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Theodore Roosevelt and His Times, by Harold Howland

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It was not that the Taft Administration was barren of
achievement. On the contrary, its record of accomplishment was
substantial. Of two amendments to the Federal Constitution
proposed by Congress, one was ratified by the requisite number of
States before Taft went out of office, and the other was finally
ratified less than a month after the close of his term. These
were the amendment authorizing the imposition of a Federal income
tax and that providing for the direct election of United States
Senators. Two States were admitted to the Union during Taft's
term of office, New Mexico and Arizona, the last Territories of
the United States on the continent, except Alaska.

Other achievements of importance during Taft's Administration
were the establishment of the parcels post and the postal savings
banks; the requirement of publicity, through sworn statements of
the candidates, for campaign contributions for the election of
Senators and Representatives; the extension of the authority of
the Interstate Commerce Commission over telephone, telegraph, and
cable lines; an act authorizing the President to withdraw public
lands from entry for the purpose of conserving the natural
resources which they may contain--something which Roosevelt had
already done without specific statutory authorization; the
establishment of a Commerce Court to hear appeals from decisions
of the Interstate Commerce Commission; the appointment of a
commission, headed by President Hadley of Yale, to investigate
the subject of railway stock and bond issues, and to propose a
law for the Federal supervision of such railway securities; the
Mann "white slave" act, dealing with the transfer of women from
one State to another for immoral purposes; the establishment of
the Children's Bureau in the Department of Commerce and Labor;
the empowering of the Interstate Commerce Commission to
investigate all railway accidents; the creation of Forest
Reserves in the White Mountains and in the southern Appalachians.

Taft's Administration was further marked, by economy in
expenditure, by a considerable extension of the civil service law
to cover positions in the executive departments hitherto free
plunder for the spoilsmen, and by efforts on the part of the
President to increase the efficiency and the economical
administration of the public service.

But this good record of things achieved was not enough to gain
for Mr. Taft popular approval. Items on the other side of the
ledger were pointed out. Of these the three most conspicuous were
the Payne-Aldrich tariff, the Ballinger-Pinchot controversy, and
the insurgent movement in Congress.

The Republican party was returned to power in 1908, committed to
a revision of the tariff. Though the party platform did not so
state, this was generally interpreted as a pledge of revision
downward. Taft made it clear during his campaign that such was
his own reading of the party pledge. He said, for instance, "It
is my judgment that there are many schedules of the tariff in
which the rates are excessive, and there are a few in which the
rates are not sufficient to fill the measure of conservative
protection. It is my judgment that a revision of the tariff in
accordance with the pledge of the platform, will be, on the
whole, a substantial revision downward, though there probably
will be a few exceptions in this regard." Five months after
Taft's inauguration the Payne-Aldrich bill became law with his
signature. In signing it the President said, "The bill is not a
perfect bill or a complete compliance with the promises made,
strictly interpreted"; but he further declared that he signed it
because he believed it to be "the result of a sincere effort on
the part of the Republican party to make downward revision."

This view was not shared by even all Republicans. Twenty of them
in the House voted against the bill on its final passage, and
seven of them in the Senate. They represented the Middle West and
the new element and spirit in the Republican party. Their
dissatisfaction with the performance of their party associates in
Congress and in the White House was shared by their constituents
and by many other Republicans throughout the country. A month
after the signing of the tariff law, Taft made a speech at
Winona, Minnesota, in support of Congressman James A. Tawney, the
one Republican representative from Minnesota who had not voted
against the bill. In the course of that speech he said; "This is
the best tariff bill that the Republican party has ever passed,
and, therefore, the best tariff bill that has been passed at

He justified Mr. Tawney's action in voting for the bill and his
own in signing it on the ground that "the interests of the
country, the interests of the party" required the sacrifice of
the accomplishment of certain things in the revision of the
tariff which had been hoped for, "in order to maintain party
solidity," which he believed to be much more important than the
reduction of rates in one or two schedules of the tariff.

A second disaster to the Taft Administration came in the famous
Ballinger-Pinchot controversy. Louis R. Glavis, who bad served as
a special agent of the General Land Office to investigate alleged
frauds in certain claims to coal lands in Alaska, accused Richard
Ballinger, the Secretary of the Interior, of favoritism toward
those who were attempting to get public lands fraudulently. The
charges were vigorously supported by Mr. Pinchot, who broadened
the accusation to cover a general indifference on the part of the
Secretary of the Interior to the whole conservation movement.
President Taft, however, completely exonerated Secretary
Ballinger from blame and removed Glavis for "filing a
disingenuous statement unjustly impeaching the official integrity
of his superior officer." Later Pinchot was also dismissed from
the service. The charges against Secretary Ballinger were
investigated by a joint committee of Congress, a majority of
which exonerated the accused Cabinet officer. Nevertheless the
whole controversy, which raged with virulence for many months,
convinced many ardent supporters of the conservation movement,
and especially many admirers of Mr. Pinchot and of Roosevelt,
that the Taft Administration at the best was possessed of little
enthusiasm for conservation. There was a widespread belief, as
well, that the President had handled the whole matter maladroitly
and that in permitting himself to be driven to a point where he
had to deprive the country of the services of Gifford Pinchot,
the originator of the conservation movement, he had displayed
unsound judgment and deplorable lack of administrative ability.

The first half of Mr. Taft's term was further marked by acute
dissensions in the Republican ranks in Congress. Joseph G. Cannon
was Speaker of the House, as he had been in three preceding
Congresses. He was a reactionary Republican of the most
pronounced type. Under his leadership the system of autocratic
party control of legislation in the House had been developed to a
high point of effectiveness. The Speaker's authority had become
in practice almost unrestricted.

In the congressional session of 1909-10 a strong movement of
insurgency arose within the Republican party in Congress against
the control of the little band of leaders dominated by the
Speaker. In March, 1910, the Republican Insurgents, forty in
number, united with the Democratic minority to overrule a formal
decision of the Speaker. A four days' parliamentary battle
resulted, culminating in a reorganization of the all-powerful
Rules Committee, with the Speaker no longer a member of it. The
right of the Speaker to appoint this committee was also taken
away. When the Democrats came into control of the House in 1911,
they completed the dethronement of the Speaker by depriving him
of the appointment of all committees.

The old system had not been without its advantages, when the
power of the Speaker and his small group of associate party
leaders was not abused. It at least concentrated responsibility
in a few prominent members of the majority party. But it made it
possible for these few men to perpetuate a machine and to ignore
the desires of the rest of the party representatives and of the
voters of the party throughout the country. The defeat of
Cannonism put an end to the autocratic power of the Speaker and
relegated him to the position of a mere presiding officer. It had
also a wider significance, for it portended the division in the
old Republican party out of which was to come the new Progressive

When the mid-point of the Taft Administration was reached, a
practical test was given of the measure of popular approval which
the President and his party associates had achieved. The
congressional elections went decidedly against the Republicans.
The Republican majority of forty-seven in the House was changed
to a Democratic majority of fifty-four. The Republican majority
in the Senate was cut down from twenty-eight to ten. Not only
were the Democrats successful in this substantial degree, but
many of the Western States elected Progressive Republicans
instead of Republicans of the old type. During the last two years
of his term, the President was consequently obliged to work with
a Democratic House and with a Senate in which Democrats and
Insurgent Republicans predominated over the old-line Republicans.

The second half of Taft's Presidency was productive of little but
discord and dissatisfaction. The Democrats in power in the House
were quite ready to harass the Republican President, especially
in view of the approaching Presidential election. The Insurgents
in House and Senate were not entirely unwilling to take a hand in
the same game. Besides, they found themselves more and more in
sincere disagreement with the President on matters of fundamental
policy, though not one of them could fairly question his
integrity of purpose, impugn his purity of character, or deny his
charm of personality.

Three weeks after Taft's inauguration, Roosevelt sailed for
Africa, to be gone for a year hunting big game. He went with a
warm feeling of friendship and admiration for the man whom he had
done so much to make President. He had high confidence that Taft
would be successful in his great office. He had no reason to
believe that any change would come in the friendship between
them, which had been peculiarly intimate. From the steamer on
which he sailed for Africa, he sent a long telegram of cordial
and hearty good wishes to his successor in Washington.

The next year Roosevelt came back to the United States, after a
triumphal tour of the capitals of Europe, to find his party
disrupted and the progressive movement in danger of shipwreck. He
had no intention of entering politics again. But he had no
intention, either, of ceasing to champion the things in which he
believed. This he made obvious, in his first speech after his
return, to the cheering thousands who welcomed him at the
Battery. He said:

"I have thoroughly enjoyed myself; and now I am more glad than I
can say to get home, to be back in my own country, back among
people I love. And I am ready and eager to do my part so far as I
am able, in helping solve problems which must be solved, if we of
this, the greatest democratic republic upon which the sun has
ever shone, are to see its destinies rise to the high level of
our hopes and its opportunities. This is the duty of every
citizen, but is peculiarly my duty; for any man who has ever been
honored by being made President of the United States is thereby
forever rendered the debtor of the American people and is bound
throughout his life to remember this, his prime obligation."

The welcome over, Roosevelt tried to take up the life of a
private citizen. He had become Contributing Editor of The Outlook
and had planned to give his energies largely to writing. But he
was not to be let alone. The people who loved him demanded that
they be permitted to see and to hear him. Those who were in the
thick of the political fight on behalf of progress and
righteousness called loudly to him for aid. Only a few days after
Roosevelt had landed from Europe, Governor Hughes of New York met
him at the Commencement exercises at Harvard and urged him to
help in the fight which the Governor was then making for a direct
primary law. Roosevelt did not wish to enter the lists again
until he had had more time for orientation; but he always found
it difficult to refuse a plea for help on behalf of a good cause.
He therefore sent a vigorous telegram to the Republican
legislators at Albany urging them to support Governor Hughes and
to vote for the primary bill. But the appeal went in vain: the
Legislature was too thoroughly boss-ridden. This telegram,
however, sounded a warning to the usurpers in the house of the
Republican Penelope that the fingers of the returned Odysseus had
not lost their prowess with the heroic bow.

During the summer of 1910, Roosevelt made a trip to the West and
in a speech at Ossawattomie, Kansas, set forth what came to be
described as the New Nationalism. It was his draft of a platform,
not for himself, but for the nation. A few fragments from that
speech will suggest what Roosevelt was thinking about in those
days when the Progressive party was stirring in the womb. "At
many stages in the advance of humanity, this conflict between the
men who possess more than they have earned and the men who have
earned more than they possess is the central condition of
progress. In our day it appears as the struggle of free men to
gain and hold the right of self-government as against the special
interests, who twist the methods of free government into
machinery for defeating the popular will. At every stage, and
under all circumstances, the essence of the struggle is to
equalize opportunity, destroy privilege, and give to the life and
citizenship of every individual the highest possible value both
to himself and to the commonwealth.

