Source: Metropolitan Magazine
Source type: magazine
Document type: article
Document title: “President Roosevelt from the Standpoint of a Southern Democrat”
Author(s): Page, Thomas Nelson
Date of publication: March 1905
Volume number: 21
Issue number: 6
Pagination: 671-81 (excerpt below includes only pages 671-72)
|Page, Thomas Nelson. “President Roosevelt from the Standpoint of a Southern Democrat.” Metropolitan Magazine Mar. 1905 v21n6: pp. 671-81.|
|Theodore Roosevelt (assumption of presidency: public response); Theodore Roosevelt (personal character); Theodore Roosevelt; Theodore Roosevelt (vice-presidential candidacy).|
|William McKinley; Theodore Roosevelt.|
|The magazine cover includes the teaser “Roosevelt and the South.”|
President Roosevelt from the Standpoint of a Southern Democrat [excerpt]
WHEN on the 14th day of September, 1901, Theodore Roosevelt came into the Presidency
of the United States, all Southerners felt a sort of proprietary interest in
him, and wished him God-speed. Early in life he had attracted the attention
and enlisted the good will of the South. From the time, indeed, when, emerging
from the crowd, he climbed on the seat in the National Convention to fight corruption
and held his place in the face of the tumult which raged about him, the South
felt that, possibly, in that courageous young man had arisen a leader of a new
element in the North, which in time would stem the tide of hostility which had
so long set against her. It appeared natural enough, then, for a Southerner,
on meeting him for the first time, to say, “The South has her eyes on you, and
some day is going to let you be President of the United States.”
The character, which Theodore Roosevelt then exhibited, has been shown in his conduct ever since that date. He was half Southerner by birth, and apparently more than half Southerner by temperament. Whether as ranchman, hunter, Police Commissioner, Civil Service Commissioner, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, or Lieutenant Colonel of Rough Rider Volunteers, he had steadily shown those traits which Southerners like to think of as marks of the Southerner. Not merely brute courage, but that high form which is best expressed as spirit; sincerity; devotion to principle; tenacity of aim and pertinacity of purpose; love of politics and personal ambition, which reckoned no cost save that of sacrifice of principle, had ever distinguished him.
As a writer he had won his first laurels in recording the spirit of the South in one of the fields of her most heroic endeavor—the Winning of the West; as a soldier he had led many of her young men, who, on the outbreak of the war, had flocked to join his command. And when he won his spurs, the South felt that he was blood of her blood and bone of her bone, and proudly counted him as one of her sons. He could have had, had he wanted them, not merely a regiment but an army of her young men under his standard.
When he was nominated for the Vice-Presidency, it was generally understood that he was thrust into the position by the hand of his enemies, in his own party, to shelve him and end, if possible, his political career;  and the South was in sympathy with him. Although she did not cast her vote for him, her adverse vote was reduced and the better feeling which sprang up under McKinley’s soothing attitude, was, when Theodore Roosevelt succeeded to the Presidency given him in full measure.
When McKinley was stricken down by the hand of a half mad fool, while some elements at the North were appalled at the sudden transfer of the Government into the hands of one whom they deemed unsafe, at the South, the only thing which tempered grief at that tragic act was the feeling that his successor, as a representative of both sections both in spirit and in blood, would carry out his policy of harmony in an even broader sense.