Source: Literary Digest
Source type: magazine
Document type: article
Document title: “European Comment on President Roosevelt and His Policy”
Date of publication: 26 October 1901
Volume number: 23
Issue number: 17
|“European Comment on President Roosevelt and His Policy.” Literary Digest 26 Oct. 1901 v23n17: pp. 504-06.|
|Roosevelt presidency (international response); Roosevelt presidency (predictions, expectations, etc.); United States (foreign policy); Theodore Roosevelt (quotations about); Theodore Roosevelt (criticism); Theodore Roosevelt (presidential policies); Theodore Roosevelt (presidential character); Theodore Roosevelt (personal character); United States (trade policy); Theodore Roosevelt (political philosophy); Theodore Roosevelt (personal philosophy).|
|Alfred Beit; Thomas Hart Benton; Georges-Ernest-Jean-Marie Boulanger; Robert de Caix; Spencer Compton Cavendish [identified as Hartington below]; Grover Cleveland; Oliver Cromwell; Alcide Ebray; John Hay; Pierre Leroy-Beaulieu; Abraham Lincoln; Robert Lowe [identified as Sherbrooke below]; William McKinley; Alfred Milner; Cecil Rhodes; Theodore Roosevelt.|
The “[sic!]” appearing below in the article is part of the original text, not an editorial addition.
This article is accompanied on page 504 by an editorial cartoon with the following caption: “President Roosevelt’s Conception of the Monroe Doctrine, According to Humoristische Blätter.”
European Comment on President Roosevelt and His Policy
WHILE commending the determination of the new President to adhere
to the lines of policy laid down by his predecessor, the press of Europe shows
some uneasiness as to what effect Mr. Roosevelt’s accession to office will have
upon the foreign relations of the United States. It is evident that the journals
of the Continent know only one Roosevelt—the bear-hunter and the dashing colonel
of the Rough Riders. The German papers show considerable reserve in their estimates.
The National Zeitung (Berlin) says that, tho determination and energy
are the most striking features of his character, “his highly developed sense
of duty has hitherto been a useful check upon his craving to ‘be up and doing.’”
This journal hopes that this sentiment and the responsibilities of his present
high position will “secure to his country a period of peaceful and tranquil
development.” It also hopes that German-American relations will continue as
cordial as heretofore. The Kreuz-Zeitung (Berlin) fears that his outspoken
advocacy of an enlarged Monroe Doctrine may not make for international peace,
but commends his attitude on reciprocity. The journals of Vienna believe that
his imperialistic ideas will cause trouble to Europe. He is an open friend of
the German-speaking race, says the Fremdenblatt, and of all the races
of the earth—“as long as this friendship is consistent with aggressive Americanism.”
What worries Europe is that he has never shown the moderation and safe conservatism
of his predecessor. The Neue Freie Presse declares that his accession
marks “the beginning of a new, untried, and perhaps perilous epoch” for America
and the world.
He is dangerous, says the Independance Belge (Brussels), because the whole policy of imperialism is dangerous to the peace of the world. This Belgian journal, which generally discusses American affairs intelligently and without prejudice, also believes that Mr. Roosevelt’s term of office may be full of peril for domestic peace. It does not feel easy as to how he would act  in case of a great labor strike or any other national test of character. M. Alcide Ebray, writing in the Journal des Débats (Paris), hopes that the new President will not “attempt to ride his Santiago charger into the White House.” He continues:
“There is, it must be admitted, cause to fear that President Roosevelt will be rather too violently devoted to the Monroe Doctrine and that his idea of imperialism will be somewhat less accommodating than that of the man whom he succeeds. . . . Nevertheless, it would hardly be fair to condemn his American megalomania, while he is protesting his moderation and peaceful intentions and before he has given any real cause to believe he is not sincere.”
