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Source: National Magazine
Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial column
Document title: “Affairs at Washington”
Author(s): Chapple, Joe Mitchell
Date of publication: November 1901
Volume number: 15
Issue number: 2
Pagination: 131-55 (excerpt below includes only pages 131-34, 136-37, and 151)

Chapple, Joe Mitchell. “Affairs at Washington.” National Magazine Nov. 1901 v15n2: pp. 131-55.
Theodore Roosevelt (personal character); Theodore Roosevelt (presidential character); Theodore Roosevelt (assumption of presidency); White House; Roosevelt presidency; George B. Cortelyou; William McKinley (mourning).
Named persons
Allyn K. Capron, Jr.; Grover Cleveland; George B. Cortelyou; Andrew Johnson; Abraham Lincoln; William Loeb; Ida McKinley [in notes]; William McKinley; Maude Roosevelt [in notes; variant spelling of first name below]; Theodore Roosevelt; John M. Schick [in notes; first initial wrong below].
The following excerpt comprises three nonconsecutive portions of this article (pp. 131-34, pp. 136-37, and p. 151). Omission of text within the excerpt is denoted with a bracketed indicator (e.g., [omit]).

This editorial column includes photographs captioned as follows: Birthplace of President McKinley at Niles, Ohio. Building Occupied by a Grocer’s Shop, Lawyers’ Offices and a Liquor Saloon (p. 131); Miss Maud Roosevelt, Cousin of the President and a Charming Actress (p. 132); The President’s Children, Who Are Making the Walls of the Old White House Ring with Happy Laughter (p. 140); The Late President and His Friends, at His Farm Near Minerva, Ohio (p. 141); Rev. S. M. Schick, President Roosevelt’s Pastor (p. 143); President Roosevelt’s Church, the Dutch Reformed, 15th and O Streets, Washington, D. C. (p. 143); Receiving Vault, West Lawn Cemetery, Canton, Ohio, Where President McKinley’s Body Will Be Guarded for Two Years (p. 150); The Dominant Sentiment of the Pan-American Exposition, Conceived by Commerce, Ennobled by Art and Poetry and Baptized with the Blood of a Martyr. Gates Opened May 1, 1901; Closed November 2, 1901 (p. 152); Mrs. Ida Saxton McKinley in the Library of Her Canton Home (p. 155).


Affairs at Washington [excerpt]

IF any man can be declared a true type of Americanism, that man is Theodore Roosevelt. His hair is worn positively short, and as he lowers his spectacles upon you, you see behind them two very bright gray eyes. The first impressions are not always reassuring, but you begin at once to feel the sincere conscientiousness and candor of the man. His reserve force and vigorous courage impress you; finally, after a few moments of conversation, you are entirely convinced that he is a man of broad intellectuality and a keen student of human nature. His hand grasp is genuine and inspiring. Not a shadow of insincerity is discernible. Open, fearless and honest in every fibre, such is the universal verdict of those who meet Theodore Roosevelt.
     He is very likely to pass several distinguished congressmen, sitting demurely along the wall, and grasp the hand of an old cow-boy friend, with a fervent, “I am particularly glad to see you.”
     In his attire there is always a simplicity that is far removed from the picture of the “New York dude;” in fact, I could not help but notice the [131][132] severely plain shoes and clothes, the turned down collar and the black necktie that he wore.
     When he became thoroughly interested in the conversation, he rested upon the large desk, with his hands clasped across his knees, in the attitude of one who was more interested in what was being said than in his personal appearance at the time. While his attitude may suggest impulsiveness, a conservative look comes over his countenance as he goes around all sides of the question, like a shrewd Yankee trading horses.
     I confess I entered the room that had been President McKinley’s with somewhat the feeling of a boy going to greet a stepfather, for no matter how well qualified or how great the new President may be, the change and contrast are marked.
     President Roosevelt and President McKinley present two strong and widely different individual types of Americanism. The one, born and reared in the East, has all the quick, free manner of the West; the other, born in the West, had all the fine suavity of the East.
     In spite of this, there could not have been a more fitting successor to William McKinley than Theodore Roosevelt. The fears and apprehensions aroused in business and political circles by the deadly work of the assassin have passed away, and if ever there was a man fit to quiet and dispel all such apprehensions, it is the “cow-boy” President.
     The irritating annoyances from office seekers and their friends have been to him, as to all his predecessors, the bane of his existence, even thus early. The great crowds at the White House have largely but one purpose in view, and that is the prospective distribution of patronage. And it is this problem that the former civil service commissioner has grappled with the full measure of his courage and all the sturdiness of purpose for which he early became famous. [132][133]

