathed in smiles. On behalf of his Imperial Master he had
the honor to request the President of the United States to act as
arbitrator between Germany and Venezuela. The orders to Dewey
were never sent, the President publicly congratulated the Kaiser
on his loyalty to the principle of arbitration, and, at
Roosevelt's suggestion, the case went to The Hague. Not an
intimation of the real occurrences came out till long after, not
a public word or act marred the perfect friendliness of the two
nations. The Monroe Doctrine was just as unequivocally invoked
and just as inflexibly upheld as it had been by Grover Cleveland
eight years before in another Venezuelan case. But the quiet
private warning had been substituted for the loud public threat.

The question of the admission of Japanese immigrants to the
United States and of their treatment had long disturbed American
international relations. It became acute in the latter part of
1906, when the city of San Francisco determined to exclude all
Japanese pupils from the public schools and to segregate them in
a school of their own. This action seemed to the Japanese a
manifest violation of the rights guaranteed by treaty. Diplomatic
protests were instantly forthcoming at Washington; and popular
demonstrations against the United States boiled up in Tokyo. For
the third time there appeared splendid material for a serious
conflict with a great power which might conceivably lead to
active hostilities. From such beginnings wars have come before

The President was convinced that the Californians were utterly
wrong in what they had done, but perfectly right in the
underlying conviction from which their action sprang. He saw that
justice and good faith demanded that the Japanese in California
be protected in their treaty rights, and that the Californians be
protected from the immigration of Japanese laborers in mass. With
characteristic promptness and vigor he set forth these two
considerations and took action to make them effective. In his
message to Congress in December he declared: "In the matter now
before me, affecting the Japanese, everything that is in my power
to do will be done and all of the forces, military and civil, of
the United States which I may lawfully employ will be so employed
. . . to enforce the rights of aliens under treaties." Here was
reassurance for the Japanese. But he also added: "The Japanese
would themselves not tolerate the intrusion into their country of
a mass of Americans who would displace Japanese in the business
of the land. The people of California are right in insisting that
the Japanese shall not come thither in mass." Here was
reassurance for the Californians.

The words were promptly followed by acts. The garrison of Federal
troops at San Francisco was reinforced and public notice was
given that violence against Japanese would be put down. Suits
were brought both in the California State courts and in the
Federal courts there to uphold the treaty rights of Japan. Mr.
Victor H. Metcalf, the Secretary of Commerce and Labor, himself a
Californian, was sent to San Francisco to make a study of the
whole situation. It was made abundantly clear to the people of
San Francisco and the Coast that the provision of the Federal
Constitution making treaties a part of the supreme law of the
land, with which the Constitution and laws of no State can
interfere, would be strictly enforced. The report of Secretary
Metcalf showed that the school authorities of San Francisco had
done not only an illegal thing but an unnecessary and a stupid

Meanwhile Roosevelt had been working with equal vigor upon the
other side of the problem. He esteemed it precisely as important
to protect the Californians from the Japanese as to protect the
Japanese from the Californians. As in the Alaskan and Venezuelan
cases, he proceeded without beat of drum or clash of cymbal. The
matter was worked out in unobtrusive conferences between the
President and the State Department and the Japanese
representatives in Washington. It was all friendly, informal,
conciliatory--but the Japanese did not fail to recognize the
inflexible determination behind this courteous friendliness. Out
of these conferences came an informal agreement on the part of
the Japanese Government that no passports would be issued to
Japanese workingmen permitting them to leave Japan for ports of
the United States. It was further only necessary to prevent
Japanese coolies from coming into the United States through
Canada and Mexico. This was done by executive order just two days
after the school authorities of San Francisco had rescinded their
discriminatory school decree.

The incident is eminently typical of Roosevelt's principles and
practice: to accord full measure of justice while demanding full
measure in return; to be content with the fact without care for
the formality; to see quickly, to look far, and to act boldly.