"Every special interest is entitled to justice, but not one is
entitled to a vote in Congress, to a voice on the bench, or to
representation in any public office. The Constitution guarantees
protection to property, and we must make that promise good. But
it does not give the right of suffrage to any corporation.

"The absence of effective state and, especially, national
restraint upon unfair money getting has tended to create a small
class of enormously wealthy and economically powerful men, whose
chief object is to hold and increase their power. The prime need
is to change the conditions which enable these men to accumulate
power which it is not for the general welfare that they should
hold or exercise.

"We are face to face with new conceptions of the relations of
property to human welfare, chiefly because certain advocates of
the rights of property as against the rights of men have been
pushing their claims too far.

"The State must be made efficient for the work which concerns
only the people of the State; and the nation for that which
concerns all the people. There must remain no neutral ground to
serve as a refuge for lawbreakers, and especially for lawbreakers
of great wealth, who can hire the vulpine legal cunning which
will teach them how to avoid both jurisdictions.

"I do not ask for overcentralization; but I do ask that we work
in a spirit of broad and far-reaching nationalism when we work
for what concerns our people as a whole.

"We must have the right kind of character--character that makes a
man, first of all, a good man in the home, a good father, a good
husband--that makes a man a good neighbor . . . . The prime
problem of our nation is to get the right kind of good
citizenship, and to get it, we must have progress, and our public
men must be genuinely progressive.

"I stand for the Square Deal. But when I say that I am for the
square deal I mean not merely that I stand for fair play under
the present rules of the game, but that I stand for having those
rules changed so as to work for a more substantial equality of
opportunity and of reward for equally good service."

These generalizations Roosevelt accompanied by specific
recommendations. They included proposals for publicity of
corporate affairs; prohibition of the use of corporate funds, for
political purposes; governmental supervision of the
capitalization of all corporations doing an interstate business;
control and supervision of corporations and combinations
controlling necessaries of life; holding the officers and
directors of corporations personally liable when any corporation
breaks the law; an expert tariff commission and revision of the
tariff schedule by schedule; a graduated income tax and a
graduated inheritance tax, increasing rapidly in amount with the
size of the estate; conservation of natural resources and their
use for the benefit of all rather than their monopolization for
the benefit of the few; public accounting for all campaign funds
before election; comprehensive workmen's compensation acts, state
and national laws to regulate child labor and work for women, the
enforcement of sanitary conditions for workers and the compulsory
use of safety appliances in industry.

There was nothing in all these proposals that should have seemed
revolutionary or extreme. But there was much that disturbed the
reactionaries who were thinking primarily in terms of property
and only belatedly or not at all of human rights. The Bourbons in
the Republican party and their supporters among the special
interests "viewed with, alarm" this frank attack upon their
intrenched privileges. The Progressives, however, welcomed with
eagerness this robust leadership. The breach in the Republican
party was widening with steadily accelerating speed.

In the fall of 1910 a new demand arose that Roosevelt should
enter actively into politics. Though it came from his own State,
he resisted it with energy and determination. Nevertheless the
pressure from his close political associates in New York finally
became too much for him, and he yielded. They wanted him to go as
a delegate to the Republican State Convention at Saratoga and to
be a candidate for Temporary Chairman of the Convention--the
officer whose opening speech is traditionally presumed to sound
the keynote of the campaign. Roosevelt went and, after a bitter
fight with the reactionists in the party, led by William Barnes
of Albany, was elected Temporary Chairman over Vice-President
James S. Sherman. The keynote was sounded in no uncertain tones,
while Mr. Barnes and his associates fidgeted and suffered.

Then came a Homeric conflict, with a dramatic climax. The
reactionary gang did not know that it was beaten. Its members
resisted stridently an attempt to write a direct primary plank
into the party platform. They wished to rebuke Governor Hughes,
who was as little to their liking as Roosevelt himself, and they
did not want the direct primary. After speeches by young James
Wadsworth, later United States Senator, Job Hedges, and Barnes
himself, in which they bewailed the impending demise of
representative government and the coming of mob rule, it was
clear that the primary plank was defeated. Then rose Roosevelt.
In a speech that lashed and flayed the forces of reaction and
obscurantism, he demanded that the party stand by the right of
the people to rule. Single-handed he drove a majority of the
delegates into line. The plank was adopted. Thenceforward the
convention was his. It selected, as candidate for Governor, Henry
W. Stimson, who had been a Federal attorney in New York under
Roosevelt and Secretary of War in Taft's Cabinet. When this
victory had been won, Roosevelt threw himself into the campaign
with his usual abandon and toured the State, making fighting
speeches in scores of cities and towns. But in spite of
Roosevelt's best efforts, Stimson was defeated.

All this active participation in local political conflicts
seriously distressed many of Roosevelt's friends and associates.
They felt that he was too big to fritter himself away on small
matters from which he--and the cause whose great champion he
was--had so little to gain and so much to lose. They wanted him
to wait patiently for the moment of destiny which they felt sure
would come. But it was never easy for Roosevelt to wait. It was
the hardest thing in the world for him to decline an invitation
to enter a fight--when the cause was a righteous one.

So the year 1911 passed by, with the Taft Administration steadily
losing prestige, and the revolt of the Progressives within the
Republican party continually gathering momentum. Then came 1912,
the year of the Glorious Failure.


The Progressive party and the Progressive movement were two
things. The one was born on a day, lived a stirring, strenuous
span of life, suffered its fatal wound, lingered on for a few
more years, and received its coup de grace. The other sprang like
a great river system from a multitude of sources, flowed onward
by a hundred channels, always converging and uniting, until a
single mighty stream emerged to water and enrich and serve a
broad country and a great people. The one was ephemeral,
abortive--a failure. The other was permanent, creative--a
triumph. The two were inseparable, each indispensable to the
other. Just as the party would never have existed if there had
been no movement, so the movement would not have attained such a
surpassing measure of achievement so swiftly without the party.

The Progressive party came into full being at the convention
held in Chicago on August 5, 1912 under dramatic circumstances.
Every drama must have a beginning and this one had opened for
the public when, on the 10th of February in the same year, the
Republican Governors of West Virginia, Nebraska, New Hampshire,
Wyoming, Michigan, Kansas, and Missouri addressed a letter to
Roosevelt, in which they declared that, in considering what
would best insure the continuation of the Republican party as a
useful agency of good government, they had reached the
conclusion that a large majority of the Republican voters of the
country favored Roosevelt's nomination, and a large majority of
the people favored his election as the next President. They
asserted their belief that, in view of this public demand, he
should soon declare whether, if the nomination came to him
unsolicited and unsought, he would accept it. They concluded
their request with this paragraph:

"In submitting this request we are not considering your personal
interests. We do not regard it as proper to consider either the
interest or the preference of any man as regards the nomination
for the Presidency. We are expressing our sincere belief and best
judgment as to what is demanded of you in the interests of the
people as a whole. And we feel that you would be unresponsive to
a plain public duty if you should decline to accept the
nomination, coming as the voluntary expression of the wishes of a
majority of the Republican voters of the United States, through
the action of their delegates in the next National Convention."

The sincerity and whole-heartedness of the convictions here
expressed are in no wise vitiated by the fact that the letter was
not written until the seven Governors were assured what the
answer to it would be. For the very beginning of our drama, then,
we must go back a little farther to that day in late January of
1912 when Theodore Roosevelt himself came face to face with a
momentous decision. On that day he definitely determined that his
duty to the things in which he profoundly believed--and no less
to the friends and associates who shared his beliefs--constrained
him once more to enter the arena of political conflict and lead
the fight.

Roosevelt had come to this conclusion with extreme reluctance. He
had no illusions as to the probable effect upon his personal
fortunes. Twice he had been President once by the hand of fate,
once by a great popular vote. To be President again could add
nothing to his prestige or fame; it could only subject him for
four years to the dangerous vagaries of the unstable popular
mood. He had nothing to gain for himself by entering the ring of
political conflict again; the chances for personal loss were
great. His enemies, his critics, and his political adversaries
would have it that he was eaten up with ambition, that he came
back from his African and European trip eager to thrust himself
again into the limelight of national political life and to demand
for himself again a great political prize. But his friends, his
associates, and those who, knowing him at close range, understood
him, realized that this was no picture of the truth. He accepted
what hundreds of Progressive leaders and followers throughout the
country--for the man in the ranks had as ready access to him as
the most prominent leader, and received as warm
consideration--asserted was his clear duty and obligation.

A letter which he had written two days before Christmas, 1911,
shows unmistakably how his mind was working in those days of
prologue to the great decision. The letter was entirely private,
and was addressed to my father who was a publisher and a friend
and not a politician. There is, therefore, no reason whatever why
the letter should not be accepted as an accurate picture of Mr.
Roosevelt's mind at that time: "Now for the message Harold gave
me, that I should write you a little concerning political
conditions. They are very, very mixed. Curiously enough, my
article on the trusts was generally accepted as bringing me
forward for the Presidential nomination. Evidently what really
happened was that there had been a strong undercurrent of feeling
about me, and that the talk concerning the article enabled this
feeling to come to the surface. I do not think it amounts to
anything. It merely means that a great many people do not get the
leadership they are looking for from any of the prominent men in
public life, and that under the circumstances they grasp at any
one; and as my article on the McNamaras possessed at least the
merit of being entirely clearcut and of showing that I knew my
own mind and had definite views, a good many plain people turned
longingly to me as a leader. Taft is very weak, but La Follette
has not developed real strength east of the Mississippi River,
excepting of course in Wisconsin. West of the River he has a
large following, although there is a good deal of opposition to
him even in States like Kansas, Washington, and California. East
of the Mississippi, I believe he can only pick up a few delegates
here and there. Taft will have most of the Southern delegates, he
will have the officeholders, and also the tepid and acquiescent,
rather than active, support of the ordinary people who do not
feel very strongly one way or the other, and who think it is the
usual thing to renominate a President. If there were a strong
candidate against him, he would I believe be beaten, but there
are plenty of men, many of the leaders not only here but in
Texas, for instance, in Ohio, in New Hampshire and Illinois, who
are against him, but who are even more against La Follette, and
who regard themselves as limited to the alternative between the
two. There is, of course, always the danger that there may be a
movement for me, the danger coming partly because the men who may
be candidates are very anxious that the ticket shall be
strengthened and care nothing for the fate of the man who
strengthens it, and partly because there is a good deal of honest
feeling for me among plain simple people who wish leadership, but
who will not accept leadership unless they believe it to be
sincere, fearless, and intelligent. I most emphatically do not
wish the nomination. Personally I should regard it as a calamity
to be nominated. In the first place, I might very possibly be
beaten, and in the next place, even if elected I should be
confronted with almost impossible conditions out of which to make
good results. In the tariff, for instance, I would have to face
the fact that men would keep comparing what I did, not with what
the Democrats would or could have done but with an ideal, or
rather with a multitude of entirely separate and really
incompatible ideals. I am not a candidate, I will never be a
candidate; but I have to tell the La Follette men and the Taft
men that while I am absolutely sincere in saying that I am not a
candidate and do not wish the nomination, yet that I do not feel
it would be right or proper for me to say that under no
circumstances would I accept it if it came; because, while wildly
improbable, it is yet possible that there might be a public
demand which would present the matter to me in the light of a
duty which I could not shirk. In other words, while I
emphatically do not want office, and have not the slightest idea
that any demand for me will come, yet if there were a real public
demand that in the public interest I should do a given job, it
MIGHT be that I would not feel like flinching from the task.
However, this is all in the air, and I do not for one moment
believe that it will be necessary for me even to consider the
matter. As for the Democrats, they have their troubles too.
Wilson, although still the strongest man the Democrats could
nominate, is much weaker than he was. He has given a good many
people a feeling that he is very ambitious and not entirely
sincere, and his demand for the Carnegie pension created an
unpleasant impression. Harmon is a good old solid Democrat, with
the standards of political and commercial morality of twenty
years ago, who would be eagerly welcomed by all the conservative
crowd. Champ Clark is a good fellow, but impossible as President.

