Source: The Encyclopædia Britannica
Source type: book
Document type: article
Document title: “Roosevelt, Theodore”
Author(s): Abbott, Lawrence F.
Edition: Eleventh Edition
Volume number: 23
Publisher: Encyclopædia Britannica Company
Place of publication: Cambridge, England
Year of publication: 1911
|Abbott, Lawrence F. “Roosevelt, Theodore.” The Encyclopædia Britannica. 11th ed. Vol. 23. Cambridge: Encyclopædia Britannica, 1911: pp. 707-11.|
|full text of article; excerpt of book|
|Theodore Roosevelt (personal history); Theodore Roosevelt (political character).|
|John W. Bennett; James G. Blaine; Archibald Bulloch [misspelled below]; James D. Bulloch [misspelled below]; John Burroughs; Pascual Cervera y Topete; Grover Cleveland; William L. Clowes; George William Douglas; George F. Edmunds; Robert Fulton; Henry George; Francis Vinton Greene; Murat Halstead; Benjamin Harrison; Abram S. Hewitt [middle initial wrong below]; William James; Francis E. Leupp; Robert R. Livingston [misspelled below]; Henry Cabot Lodge; William McKinley; James Morgan; Thomas Newcome; Alton B. Parker; Jacob A. Riis; Alice Hathaway Roosevelt; Clinton Roosevelt; Cornelius Roosevelt; Cornelius Van Schaack Roosevelt [variant spelling below]; Edith Roosevelt; Isaac Roosevelt; Jacobus Roosevelt; James Roosevelt (great great grandfather); James Henry Roosevelt; James I. Roosevelt (great grandfather); Johannes Roosevelt; Martha Bulloch Roosevelt; Nicholas Roosevelt, b. 1658; Nicholas J. Roosevelt; Robert Barnwell Roosevelt; Theodore Roosevelt; Theodore Roosevelt, Sr.; Claes Martenszen van Rosenvelt [variant spelling below]; John Stevens; William Howard Taft; Leonard Wood.|
| This article includes the three following footnotes, the first two appearing
on page 707 and the third appearing on page 709. Click on the superscripted
number preceding each footnote to navigate to the respective locations in
From title page: The Encyclopædia Britannica: A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature and General Information.
About the author (denoted in vol. 1): “President of The Outlook Company, New York.”
ROOSEVELT, THEODORE (1858-
), twenty-sixth president of the United States, was born in New York City on
the 27th of October 1858. The Roosevelt family¹ has been prominent
in the life of New York for many generations, and is of Dutch origin. Mr Roosevelt’s
mother, Martha Bullock, came from a family of Scotch-Irish and Huguenot origin
equally prominent in Georgia. Each family may lay just claims to a history of
more than ordinary social and political distinction. Although born in New York,
Mr Roosevelt spent much of his boyhood at Oyster Bay, the country home of his
father, on Long Island Sound, where he began with a distinct purpose, unusual
among boys of his age, to build up a naturally frail physique by rowing and
swimming in the waters of Long Island Sound, and by riding over the hills and
tramping through the woods of Long Island. That his early outdoor life furnished
a definite training for his after career is indicated by the fact that when
he was about fourteen years of age he went with his father on a tour up the
Nile as far as Luxor, and on this journey he made a collection of Egyptian birds
found in the Nile valley, which is now in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington,
D.C. Mr Roosevelt was educated at Harvard University, where he graduated in
the class of 1880;² his record for scholarship was creditable,
and his interest in sports and athletics was especially manifest in his skill
as a boxer. On leaving college he made a short visit to Europe, was elected
to the London Alpine Club for climbing the Jungfrau and the Matterhorn, and
returning to New York studied law for a brief period in the Law School of Columbia
University and in the office of his uncle Robert B. Roosevelt. Determining to
enter active politics, he gave up his legal studies without qualifying for the
bar, and in 1881 was elected to the New York legislature as a regular Republican,
although in opposition to the “boss” of the assembly district for which he was
a candidate. He was elected again in 1882 and in 1883, and at the age of twenty-four
was his party’s candidate for Speaker of the Assembly. In 1884 he was a delegate
of the Republican party to the convention in Chicago which nominated James G.