It had a sequel which rounded out the story. The President's
ready willingness to compel California to do justice to the
Japanese was misinterpreted in Japan as timidity. Certain
chauvinistic elements in Japan began to have thoughts which were
in danger of becoming inimical to the best interests of the
United States. It seemed to President Roosevelt an opportune
moment, for many reasons, to send the American battle fleet on a
voyage around the world. The project was frowned on in this
country and viewed with doubt in other parts of the world. Many
said the thing could not be done, for no navy in the world had
yet done it; but Roosevelt knew that it could. European observers
believed that it would lead to war with Japan; but Roosevelt's
conviction was precisely the opposite. In his own words, "I did
not expect it; . . . I believed that Japan would feel as friendly
in the matter as we did; but . . . if my expectations had proved
mistaken, it would have been proof positive that we were going to
be attacked anyhow, and . . . in such event it would have been an
enormous gain to have had the three months' preliminary
preparation which enabled the fleet to start perfectly equipped.
In a personal interview before they left, I had explained to the
officers in command that I believed the trip would be one of
absolute peace, but that they were to take exactly the same
precautions against sudden attack of any kind as if we were at
war with all the nations of the earth; and that no excuse of any
kind would be accepted if there were a sudden attack of any kind
and we were taken unawares." Prominent inhabitants and newspapers
of the Atlantic coast were deeply concerned over the taking away
of the fleet from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The head of the
Senate Committee on Naval Affairs, who hailed from the State of
Maine, declared that the fleet should not and could not go
because Congress would refuse to appropriate the money; Roosevelt
announced in response that he had enough money to take the fleet
around into the Pacific anyhow, that it would certainly go, and
that if Congress did not choose to appropriate enough money to
bring the fleet back, it could stay there. There was no further
difficulty about the money.

The voyage was at once a hard training trip and a triumphant
progress. Everywhere the ships, their officers, and their men
were received with hearty cordiality and deep admiration, and
nowhere more so than in Japan. The nations of the world were
profoundly impressed by the achievement. The people of the United
States were thoroughly aroused to a new pride in their navy and
an interest in its adequacy and efficiency. It was definitely
established in the minds of Americans and foreigners that the
United States navy is rightfully as much at home in the Pacific
as in the Atlantic. Any cloud the size of a man's hand that may
have been gathering above the Japanese horizon was forthwith
swept away. Roosevelt's plan was a novel and bold use of the
instruments of war on behalf of peace which was positively
justified in the event.


It was a favorite conviction of Theodore Roosevelt that neither
an individual nor a nation can possess rights which do not carry
with them duties. Not long after the Venezuelan incident--in
which the right of the United States, as set forth in the Monroe
Doctrine, to prevent European powers from occupying territory in
the Western Hemisphere was successfully upheld--an occasion arose
nearer home not only to insist upon rights but to assume the
duties involved. In a message to the Senate in February, 1905,
Roosevelt thus outlined his conception of the dual nature of the
Monroe Doctrine:

"It has for some time been obvious that those who profit by the
Monroe Doctrine must accept certain responsibilities along with
the rights which it confers, and that the same statement applies
to those who uphold the doctrine . . . . An aggrieved nation can,
without interfering with the Monroe Doctrine, take what action it
sees fit in the adjustment of its disputes with American states,
provided that action does not take the shape of interference with
their form of government or of the despoilment of their territory
under any disguise. But short of this, when the question is one
of a money claim, the only way which remains finally to collect
it is a blockade or bombardment or seizure of the custom houses,
and this means . . . what is in effect a possession, even though
only a temporary possession, of territory. The United States then
becomes a party in interest, because under the Monroe Doctrine it
cannot see any European power seize and permanently occupy the
territory of one of these republics; and yet such seizure of
territory, disguised or undisguised, may eventually offer the
only way in which the power in question can collect its debts,
unless there is interference on the part of the United States."

Roosevelt had already found such interference necessary in the
case of Germany and Venezuela. But it had been interference in a
purely negative sense. He had merely insisted that the European
power should not occupy American territory even temporarily. In
the later case of the Dominican Republic he supplemented this
negative interference with positive action based upon his
conviction of the inseparable nature of rights and obligations.

Santo Domingo was in its usual state of chronic revolution. The
stakes for which the rival forces were continually fighting were
the custom houses, for they were the only certain sources of
revenue and their receipts were the only reliable security which
could be offered to foreign capitalists in support of loans. So
thoroughgoing was the demoralization of the Republic's affairs
that at one time there were two rival "governments" in the island
and a revolution going on against each. One of these governments
was once to be found at sea in a small gunboat but still
insisting that, as the only legitimate government, it was
entitled to declare war or peace or, more particularly, to make
loans. The national debt of the Republic had mounted to
$32,280,000 of which some $22,000,000 was owed to European
creditors. The interest due on it in the year 1905 was two and a
half million dollars. The whole situation was ripe for
intervention by one or more European governments.