"I think a good deal will depend upon what this Congress does.
Taft may redeem himself. He was fairly strong at the end of the
last session, but went off lamentably on account of his wavering
and shillyshallying on so many matters during his speaking trip.
His speeches generally hurt him, and rarely benefit him. But it
is possible that the Democrats in Congress may play the fool, and
give him the chance to appear as the strong leader, the man who
must be accepted to oppose them."

This was what Roosevelt at the end, of December sincerely
believed would be the situation as time went on. But he
underestimated the strength and the volume of the tide that was

The crucial decision was made on the 18th of January. I was in
the closest possible touch with Roosevelt in those pregnant days,
and I know, as well as any but the man himself could know, how
his mind was working. An entry in my diary on that date shows the
origin of the letter of the seven governors:

"Senator Beveridge called on T. R. to urge him to make a public
statement soon. T. R. impressed by his arguments and by letters
just received from three Governors, Hadley, Glasscock, and Bass.
Practically determined to ask these Governors, and Stubbs and
Osborne, to send him a joint letter asking him to make a public
statement to the effect that if there is a genuine popular demand
for his nomination he will not refuse-in other words to say to
him in a joint letter for publication just what they have each
said to him in private letters. Such joint action would give him
a proper reason--or occasion--for making a public declaration. T.
R. telegraphed Frank Knox, Republican State Chairman of Michigan
and former member of his regiment, to come down, with intention
of asking him to see the various governors. H. H., at Ernest
Abbott's suggestion, asked him not to make final decision till he
has had conference--already arranged--with editorial staff. T. R.
agrees, but the inevitableness of the matter is evident.

After that day, things moved rapidly. Two days later the diary
contains this record: "Everett Colby, William Fellowes Morgan,
and Mark Sullivan call on T. R. All inclined to agree that time
for statement is practically here. T. R.--"The time to use a man
is when the people want to use him." M. S.--"The time to set a
hen is when the hen wants to set." Frank Knox comes in response
to telegram. Nat Wright also present at interview where Knox is
informed of the job proposed for him. Gifford Pinchot also
present at beginning of interview while T. R. tells how he views
the situation, but leaves (at T. R.'s suggestion) before real
business of conference begins. Plan outlined to Knox, who likes
it, and subsequently, in H. H.'s office, draws up letter for
Governors. Draft shown to T. R., who suggests a couple of added
sentences emphasizing that the nomination must come as a real
popular demand, and declaring that the Governors are taking their
action not for his sake, but for the sake of the country. Knox
takes copy of letter and starts for home, to go out to see
Governors as soon as possible."

On the 22d of January the Conference with The Outlook editorial
staff took place and is thus described in my diary:

"T. R. had long conference with entire staff. All except R. D. T.
[Mr. Townsend, Managing Editor of The Outlook] and H. H. inclined
to deprecate a public statement now. T. R.--"I have had all the
honor the American public can give me. If I should be elected I
would go back not so young as I once was, with all the first fine
flavor gone, and take up the horrible task of going in and out,
in and out, of the same hole over and over again. But I cannot
decline the call. Too many of those who have fought with me the
good fight for the things we believe in together, declare that at
this critical moment I am the instrument that ought to be used to
make it possible for me to refuse. I BELIEVE I SHALL BE BROKEN IN
THE USING. But I cannot refuse to permit myself to be used. I am
not going to get those good fellows out on the end of a limb and
then saw off the limb." R. D. T. suggested that it be said
frankly that the Governors wrote the joint letter at T. R.'s
request. T. R. accepted like a shot. Went into H. H.'s room,
dictated two or three sentences to that effect, which H. H. later
incorporated in letter. [This plan was later given up, I believe
on the urging of some or all of the Governors involved.]
T. R.--"I can't go on telling my friends in private letters what
my position is, but asking them not to make it public, without
seeming furtive." In afternoon H. H. suggests that T. R. write
first draft of his letter of reply soon as possible to give all
possible time for consideration and revision. T. R. has two
inspirations--to propose presidential primaries in order to be
sure of popular demand, and to use statement made at Battery when
he returned home from Europe."

The next day's entry reads as follows:

"Sent revised letter to Knox. T. R. said, "Not to make a public
statement soon would be to violate my cardinal principle--never
hit if you can help it, but when you have to, hit hard. NEVER hit
soft. You'll never get any thanks for hitting soft." McHarg
called with three men from St. Louis. T. R. said exactly the same
thing as usual--he would never accept the nomination if it came
as the result of an intrigue, only if it came as the result of a
genuine and widespread popular demand. The thing he wants to be
sure of is that there is this widespread popular demand that he
"do a job," and that the demand is genuine."

Meanwhile Frank Knox was consulting the seven Governors, each one
of whom was delighted to have an opportunity to say to Roosevelt
in this formal, public way just what they had each said to him
privately and forcefully. The letter was signed and delivered to
T. R. On the 24th of February Roosevelt replied to the letter of
the seven Governors in unequivocal terms, "I will accept the
nomination for President if it is tendered to me, and I will
adhere to this decision until--the convention has expressed its
preference." He added the hope that so far as possible the people
might be given the chance, through direct primaries, to record
their wish as to who should be the nominee. A month later, in a
great address at Carnegie Hall in New York, he gave voice
publicly to the same thought that he had expressed to his friends
in that editorial conference: "The leader for the time being,
whoever he may be, is but an instrument, to be used until broken
and then cast aside; and if he is worth his salt he will care no
more when he is broken than a soldier cares when he is sent where
his life is forfeit that the victory may be won. In the long
fight for righteousness the watchword for all is, 'Spend and be
spent.' It is of little matter whether any one man fails or
succeeds; but the cause shall not fail, for it is the cause of

The decision once made, Roosevelt threw himself into the contest
for delegates to the nominating convention with his unparalleled
vigor and forcefulness. His main opponent was, of course, the man
who had been his friend and associate and whom he had done more
than any other single force to make President as his successor.
William Howard Taft had the undivided support of the national
party organization; but the Progressive Republicans the country
over thronged to Roosevelt's support with wild enthusiasm. The
campaign for the nomination quickly developed two aspects, one of
which delighted every Progressive in the Republican party, the
other of which grieved every one of Roosevelt's levelheaded
friends. It became a clean-cut conflict between progress and
reaction, between the interests of the people, both as rulers and
as governed, and the special interests, political and business.
But it also became a bitter conflict of personalities between the
erstwhile friends. The breach between the two men was afterwards
healed, but it was several years after the reek of the battle had
drifted away before even formal relations were restored between

A complicating factor in the campaign was the candidacy of
Senator La Follette of Wisconsin. In July, 1911, La Follette had
begun, at the earnest solicitation of many Progressive leaders in
Congress and out, an active campaign for the Republican
nomination. Progressive organizations were perfected in numerous
States and "in less than three months," as La Follette has
written in his Autobiography, his candidacy "had taken on
proportions which compelled recognition." Four months later a
conference of some three hundred Progressives from thirty States,
meeting in Chicago, declared that La Follette was, because of
his record, the logical candidate for the Presidency. Following
this conference he continued to campaign with increasing vigor,
but concurrently the enthusiasm of some of his leading supporters
began to cool and their support of his candidacy to weaken.
Senator La Follette ascribes this effect to the surreptitious
maneuvering of Roosevelt, whom he credits with an overwhelming
appetite for another Presidential term, kept in check only by his
fear that he could not be nominated or elected. But there is no
evidence of any value whatever that Roosevelt was conducting
underground operations or that he desired to be President again.
The true explanation of the change in those Progressives who had
favored the candidacy of La Follette and yet had gradually ceased
to support him, is to be found in their growing conviction that
Taft and the reactionary forces in the Republican party which he
represented could be defeated only by one man--and that not the
Senator from Wisconsin. In any event the La Follette candidacy
rapidly declined until it ceased to be a serious element in the
situation. Although the Senator, with characteristic consistency
and pertinacity, stayed in the fight till the end, he entered the
Convention with the delegates of but two States, his own
Wisconsin and North Dakota, pledged to support him.

The pre-convention campaign was made unusually dramatic by the
fact that, for the first time in the history of Presidential
elections, the voters of thirteen States were privileged not only
to select the delegates to the Convention by direct primary vote
but to instruct them in the same way as to the candidate for whom
they should cast their ballots. There were 388 such popularly
instructed delegates from California, Georgia, Illinois,
Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Dakota,
Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. It was
naturally in these States that the two candidates concentrated
their campaigning efforts. The result of the selection of
delegates and of the preferential vote in these States was the
best possible evidence of the desire of the rank and file of the
party as to the Presidential candidate. Of these 388 delegates,
Senator La Follette secured 36; President Taft 71--28 in Georgia,
2 in Illinois, 18 in Massachusetts, 14 in Ohio, and 9 in
Pennsylvania; and Roosevelt 281--26 in California, 56 in
Illinois, 16 in Maryland, 18 in Massachusetts, 16 in Nebraska, 28
in New Jersey, 34 in Ohio, 10 in Oregon, 67 in Pennsylvania, and
10 in South Dakota. Roosevelt therefore, in those States where
the voters could actually declare at primary elections which
candidate they preferred, was the expressed choice of more than
five times as many voters as Taft.