Robert de Caix, writing in the same journal, calls Mr. Roosevelt a “fine, sterling, honest, American gentleman who is animated by the kindliest sentiments toward France.” The well-known French economist, M. Pierre Leroy-Beaulieu, contributes to the Économiste Français (Paris) an estimate of President Roosevelt’s character and a guess at his policy, closing with this remark:
“During the years that are to come the world will have to reckon more and more with the United States, not only in the New World, but also in the regions of the Old World in which American interests have arisen—the extreme Orient, the entire Pacific, and China. . . . Tho a pronounced Jingo, Mr. Roosevelt has much of that fine Anglo-Saxon characteristic, common sense. Europe has hopes that he will exercise this in the foreign policy of the United States to the same degree that he exhibited it when Secretary of the American navy and Police Commissioner of New York.”
The Epoca (Madrid) is glad
of the change. One could never be quite sure, it says, just what Mr. McKinley
would do. But “you can put your finger on Theodore Roosevelt every time.” Thus
the element of uncertainty is eliminated.
The Osservatore Romano (Rome) prints an appreciative sketch of Mr. Roosevelt’s public career under the title, “The Presidency of the Inimitable Teddy.”
The Russian press highly approves of the President’s promise to adhere to the policy of Mr. McKinley. The Novoye Vremya is particularly pleased with Mr. Roosevelt’s recently expressed views on the tariff question, and sees evidence that an adjustment of the Russo-American commercial difference will soon be brought about. This Russian organ is quoted by the St. Petersburger Zeitung as saying:
“While the tariff difference has not been sufficiently serious in itself to interfere with that spirit of hearty agreement which has long prevailed between St. Petersburg and Washington, none the less it is impossible not to welcome the determination arrived at by Mr. Roosevelt, who has found it expedient, during the very first moments of his tenure of office, to give expression to the desirability of clearing away the solitary obstacle which lies across the path of Russo-American political and economic relations.”
In any case, concludes the Novoye
Vremya, Mr. Roosevelt can be counted upon as a champion of peace.
British comment is generally cordial and sympathetic, but several journals express a fear as to the future of Anglo-American relations particularly in the matter of the Nicaragua Canal. The Westminster Gazette (London) remarks:
“It is no mere commonplace to say that his accession to office is fraught with great possibilities. A new element—to a great extent an absolutely new element—is now brought into the politics of the world. Since the Spanish war and the war in China, it is clearly no longer possible to count America out of European problems. She has left her ring fence, and there is no way of climbing back, even if she wished to. So long as Mr. McKinley was President the foreign policy of America was practically the foreign policy of Colonel Hay, due regard being had to the power possessed and exercised by the American Senate. Colonel Hay is and always has been an extremely vigorous defender of and fighter for American rights, but he has always been content to get his way through the usual diplomatic channels by which European statesmen work. What view will Mr. Roosevelt take of the big foreign questions in which the United States is interested?”
Mr. Roosevelt, says The Spectator, is a man who likes the idea of big duties in a big future. He is far more like the men of the first three decades of the republic than the convention-made Presidents of modern times.
“When we say he is an old-fashioned American we mean that he belongs to that strong, vigorous, authoritative type which has always existed in America, and always has been apparent enough in business and in private life, tho of late it has been somewhat submerged in politics. The late Lord Sherbrooke declared that what he liked about one of his colleagues—Lord Hartington—was his ‘you-be-damnedness.’ That same quality of downrightness, fearlessness, and determination is to be found in Mr. Roosevelt. He is essentially one of those men who know exactly what they want, and mean to get it. But together with this intensity and keenness the new President is a man of moderation.”
The new President, this journal declares further,
is neither for nor against England, but merely for his own country. “He does
not wish this country any harm, but he would not dream of sacrificing the interests
of America even in the smallest degree to help England. His sole desire is to
serve America.” The chief danger before him, concludes The Spectator,
is that in insisting on the policy of “hands off” he may come into violent collision
with Germany, and that this collision may take place while America is unprepared
and Germany prepared. “We may be sure that Germany will only respect the Monroe
Doctrine as long as she feels that she is too weak at sea to challenge it. When
she thinks herself the stronger in ironclads she will ‘call’ the American fleet.”