Such action President Roosevelt could not permit. But he could
not ignore the validity of the debts which the Republic had
contracted or the justice of the demand for the payment of at
least the interest. "It cannot in the long run prove possible,"
he said, "for the United States to protect delinquent American
nations from punishment for the non-performance of their duties
unless she undertakes to make them perform their duties." So he
invented a plan, which, by reason of its success in the Dominican
case and its subsequent application and extension by later
administrations, has come to be a thoroughly accepted part of the
foreign policy of the United States. It ought to be known as the
Roosevelt Plan, just as the amplification of the Monroe Doctrine
already outlined might well be known as the Roosevelt Doctrine.

A naval commander in Dominican waters was instructed to see that
no revolutionary fighting was permitted to endanger the custom
houses. These instructions were carried out explicitly but
without any actual use of force or shedding of blood. On one
occasion two rival forces had planned a battle in a custom-house
town. The American commander informed them courteously but firmly
that they would not be permitted to fight there, for a battle
might endanger the custom house. He had no objection, however, to
their fighting. In fact he had picked out a nice spot for them
outside the town where they might have their battle undisturbed.
The winner could have the town. Would they kindly step outside
for their fight. They would; they did. The American commander
gravely welcomed the victorious faction as the rightful rulers of
the town. So much for keeping the custom houses intact. But the
Roosevelt Plan went much further. An agreement was entered into
with those governmental authorities "who for the moment seemed
best able to speak for the country" by means of which the custom
houses were placed under American control. United States forces
were to keep order and to protect the custom houses; United
States officials were to collect the customs dues; forty-five per
cent of the revenue was to be turned over to the Dominican
Government, and fifty-five per cent put into a sinking fund in
New York for the benefit of the creditors. The plan succeeded
famously. The Dominicans got more out of their forty-five per
cent than they had been wont to get when presumably the entire
revenue was theirs. The creditors thoroughly approved, and their
Governments had no possible pretext left for interference.
Although the plan concerned itself not at all with the internal
affairs of the Republic, its indirect influence was strong for
good and the island enjoyed a degree of peace and prosperity such
as it had not known before for at least a century. There was,
however, strong opposition in the United States Senate to the
ratification of the treaty with the Dominican Republic. The
Democrats, with one or two exceptions, voted against
ratification. A number of the more reactionary Republican
Senators, also, who were violently hostile to President Roosevelt
because of his attitude toward great corporations, lent their
opposition. The Roosevelt Plan was further attacked by certain
sections of the press, already antagonistic on other grounds, and
by some of those whom Roosevelt called the "professional
interventional philanthropists." It was two years before the
Senate was ready to ratify the treaty, but meanwhile Roosevelt
continued to carry it out "as a simple agreement on the part of
the Executive which could be converted into a treaty whenever the
Senate was ready to act."

The treaty as finally ratified differed in some particulars from
the protocol. In the protocol the United States agreed "to
respect the complete territorial integrity of the Dominican
Republic." This covenant was omitted in the final document in
deference to Roosevelt's opponents who could see no difference
between "respecting" the integrity of territory and
"guaranteeing" it. Another clause pledging the assistance of the
United States in the internal affairs of the Republic, whenever
the judgment of the American Government deemed it to be wise, was
also omitted. The provision of the protocol making it the duty of
the United States to deal with the various creditors of the
Dominican Republic in order to determine the amount which each
was to receive in settlement of its claims was modified so that
this responsibility remained with the Government of the Republic.
In Roosevelt's opinion, these modifications in the protocol
detracted nothing from the original plan. He ascribed the delay
in the ratification of the treaty to partisanship and bitterness
against himself; and it is certainly true that most of the
treaty's opponents were his consistent critics on other grounds.

A considerable portion of Roosevelt's success as a diplomat was
the fruit of personality, as must be the case with any diplomat
who makes more than a routine achievement. He disarmed suspicion
by transparent honesty, and he impelled respect for his words by
always promising or giving warning of not a hairsbreadth more
than he was perfectly willing and thoroughly prepared to perform.
He was always cheerfully ready to let the other fellow "save his
face." He set no store by public triumphs. He was as exigent that
his country should do justly as he was insistent that it should
be done justly by. Phrases had no lure for him, appearances no

It was inevitable that so commanding a personality should have an
influence beyond the normal sphere of his official activities.
Only a man who had earned the confidence and the respect of the
statesmen of other nations could have performed such a service as
he did in 1905 in bringing about peace between Russia and Japan
in the conflict then raging in the Far East. It was high time
that the war should end, in the interest of both contestants. The
Russians had been consistently defeated on land and had lost
their entire fleet at the battle of Tsushima. The Japanese were
apparently on the highroad to victory. But in reality, Japan's
success had been bought at an exorbitant price. Intelligent
observers in the diplomatic world who were in a position to
realize the truth knew that neither nation could afford to go on.