When the Republican convention met in Chicago an interesting and
peculiar situation presented itself. There were 1078 seats in the
Convention. Of the delegates elected to those seats Taft had
committed to him the vast majority of the delegates from the
States which have never cast an electoral vote for a Republican
candidate for President since there was a Republican party.
Roosevelt had in support of him the great majority of the
delegates from the States which are normally Republican and which
must be relied upon at election time if a Republican President is
to be chosen. Of the 1078 seats more than 200 were contested.
Aside from these contested seats, neither candidate had a
majority of the delegates. The problem that confronted each side
was to secure the filling of a sufficient number of the disputed
seats with its retainers to insure a majority for its candidate.
In the solution of this problem the Taft forces had one
insuperable advantage. The temporary roll of a nominating
convention is made up by the National Committee of the party. The
Republican National Committee had been selected at the close of
the last national convention four years before. It accordingly
represented the party as it had then stood, regardless of the
significant changes that three and a quarter years of Taft's
Presidency had wrought in party opinion.

In the National Committee the Taft forces had a strength of more
than two to one; and all but an insignificant number of the
contests were decided out of hand in favor of Mr. Taft. The
temporary roll of the Convention therefore showed a distinct
majority against Roosevelt. From the fall of the gavel, the
Roosevelt forces fought with vigor and determination for what
they described as the "purging of the roll" of those Taft
delegates whose names they declared had been placed upon it by
fraud. But at every turn the force of numbers was against them;
and the Taft majority which the National Committee had
constituted in the Convention remained intact, an impregnable
defense against the Progressive attack.

These preliminary engagements concerned with the determination of
the final membership of the Convention had occupied several days.
Meanwhile the temper of the Roosevelt delegates had burned hotter
and hotter. Roosevelt was present, leading the fight in
person--not, of course, on the floor of the Convention, to which
he was not a delegate, but at headquarters in the Congress Hotel.
There were not wanting in the Progressive forces counsels of
moderation and compromise. It was suggested by those of less
fiery mettle that harmony might be arrived at on the basis of the
elimination of both Roosevelt and Taft and the selection of a
candidate not unsatisfactory to either side. But Roosevelt,
backed by the majority of the Progressive delegates, stood firm
and immovable on the ground that the "roll must be purged" and
that he would consent to no traffic with a Convention whose
make-up contained delegates holding their seats by virtue of
fraud. "Let them purge the roll," he declared again and again,
"and I will accept any candidate the Convention may name." But
the organization leaders knew that a yielding to this demand for
a reconstitution of the personnel of the Convention would result
in but one thing--the nomination for Roosevelt--and this was the
one thing they were resolved not to permit.

As the hours of conflict and turmoil passed, there grew steadily
and surely in the Roosevelt ranks a demand for a severance of
relations with the fraudulent Convention and the formation of a
new party devoted, without equivocation or compromise, to
Progressive principles. A typical incident of these days of
confusion and uncertainty was the drawing up of a declaration of
purpose by a Progressive alternate from New Jersey, disgusted
with the progress of the machine steam roller and disappointed at
the delayed appearance of a positive Progressive programme of
action. Circulated privately, with the knowledge and approval of
Roosevelt, it was promptly signed by dozens of Progressive
delegates. It read as follows:

"We, the undersigned, in the event that the Republican National
Convention as at present constituted refuses to purge its roll of
the delegates fraudulently placed upon it by the action of the
majority of the Republican National Committee, pledge ourselves,
as American citizens devoted to the progressive principles of
genuine popular rule and social justice, to join in the
organization of a new party founded upon those principles, under
the leadership of Theodore Roosevelt."

The first signer of the declaration was Governor Hiram W. Johnson
of California, the second, Governor Robert S. Vessey of South
Dakota, the third, Governor Joseph M. Carey of Wyoming, and
farther down the list were the names of Gifford and Amos Pinchot,
James R. Garfield, ex-Governor John Franklin Fort of New Jersey,
with Everett Colby and George L. Record of the same State,
Matthew Hale of Massachusetts, "Jack" Greenway of Arizona, Judge
Ben B. Lindsey of Colorado, Medill McCormick of Illinois, George
Rublee of New Hampshire, and Elon Huntington Hooker, of New York,
who was to become the National Treasurer of the new party. The
document was, of course, a purely informal assertion of purpose;
but it was the first substantial straw to predict the whirlwind
which the masters of the convention were to reap.

When at last it had become unmistakably clear that the Taft
forces were and would remain to the end in control of the
Convention, the Progressive delegates, with a few exceptions,
united in dramatic action. Speaking for them with passion and
intensity Henry J. Allen of Kansas announced their intention to
participate no longer in the actions of a convention vitiated by
fraud. The Progressive delegates would, he declared, remain in
their places but they would neither vote nor take any part
whatever in the proceedings. He then read, by permission of the
Convention, a statement from Roosevelt, in which he pronounced
the following indictment:

"The Convention has now declined to purge the roll of the
fraudulent delegates placed thereon by the defunct National
Committee, and the majority which has thus indorsed the fraud was
made a majority only because it included the fraudulent delegates
themselves who all sat as judges on one another's cases . . . .
The Convention as now composed has no claim to represent the
voters of the Republican party . . . . Any man nominated by the
Convention as now constituted would merely be the beneficiary of
this successful fraud; it would be deeply discreditable for any
man to accept the Convention's nomination under these
circumstances; and any man thus accepting it would have no claim
to the support of any Republican on party grounds and would have
forfeited the right to ask the support of any honest man of any
party on moral grounds."

So while most of the Roosevelt delegates sat in ominous quiet and
refused to vote, the Convention proceeded to nominate Taft for
President by the following vote: Taft 561--21 votes more than a
majority; Roosevelt 107; La Follette 41; Cummins 17; Hughes 2;
absent 6; present and not voting 344.

Then the Taft delegates went home to meditate on the fight which
they had won and the more portentous fight which they must wage
in the coming months on a broader field. The Roosevelt delegates,
on the other hand, went out to Orchestra Hall, and in an exalted
mood of passionate devotion to their cause and their beloved
leader proceeded to nominate Theodore Roosevelt for the
Presidency and Hiram Johnson for the Vice-Presidency. A committee
was sent to notify Roosevelt of the nomination and when he
appeared in the hall all precedents of spontaneous enthusiasm
were broken. This was no conventional--if the double entendre may
be permitted--demonstration. It had rather the quality of
religious exaltation.

Roosevelt made a short speech, in which he adjured his hearers to
go to their several homes "to find out the sentiment of the
people at home and then again come together, I suggest by mass
convention, to nominate for the Presidency a Progressive on a
Progressive platform that will enable us to appeal to Northerner
and Southerner, Easterner and Westerner, Republican and Democrat
alike, in the name of our common American citizenship. If you
wish me to make the fight I will make it, even if only one State
should support me."

Thus ended the first act in the drama. The second opened with the
gathering of some two thousand men and women at Chicago on August
5, 1912. It was a unique gathering. Many of the delegates were
women; one of the "keynote" speeches was delivered by Miss Jane
Addams of Hull House. The whole tone and atmosphere of the
occasion seemed religious rather than political. The old-timers
among the delegates, who found themselves in the new party for
diverse reasons, selfish, sincere, or mixed, must have felt
astonishment at themselves as they stood and shouted out Onward
Christian Soldiers as the battle-hymn of their new allegiance.
The long address which Roosevelt made to the Convention he
denominated his "Confession of Faith." The platform which the
gathering adopted was entitled "A Contract with the People." The
sessions of the Convention seethed with enthusiasm and burned hot
with earnest devotion to high purpose. There could be no doubt in
the mind of any but the most cynical of political reactionaries
that here was the manifestation of a new and revivifying force to
be reckoned with in the future development of American political

The platform adopted by the Progressive Convention was no less a
novelty. Its very title--even the fact that it had a title marked
it off from the pompous and shopworn documents emanating from the
usual nominating Convention--declared a reversal of the
time-honored view of a platform as, like that of a street-car,
"something to get in on, not something to stand on." The
delegates to that Convention were perfectly ready to have their
party sued before the bar of public opinion for breach of
contract if their candidates when elected did not do everything
in their power to carry out the pledges of the platform. The
planks of the platform grouped themselves into three main
sections: political reforms, control of trusts and combinations,
and measures of "social and industrial justice."

In the first section were included direct primaries, nation-wide
preferential primaries for the selection of candidates for the
Presidency, direct popular election of United States Senators,
the short ballot, the initiative, referendum and recall, an
easier method of amending the Federal constitution, woman
suffrage, and the recall of judicial decisions in the form of a
popular review of any decision annulling a law passed under the
police power of the State.

The platform in the second place opposed vigorously the
indiscriminate dissolution of trusts and combinations, on the
ground that combination in the business field was not only
inevitable but necessary and desirable for the promotion of
national and international efficiency. It condemned the evils of
inflated capitalization and unfair competition; and it proposed,
in order to eliminate those is evils while preserving the
unquestioned advantages that flow from combination, the
establishment of a strong Federal commission empowered and
directed to maintain permanent active supervision over industrial
corporations engaged in interstate commerce, doing for them what
the Federal Government now does for the national banks and,
through the Interstate Commerce Commission, for the
transportation lines.

Finally in the field of social justice the platform pledged the
party to the abolition of child labor, to minimum wage laws, the
eight-hour day, publicity in regard to working conditions,
compensation for industrial accidents, continuation schools for
industrial education, and to legislation to prevent industrial
accidents, occupational diseases, overwork, involuntary
unemployment, and other injurious effects incident to modern

To stand upon this platform and to carry out the terms of this
"contract with the people," the Convention nominated without
debate or dissent Theodore Roosevelt for President and Hiram W.
Johnson of California for Vice-President. Governor Johnson was an
appropriate running mate for Roosevelt. In his own State he had
led one of the most virile and fast moving of the local
Progressive movements. He burned with a white-hot enthusiasm for
the democratic ideal and the rights of man as embodied in
equality of opportunity, freedom of individual development, and
protection from the "dark forces" of special privilege, political
autocracy and concentrated wealth. He was a brilliant and fiery
campaigner where his convictions were enlisted.

So passed the second act in the drama of the Progressive party.


The third act in the drama of the Progressive party was filled
with the campaign for the Presidency. It was a three-cornered
fight. Taft stood for Republican conservatism and clung to the
old things. Roosevelt fought for the progressive rewriting of
Republican principles with added emphasis on popular government
and social justice as defined in the New Nationalism. The
Democratic party under the leadership of Woodrow Wilson espoused
with more or less enthusiasm the old Democratic principles
freshly interpreted and revivified in the declaration they called
the New Freedom. The campaign marked the definite entrance of the
nation upon a new era. One thing was clear from the beginning:
the day of conservatism and reaction was over; the people of the
United States had definitely crossed their Rubicon and had
committed themselves to spiritual and moral progress.

The campaign had one dramatic incident. On the 14th of October,
just before entering the Auditorium at Milwaukee, Roosevelt was
shot by a fanatic. His immediate action was above everything
characteristic. Some time later in reply to a remark that he had
been foolhardy in going on with his speech just after the attack,
Roosevelt said, "Why, you know, I didn't think I had been
mortally wounded. If I had been mortally wounded, I would have
bled from the lungs. When I got into the motor I coughed hard
three times, and put my hand up to my mouth; as I did not find
any blood, I thought that I was not seriously hurt, and went on
with my speech."

