Source: Irrigation Age
Source type: journal
Document type: editorial
Document title: “Theodore Roosevelt”
Date of publication: November 1901
Volume number: 16
Issue number: 2
|“Theodore Roosevelt.” Irrigation Age Nov. 1901 v16n2: pp. 39-42.|
|Theodore Roosevelt (personal history); Theodore Roosevelt (public statements); Theodore Roosevelt (political character).|
|John Adams; Grover Cleveland; George Dewey; Stephen A. Douglas; Ulysses S. Grant; Andrew Jackson; Abraham Lincoln; William McKinley; Theodore Roosevelt; William L. Strong; Lyman Trumbull; George Washington.|
For the third time in this generation has the assassin’s bullet caused the
nation to mourn, and with unmeasured sorrow has it buried its dead; with hope
it now turns to the living.
President Roosevelt, so suddenly and unexpectedly elevated to the head of this great nation, has doubtless had the most remarkable career of any man now living in this country. This is due somewhat to unusual opportunities, but chiefly to the man himself with his uncommon faculty for creating his own opportunities and for making the most of those which other people would not even see.
Although descended from a long line of distinguished ancestors and born into the most aristocratic social circles of New York City, no man was ever more thoroughly democratic or more heartily despised every form of snobbishness and superciliousness than our present president. This has often been demonstrated, most noticeably perhaps in his relations with the cowboys on his Dakota ranch.
Always possessed of a keen fondness for study, he has had every opportunity to gratify it which his health would permit. He graduated at Harvard in 1880 and has pursued graduate study at Columbia. He has written a number of popular books, all in a racy, imaginative, original style, and showing great observation and other deep research. Some of the most important are: “Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail,” “The Winning of the West,” “A History of New York City,” “Essays on Practical Politics,” “Hero Tales from American History,” and “The Naval War of 1812.”
His political career began in 1881, when at the age of twenty-three he became a member of the legislature at Albany from his own district in New York City. To accomplish this, he fought and defeated the Republican party machine there; and the most remarkable thing about his career from that day to this, is that his rise has been always in spite of and often opposition to party machines. Consequently no one has ever come to the presidency more absolutely untrammelled [sic] by party dictation or by political promises. During his three years at Albany he advocated and pushed through the legislature the state civil service act and the act regulating primary elections,  two of the most important reform measures of recent years.
In 1884 he made his first appearance before the nation, going as a delegate to the National Republican Convention of that year. For the next five years he was principally occupied as ranchman and author. As a ranchman he lost money but gained the magnificent health which he has ever since possessed, the material for some of his most interesting books, and a reputation for boldness and courage, second to none in the country.
In 1889 he was appointed national civil service commissioner. He took the civil service laws as he found them and enforced them most vigorously. He made the spoilsmen of both parties hate him; but he won the unbounded admiration of the whole country by his courage, honesty and ability.
From Washington he returned to New York where he was appointed police commissioner under the reform administration of Mayor Strong. The hitherto corrupt police force was purified and made efficient as it never was before or since, to the astonishment and gratification of all right-minded persons. An amusing anecdote is told of the way he reformed one policeman whom he found on his beat half intoxicated. Determined to teach him a lesson he could never forget, Mr. Roosevelt stirred him up a little and got himself arrested and taken to the station house. The officer’s feelings when he discovered the personalty [sic] of his prisoner, may be better imagined than described.
In President McKinley’s first term came the appointment as assistant secretary of the navy. He was largely instrumental in preparing the navy for the conflict with Spain and very influential in getting Dewey sent to Hong Kong and Manila. Then, finding that there would really be a war, he resigned his position in the navy. Then, there occurred the following conversation, very characteristic of the man. A lady friend said to him: “Mr. Roosevelt, you have a wife and five children depending upon you for support. You have no right to resign such a position to enter upon service in the field, where you are in danger of losing your life any moment.”
“It is true,” replied Mr. Roosevelt quietly but earnestly, “that I have a wife and five children depending upon me for support. It is equally true that no one has been more earnest in trying to bring on this war for the sake of our national honor than myself. Therefore it is my duty as well as my great pleasure to help prosecute it to a successful termination to the fullest extent of my ability, thereby helping to make this the greatest and best nation on the face of the earth, which my children can enjoy after I am gone.”
Accordingly he proceeded to organize the First Cavalry Volunteers, familiarly known as the Rough Riders, of which he was at first lieutenant colonel, and then colonel before the end of the war. The history of this regiment in-  cludes the history of the most important field operations of the Spanish-American War and needs no repetition here. His indomitable energy was well exhibited in the way he ignored and over-rode the yards of red tape in the War Department, which anyone else would have felt obliged to unwind with due ceremony. It was due entirely to the leader himself that the most useful and successful of all the regiments sent to Cuba arrived in time for action. At the time of the battle of Manilla [sic], knowing that the supply of ammunition had necessarily been greatly reduced, Mr. Roosevelt was acting Secretary of the Navy and at once without further notice ordered a full supply of ammunition sent from California to Dewey’s command.
Immediately after his return, he was elected governor of New York and filled that office with conspicuous ability. He gave up his own desire to run for this office again in obedience to the universal demand of the Republican party that he should become their candidate for vice president. This action of Roosevelt’s in sacrificing his own preferences for the good of his party is quite similar to that of President Lincoln in 1856. When he was within six votes of election to the United States senatorship, Lincoln gave up his claim on it to Judge Trumbull, who was supported by only six votes, because these six would not yield and vote for himself, in order that the Republican party might be successful in the election. This generous action on Lincoln’s part secured him the unanimous support of his party against Douglas for United States senator in 1858. While Mr. Lincoln was not successful in that campaign, the great ability shown in joint debates with Judge Douglas secured for him the nomination and election to the presidency in 1860. So in giving up the really preferable goverornship [sic] in order to add his personal strength to the national ticket, Roosevelt has unexpectedly attained the same high office.
During the campaign he displayed his present wonderful powers of physical endurance by traveling over 21,000 miles throughout the country, making speeches everywhere and still farther increasing his popularity with the masses of the people. During the few months that he was allowed to remain vice president, he presided with conspicuous ability over one extra session of the senate and made several trips through the country attending public functions and making speeches.
Now for the fifth time in our history, the necessity of having a very able man as vice president has been forced upon us by the death of our chief executive. Roosevelt is the youngest president we ever had; yet nothing demonstrates the wisdom of our political institutions more than the fact that he is older and more experienced than most of the present rulers of Europe. He is forty-three the 27th of this month, while the Emperor of Germany is forty-two, the King of Portugal thirty-eight,  the Czar of Russia thirty-three, the King of Italy thirty-two, the Queen of Holland twenty-one, and the King of Spain fifteen.
In conclusion, Roosevelt may be said to combine in his own person the most prominent qualities of our most conspicuous presidents, the purity of character of George Washington, the scholarly attainments of John Adams, the iron will of Andrew Jackson, the intense patriotism of Abraham Lincoln, the persistency of purpose of U. S. Grant, the “bull-dog” tenacity of Grover Cleveland, and the wide popularity of William McKinley.