THOUGH steadfastly fulfilling his pledge to carry out the wishes of his late chief, the President is growing incredulous of the stories poured into his ears concerning verbal promises alleged to have been made by President McKinley, but of which there is no record, and he has adopted the fundamental method of making an analysis and study of human nature in arriving at the truth and falsity of all such claims pressed upon him.
     During my chat with him there was not a moment when he was still. In his hands he nervously clutched a mass of typewritten documents, but never deigned to give them a glance while talking with the visitor. When he is engaged in any one thing, his whole mind and attention seems to be concentrated upon that thing.
     In the long list of guests invited to his dinner table, it is noted with particular satisfaction that he has not forgotten his fellow professionals in the literary world.
     Somehow, during the busy moments from early morn until late at night, he finds time to keep closely in touch with current affairs as set forth in the newspapers, indulges in a daily dip into the periodicals and magazines, and it was particularly gratifying to learn that the President has continued his excellent practice of looking through the pages of “The National Magazine.”
     There was a pathetic meeting shortly after I entered, between the President and the widow of Captain Capron, who was killed during the charge of the Rough Riders at Las Gausimas [sic]. The widow of [133][134] his old comrade, than whom none was braver, was given a cordial greeting.
     The status of the Spanish War veterans will undoubtedly be more impressive at the White House hereafter. Mr. Roosevelt is the only President elected since Johnson, with the exception of Cleveland, who has not been a veteran of the Civil War; but there is no one more thoroughly in sympathy with the veterans of the Civil war [sic] than the dashing colonel of the Rough Riders.

DURING the past month the President has been vigorously at work on his first message, which it is expected will be a combination of wise statecraft and consummate literary skill.
     Callers are not received after 12 o’clock, and the President is going into the details of the office with enthusiasm. No state paper will be awaited with more interest than President Roosevelt’s initial message to congress.


SECRETARY CORTELYOU is to remain as Secretary to the President. A more competent and capable man never occupied the place at the White House. He is thoroughly master of the situation, and when he takes down his pencil from behind his ear, perched at an angle of forty-five degrees, and makes a notation on a piece of paper carried deftly up his sleeve, he is drawing upon a mass of detail carefully systematized. George B. Cortelyou has certainly made himself indispensable in connection with the work at the White House. He is a splendid example of the new order of secretary, who is required to be an executive. It was enough for the old time secretary to be a clerk. President Roosevelt’s private secretary, William Loeb, Jr., a genial and smooth-faced young man, neatly attired in a Prince Albert with a carnation in his buttonhole, is equally tactful and careful in handling the rush of work which has been thrust upon him. He occupies Secretary Cortelyou’s old desk and room, and has taken hold of the work at the White House in a manner that indicates that he is thoroughly accustomed to the ways of his distinguished chief.
     Secretary Cortelyou has taken the former office of the President directly across the hall from his previous office at the White House, in close connection with President Roosevelt, who still occupies, as did his predecessor, the cabinet room most of the time.

THE thirty days of mourning have passed at the Capital, and the flags are no longer at half mast. The deep mourning border on all of the government stationery, which was first used at the executive mansion, has now resumed its usual appearance. There is something set and pathetic in it all, to note how soon the poignant pangs of grief for the loved ones pass away; while it does not by any means indicate a diminution of affectionate regard, it reveals how quickly the American people can adjust themselves to new conditions. The world’s conception of the [136][137] greatness of William McKinley does not diminish; like the fame of Lincoln, it grows brighter and brighter as time passes, and more is learned of the true hearted nobleness of the man, and his extraordinarily wise judgment of affairs under the most exacting circumstances.

THERE were pathetic memories awakened when I attended the Metropolitan church at Washington. My gaze turned toward the first pew in the fourth aisle.
     There it was that, Sunday after Sunday for four or five years past, throngs were gathering to see the late President. Now it is all changed, and the centre of the curious is the little Dutch Reformed church. There the President hears the pleasant faced minister expound the gospel in the good old-fashioned way.

DURING the early days of President Roosevelt’s administration he has improved every moment of time. The guests at dinner include men of nearly every station and from all sections of the country. He is determined to learn facts as far as possible at first hand rather than by the usual method of correspondence and dry official reports. Of course his invitations to dinner may at times subject him to criticisms, but no one can doubt his sincerity of purpose. He not only has guests who are congenial dinner companions but men from whom he can learn the truth concerning the condition of public affairs.


THERE is frequently a delegation of fussy women at the White House to see the president. It would be unkind even to intimate who they are, as the names sometime figure very prominently in public life. If they bear letters from a senator or a congressman, they are irritated if the president does not throw open the doors, forgetting that he has a multitude of duties to attend to, aside from personal calls and interviews. If some of these delegations would look about them, they would see that there were about a dozen senators and congressmen patiently waiting their turn to present important matters of state as meekly as at a barber shop waiting to be shaved. It takes but little to sting human vanity. So some of these dear ladies march out with an expression on their faces, “When I come again you will know it!” There are no tears shed. On the other hand there are interesting studies in the way of callers who expect little but receive much. The entire gamut of human nature is easily discerned at the White House portals during the course of one short day.



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