The opening words of the speech which followed were equally

"Friends, I shall ask you to be as quiet as possible. I don't
know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but
it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose . . . . The bullet
is in me now, so that I cannot make a very long speech, but I
will try my best . . . . First of all, I want to say this about
myself; I have altogether too important things to think of to
feel any concern over my own death; and now I cannot speak
insincerely to you within five minutes of being shot. I am
telling you the literal truth when I say that my concern is for
many other things. It is not in the least for my own life. I want
you to understand that I am ahead of the game anyway. No man has
had a happier life than I have led; a happier life in every way.
I have been able to do certain things that I greatly wished to
do, and I am interested in doing other things. I can tell you
with absolute truthfulness that I am very much uninterested in
whether I am shot or not. It was just as when I was colonel of my
regiment. I always felt that a private was to be excused for
feeling at times some pangs of anxiety about his personal safety,
but I cannot understand a man fit to be a colonel who can pay any
heed to his personal safety when he is occupied as he ought to be
occupied with the absorbing desire to do his duty."

There was a great deal of self-revelation in these words. Even
the critic accustomed to ascribe to Roosevelt egotism and love of
gallery applause must concede the courage, will-power, and
self-forgetfulness disclosed by the incident.

The election was a debacle for reaction, a victory for Democracy,
a triumph in defeat for the Progressive party. Taft carried two
States, Utah and Vermont, with eight electoral votes; Woodrow
Wilson carried forty States, with 435 electoral votes; and
Roosevelt carried five States, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania,
South Dakota, and Washington, and eleven out of the thirteen
votes of California, giving him 88 electoral votes. Taft's
popular vote was 3,484,956; Wilson's was 6,293,019; while
Roosevelt's was 4,119,507. The fact that Wilson was elected by a
minority popular vote is not the significant thing, for it is far
beyond the capability of any political observer to declare what
would have been the result if there had been but two parties in
the field. The triumph for the Progressive party lay in the
certainty that its emergence had compelled the election of a
President whose face was toward the future. If the Roosevelt
delegates at Chicago in June had acquiesced in the result of the
steam-roller Convention, it is highly probable that Woodrow
Wilson would not have been the choice of the Democratic
Convention that met later at Baltimore.

During the succeeding four years the Progressive party, as a
national organization, continued steadily to "dwindle, peak, and
pine." More and more of its members and supporters slipped or
stepped boldly back to the Republican party. Its quondam
Democratic members had largely returned to their former
allegiance with Wilson, either at the election or after it.
Roosevelt once more withdrew from active participation in public
life, until the Great War, with its gradually increasing
intrusions upon American interests and American rights, aroused
him to vigorous and aggressive utterance on American
responsibility and American duty. He became a vigorous critic of
the Administration.

Once more a demand began to spring up for his nomination for the
Presidency; the Progressive party began to show signs of reviving
consciousness. There had persisted through the years a little
band of irreconcilables who were Progressives or nothing. They
wanted a new party of radical ideas regardless of anything in the
way of reformation and progress that the old parties might
achieve. There were others who preferred to go back to the
Republican party rather than to keep up the Progressive party as
a mere minority party of protest, but who hoped in going back to
be able to influence their old party along the lines of progress.
There were those who were Rooseveltians pure and simple and who
would follow him wherever he led.

All these groups wanted Roosevelt as President. They united to
hold a convention of the Progressive party at Chicago in 1916 on
the same days on which the Republican Convention met there. Each
convention opened with a calculating eye upon the activities of
the other. But both watched with even more anxious surmise for
some sign of intention from the Progressive leader back at Oyster
Bay. He held in his single hand the power of life and death for
the Progressive party. His decision as to cooperative action with
the Republicans or individual action as a Progressive would be
the most important single factor in the campaign against Woodrow
Wilson, who was certain of renomination. Three questions
confronted and puzzled the two bodies of delegates: Would the
Republicans nominate Roosevelt or another? If another, what would
Roosevelt do? If another, what would the Progressives do?

For three days the Republican National Convention proceeded
steadily and stolidly upon its appointed course. Everything had
been done in the stereotyped way on the stereotyped time-table in
the stereotyped language. No impropriety or infelicity had been
permitted to mar the smooth texture of its surface. The temporary
chairman in his keynote speech had been as mildly oratorical, as
diffusely patriotic, and as nobly sentimental as any Fourth of
July orator of a bygone day. The whole tone of the Convention had
been subdued and decorous with the decorum of incertitude and
timidity. That Convention did not know what it wanted. It only
knew that there was one thing that it did not want and that it
was afraid of, and another thing it would rather not have and was
afraid it would have to take. It wanted neither Theodore
Roosevelt nor Charles E. Hughes, and its members were distinctly
uncomfortable at the thought that they might have to take one or
the other. It was an old-fashioned convention of the hand-picked
variety. It smacked of the former days when the direct primary
had not yet introduced the disturbing thought that the voters and
not the office-holders and party leaders ought to select their

It was a docile, submissive convention, not because it was ruled
by a strong group of men who knew what they wanted and proposed
to compel their followers to give it to them, but because it was
composed of politicians great and small to whom party regularity
was the breath of their nostrils. They were ready to do the
regular thing; but the only two things in sight were confoundedly

Two drafts were ready for their drinking and they dreaded both.
They could nominate one of two men, and to nominate either of
them was to fling open the gates of the citadel of party
regularity and conformity and let the enemy in. Was it to be
Roosevelt or Hughes? Roosevelt they would not have. Hughes they
would give their eye teeth not to take. No wonder they were
subdued and inarticulate. No wonder they suffered and were
unhappy. So they droned along through their stereotyped routine,
hoping dully against fate.

The hot-heads in the Progressive Convention wanted no delay, no
compromise. They would have nominated Theodore Roosevelt out of
hand with a whoop, and let the Republican Convention take him or
leave him. But the cooler leaders realized the importance of
union between the two parties and knew, or accurately guessed,
what the attitude of Roosevelt would be. With firm hand they kept
the Convention from hasty and irrevocable action. They proposed
that overtures be made to the Republican Convention with a view
to harmonious agreement. A conference was held between committees
of the two conventions to see if common ground could be
discovered. At the first session of the joint committee it
appeared that there was sincere desire on both sides to get
together, but that the Progressives would have no one but
Roosevelt, while the Republicans would not have him but were
united on no one else. When the balloting began in the Republican
Convention, the only candidate who received even a respectable
block of votes was Hughes, but his total was hardly more than
half of the necessary majority. For several ballots there was no
considerable gain for any of the numerous candidates, and when
the Convention adjourned late Friday night the outcome was as
uncertain as ever. But by Saturday morning the Republican leaders
and delegates had resigned themselves to the inevitable, and the
nomination of Hughes was assured. When the Progressive Convention
met that morning, the conference committee reported that the
Republican members of the committee had proposed unanimously the
selection of Hughes as the candidate of both parties.

Thus began the final scene in the Progressive drama, and a more
thrilling and intense occasion it would be difficult to imagine.
It was apparent that the Progressive delegates would have none of
it. They were there to nominate their own beloved leader and they
intended to do it. A telegram was received from Oyster Bay
proposing Senator Lodge as the compromise candidate, and the
restive delegates in the Auditorium could with the greatest
difficulty be held back until the telegram could be received and
read at the Coliseum. A direct telephone wire from the Coliseum
to a receiver on the stage of the Auditorium kept the Progressive
body in instant touch with events in the other Convention. In the
Auditorium the atmosphere was electric. The delegates bubbled
with excitement. They wanted to nominate Roosevelt and be done
with it. The fear that the other Convention would steal a march
on them and make its nomination first set them crazy with
impatience. The hall rumbled and sputtered and fizzed and
detonated. The floor looked like a giant corn popper with the
kernels jumping and exploding like mad.

The delegates wanted action; the leaders wanted to be sure that
they had kept faith with Roosevelt and with the general situation
by giving the Republican delegates a chance to hear his last
proposal. Bainbridge Colby, of New York, put Roosevelt in
nomination with brevity and vigor; Hiram Johnson seconded the
nomination with his accustomed fire. Then, as the word came over
the wire that balloting had been resumed in the Coliseum, the
question was put at thirty-one minutes past twelve, and every
delegate and every alternate in the Convention leaped to his feet
with upstretched arm and shouted "Aye."

Doubtless more thrilling moments may come to some men at some
time, somewhere, but you will hardly find a delegate of that
Progressive Convention to believe it. Then the Convention
adjourned, to meet again at three to hear what the man they had
nominated would say.

At five o'clock in the afternoon, after a couple of hours of
impatient and anxious marking time with routine matters, the
Progressive delegates received the reply from their leader. It
read thus:

"I am very grateful for the honor you confer upon me by
nominating me as President. I cannot accept it at this time. I do
not know the attitude of the candidate of the Republican party
toward the vital questions of the day. Therefore, if you desire
an immediate decision, I must decline the nomination.

"But if you prefer to wait, I suggest that my conditional refusal
to run be placed in the hands of the Progressive National
Committee. If Mr. Hughes's statements, when he makes them, shall
satisfy the committee that it is for the interest of the country
that he be elected, they can act accordingly and treat my refusal
as definitely accepted.

"If they are not satisfied, they can so notify the Progressive
party, and at the same time they can confer with me, and then
determine on whatever action we may severally deem appropriate to
meet the needs of the country.


Puzzled, disheartened, overwhelmed, the Progressive delegates
went away. They could not then see how wise, how farsighted, how
inevitable Roosevelt's decision was. Some of them will never see
it. Probably few of them as they went out of those doors realized
that they had taken part in the last act of the romantic and
tragic drama of the National Progressive party. But such was the
fact, for the march of events was too much for it. Fate, not its
enemies, brought it to an end.

So was born, lived a little space, and died the Progressive
party. At its birth it caused the nomination, by the Democrats,
and the election, by the people, of Woodrow Wilson. At its death
it brought about the nomination of Charles E. Hughes by the
Republicans. It forced the writing into the platforms of the more
conservative parties of principles and programmes of popular
rights and social regeneration. The Progressive party never
attained to power, but it wielded a potent power. It was a
glorious failure.


Theodore Roosevelt was a prodigious coiner of phrases. He added
scores of them, full of virility, picturesqueness, and flavor to
the every-day speech of the American people. They stuck, because
they expressed ideas that needed expressing and because they
expressed them so well that no other combinations of words could
quite equal them. One of the best, though not the most popular,
of his phrases is contained in the following quotation:

"One of the prime dangers of civilization has always been its
tendency to cause the loss of virile fighting virtues, of the
fighting edge. When men get too comfortable and lead too
luxurious lives, there is always danger lest the softness eat
like an acid into their manliness of fiber."