Blaine for president. In the convention he opposed the nomination of Mr Blaine,
and in a speech which attracted considerable attention for its vigour and courage
advocated the nomination of Senator George F. Edmunds. After Mr Blaine’s nomination,
however, he supported him in the campaign as the chosen candidate of the party,
in spite of the fact that an important wing of the Republican party “bolted”
the nomination and espoused the candidacy of Grover Cleveland, who was elected
president. In 1884, partly because his political life seemed at least for the
immediate present to be at an end, partly on account of the freedom and activity
of out-of-door life, he bought two cattle ranches near Medora on the Little
Missouri river in North Dakota, where he lived for two years, becoming intimately
associated with the life and spirit of the western portion of the United States.
In 1886 he was the Republican candidate for mayor of New York City, but was defeated by Abram F. Hewitt, the Tammany candidate, and received a smaller vote than Henry George, the candidate of the United Labor party. Mr Roosevelt, however, received a larger proportion of the total vote cast than any mayoralty candidate of the Republican party had previously received in New York City. In April 1889, on the accession to the presidency of Benjamin Harrison, Mr Roosevelt, then closely identified with the work of Civil Service reform, was appointed a member of the United States Civil Service Commission. In this office, until then one of minor importance, he served for six years. He made it not only nationally prominent, but instrumental in shaping the course of legislative and executive action by introducing into the work of the Commission an entirely new spirit and new methods. The annual reports, of which he was the chief author, became controversial pamphlets; he published bold replies to criticisms upon the work of the Commission; he explained its purposes to newspaper correspondents; when Congress refused to appropriate the amount which he believed essential for the work, he made the necessary economies by abandoning examinations of candidates for the Civil Service in those districts whose representatives in Congress had voted to reduce the appropriation, thus very shrewdly bringing their adverse vote into disfavour among their own constituents; and during the six years of his commissionership more than twenty thousand positions for government employés were taken out of the realm of merely political appointment and added to the classified service to be obtained and retained for merit only. In 1895 he resigned from the Civil Service Commission and became President of the Board of Police Commissioners for the City of New York. After a strenuous two years in this office, he was appointed by President McKinley in 1897 assistant-secretary of the navy. He was certain that war with Spain was inevitable, and he did much to prepare the navy for hostilities, framing an important personnel bill, collecting ammunition, getting large appropriations for powder and ammunition used in improving the marksmanship of the navy by gunnery practice, buying transports and securing the distribution of ships and supplies (especially in the Pacific) in such a way that, when hostilities were declared, American naval victories would be assured. He urged upon the administration the bold policy of protesting against the sailing of Cervera’s fleet, on the ground that it would be regarded as a warlike measure not against the Cuban revolutionaries, who had no navy, but against the United States; and he advised that, if Cervera sailed, an American squadron be sent to meet him and to prevent his approach to America. At the outbreak of the war with Spain he resigned from the Navy Department and raised the first volunteer regiment of cavalry, popularly known as the “Rough Riders,” because many of its members were Western cowboys and ranchmen expert in the handling of the rough and often unbroken horses of the Western frontier. The regiment also included college athletes, city clubmen and members of the New York police force, every man possessing some special qualification for the work in view. Mr Roosevelt declined the colonelcy of the regiment, preferring to take the post of lieutenant-colonel under his intimate friend Dr Leonard Wood, who, while a surgeon in the United States army, had served  in action with gallantry and skill against the Indians. On the promotion of Colonel Wood to the command of the brigade, Mr Roosevelt became colonel of the regiment, which took an especially prominent part in the storming of San Juan Hill. In this battle Colonel Roosevelt became the ranking officer and, abandoning his horse, led the charge up the hill on foot under severe fire at the head of his troops. This charge, in which many of the “Rough Riders” were killed or wounded, drove the Spaniards from the trenches and opened the way to the surrender of Santiago. At the conclusion of the war, while the troops were still in camp in the South, Mr Roosevelt joined in a “round robin” of protest against the mismanagement in the War Department, which had resulted in widespread suffering among the troops from wretched food and bad sanitary arrangements. This “round robin” created a sensation which aroused public opinion and was instrumental in bringing about some desirable reforms in the War Department.
