Home Life in the White House [excerpt]
Uncrowned the brow,
Where truth and courage meet,
The citizen alone confronts the land.
. . . . . . . . .
A man whose dreamful, valiant mind conceives
High purpose, consecrated to his race.
THE deed of the cowardly assassin had done its work.
William McKinley was dead; the young Vice-President had made the
hazardous trip from the heart of the Adirondack Mountains, had taken
the solemn oath in Buffalo, had followed the body of his chief to
the final resting-place, and had returned to Washington. From Washington
he telegraphed to my husband and myself, with the thought which
he always showed, and told us that as Mrs. Roosevelt was attending
to last important matters at Sagamore, she could not be with him
the day he moved into the White House, and that he was very anxious
that not only my sister, Mrs. Cowles, and her husband, but that
we also should dine with him the first night that he slept in the
old mansion. So we went on to Washington, and were with him at that
first meal in the house for which he had such romantic attachment
because it had sheltered the hero of his boyhood and manhood, Abraham
Lincoln. As we sat around the table he turned and said: “Do you
realize that this is the birthday of our father, September 22? I
have realized it as I signed various papers all day long, and I
feel that it is a  good omen
that I begin my duties in this house on this day. I feel as if my
father’s hand were on my shoulder, and as if there were a special
blessing over the life I am to lead here.” Almost as he finished
this sentence, the coffee was passed to us, and at that time it
was the habit at the White House to pass with the coffee a little
boutonnière to each gentleman. As the flowers were passed to the
President, the one given to him was a yellow saffronia rose. His
face flushed, and he turned again and said: “Is it not strange!
This is the rose we all connect with my father.” My sister and I
responded eagerly that many a time in the past we had seen our father
pruning the rose-bush of saffronia roses with special care. He always
picked one for his buttonhole from that bush, and whenever we gave
him a rose, we gave him one of those. Again my brother said, with
a very serious look on his face, “I think there is a blessing connected
with this,” and surely it did seem as if there were a blessing connected
with those years of Theodore Roosevelt in the White House; those
merry happy years of family life, those ardent, loving years of
public service, those splendid, peaceful years of international
amity—a blessing there surely was over that house.
Nothing could have been harder to
the temperament of Theodore Roosevelt than to have come “through
the cemetery,” as Peter Dunne said in his prophetic article, to
the high position of President of the United States. What he had
achieved in the past was absolutely through his own merits. To him
to come to any position through “dead men’s shoes” was peculiarly
distasteful; but during the early years of his occupancy of the
White House, feeling it his duty so to do, he strove in every possible
way to fulfil [sic] the policies of his predecessor, retaining
his appointees and working with conscientious loyalty as much as
possible along the lines laid down by President McKinley.