He used the same phrase many times. Here is another instance:

"Unjust war is to be abhorred; but woe to the nation that does
not make ready to hold its own in time of need against all who
would harm it! And woe, thrice over, to the nation in which the
average man loses the fighting edge, loses the power to serve as
a soldier if the day of need should arise!"

That was it--THE FIGHTING EDGE. Roosevelt had it, if ever man
had. The conviction of the need for that combination of physical
and spiritual qualities that this represented, if a man is to
take his place and keep it in the world, became an inseparable
part of his consciousness early in life. It grew in strength and
depth with every year that he lived. He learned the need of
preparedness on that day in Maine when he found himself helpless
before the tormenting of his young fellow travelers. In the
gymnasium on Twentieth Street, within the boxing ring at Harvard,
in the New York Assembly, in the conflicts with the spoilsmen in
Washington, on the frontier in cowboy land, in Mulberry Street
and on Capitol Hill, and in the jungle before Santiago, the
lesson was hammered into him by the stern reality of events. The
strokes fell on malleable metal.

In the spring of 1897, Roosevelt had been appointed Assistant
Secretary of the Navy, largely through the efforts of his friend,
Senator Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts. The appointment was
excellent from every point of view. Though Roosevelt had received
no training for the post so far as technical education was
concerned, he brought to his duties a profound belief in the navy
and a keen interest in its development. His first published book
had been "The Naval War of 1812"; and the lessons of that war had
not been lost upon him. It was indeed a fortuitous circumstance
that placed him in this branch of the national service just as
relations between Spain and the United States were reaching the
breaking point. When the battleship Maine was sunk in Havana
Harbor, his reaction to that startling event was instantaneous.
He was convinced that the sinking of the Maine made war
inevitable, but he had long been certain that war ought to come.
He believed that the United States had a moral duty toward the
Cuban people, oppressed, abused, starved, and murdered at the
hands of Spain.

He was not the head of the Navy Department, but that made little
difference. The Secretary was a fine old gentleman, formerly
president of the Massachusetts Peace Society, and by temperament
indisposed to any rapid moves toward war. But he liked his
Assistant Secretary and did not put too stern a curb upon his
impetuous activity and Roosevelt's activity was vigorous and
unceasing. Secretary Long has described it, rather with justice
than with enthusiasm.

"His activity was characteristic. He was zealous in the work of
putting the navy in condition for the apprehended struggle. His
ardor sometimes went faster than the President or the Department
approved . . . . He worked indefatigably, frequently
incorporating his views in memoranda which he would place every
morning on my desk. Most of his suggestions had, however, so far
as applicable, been already adopted by the various bureaus, the
chiefs of which were straining every nerve and leaving nothing
undone. When I suggested to him that some future historian
reading his memoranda, if they were put on record, would get the
impression that the bureaus were inefficient, he accepted the
suggestion with the generous good nature which is so marked in
him. Indeed, nothing could be pleasanter than our relations. He
was heart and soul in his work. His typewriters had no rest. He,
like most of us, lacks the rare knack of brevity. He was
especially stimulating to the younger officers who gathered about
him and made his office as busy as a hive. He was especially
helpful in the purchasing of ships and in every line where he
could push on the work of preparation for war."

One suspects that the Secretary may have been more complacently
convinced of the forehandedness of the bureau chiefs than was his
impatient associate. For, while the navy was apparently in better
shape than the army in those days, there must have been, even in
the Department where Roosevelt's typewriters knew no rest, some
of that class of desk-bound officers whom he met later when he
was organizing the Rough Riders. His experience with one such
officer in the War Department was humorous. This bureaucrat was
continually refusing Roosevelt's applications because they were
irregular. In each case Roosevelt would appeal to the Secretary
of War, with whom he was on the best of terms, and would get from
him an order countenancing the irregularity. After a number of
experiences of this kind, the harassed slave of red tape threw
himself back in his chair and exclaimed, "Oh, dear! I had this
office running in such good shape--and then along came the war
and upset everything!"

But there were plenty of good men in the navy; and one of them
was Commodore George Dewey. Roosevelt had kept his eye on him for
some time as an officer who "could be relied upon to prepare in
advance, and to act promptly, fearlessly, and on his own
responsibility when the emergency arose." When he began to
foresee the probability of war, Roosevelt succeeded in having
Dewey sent to command the Asiatic squadron; and just ten days
after the Maine was blown up this cablegram went from Washington
to Hong Kong:

"DEWEY, Hong Kong:

"Order the squadron, except the Monocacy, to Hong Kong. Keep full
of coal. In the event of declaration of war Spain, your duty will
be to see that the Spanish squadron does not leave the Asiatic
coast, and then offensive operations in Philippine Islands. Keep
Olympia until further orders. Roosevelt."

The declaration of war lagged on for nearly two months, but when
it finally came, just one week elapsed between the sending of an
order to Dewey to proceed at once to the Philippines and to
"capture vessels or destroy" and the elimination of the sea power
of Spain in the Orient. The battle of Manila Bay was a practical
demonstration of the value of the "fighting edge," as exemplified
in an Assistant Secretary who fought procrastination, timidity,
and political expedience at home and in a naval officer who
fought the enemy's ships on the other side of the world.

When war actually came, Roosevelt could not stand inactivity in
Washington. He was a fighter and he must go where the real
fighting was. With Leonard Wood, then a surgeon in the army, he
organized the First United States Volunteer Cavalry. He could
have been appointed Colonel, but he knew that Wood knew more
about the soldier's job than he, and he insisted upon taking the
second place. The Secretary of War thought him foolish to step
aside thus and suggested that Roosevelt become Colonel and Wood
Lieutenant-Colonel, adding that Wood would do the work anyway.
But that was not the Roosevelt way. He replied that he did not
wish to rise on any man's shoulders, that he hoped to be given
every chance that his deeds and his abilities warranted, that he
did not wish what he did not earn, and that, above all, he did
not wish to hold any position where any one else did the work.
Lieutenant-Colonel he was made.

The regiment, which will always be affectionately known as the
Rough Riders, was "raised, armed, equipped, drilled, mounted,
dismounted, kept for two weeks on a transport, and then put
through two victorious aggressive fights, in which it lost a
third of the officers, and a fifth of the enlisted men, all
within a little over fifty days." Roosevelt began as second in
command, went through the battle of San Juan Hill as Colonel, and
ended the war in command of a brigade, with the brevet of
Brigadier-General. The title of Colonel stuck to him all his

When he became President, his instinctive commitment to the
necessity of being prepared had been stoutly reinforced by his
experience in what he called "the war of America the Unready."
His first message to Congress was a long and exhaustive paper,
dealing with many matters of importance. But almost one-fifth of
it was devoted to the army and the navy. "It is not possible," he
said, "to improvise a navy after war breaks out. The ships must
be built and the men trained long in advance." He urged that
Congress forthwith provide for several additional battleships and
heavy armored cruisers, together with the proportionate number of
smaller craft, and he pointed out the need for many more officers
and men. He declared that "even in time of peace a warship should
be used until it wears out, for only so can it be kept fit to
respond to any emergency. The officers and men alike should be
kept as much as possible on blue water, for it is there only they
can learn their duties as they should be learned." But his most
vigorous insistence was upon gunnery. "In battle," he said once
to the graduates of the Naval Academy, "the only shots that count
are those that hit, and marksmanship is a matter of long practice
and intelligent reasoning." To this end he demanded "unceasing"
gunnery practice.

In every succeeding message to Congress for seven years he
returned to the subject of the navy, demanding ships, officers,
men, and, above all, training. His insistence on these essentials
brought results, and by the time the cruise of the battle fleet
around the world had been achieved, the American navy, ship for
ship, was not surpassed by any in the world. Perhaps it would be
more accurate to say, ship's crew for ship's crew; for it was the
officers and men of the American navy who made it possible for
the world cruise to be made without the smallest casualty.

The question of marksmanship had been burned into Roosevelt's
mind in those days when the Spanish War was brewing. He has
related in his "Autobiography" how it first came to his attention
through a man whose name has in more recent years become known
the world over in connection with the greatest task of the
American navy. Roosevelt's account is as follows:

"There was one deficiency . . . which there was no time to
remedy, and of the very existence of which, strange to say, most
of our best men were ignorant. Our navy had no idea how low our
standard of marksmanship was. We had not realized that the modern
battleship had become such a complicated piece of mechanism that
the old methods of training in marksmanship were as obsolete as
the old muzzle-loading broadside guns themselves. Almost the only
man in the navy who fully realized this was our naval attach at
Paris, Lieutenant Sims. He wrote letter after letter pointing out
how frightfully backward we were in marksmanship. I was much
impressed by his letters . . . . As Sims proved to be mistaken in
his belief that the French had taught the Spaniards how to shoot,
and as the Spaniards proved to be much worse even than we were,
in the service generally Sims was treated as an alarmist. But
although I at first partly acquiesced in this view, I grew uneasy
when I studied the small proportion of hits to shots made by our
vessels in battle. When I was President I took up the matter, and
speedily became convinced that we needed to revolutionize our
whole training in marksmanship. Sims was given the lead in
organizing and introducing the new system; and to him more than
to any other one man was due the astonishing progress made by our
fleet in this respect, a progress which made the fleet, gun for
gun, at least three times as effective, in point of fighting
efficiency, in 1908, as it was in 1902"*.

*Autobiography (Scribner), pp. 212-13.

Theodore Roosevelt was a thoroughgoing, bred-in-the-bone
individualist, but not as the term is ordinarily understood. He
continually emphasized not the rights of the individual, but his
duties, obligations, and opportunities. He knew that human
character is the greatest thing in the world and that men and
women are the real forces that move and sway the world's affairs.
So in all his preaching and doing on behalf of a great and
efficient navy, the emphasis that he always laid was upon the men
of the navy, their efficiency and their spirit. He once remarked,
"I believe in the navy of the United States primarily because I
believe in the intelligence, the patriotism, and the fighting
edge of the average man of the navy." To the graduating class at
Annapolis, he once said:

"There is not one of you who is not derelict in his duty to the
whole Nation if he fails to prepare himself with all the strength
that in him lies to do his duty should the occasion arise; and
one of your great duties is to see that shots hit. The result is
going to depend largely upon whether you or your adversary hits.
I expect you to be brave. I rather take that for granted . . . .
But, in addition, you have got to prepare yourselves in advance.
Every naval action that has taken place in the last twenty years
. . . has shown, as a rule, that the defeated party has suffered
not from lack of courage, but because it could not make the best
use of its weapons, or had not been given the right weapons . . .
. I want every one here to proceed upon the assumption that any
foe he may meet will have the courage. Of course, you have got to
show the highest degree of courage yourself or you will be beaten
anyhow, and you will deserve to be; but in addition to that you
must prepare yourselves by careful training so that you may make
the best possible use of the delicate and formidable mechanism of
a modern warship."

