Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial column
Document title: “Highways and Byways”
Date of publication: November 1901
Volume number: 34
Issue number: 2
|“Highways and Byways.” Chautauquan Nov. 1901 v34n2: pp. 117-18.|
|Roosevelt presidency (predictions, expectations, etc.); Theodore Roosevelt (political character).|
|Chester A. Arthur; James G. Blaine; Grover Cleveland; William McKinley; Richard Olney; Theodore Roosevelt.|
Highways and Byways [excerpt]
WHEN the national bereavement caused Theodore Roosevelt, the vice-president,
to become president of the United States, a profound sense of responsibility,
and of the possible effect of apprehension on the prosperity of the country,
prompted him to add to the constitutionally prescribed pledge one of a voluntary
and highly significant character. He solemnly declared to the members of the
cabinet who were present that he would continue “absolutely unbroken” the policy
of McKinley. This announcement had a reassuring effect on the business situation,
which had received a severe shock and seemed actually threatened with serious
depression. A day or two later came the further announcement that the members
of the cabinet would all be retained, or urged to remain at their respective
posts till the end of the term. At the same time an official statement was given
to the press embodying the policy of the new president—or rather, his conception
and understanding of the policy of his predecessor, which he had pledged himself
to carry out in spirit, if not the letter.
That important statement contained a number of definite propositions, the most noteworthy being: The arbitration of international disputes; commercial peace, reciprocity and the avoidance of tariff wars through reasonable concessions to our European customers; the construction of the isthmian canal and the Pacific cable; the protection of the savings of the people by means of sound laws and fit appointments; and the encouragement of the merchant marine.
These will easily be recognized as the principles and measures for which the lamented president stood. Mr. Roosevelt has added nothing of his own, and the people of the United States are now satisfied that the man whose vigor, independence, courage, and honesty they had so warmly admired will make a conservative, careful and judicious chief executive. The change in the personal aspect of the executive branch of the government will not produce any departure from the program for which the majority of the voters declared in the fall of 1900, when they reëlected Mr. McKinley.
While duly honoring Mr. Roosevelt for his wise and modest course, one may recall the fact that the vice-presidents who have in the past succeeded to the presidency by virtue of the constitutional devolution of power have come to grief politically through attempting changes of policy. Not one of them received a nomination for the presidency at the expiration of the accidental term of that office. General Arthur was so dignified and discreet a president that he was widely believed to deserve a nomination, but the convention of 1884 set him aside in favor of the brilliant Mr. Blaine, who was defeated. Mr. Roosevelt was regarded as a presidential candidate, and just before the Buffalo tragedy a movement in his favor was set on foot in the middle west. There is little doubt that he will be a prominent candidate in 1904, and to many shrewd politicians his nomination is a practical certainty.
Meantime he is expected to put aside all ambition and all political designs and devote himself to the faithful and energetic performance of his duties. Mr. Roosevelt, though the youngest of our presidents, has had exceptionally varied experience in public life—as civil service commissioner, New York police commissioner, and governor of the state of New York. In the last named office he exhibited remarkable qualities, and his administration was an eminently successful one. The act for the taxation of franchises as real estate, and the tenement-house reform law, were passed at his earnest solicitation. He proved himself as practical as he was straightforward and high-minded.
It must be admitted that in Europe,  especially in Germany, Mr. Roosevelt’s accession to the presidency created some alarm. The more “imperialist” press described him as a “chauvinist” and aggressive advocate of the Monroe doctrine in its extreme signification of “marching Europe out of America.” But there is no warrant for this assumption. President Roosevelt will not go beyond President Cleveland and Mr. Olney in his construction of the Monroe policy, and he has expressed his disapproval of “bluster” and threats and aggression. The old-world powers have nothing to fear from the present administration if they intend to respect American traditions and principles in the western hemisphere. And there is no reason for supposing that they entertain any ambitions incompatible with known traditional views of American statesmanship.