When his regiment was mustered out of service in September 1898, Mr Roosevelt was nominated by the Republican party for the governorship of New York State and was elected in November by a substantial plurality. He was governor for two years. He reformed the administration of the state canals, making the Canal Commission non-partisan; he introduced the merit system into many of the subordinate offices of the state; and he vigorously urged the passage of and signed the Ford Franchise Act (1899), taxing corporation franchises. In various contests, in which he was almost uniformly victorious, he showed himself to be independent of “boss” control. In 1900, although he wished to serve another term as governor in order to complete and establish certain policies within the state, he was nominated for the vice-presidency of the United States on the ticket with President McKinley by the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia in spite of his protest. It was very commonly believed at the time that this nomination for the vice-presidency was participated in and heartily approved of by the machine politicians or “bosses” of the State of New York in their belief that it would result in his elimination from active political life. The office of vice-president of the United States had so far in the history of the country been almost purely a perfunctory one, and has rarely, if ever, led to political promotion. The vice-president is ex officio president of the Senate, but has little voice or part in shaping either legislation or the affairs of the party. Mr Roosevelt never, however, presided over the deliberations of the Senate, because before the session following his inauguration convened he had ceased to be vice-president.
Upon the assassination of McKinley, on the 14th of September 1901, he succeeded to the presidency. No previous president had entered the office at so early an age as forty-three. It was his frankly expressed wish to be nominated and elected president in 1904, and he was nominated unanimously by the Republican National Convention at Chicago, and was elected in November of that year by the largest popular majority ever given to any candidate in any presidential election. He received 7,623,486 popular votes and 336 electoral votes to 5,077,971 popular votes and 140 electoral votes cast for Judge Alton B. Parker, the nominee of the Democratic party. Immediately after his election he publicly declared that he would not accept the nomination for the presidency in 1908, and he adhered to that pledge in spite of great popular pressure brought to bear upon him to accept the nomination of the party for another term. The nomination and election of President Taft, who had been a member of Mr Roosevelt’s cabinet, was very largely due to the latter’s great influence in the party. On March 23rd, two weeks after he ceased to be president, Mr Roosevelt sailed for Africa, to carry out a long-cherished plan of conducting an expedition for the purpose of making a scientific collection of the fauna and flora of the tropical regions of that continent. Expert naturalists accompanied the party, which did not emerge from the wilderness until the middle of the following March, bringing with it a collection which scientists pronounce of unusual value for students of natural history. Most of the specimens were sent to the National Museum of the Smithsonian Institution at Washington. The experiences of his African journey were recorded by Mr Roosevelt in a volume entitled African Game Trails: The Wanderings of an American Hunter Naturalist. The spring and early summer of 1910 were spent by Mr Roosevelt in travelling through Egypt, the continent of Europe, and England, in acceptance of invitations which he had received to make various public speeches in these countries. Honorary academic degrees were conferred upon him by the universities of Cairo, Christiania, Berlin, Cambridge and Oxford, and he was given both popular and official ovations of almost royal distinction—ovations which were repeated by his own countrymen on his return to America.
It may be said without exaggeration that no American public man in the history of the country has achieved such extraordinary popularity during his lifetime as Mr Roosevelt had attained at fifty years of age, both at home and abroad. Great popularity necessarily brings with it bitter enmity and genuine criticism. To understand clearly his career as a public man, and to appreciate the forces at work which caused both the popularity and the enmity, two facts must be kept distinctly in mind: first, that at twenty-two years of age he deliberately decided to make politics his life-work at a time when in the United States the word “politics” had a sinister sound in the ears of almost all of the so-called cultivated classes; and secondly, that in making this deliberate choice he recognized that the government of the United States is primarily a party government. He therefore allied himself with the Republican party, to which by tradition, by family association, and by political principles he was naturally drawn.
