Source: My Quarter Century of American Politics
Source type: book
Document type: book chapter
Document title: “McKinley and Roosevelt” [chapter 16]
Author(s): Clark, Champ
Volume number: 1
Publisher: Harper and Brothers Publishers
Place of publication: New York, New York
Year of publication: 1920
Pagination: 424-49 (excerpt below includes only pages 424-27)
|Clark, Champ. “McKinley and Roosevelt” [chapter 16]. My Quarter Century of American Politics. Vol. 1. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1920: pp. 424-49.|
|excerpt of chapter|
|Theodore Roosevelt (compared with McKinley); William McKinley; Theodore Roosevelt; William McKinley (personal history); Theodore Roosevelt (personal history).|
|Napoléon Bonaparte; John C. Breckinridge [misspelled below]; William McKinley; Thomas Brackett Reed; Martha Bulloch Roosevelt [misspelled below]; Theodore Roosevelt.|
McKinley and Roosevelt [excerpt]
IT is absolutely certain that in our entire history no two men
so utterly unlike in every particular—in thought, education, manner, personal
characteristics, physique, tastes, methods, and public experience—ever ran for
President and Vice-President on the same ticket as William McKinley and Theodore
Roosevelt. In every way they were startling contrasts. If the Philadelphia Republican
National Convention of 1900 had deliberately searched the land from sea to sea
for the sole purpose of finding two eminent men who were the perfect antipodes
of each other, they could not have succeeded better than when it selected the
Major and the Colonel as their standard-bearers.
McKinley was one of the gentlest, most modest, most diplomatic, and most gracious of all our public men. Roosevelt was brusk, abrupt, self-assertive, positive, and the most aggressive of mortals. McKinley took everything by the smooth handle, was a master in the art of pouring oil on the troubled waters. Roosevelt accomplished his purposes by the lion’s paw and the eagle’s claw. McKinley, in kindly fashion, persuaded men to comply with his wishes. Roosevelt batted them over the head with his big stick, drove straight to the mark, and compelled acquiescence in his purposes, plans, and ambitions. McKinley was of the brunette type, with finely chiseled features, and with an astonishing facial resemblance to Napoleon—a fact of which his followers  made much capital and his opponents much fun. Roosevelt was of the blond type, with rugged features, evidencing the dynamic force of which, beyond all question, he was possessed—physically resembling no other historic character whatsoever. Mentally and physically he was sui generis. McKinley acted on the philosophy that molasses catches more flies than vinegar. Roosevelt believed in calling a spade a spade. The word “liar” was familiar to his tongue, and he founded the Ananias Club, chose its members, and thrust them in. McKinley was delicately framed, weighed about a hundred and sixty, and was five feet seven and one-fourth inches in stature, but he had a way of walking, expanding his chest and carrying his head which made him appear taller and larger—in which he resembled Gen. John C. Breckenridge, of Kentucky. Roosevelt was nearly six feet tall, weighed above two hundred, had a magnificent body—which he kept in prime condition—and was strong as a bull. McKinley was of sedentary habit, while Roosevelt took more exercise than any other occupant of the White House. He was as striking an example of what physical culture and outdoor life will do in converting a spindling boy into an exceedingly robust man of rare endurance as could be found betwixt the two seas. He bounced about like a rubber ball and was fond of associating with athletes, of whom he was one. McKinley’s studies, reading, and speeches all ran to economics. Roosevelt’s touched all subjects of human interest. He seemed as much at home in one place as another, and spoke with equal cocksureness and vehemence on all topics, whether before the learned Academicians of the Sorbonne, or in Guildhall explaining to the gaping and dumfounded Britishers how to govern Egypt, or making a stump speech in the great cities and on wide prairies of his native land. The chances are that McKinley never dreamed of writing a book, and that it would have been about such a book  as John Sherman’s Memoirs, one of the dullest of all books, if he had attempted it. Roosevelt was a voluminous author on a variety of subjects—always interesting, if not profound. McKinley was not a collegian. Roosevelt was a Harvard man. McKinley was a devout Methodist. Roosevelt was a member of the Dutch Reformed Church. McKinley was of Scotch descent. Roosevelt, on his father’s side, was of Dutch extraction, while his mother was a Miss Bullock, of Georgia. McKinley taught school, practised law, was prosecuting attorney, long-time Representative in Congress, chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means, and Governor of Ohio. Roosevelt was a member of the Legislature almost before his beard was sprouted, Police Commissioner of New York, Civil Service Commissioner, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Governor of New York, and Vice-President. McKinley was reared on a farm. Roosevelt gathered health and strength as a cowboy in Dakota. With neither was the road to the White House smooth all the way. McKinley was unseated in a contest in the House and finally beaten for re-election. Thomas B. Reed defeated him by only two votes for the Republican nomination for Speaker, when the nomination was equivalent to the election. Roosevelt was defeated for the mayoralty of New York, and sadly confided to his friends, so it is said, that his political career was at an end—which it is difficult, indeed impossible, to believe.
They were both soldiers—McKinley in the Civil War, ending with the grade of major; Roosevelt in the Spanish American War, with the rank of colonel. Both capital stump speakers and of different styles; both stanch Republicans—each after his kind. Both masterful politicians by methods wide apart as the poles.
I have always said that had McKinley lived out his second term he would have completely disorganized the Democrats by a process of political seduction, in which  he was an adept. There were thirty or forty Democrats in the House completely under his spell, with the number constantly growing. Roosevelt stirred the fighting blood of every Democrat worthy of the name. Many were his personal friends, but he cudgeled Democrats so unmercifully that they fought back with might and main.