This varied man, says the London Outlook—hunter, athlete, soldier, author, thinker, administrator—can not fail to leave his stamp on the history of the great nation whose head he now is.
“If he could have his way, the administration of the United States and all its public service would be purged clean of the evils that afflict. When he was Police Commissioner of New York, he led an assault against Tammany that will result well some later day; but he did not kill Tammany Hall at once. The popular admiration which he won in the United States for his attempt to break down this monstrous conspiracy against freedom is a sure proof of how sound the American people are at heart. Mr. Roosevelt’s Presidency, we may be sure, will count for something.”
“He will be sane in action,” says The Saturday Review. “Those wild imperialists, who argue from Major [sic!] Roosevelt’s private enthusiasms, may find their conclusions negatived by his official sanity as President.” He is a strong man, and Englishmen can be certain of one thing concerning him, says the Dublin Freeman: “He will be against the exploitation of both the Cubans and the Filipinos by any American gang of Rhodeses and Beits that may be seeking an opening.” The Speaker is hopeful but not very cheerful. It says:
“It would be foolish to deny Mr. Roosevelt’s sincerity. The ‘Rough Riders’ were enlisted solemnly and with no appreciation of irony. The government of the New York police was, to him at least, something of a crusade. He really does believe that the conquest of the weak by the strong is, in some way, a noble and necessary thing, and the method by which a nation may prepare itself for future eminence. There is nothing in this man of the insincerities and vulgarities with which we have sickened here during the last two years. Suppose Mr. Roosevelt to have originated the South African disaster, put Mr. Roosevelt in Lord Milner’s place, and he would not only threaten or boast, he would honestly try to put in practise this extraordinary theory of government which is opposed to every experience, but which possesses so singular an attraction for literary men. He has read in his library of the ‘Strong Man,’ and, God helping him,  he will live up to the remarkable type for which the phrase is made to stand.”
The danger which his tenure holds for America and the world, The Speaker explains as follows:
“Democracies continually fall under the leadership of more or less inefficient men. It is their glory that they remedy such weakness by periods which are to the lives of nations what moments of genius or of heroic virtue are to individuals. There would seem nothing more dangerous in the power of such a man as Mr. Roosevelt than in the power of this or that other man. Nevertheless there is a peculiar danger in the accidental power which he may now exercise. He is not of the pale or laborious cast commonly associated with the Vice-Presidency. He will act upon definite convictions, and will attempt to lead rather than to follow. This a man of twenty times his caliber, Mr. Grover Cleveland, could do, but Mr. Grover Cleveland represented a great party, he came into power with a definite mandate, he held the pulse of the American people. Mr. Roosevelt’s theory is imported from Europe, and not from liberal Europe either, but from the Europe that talks of law and order.
“The position is not only anomalous, it is perilous. In a word, Mr. Roosevelt may quite conceivably provoke a strong reaction against the forces which put his predecessor into power—or he may create a new party feeling opposed to the whole tradition of his nation. If it be objected that such changes usually proceed only from men of exceptional abilities, it must be answered that they also sometimes proceed from men thrust suddenly into places of unexpected authority. A crisis in foreign affairs, a great strike, a question involving the limits of federal authority, would tempt Mr. Roosevelt to act, and his act might provoke a storm. It is that we dread in the fortune of the next two years.”
Judging Mr. Roosevelt by his past and by his writings, the Toronto World is inclined to say that he is more or less tempted to pose as the man on horseback, and his idea of the man on horseback is a cross between Oliver Cromwell, Boulanger, and a dictator. The Daily Witness (Montreal) call him the strongest President since Lincoln, and declares that “the most hopeful sign that has followed the change is that all the better elements in the nation look with confidence to Mr. Roosevelt for honest, capable administration, free from the malign influences which are believed to have too much dominated affairs at Washington.” The Sun (Toronto) fears that he is not of a pacific character, and quotes copiously from his biography of Thomas H. Benton, in proof of its fear.—Translations made for TL D .