On June 8, 1905, President Roosevelt sent to both Governments an
identical note in which he urged them, "not only for their own
sakes, but in the interest of the whole civilized world, to open
direct negotiations for peace with each other." This was the
first that the world heard of the proposal. But the President had
already conducted, with the utmost secrecy, confidential
negotiations with Tokyo and with St. Petersburg to induce both
belligerents to consent to a face to face discussion of peace. In
Russia he had found it necessary to go directly to the Czar
himself, through the American Ambassador, George von Lengerke
Meyer. Each Government was assured that no breath of the matter
would be made public until both nations had signified their
willingness to treat. Neither nation was to know anything of the
other's readiness until both had committed themselves. These
advances appear to have been made following a suggestion from
Japan that Roosevelt should attempt to secure peace. He used to
say, in discussing the matter, that, while it was not generally
known or even suspected, Japan was actually "bled white" by the
herculean efforts she had made. But Japan's position was the
stronger, and peace was more important for Russia than for her
antagonist. The Japanese were more clear-sighted than the selfish
Russian bureaucracy; and they realized that they had gained so
much already that there was nothing to be won by further

When the public invitation to peace negotiations was extended,
the conference had already been arranged and the confidential
consent of both Governments needed only to be made formal. Russia
wished the meeting of plenipotentiaries to take place at Paris,
Japan preferred Chifu, in China. Neither liked the other's
suggestion, and Roosevelt's invitation to come to Washington,
with the privilege of adjourning to some place in New England if
the weather was too hot, was finally accepted. The formal meeting
between the plenipotentiaries took place at Oyster Bay on the 5th
of August on board the Presidential yacht, the Mayflower.
Roosevelt received his guests in the cabin and proposed a toast
in these words: "Gentlemen, I propose a toast to which there will
be no answer and which I ask you to drink in silence, standing. I
drink to the welfare and prosperity of the sovereigns and the
peoples of the two great nations whose representatives have met
one another on this ship. It is my earnest hope and prayer, in
the interest not only of these two great powers, but of all
civilized mankind, that a just and lasting peace may speedily be
concluded between them."

The two groups of plenipotentiaries were carried, each on an
American naval vessel, to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and there at
the Navy Yard began their conference. Two-thirds of the terms
proposed by Japan were promptly accepted by the Russian envoys.
But an irretrievable split on the remainder seemed inevitable.
Japan demanded a money indemnity and the cession of the southern
half of the island of Saghalien, which Japanese forces had
already occupied. These demands the Russians refused.

Then Roosevelt took a hand in the proceedings. He urged the
Japanese delegates, through the Japanese Ambassador, to give up
their demand for an indemnity. He pointed out that, when it came
to "a question of rubles," the Russian Government and the Russian
people were firmly resolved not to yield. To Baron Rosen, one of
the Russian delegates, he recommended yielding in the matter of
Saghalien, since the Japanese were already in possession and
there were racial and historical grounds for considering the
southern half of the island logically Japanese territory. The
envoys met again, and the Japanese renewed their demands. The
Russians refused. Then the Japanese offered to waive the
indemnity if the Russians would yield on Saghalien. The offer was
accepted, and the peace was made.

Immediately Roosevelt was acclaimed by the world, including the
Russians and the Japanese, as a great peacemaker. The Nobel Peace
Prize of a medal and $40,000 was awarded to him. But it was not
long before both in Russia and Japan public opinion veered to the
point of asserting that he had caused peace to be made too soon
and to the detriment of the interests of the nation in question.
That was just what he expected. He knew human nature thoroughly;
and from long experience he had learned to be humorously
philosophical about such manifestations of man's ingratitude.