In the history of the United States the politician has been too often the man who, in connexion with some other trade or profession, has taken up politics as a tool to carve out some personal ambition or manufacture a financial profit. Mr Roosevelt from the beginning apparently believed with the lexicographers that politics is the science and practice of government. He has himself told the story of an early experience that illustrates his point of view. When in 1881 he decided to join the Republican Association of his assembly district in New York City, members of his family were shocked. “You will find at the meetings,” they said, “nobody but grooms, liquor dealers and low politicians.” “Well,” said Mr Roosevelt in reply, “if that is so, they belong to the governing class, and you do not. I mean if I can to be one of the governing class.” He forthwith became an active member of the political organization of his district. He also early determined to work with his party as being the only way in which a legislator can work. A free lance, an independent, a journalist, or a preacher, without definite political affiliations, may create public opinion, but a legislator or an administrator must belong to a party. Mr Roosevelt was severely criticized by many “independent Republicans” for having supported the presidential candidacy of James G. Blaine in 1884, when he had vigorously opposed his nomination in the convention on moral grounds. The reply to this criticism is that Mr Blaine was the choice of the majority of the party, and that while Mr Roosevelt felt free to fight within the party vigorously for reform, he did not feel that the nomination justified a schism like that which occurred in the Democratic party over the free silver issue in 1896—a schism which remained afterwards a hopeless weakness in that party. His position in the Blaine campaign, his attitude in tariff discussions and legislation, his relations with United States senators, congressional representatives, and other party leaders, his methods in making official appointments, were entirely consistent with his constantly reiterated conviction that in politics permanent good is achieved not by guerilla warfare, but by working through and within the party. He was so often accused by political purists for associating politically with men of discredited reputation that his own picturesque statement of his conversion to a belief that in legislative or administrative politics  one must work with all sorts and conditions of men is illuminating. This statement is related by his intimate friend Jacob A. Riis,³ to whom Mr Roosevelt made it in commenting upon his first political success in the New York legislature.
“I suppose that my head was swelled. It would not be strange if it was. I stood out for my own opinion alone. I took the best ‘mugwump’ stand—my own conscience, my own judgment were to decide in all things. I would listen to no argument, no advice. I took the isolated peak on every issue, and my associates left me. When I looked around, before the session was well under way, I found myself alone. I was absolutely deserted. The people didn’t understand. The men from Erie, from Suffolk, from anywhere, would not work with me. ‘He won’t listen to anybody,’ they said, and I would not. My isolated peak had become a valley; every bit of influence I had was gone. The things I wanted to do I was powerless to accomplish. I looked the ground over, and made up my mind that there were several other excellent people there, with honest opinions of the right, even though they differed from me. I turned in to help them, and they turned to and gave me a hand. And so we were able to get things done. We did not agree in all things, but we did in some, and those we pulled at together. That was my first lesson in real politics. It is just this: if you are cast on a desert island with only a screw-driver, a hatchet and a chisel to make a boat with, why, go make the best one you can. It would be better if you had a saw, but you haven’t. So with men. Here is my friend in Congress who is a good man, a strong man, but cannot be made to believe in some things in which I trust. It is too bad that he doesn’t look at it as I do, but he does not, and we have to work together as we can. There is a point, of course, where a man must take the isolated peak and break with all his associates for clear principle: but until that time comes he must work, if he would be of use, with men as they are. As long as the good in them overbalances the evil, let him work with them for the best that can be obtained.”
In his successive offices Mr Roosevelt
not merely exerted a strong influence upon the immediate community, whose official
representative he was at the time being, but by reason both of his forceful
personality and of the often unconventional, although always effective, methods
of work which he employed he achieved a national prominence out of ordinary
proportion to the importance of his official position. His record in the Assembly
was such that his party nominated him for the mayoralty of the city of New York
when he was absent on his ranch in Dakota. Although defeated in the mayoralty
election, his work on behalf of the merit system, as opposed to the spoils system
of politics, was such that he was made a Civil Service commissioner—probably
the last office a politician would wish to hold who desired further promotion,
for the conflict which a Civil Service commissioner must have with members of
Congress and other party leaders on questions of patronage is usually, or, at
any rate, has been in the past history of American politics, inevitably detrimental
to further official advancement. He was taken from the Federal service in Washington
to New York City by a reform mayor and put in charge of the police, because
he had shown both physical and moral courage in fighting corruption of all sorts;
and the New York police force at that time was thoroughly tainted with corruption,
not in its rank and file, but among its superior officers, who used the power
in their hands to extort money bribes chiefly from saloon-keepers, liquor-dealers,
gamblers and prostitutes. As police commissioner Mr Roosevelt brought to his
side every honest man on the force. By personal detective work, that is, by
visiting police stations at unexpected times and by making the rounds at night
of disorderly places which were suspected of violating the law, he not only
displayed personal courage in positions of some danger, but aroused public opinion.
