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Source: Twenty Years in the Press Gallery
Source type: book
Document type: book chapter
Document title: “At the White House” [chapter 5]
Author(s): Stealey, O. O.
Publisher: O. O. Stealey
Place of publication: New York, New York
Year of publication: 1906
Pagination: 27-32 (excerpt below includes only pages 30-32)

Stealey, O. O. “At the White House” [chapter 5]. Twenty Years in the Press Gallery. New York: O. O. Stealey, 1906: pp. 27-32.
excerpt of chapter
William McKinley (personal character); William McKinley (presidential character); McKinley presidency; Theodore Roosevelt.
Named persons
John G. Carlisle; Grover Cleveland; Frank Hatton; William McKinley; Theodore Roosevelt.
From title page: Published by the Author.

From title page: Twenty Years in the Press Gallery: A Concise History of Important Legislation from the 48th to the 58th Congress; the Part Played by the Leading Men of That Period and the Interesting and Impressive Incidents; Impressions of Official and Political Life in Washington; Also Crisp and Vivid Character Sketches of the Men Prominent in Public Life by Well-Known Washington Correspondents.

From title page: By O. O. Stealey, the Washington Correspondent of the Louisville Courier-Journal.

From title page: With an Introduction by Henry Watterson.

From title page: Illustrated by Clifford K. Berryman.


At the White House [excerpt]

     Mr. McKinley was a man of charming personality, and, take him all in all, the best and most astute politician that ever occupied the Presidential chair. The smile that he wore to his friends never came off from the time he entered public life up to the day of his [30][31] cruel assassination. He was of kindly disposition, of no hatreds, and mistreated no one. His sweet and devoted attentions to his invalid wife were the most touching and convincing manifestations of the amiability of the man. I knew him when he was a member of Congress and occupied a modest suite of rooms at the Ebbitt House. The Courier-Journal bureau was directly opposite, and often, in fact nearly every evening, would I see “Little Mac” pacing up and down in front of the Ebbitt, smoking his inevitable cigar, and occasionally stopping a moment to exchange words with a passing friend. He was an exceedingly restless man, and while not engaged in a task at his desk, in or out of the House, was walking. As tobacco smoke was disagreeable to his wife, he took his evening smokes in the open air. Then he would throw away the stump of his cigar and return to his apartments in the hotel. He was not only the trained nurse of his wife but her loving attendant and companion every leisure moment of his life. This was when the Presidency, even in his mind, was in the dim distance, but after he reached the goal, his sweet attentions and solicitude for his wife did not cease. He was always by her side to cheer and comfort.
     Mr. McKinley, so much unlike Mr. Cleveland, knew how to manage men and compose party differences. He did not adopt the knock-down and drag-out principle in his methods, but, on the other hand, believed that whenever the waters became turbulent the lavish use of oil was the only panacea. And it can be truly said that the White House larder always contained a large surplus of the smoothest quality of that article, which was applied judiciously by Mr. McKinley when occasion required. Mr. Cleveland had no oil in his store-room, but, instead, boxing gloves, mauls, and sledge-hammers. These he used upon those who did not agree with him, and the country knows the result of his pugilistic proclivity.
     Mr. McKinley was not as intellectual a man as Mr. Cleveland, but what he lacked in intellectuality he made up in diplomacy. He had more diplomacy in his little finger than had Mr. Cleveland in his entire body. There was not anything in reason that McKinley could not obtain from Congress, but there were many reason- [31][32] able things that Mr. Cleveland was refused because of the bulldozing tactics employed. The result of this difference between the men was that Mr. McKinley kept his party firmly united, and Mr. Cleveland and his party hopelessly divided. The proof of the pudding is in the eating.
     Mr. Roosevelt was a familiar figure in official life in Washington ten years before he became President, having been a member of the Civil Service Commission. Even in that office he had some excitement, by reason of the lambasting served him every morning at his breakfast table, by Frank Hatton in the Washington Post. Mr. Roosevelt, as strenuous then as now, wanted to “do things” and do them in his own way, and considering the unpopularity of his work with the politicians he succeeded fairly well. The only great department that he could not get his Civil Service hooks into, just to suit him, was the Treasury presided over by Mr. Carlisle who paid scant attention to the requests of Mr. Roosevelt. In every position that he has occupied, however, President Roosevelt has done well, and there does not seem to be anything too little or too big for him to tackle. He will fight for a whipping-post for wife beaters, or the enforcement of a smoke law, with the same vigor as he would for the passage of a freight-rate measure or a tariff revision act. He is now the idol of his party and perhaps personally the most popular man in the country. Whether he will retain this popularity to the end of his term time alone will reveal. With nearly everybody he is voted “a jolly good fellow” and when at a dinner at the Waldorf Astoria or a Colorado ranch the question is asked: “What’s the matter with Teddy?” a chorus of voices proclaims, “He’s all right.” So I can let him go at that.



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