In the next year the influence of Roosevelt's personality was
again felt in affairs outside the traditional realm of American
international interests. Germany was attempting to intrude in
Morocco, where France by common consent had been the dominant
foreign influence. The rattling of the Potsdam saber was
threatening the tranquillity of the status quo. A conference of
eleven European powers and the United States was held at
Algeciras to readjust the treaty provisions for the protection of
foreigners in the decadent Moroccan empire. In the words of a
historian of America's foreign relations, "Although the United
States was of all perhaps the least directly interested in the
subject matter of dispute, and might appropriately have held
aloof from the meeting altogether, its representatives were among
the most influential of all, and it was largely owing to their
sane and irenic influence that in the end a treaty was amicably
made and signed."* But there was something behind all this. A
quiet conference had taken place one day in the remote city of
Washington. The President of the United States and the French
Ambassador had discussed the approaching meeting at Algeciras.
There was a single danger-point in the impending negotiations.
The French must find a way around it. The Ambassador had come to
the right man. He went out with a few words scratched on a card
in the ragged Roosevelt handwriting containing a proposal for a
solution. ** The proposal went to Paris, then to Morocco. The
solution was adopted by the conference, and the Hohenzollern
menace to the peace of the world was averted for the moment. Once
more Roosevelt had shown how being wise in time was the sure way
to peace.

* Willie Fletcher Johnson, "America's Foreign Relations", vol.
II, p. 376.

** The author had this story direct from Mr. Roosevelt himself.

Roosevelt's most important single achievement as President of the
United States was the building of the Panama Canal. The
preliminary steps which he took in order to make its building
possible have been, of all his executive acts, the most
consistently and vigorously criticized.

It is not our purpose here to follow at length the history of
American diplomatic relations with Colombia and Panama. We are
primarily concerned with the part which Roosevelt played in
certain international occurrences, of which the Panama incident
was not the least interesting and significant. In after years
Roosevelt said laconically, "I took Panama." In fact he did
nothing of the sort. But it was like him to brush aside all
technical defenses of any act of his and to meet his critics on
their own ground. It was as though he said to them, "You roundly
denounce me for what I did at the time of the revolution which
established the Republic of Panama. You declare that my acts were
contrary to international law and international morals. I have a
splendid technical defense on the legal side; but I care little
about technicalities when compared with reality. Let us admit
that I did what you charge me with. I will prove to you that I
was justified in so doing. I took Panama; but the taking was a
righteous act."

Fourteen years after that event, in a speech which he made in
Washington, Roosevelt expressed his dissatisfaction with the way
in which President Wilson was conducting the Great War. He
reverted to what he had done in relation to Panama and contrasted
his action with the failure of the Wilson Administration to take
prompt possession of two hundred locomotives which had been built
in this country for the late Russian Government. This is what he

"What I think, of course, in my view of the proper governmental
policy, should have been done was to take the two hundred
locomotives and then discuss. That was the course that I
followed, and to which I have ever since looked back with
impenitent satisfaction, in reference to the Panama Canal. If you
remember, Panama declared itself independent and wanted to
complete the Panama Canal and opened negotiations with us. I had
two courses open. I might have taken the matter under advisement
and put it before the Senate, in which case we should have had a
number of most able speeches on the subject. We would have had a
number of very profound arguments, and they would have been going
on now, and the Panama Canal would be in the dim future yet. We
would have had half a century of discussion, and perhaps the
Panama Canal. I preferred that we should have the Panama Canal
first and the half century of discussion afterward. And now
instead of discussing the canal before it was built, which would
have been harmful, they merely discuss me--a discussion which I
regard with benign interest."

The facts of the case are simple and in the main undisputed.
Shortly after the inauguration of Roosevelt as President, a
treaty was negotiated with Colombia for the building of a canal
at Panama. It provided for the lease to the United States of a
strip six miles wide across the Isthmus, and for the payment to
Colombia of $10,000,000 down and $250,000 a year, beginning nine
years later. The treaty was promptly ratified by the United
States Senate. A special session of the Colombian Senate spent
the summer marking time and adjourned after rejecting the treaty
by a unanimous vote. The dominant motive for the rejection was
greed. An attempt was first made by the dictatorial government
that held the Colombian Congress in its mailed hand to extort a
large payment from the French Canal Company, whose rights and
property on the Isthmus were to be bought by the United States
for $40,000,000. Then $15,000,000 instead of $10,000,000 was
demanded from the United States. Finally an adroit and
conscienceless scheme was invented by which the entire rights of
the French Canal Company were to be stolen by the Colombian
Government. This last plot, however, would involve a delay of a
year or so. The treaty was therefore rejected in order to provide
the necessary delay.