The very sensation created by the novelty of his methods set standards and started
reforms which have greatly improved the morale of the entire force. The
hopelessly vicious policemen hated him, but no man ever had a stronger personal
hold upon the great body of the honest officers—a hold which existed long after
he left the police department, and was frequently expressed by members of the
force as he passed through the city streets. When he became assistant-secretary
of the navy, his work was not so publicly conspicuous, but in this office he
gained an experience which was of great value in his administration of naval
affairs during his presidency. It is doubtful if, without the experience of
this secretaryship, he could have successfully originated and carried out the
plan of sending the United States navy around the world in 1907. He went to
the Spanish War as a volunteer against the urgent wishes of his political advisers,
and in spite of the protests of some of his best and most intimate friends.
The conditions in Cuba had long convinced him that war with Spain was inevitable,
and that, for humane reasons alone, it was both right and necessary to drive
the Spanish power out from the Carribean Sea. Having urged this view upon the
country, when war was declared he felt that it would be inconsistent for him
not to share personally in the perils of a conflict which he believed to be
a just one, and which he had done as much as he could to bring about. His record
in the war for efficiency and personal gallantry no doubt contributed largely
to his nomination and election as governor of the state of New York; but he
attained the governorship not on this ground alone. There are many instances
in American politics of nominations made solely on a war record which have led
to hopeless defeat in election. His work in the governorship brought him still
more into prominence as a national leader. His uncompromising antagonism to
political blackmail and bribery, and his determination to pursue the right,
as he saw the right, only in a common-sense fashion, made bitter enemies on
the one hand among the corrupt politicians, and, on the other hand, among theoretical
reformers, and discussions raged in the newspapers about his executive acts,
his speeches, and his official messages much as they raged during his seven
years in the White House. If he had never reached the presidency he would probably
have been a figure long remembered in American political life. But it was his
course in the presidency that gave him his international reputation, and it
is as President Roosevelt that future historians of American political life
must chiefly discuss him.
Mr Roosevelt entered the presidency definitely committed to two principles which profoundly affected his course as chief executive of the United States. He had a well wrought-out belief in centralized authority in government and a passionate hatred of political and commercial corruption. He believed the United States to be a unified republic, a sovereign nation, and not a federation of independent states united only for mutual benefit and protection. He not only hated corruption per se, but he clearly saw that as efficiency has a greater power for good, so corruption has a greater power for evil in a strongly centralized government. He understood that political materialism, selfishness and corruption in federal administration afford the strongest possible argument for those who advocate strengthening the independent power of the separate states at the expense of nationalism. At the very outset of his administration he therefore set himself to work, not only to improve the personnel of the government service, but by exhortations in his messages and public speeches to arouse a sense of civic responsibility both among office-holders and among all the citizens. His official messages to Congress, probably more frequent, certainly much longer than those of any of his predecessors, were quite as often treatises on the moral principles of government as they were recommendations of specific legislative or administrative policies. The effect of his exhortations, as well as of his personal character and public acts, upon the standards and spirit of official life in the United States, was a pronounced one in attracting to the federal service a group of men who took up their work of public office with the same spirit of enthusiasm and self-sacrifice that actuates the military volunteer in time of war. No American president has done so much to discredit and destroy the old Jacksonian theory of party government that “to the victors belong the spoils,” and to create confidence in the practical success as well as the moral desirability of a system of appointments to office which rests upon efficiency and merit only. Mr Roosevelt not only attacked dishonesty in public affairs but in private business as well, asserting that “malefactors of great wealth” endeavour to  control legislation so as to increase the profits of monopolies or “trusts,” and that to prevent such control it is necessary to extend the powers of the federal government. In carrying out this policy of government regulation and supervision of corporations he became involved in a great struggle with the powerful financial interests whose profits were threatened, and with those legislators who sincerely believed that government should solely concern itself with protecting life and property, and should leave questions of individual and social relations in trade and finance to be settled by the operation of so-called natural economic laws. In the struggle, although he was bitterly accused of violating the written constitution, of arresting and destroying business prosperity and of attempting a radical departure from the accepted social system of the country, he was remarkably successful. By his speeches and messages, and by his frank use of one of the greatest of modern social engines—the newspaper press—he created a public opinion which heartily supported him. Under his effective influence laws were framed which were not merely in themselves measures of stringent regulation of business and the accumulation of wealth, but which established precedents, that as time goes on will inevitably make the doctrine of federal control permanent and of wider application. The struggle against some of the most powerful financial and political influences of the time not unnaturally gave rise to the idea that his work as president was destructive—perhaps the necessarily destructive work of the reformer—but not essentially constructive. Even those friendly to him sometimes felt it necessary to defend his political course by saying that he was compelled to raze the old buildings and prepare the ground on which his successors might build new and better structures. A brief consideration of some of the constructive achievements of his administration will show that the “destructive” theory of his political activities is not sustained by the facts.