Theodore Roosevelt was an apostle of preparedness from the hour
that he began to think at all about affairs of public moment--
and that hour came to him earlier in life than it does to most
men. In the preface to his history of the War of 1812, which he
wrote at the age of twenty-four, this sentence appears: "At
present people are beginning to realize that it is folly for the
great English-speaking Republic to rely for defense upon a navy
composed partly of antiquated hulks, and partly of new vessels
rather more worthless than the old." His prime interest, from the
point of view of preparedness, lay in the navy. His sense of
proportion told him that the navy was the nation's first line of
defense. He knew that without an efficient navy a nation situated
as the United States was would be helpless before an aggressive
enemy, and that, given a navy of sufficient size and
effectiveness, the nation could dispense with a great army. For
the army he demanded not size but merely efficiency. One of his
principal points of attack in his criticism of the army was the
system of promotion for officers. He assailed sharply the
existing practice of "promotion by mere seniority." In one of his
messages to Congress he pointed out that a system of promotion by
merit existed in the Military Academy at West Point. He then went
on to say that from the time of the graduation of the cadets into
the army "all effort to find which man is best or worst and
reward or punish him accordingly, is abandoned: no brilliancy, no
amount of hard work, no eagerness in the performance of duty, can
advance him, and no slackness or indifference, that falls short
of a court-martial offense, can retard him. Until this system is
changed we cannot hope that our officers will be of as high grade
as we have a right to expect, considering the material from which
we draw. Moreover, when a man renders such service as Captain
Pershing rendered last spring in the Moro campaign, it ought to
be possible to reward him without at once jumping him to the
grade of brigadier-general."

It is not surprising to find in this message also a name that was
later to become famous in the Great War. Roosevelt had an uncanny
gift of prophecy.

More than once, as President, he picked out for appreciation and
commendation the very men who were to do the big things for
America when the critical hour came.


When the Great War broke out in August, 1914, Roosevelt instantly
stiffened to attention. He immediately began to read the lessons
that were set for the world by the gigantic conflict across the
sea and it was not long before he was passing them on to the
American people. Like every other good citizen, he extended
hearty support to the President in his conduct of America's
foreign relations in the crisis. At the same time, however, he
recognized the possibility that a time might come when it would
be a higher moral duty to criticize the Administration than to
continue unqualified support. Three weeks after war had begun,
Roosevelt wrote in "The Outlook":

"In common with the immense majority of our fellow countrymen, I
shall certainly stand by not only the public servants in control
of the Administration at Washington, but also all other public
servants, no matter of what party, during this crisis; asking
only that they with wisdom and good faith endeavor to take every
step that can be taken to safeguard the honor and interest of the
United States, and, so far as the opportunity offers, to promote
the cause of peace and justice throughout the world. My hope, of
course, is that in their turn the public servants of the people
will take no action so fraught with possible harm to the future
of the people as to oblige farsighted and patriotic men to
protest against it."

One month later, in a long article in "The Outlook", Roosevelt
reiterated this view in these words:

". . . . We, all of us, without regard to party differences, must
stand ready loyally to support the Administration, asking nothing
except that the policy be one that in truth and in fact tells for
the honor and interest of our Nation and in truth and in fact is
helpful to the cause of a permanent and righteous world peace."

In the early months of the war, Roosevelt thus scrupulously
endeavored to uphold the President's hands, to utter no criticism
that might hamper him, and to carry out faithfully the
President's adjuration to neutrality. He recognized clearly,
however, the price that we must pay for neutrality, and he set it
forth in the following passage from the same article: "A
deputation of Belgians has arrived in this country to invoke our
assistance in the time of their dreadful need. What action our
Government can or will take I know not. It has been announced
that no action can be taken that will interfere with our entire
neutrality. It is certainly eminently desirable that we should
remain entirely neutral, and nothing but urgent need would
warrant breaking our neutrality and taking sides one way or the
other. Our first duty is to hold ourselves ready to do whatever
the changing circumstances demand in order to protect our own
interests in the present and in the future; although, for my own
part, I desire to add to this statement the proviso that under no
circumstances must we do anything dishonorable, especially toward
unoffending weaker nations. Neutrality may be of prime necessity
in order to preserve our own interests, to maintain peace in so
much of the world as is not affected by the war, and to conserve
our influence for helping toward the reestablishment of general
peace when the time comes; for if any outside Power is able at
such time to be the medium for bringing peace, it is more likely
to be the United States than any other. But we pay the penalty of
this action on behalf of peace for ourselves, and possibly for
others in the future, by forfeiting our right to do anything on
behalf of peace for the Belgians in the present. We can maintain
our neutrality only by refusal to do anything to aid unoffending
weak powers which are dragged into the gulf of bloodshed and
misery through no fault of their own. Of course it would be folly
to jump into the gulf ourselves to no good purpose; and very
probably nothing that we could have done would have helped
Belgium. We have not the smallest responsibility for what has
befallen her, and I am sure that the sympathy of this country for
the men, women, and children of Belgium is very real.
Nevertheless, this sympathy is compatible with full
acknowledgment of the unwisdom of our uttering a single word of
official protest unless we are prepared to make that protest
effective; and only the clearest and most urgent national duty
would ever justify us in deviating from our rule of neutrality
and noninterference. But it is a grim comment on the professional
pacifist theories as hitherto developed that our duty to preserve
peace for ourselves may necessarily mean the abandonment of all
effective efforts to secure peace for other unoffending nations
which through no fault of their own are dragged into the War."

The rest of the article concerned itself with the lessons taught
by the war, the folly of pacifism, the need for preparedness if
righteousness is not to be sacrificed for peace, the
worthlessness of treaties unsanctioned by force, and the
desirability of an association of nations for the prevention of
war. On this last point Roosevelt wrote as follows:

"But in view of what has occurred in this war, surely the time
ought to be ripe for the nations to consider a great world
agreement among all the civilized military powers TO BACK
RIGHTEOUSNESS BY FORCE. Such an agreement would establish an
efficient World League for the Peace of Righteousness. Such an
agreement could limit the amount to be spent on armaments and,
after defining carefully the inalienable rights of each nation
which were not to be transgressed by any other, could also
provide that any cause of difference among them, or between one
of them and one of a certain number of designated outside
non-military nations, should be submitted to an international
court, including citizens of all these nations, chosen not as
representatives of the nations, BUT AS JUDGES and perhaps in any
given case the particular judges could be chosen by lot from the
total number. To supplement and make this effectual it should be
solemnly covenanted that if any nation refused to abide by the
decision of such a court the others would draw the sword on
behalf of peace and justice, and would unitedly coerce the
recalcitrant nation. This plan would not automatically bring
peace, and it may be too soon to hope for its adoption; but if
some such scheme could be adopted, in good faith and with a
genuine purpose behind it to make it effective, then we would
have come nearer to the day of world peace. World peace will not
come save in some such manner as that whereby we obtain peace
within the borders of each nation; that is, by the creation of
reasonably impartial judges and by putting an efficient police
power--that is, by putting force in efficient fashion--behind the
decrees of the judges. At present each nation must in the last
resort trust to its own strength if it is to preserve all that
makes life worth having. At present this is imperative. This
state of things can be abolished only when we put force, when we
put the collective armed power of civilization, behind some body
which shall with reasonable justice and equity represent the
collective determination of civilization to do what is right."

>From this beginning Roosevelt went on vigorously preaching
preparedness against war; and the Great War had been raging for a
scant seven months when he was irresistibly impelled to utter
open criticism of President Wilson. In April, 1915, in The
Metropolitan Magazine, to which he had transferred his writings,
he declared that "the United States, thanks to Messrs. Wilson and
Bryan, has signally failed in its duty toward Belgium." He
maintained that the United States, under the obligations assumed
by the signature of The Hague Conventions, should have protested
to Germany against the invasion of Belgium.

For two years thereafter, while Germany slapped America first on
one cheek and then on the other, and treacherously stabbed her
with slinking spies and dishonored diplomats, Roosevelt preached,
with growing indignation and vehemence, the cause of preparedness
and national honor. He found it impossible to support the
President further. In February, 1916, he wrote:

"Eighteen months have gone by since the Great War broke out. It
needed no prescience, no remarkable statesmanship or gift of
forecasting the future, to see that, when such mighty forces were
unloosed, and when it had been shown that all treaties and other
methods hitherto relied upon for national protection and for
mitigating the horror and circumscribing the area of war were
literally "scraps of paper," it had become a vital necessity that
we should instantly and on a great and adequate scale prepare for
our own defense. Our men, women, and children--not in isolated
cases, but in scores and hundreds of cases--have been murdered by
Germany and Mexico; and we have tamely submitted to wrongs from
Germany and Mexico of a kind to which no nation can submit
without impairing its own self-respect and incurring the contempt
of the rest of mankind. Yet, during these eighteen months not one
thing has been done . . . . Never in the country's history has
there been a more stupendous instance of folly than this crowning
folly of waiting eighteen months after the elemental crash of
nations took place before even making a start in an effort--and
an utterly inefficient and insufficient effort-for some kind of
preparation to ward off disaster in the future.

"If President Wilson had shown the disinterested patriotism,
courage, and foresight demanded by this stupendous crisis, I
would have supported him with hearty enthusiasm. But his action,
or rather inaction, has been such that it has become a matter of
high patriotic duty to oppose him . . . . No man can support Mr.
Wilson without at the same time supporting a policy of criminal
inefficiency as regards the United States Navy, of short-sighted
inadequacy as regards the army, of abandonment of the duty owed
by the United States to weak and well-behaved nations, and of
failure to insist on our just rights when we are ourselves
maltreated by powerful and unscrupulous nations."

Theodore Roosevelt could not, without violating the integrity of
his own soul, go on supporting either positively by word or
negatively by silence the man who had said, on the day after the
Lusitania was sunk, "There is such a thing as a nation being too
proud to fight," and who later called for a "peace without
victory." He could have nothing but scorn for an Administration
whose Secretary of War could say, two months after the United
States had actually entered the war, that there was "difficulty .
. . disorder and confusion . . . in getting things started," and
could then add, "but it is a happy confusion. I delight in the
fact that when we entered this war we were not like our
adversary, ready for it, anxious for it, prepared for it, and
inviting it."