But the people of Panama wanted the Canal. They were tired of
serving as the milch cow for the fattening of the Government at
Bogota. So they quietly organized a revolution. It was a matter
of common knowledge that it was coming. Roosevelt, as well as the
rest of the world, knew it and, believing in the virtue of being
wise in time, prepared for it. Several warships were dispatched
to the Isthmus.

The revolution came off promptly as expected. It was bloodless,
for the American naval forces, fulfilling the treaty obligations
of the United States, prevented the Colombian troops on one side
of the Isthmus from using the Panama Railroad to cross to the
other side where the revolutionists were. So the revolutionists
were undisturbed. A republic was immediately declared and
immediately recognized by the United States. A treaty with the
new Republic, which guaranteed its independence and secured the
cession of a zone ten miles wide across the Isthmus, was drawn up
inside of two weeks and ratified by both Senates within three
months. Six weeks later an American commission was on the ground
to plan the work of construction. The Canal was built. The "half
century of discussion" which Roosevelt foresaw is now more than a
third over, and the discussion shows no sign of lagging. But the
Panama Canal is in use.

Was the President of the United States justified in preventing
the Colombian Government from fighting on the Isthmus to put down
the unanimous revolution of the people of Panama? That is
precisely all that he did. He merely gave orders to the American
admiral on the spot to "prevent the disembarkation of Colombian
troops with hostile intent within the limits of the state of
Panama." But that action was enough, for the Isthmus is separated
from Colombia on the one hand by three hundred miles of sea, and
on the other by leagues of pathless jungle.

Roosevelt himself has summed up the action of the United States
in this way:

"From the beginning to the end our course was straightforward and
in absolute accord with the highest of standards of international
morality . . . . To have acted otherwise than I did would have
been on my part betrayal of the interests of the United States,
indifference to the interests of Panama, and recreancy to the
interests of the world at large. Colombia had forfeited every
claim to consideration; indeed, this is not stating the case
strongly enough: she had so acted that yielding to her would have
meant on our part that culpable form of weakness which stands on
a level with wickedness . . . . We gave to the people of Panama,
self-government, and freed them from subjection to alien
oppressors. We did our best to get Colombia to let us treat her
with more than generous justice; we exercised patience to beyond
the verge of proper forbearance . . . . I deeply regretted, and
now deeply regret, the fact that the Colombian Government
rendered it imperative for me to take the action I took; but I
had no alternative, consistent with the full performance of my
duty to my own people, and to the nations of mankind."

The final verdict will be given only in another generation by the
historian and by the world at large. But no portrait of Theodore
Roosevelt, and no picture of his times, can be complete without
the bold, firm outlines of his Panama policy set as near as may
be in their proper perspective.


In the evening of that election day in 1904 which saw Roosevelt
made President in his own right, after three years of the
Presidency given him by fate, he issued a brief statement, in
which he said: "The wise custom which limits the President to two
terms regards the substance and not the form, and under no
circumstances will I be a candidate for or accept another
nomination." From this determination, which in his mind related
to a third consecutive term, and to nothing else, he never
wavered. Four years later, in spite of a widespread demand that
he should be a candidate to succeed himself, he used the great
influence and prestige of his position as President and leader of
his party to bring about the nomination of his friend and close
associate, William Howard Taft. The choice received general
approval from the Republican party and from the country at large,
although up to the very moment of the nomination in the
convention at Chicago there was no certainty that a successful
effort to stampede the convention for Roosevelt would not be made
by his more irreconcilable supporters.

Taft was elected by a huge popular plurality. His opponent was
William Jennings Bryan, who was then making his third
unsuccessful campaign for the Presidency. Taft's election, like
his nomination, was assured by the unreserved and dynamic support
accorded him by President Roosevelt. Taft, of course, was already
an experienced statesman, high in the esteem of the nation for
his public record as Federal judge, as the first civil Governor
of the Philippines, and as Secretary of War in the Roosevelt
Cabinet. There was every reason to predict for him a successful
and effective Administration. His occupancy of the White House
began under smiling skies. He had behind him a united party and a
satisfied public opinion. Even his political opponents conceded
that the country would be safe in his hands. It was expected that
he would be conservatively progressive and progressively
conservative. Everybody believed in him. Yet within a year of the
day of his inauguration the President's popularity was sharply on
the wane. Two years after his election the voters repudiated the
party which he led. By the end of his Presidential term the
career which had begun with such happy auguries had become a
political tragedy. There were then those who recalled the words
of the Roman historian, "All would have believed him capable of
governing if only he had not come to govern."

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