Civil Service Reform.—Some reference
has already been made to the fact that in every office which Mr Roosevelt held
he constantly dwelt upon the truism, often forgotten or ignored, that no government
can accomplish any permanent good unless its administrative and legislative
officers are chosen and maintained for merit only. As assemblyman, as police
commissioner, as naval secretary and as president, he advocated this fundamental
doctrine. When Federal Civil Service commissioner he did more than any other
single public man in the United States has had either the ability or the opportunity
to do to promote the doctrine of service for merit only out of the realm of
theory into the realm of governmental practice. While he was criticized by the
friends of Civil Service Reform for not going far enough during his presidency
to protect the encroachments of those who desire to have the offices distributed
as political rewards or for partisan ends, such specific acts as his transference
to the classified service of all fourth-class postmasters east of the Mississippi
and north of the Ohio rivers, his insistence upon a thorough investigation of
the scandals in the Post Office department, and his order forbidding federal
employés to use their offices for political purposes in the campaign
of 1908 are typical of his vigorous support of the merit system.
Conservation of National Resources.—If Mr Roosevelt did not invent this term he literally created as well as led the movement which made Conservation in 1910 the foremost political and social question in the United States. The old theory was that the general prosperity of the country depends upon the development of its natural resources—a development which can best be achieved by private capital, acting under the natural incentive of financial profits. Upon this theory public land was either given away or sold for a trifle by the nation to individual holders. While it is true that the building of railways, the opening of mines, the growth of the lumber industry and the settlement of frontier lands by hardy pioneers was rapidly promoted by this policy, it also resulted naturally in the accumulation of great wealth in the hands of a comparatively few men who were controlling lumber, coal, oil and railway transportation in a way that was believed to be a menace to the public welfare. Nor was the concentration of wealth the only danger of this policy; it led to the destruction of forests, the exhaustion of farming soils and the wasteful mining of coal and minerals, since the desire for quick profits, even when they entail risk to permanency of capital, is always a powerful human motive. Mr Roosevelt not only framed legislation to regulate this concentration of wealth and to preserve forests, water power, mines and arable soil, but organized departments in his administration for carrying his legislation into effect (see IRRIGATION: United States). His official acts and the influence of his speeches and messages led to the adoption by both citizens and government of a new theory regarding natural resources. It is that the government acting for the people, who are the real owners of all public property, shall permanently retain the fee in public lands, leaving their products to be developed by private capital under leases which are limited in their duration and which give the government complete power to regulate the industrial operations of the lessees.
Government Regulation of Corporations.—The growth of the corporation as an industrial machine had in recent years been very rapid in the United States. The industrial and financial corporations had grown so powerful as to venture to contend for the first place with the authority of the government itself. As Mr Roosevelt often pointed out, no nation will live long in which the authority of government—especially in a democracy—is supplanted by the private interest of a real money power. Early in his political career, Mr Roosevelt foresaw this conflict, and as president he aroused public opinion so that the people understood it, and threw his effective influence into the framing of legislation under which the Federal government is now successfully combating the illegal acts of the powerful trusts. He established the Federal Department of Commerce and Labor, the secretary of which has a seat in the cabinet, and in which there exists a bureau of corporations possessing the specific function of inspecting and supervising interstate corporations—an entirely new feature in American government. He strengthened the interstate commission for the regulation of railroads, inaugurated successful suits against monopolies—notably the Standard Oil Company and the so-called Sugar Trust,—and achieved distinct practical results in favour of a system of “industrial democracy” where all men shall have equal rights under the law and where there shall be no privileged interests exempt from the operation of the law. Both his friends and his enemies agree that he did more than any other public man to effect these changed relations of government and industry. There is, however, a violent disagreement regarding the desirability and the results of his course. His critics assert that he simply interrupted the orderly course of business, inspired panic and dangerously arrested prosperity. Mr Roosevelt and his supporters were convinced that his policy was necessary to save the country from the social and political dangers of plutocracy, and that in establishing a definite system of government regulation not only were popular rights preserved and justice promoted but industrialism and finance were placed upon a basis of regularity and honesty that paved the way for an era of general prosperity in the United States, unhampered by feverish speculation and shrewd scheming, such as the country had so far in its history been unable to enjoy.
