Source: Roosevelt: The Happy Warrior
Source type: book
Document type: book chapter
Document title: “The Presidential Plateau—First Half” [chapter 12]
Author(s): Gilman, Bradley
Publisher: Little, Brown, and Company
Place of publication: Boston, Massachusetts
Year of publication: 1921
Pagination: 201-28 (excerpt below includes only pages 201-03)
|Gilman, Bradley. “The Presidential Plateau—First Half” [chapter 12]. Roosevelt: The Happy Warrior. Boston: Little, Brown, 1921: pp. 201-28.|
|excerpt of chapter|
|Theodore Roosevelt (assumption of presidency); Theodore Roosevelt (public statements); Theodore Roosevelt (personal character).|
|Chester A. Arthur; Ulysses S. Grant; Abraham Lincoln; William McKinley; Theodore Roosevelt.|
|From title page: With Illustrations from Photographs.|
The Presidential Plateau—First Half [excerpt]
“The President is dead—may the
President live!” That is the American democratic translation of the familiar
Gallic slogan. Genial, wise, well-intentioned President William McKinley was
dead, but the high office continued in the person of Theodore Roosevelt.
The office of President of the United States is, presumably, the highest honor which this nation offers. I figure it as a plateau. The distance across it is the period of four years. Sometimes the plateau is a double formation, with eight years the distance; then halfway across it stands an inn, for a brief night and a relay of horses; then on through the remaining four years.
To reach the various heights in the world, Alpine and others, some men toil up long, steep, rocky pathways; others climb comfortably up an easy grade in cogged-wheel cars, and still others seem to be shot suddenly, rapidly upward, to the astonishment of everybody, including themselves.
Abraham Lincoln and many others ascended  by the first and most toilsome route. General Ulysses S. Grant, a military hero, a “man on horseback”, was carried up rapidly, yet comfortably, by the funicular of popular enthusiasm. While Chester Arthur and Theodore Roosevelt were hurled to the plateau’s summit unexpectedly, violently, as volleyed there by an explosion.
All the wiseacres who, for ten years and more, had been pointing out defects in Roosevelt’s nature, now awaited eagerly the full, dark revelation of rashness and inefficiency at which they had been craftily hinting. And the first shock to their vanity came when the new incumbent of the White House, with a wisdom worthy of his great forerunner, model, and ideal, Abraham Lincoln, at once sent forth this message to an anxious nation:
“In this hour of deep national grief, I wish to state that it is my aim to continue, absolutely unbroken, the policy of William McKinley, for the peace, prosperity, and honor of our beloved country.”
The owlish wiseacres and acrid prophets of gloom were aghast; and even stanch admiring friends admired the more the self-restraint, the sagacity of this brilliant young statesman, here evincing, as always, his singular blending of diverse qualities, his intellectual grasp so broad that he held at unity in his breast forces, tendencies, which  commonly are mutually antagonistic and inhibitive.