Until America entered the war Roosevelt used his voice and his
pen with all his native energy and fire to convince the American
people of three things that righteousness demanded that the
United States forsake its supine neutrality and act; that the
United States should prepare itself thoroughly for any emergency
that might arise; and that the hyphenated Americanism of those
who, while enjoying the benefits of American citizenship,
"intrigue and conspire against the United States, and do their
utmost to promote the success of Germany and to weaken the
defense of this nation" should be rigorously curbed. The sermons
that he preached on this triple theme were sorely needed. No
leadership in this phase of national life was forthcoming from
the quarter where the American people had every right to look for
leadership. The White House had its face set in the opposite

In August, 1915, an incident occurred which set the contrast
between the Rooseveltian and Wilsonian lines of thought in bold
relief. Largely through the initiative of General Leonard Wood
there had been organized at Plattsburg, New York, an officers'
training camp where American business men were given an all too
brief course of training in the art and duty of leading soldiers
in camp and in the field. General Wood was in command of the
Plattsburg camp. He invited Roosevelt to address the men in
training. Roosevelt accepted gladly, and in the course of his
speech made these significant statements:

"For thirteen months America has played an ignoble part among the
nations. We have tamely submitted to seeing the weak, whom we
have covenanted to protect, wronged. We have seen our men, women,
and children murdered on the high seas without protest. We have
used elocution as a substitute for action.

"During this time our government has not taken the smallest step
in the way of preparedness to defend our own rights. Yet these
thirteen months have made evident the lamentable fact that force
is more dominant now in the affairs of the world than ever
before, that the most powerful of modern military nations is
utterly brutal and ruthless in its disregard of international
morality, and that righteousness divorced from force is utterly
futile. Reliance upon high sounding words, unbacked by deeds, is
proof of a mind that dwells only in the realm of shadow and of

"It is not a lofty thing, on the contrary, it is an evil thing,
to practise a timid and selfish neutrality between right and
wrong. It is wrong for an individual. It is still more wrong for
a nation.

"Therefore, friends, let us shape our conduct as a nation in
accordance with the highest rules of international morality. Let
us treat others justly and keep the engagements we have made,
such as these in The Hague conventions, to secure just treatment
for others. But let us remember that we shall be wholly unable to
render service to others and wholly unable to fulfill the prime
law of national being, the law of self-preservation, unless we
are thoroughly prepared to hold our own. Let us show that a free
democracy can defend itself successfully against any organized
and aggressive military despotism."

The men in the camp heard him gladly and with enthusiasm. But the
next day the Secretary of War sent a telegram of censure to
General Wood in which he said:

"I have just seen the reports in the newspapers of the speech
made by ex-President Roosevelt at the Plattsburg camp. It is
difficult to conceive of anything which could have a more
detrimental effect upon the real value of this experiment than
such an incident . . . . No opportunity should have been
furnished to any one to present to the men any matter excepting
that which was essential to the necessary training they were to
receive. Anything else could only have the effect of distracting
attention from the real nature of the experiment, diverting
consideration to issues which excite controversy, antagonism, and
ill feeling and thereby impairing if not destroying, what
otherwise would have been so effective."

On this telegram Roosevelt's comment was pungent: "If the
Administration had displayed one-tenth the spirit and energy in
holding Germany and Mexico to account for the murder of men,
women, and children that it is now displaying in the endeavor to
prevent our people from being taught the need of preparation to
prevent the repetition of such murders in the future, it would be
rendering a service to the people of the country."

Theodore Roosevelt could have little effect upon the material
preparedness of the United States for the struggle which it was
ultimately to enter. But he could and did have a powerful effect
upon the spiritual preparedness of the American people for the
efforts, the trials, and the sacrifices of that struggle. No
voice was raised more persistently or more consistently than his.
No personality was thrown with more power and more effect into
the task of arousing the people of the United States to their
duty to take part in the struggle against Prussianism. No man, in
public or private life, urged so vigorously and effectively the
call to arms against evil and for the right. His was the "voice
crying in the wilderness," and to him the American spirit
hearkened and awoke.

At last the moment came. Roosevelt had but one desire and one
thought. He wanted to get to the firing-line. This was no
impulse, no newly formed project. For two months he had been in
correspondence with the Secretary of War on the subject. A year
or more before that he had offered, in case America went into the
war, to raise a volunteer force, train it, and take it across to
the front. The idea was not new to him, even then. As far back as
1912 he had said on several different occasions, "If the United
States should get into another war, I should raise a brigade of
cavalry and lead it as I did my regiment in Cuba." It never
occurred to him in those days that a former Commander-in-Chief of
the United States Army, with actual experience in the field,
would be refused permission to command troops in an American war.
The idea would hardly have occurred to any one else. But that is
precisely what happened.

On February 2, 1917, Roosevelt wrote to the Secretary of War
reminding him that his application for permission to raise a
division of infantry was already on file in the Department,
saying that he was about to sail for Jamaica, and asking the
Secretary to inform him if he believed there would be war and a
call for volunteers, for in that case he did not intend to sail.
Secretary Baker replied, "No situation has arisen which would
justify my suggesting a postponement of the trip you propose."
Before this reply was received Roosevelt had written a second
letter saying that, as the President had meanwhile broken off
diplomatic relations with Germany, he should of course not sail.
He renewed his request for permission to raise a division, and
asked if a certain regular officer whom he would like to have for
his divisional Chief of Staff, if the division were authorized,
might be permitted to come to see him with a view to "making all
preparations that are possible in advance." To this the Secretary
replied, "No action in the direction suggested by you can be
taken without the express sanction of Congress. Should the
contingency Occur which you have in mind, it is to be expected
that Congress will complete its legislation relating to volunteer
forces and provide, under its own conditions, for the appointment
of officers for the higher commands."

Roosevelt waited five weeks and then earnestly renewed his
request. He declared his purpose to take his division, after some
six weeks of preliminary training, direct to France for intensive
training so that it could be sent to the front in the shortest
possible time. Secretary Baker replied that no additional armies
could be raised without the consent of Congress, that a plan for
a much larger army was ready for the action of Congress when ever
required, and that the general officers for all volunteer forces
were to be drawn from the regular army. To this Roosevelt replied
with the respectful suggestion that, as a retired
Commander-in-Chief of the United States Army, he was eligible to
any position of command over American troops. He recounted also
his record of actual military experience and referred the
Secretary to his immediate superiors in the field in Cuba as to
his fitness for command of troops.

When war had been finally declared, Secretary Baker and Roosevelt
conferred together at length about the matter. Thereafter Mr.
Baker wrote definitely, declaring that he would be obliged to
withhold his approval from an expedition of the sort proposed.
The grounds which he gave for the decision were that the soldiers
sent across must not be "deprived . . . of the most experienced
leadership available, in deference to any mere sentimental
consideration," and that it should appear from every aspect of
the expeditionary force, if one should be sent over (a point not
yet determined upon) that "military considerations alone had
determined its composition."

To this definite refusal on the part of the Secretary of War
Roosevelt replied at length. In his letter was a characteristic
passage commenting upon Secretary Baker's reference to
"sentimental considerations":

"I have not asked you to consider any "sentimental value" in this
matter. I am speaking of moral effect, not of sentimental value.
Sentimentality is as different from morality as Rousseau's life
from Abraham Lincoln's. I have just received a letter from James
Bryce urging "the dispatch of an American force to the theater of
war," and saying, "The moral effect of the appearance in the war
line of an American force would be immense." From representatives
of the French and British Governments and of the French, British,
and Canadian military authorities, I have received statements to
the same effect, in even more emphatic form, and earnest hopes
that I myself should be in the force. Apparently your military
advisers in this matter seek to persuade you that a "military
policy" has nothing to do with "moral effect." If so, their
militarism is like that of the Aulic Council of Vienna in the
Napoleonic Wars, and not like that of Napoleon, who stated that
in war the moral was to the material as two to one. These
advisers will do well to follow the teachings of Napoleon and not
those of the pedantic militarists of the Aulic Council, who were
the helpless victims of Napoleon."

Secretary Baker replied with a reiteration of his refusal.
Roosevelt made one further attempt. When the Draft Law passed
Congress, carrying with it the authorization to use volunteer
forces, he telegraphed the President asking permission to raise
two divisions, and four if so directed. The President replied
with a definite negative, declaring that his conclusions were
"based entirely upon imperative considerations of public policy
and not upon personal or private choice." Meanwhile applications
had been received from over three hundred thousand men desirous
of joining Roosevelt's volunteer force, of whom it was estimated
that at least two hundred thousand were physically fit, double
the number needed for four divisions. That a single private
citizen, by "one blast upon his bugle horn" should have been able
to call forth three hundred thousand volunteers, all over draft
age, was a tremendous testimony to his power. If his offer had
been accepted when it was first made, there would have been an
American force on the field in France long before one actually
arrived there. It was widely believed, among men of intelligence
and insight, not only in America but in Great Britain and France,
that the arrival of such a force, under the command of a man
known, admired, and loved the world over, would have been a
splendid reinforcement to the Allied morale and a sudden blow to
the German confidence. But the Administration would not have it

I shall never forget one evening with Theodore Roosevelt on a
speaking tour which he was making through the South in 1912.
There came to our private car for dinner Senator Clarke of
Arkansas and Jack Greenway, young giant of football fame and
experience with the Rough Riders in Cuba. After dinner, Jack, who
like many giants, is one of the most diffident men alive, said

"Colonel, I've long wanted to ask you something."

"Go right ahead," said T. R., "what is it?"

"Well, Colonel," said Jack, "I've always believed that it was
your ambition to die on the field of battle."

T. R. brought his hand down on the table with a crash that must
have hurt the wood.

"By Jove," said he, "how did you know that?"

"Well, Colonel," said Jack, "do you remember that day in Cuba,
when you and I were going along a trail and came upon ____ [one
of the regiment] propped against a tree, shot through the
abdomen? It was evident that he was done for. But instead of
commiserating him, you grabbed his hand and said something like
this, 'Well, old man, isn't this splendid!' Ever since then I've
been sure you would be glad to die in battle yourself."

T. R.'s face sobered a little.

"You're right, Jack," he said. "I would."

The end of Theodore Roosevelt's life seemed to come to him not in
action but in quietness. But the truth was other than that. For
it, let us turn again to Browning's lines:

I was ever a fighter, so--one fight more,

The best and the last!

I would hate that death bandaged my eyes, and forbore,

And bade me creep past.

On the fifth of January in 1919, after sixty years of life, full
of unwearied fighting against evil and injustice and falseness,
he "fell on sleep." The end came peacefully in the night hours at
Sagamore Hill. But until he laid him down that night, the fight
he waged had known no relaxation. Nine months before he had
expected death, when a serious mastoid operation had drained his
vital forces. Then his one thought had been, not for himself, but
for his sons to whom had been given the precious privilege,
denied to him, of taking part in their country's and the world's
great fight for righteousness. His sister, Mrs. Corinne Douglas
Robinson, tells how in those shadowy hours he beckoned her to him
and in the frailest of whispers said, "I'm glad it's I that lie
here and that my boys are in the fight over there."

His last, best fight was worthy of all the rest. With voice and
pen he roused the minds and the hearts of his countrymen to their
high mission in defense of human rights. It was not given to him
to fall on the field of battle. But he went down with his face to
the forces of evil with which he had never sought a truce.


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