The Army and Navy.—Mr Roosevelt was a pronounced advocate of international peace but also an advocate of law and order. He believed that international controversies would ultimately be settled by judicial procedure, and in the Russo-Japanese War and the establishment of the Hague Court he took an active part in promoting the judicial settlement of disputes between nations. For his efforts leading to the settlement of the Russo-Japanese War he received the Nobel Peace Prize, and in May 1910 he delivered an address on “International Peace” before the Nobel committee in Christiania. But, with this advocacy of international peace, he also advocated the maintenance by the United States of an efficient and thoroughly equipped army and navy. To some of his critics these two positions seem inconsistent. Mr Roosevelt argued not only that they were consistent but that the one logically followed the other. In his Nobel address he said: “In any community of any size the authority of the courts rests upon actual potential force; on the existence of a police or on the knowledge that the able-bodied men of the country are both ready and willing to see that the decrees of judicial and legislative bodies are put into effect;” and he expressed the opinion that until a recognized international supreme court was firmly established, every nation must be prepared to defend itself, and when it was established all the nations must be prepared to maintain its decrees against any recalcitrant nation. On this ground during his presidential administration Mr Roosevelt was deeply concerned in many measures for improving the administrative side of the War Department and educating, training and strengthening the army. Although he himself served in the army during the Spanish War his special interest was in the navy, springing probably from his relationship with the navy during his brief term as assistant secretary. The successful and dramatic voyage of the American fleet around the world, undertaken in spite of predictions of disaster made by naval experts in Europe and the United States, was conceived and inspired by him, and this single feat would alone justify the statement that no American public man had done so much since the Civil War as he to strengthen the physical power and the moral character of the United States navy.
The Panama Canal.—The greatest single material achievement of Mr Roosevelt’s presidency was the taking over by the United States of the project to build a Panama Canal. The project itself is nearly four centuries old; for a century Great Britain and the United States had been sometimes in friendly, sometimes in acrimonious dispute as to how this was to be accomplished; the French undertook the work and failed. Mr Roosevelt recognized the new republic of Panama, and obtained from it for  the United States, in return for a commercial and military protection advantageous to Panama, the right to build a canal and control it in perpetuity. His critics said that his course in this matter was unconstitutional, although the question of constitutionality has never been raised before any national or international tribunal. The fact remains that the construction of the Panama Canal was undertaken to the practical satisfaction to the civilized world. But for Mr Roosevelt’s vigorous official action and his characteristic ability to inspire associates with enthusiasm the canal would still be a subject of diplomatic discussion instead of a physical actuality.
Colonial Policy.—Strictly speaking, the United States has no colonial policy, for the Philippine Islands and Porto Rico can scarcely be called colonies. It has, however, a policy of territorial expansion. Although this policy was entered upon at the conclusion of the Spanish War under the presidency of Mr McKinley it has been very largely shaped by Mr Roosevelt. He determined that Cuba should not be taken over by the United States, as all Europe expected it would be, and an influential section of his own party hoped it would be, but should be given every opportunity to govern itself as an independent republic; by assuming supervision of the finances of San Domingo, he put an end to controversies in that unstable republic, which threatened to disturb the peace of Europe; and he personally inspired the body of administrative officials in the Philippines, in Porto Rico and (during American occupancy) in Cuba, who for efficiency and unselfish devotion to duty compare favourably with any similar body in the world. In numerous speeches and addresses he expressed his belief in a strong colonial government, but a government administered for the benefit of the people under its control and not for the profit of the people at home. In this respect, for the seven years of his administration at Washington, he developed a policy of statesmanship quite new in the history of the United States.
No account of Mr Roosevelt’s career is
complete without a reference to his literary work, which has been somewhat overshadowed
by his reputation as a man of public affairs. He was all his life an omnivorous
reader of the best books in very varied fields of literature, and he developed
to an unusual degree the faculty of digesting and remembering what he has read.
His history of the War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain,
written when he was twenty-four years old, is still the standard history of
that conflict, and his Winning of the West is probably the best work
which has been written on American frontier life of the 19th century, a life
that developed certain fundamental and distinctive American social and political
traits. His African Game Trails, the record of his scientific hunting
expedition in Africa in 1909-10, is much more than a narrative of adventures
on a wild continent. It is a study of social and ethnological conditions, and
contains many passages of literary charm, describing bird life, animal life
and natural scenery. An appendix that gives some account of the “Pigskin Library”
which he carried with him for daily reading in the heart of Africa is a surprising
exposition of the wide range of his reading. As a public speaker his style was
incisive, forceful and often eloquent, although he made no effort to practise
oratory as an art. The volume of his African and European addresses, published
in the autumn of 1910, not only presents an epitome of his political philosophy,
but discloses the wide range of his interest in life and the methods by which
he had striven to bring public opinion to his point of view.
Personally of great physical and mental vigour, his work was done at high pressure and he had the faculty of inspiring his colleagues or his subordinates with his own enthusiasm for doing things. The volume of his letters and his writings in books, articles for the press and speeches and official messages, is enormous, and yet this work was done in the midst of the executive labours of a long political career. Besides being famous as a hunter of big game, he was a skilful horseman and a good tennis player. Regular physical exercise in the open air contributed much to his abounding vitality. A man of decisive action when his mind was made up on any given question, his very decisiveness sometimes gave the impression that his judgments were hasty. On the contrary, few men were more deliberate in considering all sides of an important problem. His long experience, his wide reading and his thorough knowledge of all sorts and conditions of men, enabled him to act quickly at a time of crisis, but his important speeches, or a course of political action that might be far-reaching in its effect, were not cast into their final form without careful consultation with the best advisers he could obtain. The first form of his written speeches was always painstakingly edited and revised, and not infrequently entirely rewritten. He expressed his own judgment of his success as a public man by saying that it was not due to any special gifts or genius, but to the fact that by patience and laborious persistence he had developed ordinary qualities to a more than ordinary degree.
The following is a list of his principal works:—The Naval Operations of the War between Great Britain and the United States—1812-1815 (1882), written to correct the history of James; Thomas Hart Benton (1887) and Gouverneur Morris (1888), both in the American Statesmen Series; New York City (1891; revised 1895) in the Historic Towns Series; Hero Tales, from American History (1895) with H. C. Lodge; Winning of the West (4 vols., 1889-96); a part of the sixth volume of the History of the Royal Navy of England (1898) by W. L. Clowes; The Rough Riders (1899); Oliver Cromwell (1901); the following works on hunting and natural history, Hunting Trips of a Ranchman (1886), Ranch Life and Hunting Trail (1888), The Wilderness Hunter (1893), Big Game Hunting in the Rockies and on the Plains (1899; a republication of Hunting Trips of a Ranchman and The Wilderness Hunter), The Deer Family (1902), with other authors, and African Game Trails (1910); and the essays, American Ideals (2 vols., 1897) and The Strenuous Life (1900); and State Papers and Addresses (1905) and African and European Addresses (1910). Several of his works have been translated into French and German. Uniform editions were published in 1900 and 1903. Early in 1909 he became a “contributing editor” of the Outlook.
The biographical sketches by Jacob A. Riis (New York, 1904), F. E. Leupp (ibid., 1904), G. W. Douglas (ibid., 1907), James Morgan (ibid., 1907), and Murat Halstead (Akron, 1902) are personal or political eulogies. John Burroughs’s Camping and Tramping with Roosevelt (Boston, 1907) is an appreciation of Roosevelt as a naturalist. J. W. Bennett, Roosevelt and the Republic (New York, 1908), is bitterly hostile. There is a sketch by F. V. Greene in Roosevelt’s American Ideals.