Source: World’s Work
Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial
Document title: “President Roosevelt”
Date of publication: October 1901
Volume number: 2
Issue number: 6
Pagination: 1240, 1243
|“President Roosevelt.” World’s Work Oct. 1901 v2n6: pp. 1240, 1243.|
|presidential succession; Theodore Roosevelt (fitness for office); Theodore Roosevelt (personal history); Theodore Roosevelt (personal character); Theodore Roosevelt (political character).|
|William McKinley; Theodore Roosevelt; George Washington.|
The futility of assassination in a republic could
not be more conclusively shown. If the President that is dead stood for the
expansion of American influence and was himself American to the core, so also
is the President that lives. The Republic has no citizen of a more courageous
patriotism than Theodore Roosevelt. 
He comes to the great office in the saddest way by which it could be reached, the unexpected way through a keen national bereavement. The taking up of the unfinished work of an Administration thus cut short presents peculiar difficulties, but it has also certain advantages. He is unhampered. He has not even the obligations that a party election is usually interpreted to imply, and he finds the country freer from party strife than it has been since Washington’s first Administration. For these reasons, as well as on his own account, the new President has the right to claim the loyal support of the people of every section and even of every party. Although he comes through the door of chance, he has abundant evidence of popular favor. If Mr. McKinley became the most popular Chief Magistrate that this generation has known, Mr. Roosevelt is, in his own right, the legitimate successor to this distinction. No man has more devoted personal friends, whom he has won by a rich personality and a generous nature; and no other man in the country has, perhaps, so large a personal acquaintance. Those who know him best regard him as equal to the highest and gravest responsibilities in the world.
And he is the most interesting figure in our public life. He is almost the only American citizen of recent times who from the highest motives has from his youth given himself wholly to the public service. He has made it a career, having no other profession. At the age of forty-three he has already had an experience that is unique in our history, which is so full of unusual careers. Before he became Vice-President he had been a member of the Legislature of New York, a member of the National Civil Service Commission, a Police Commissioner of New York City, an Assistant-Secretary of the Navy, a Colonel of Volunteers, and Governor of New York; and in every one of these widely different offices he did noteworthy things. A large volume of positive achievement—positive always—stands to his credit. He is a gentleman of the true democratic kind, who by his broad human sympathy is at home with earnest men of all social types; he is an educated man, a lover and a writer of books, the only writer of non-official literature that has come to the Presidency since the days of the cultivated Fathers of the Republic; he is a manly sportsman, the only President perhaps who could fill the White House with trophies of the chase as well as of war; and, above all, he is an unswerving believer in American institutions, American character and American leadership—a courageous man who loves the truth, an outdoor life, good books, his own fireside, and his country—all with the energy of a robust nature. And the dominant note of his character is earnestness. All these qualities make a man very much out of the common, even of Presidents.
The moral earnestness with which he has always taken his official duties—the earnestness, in fact, with which he regards the obligations of citizenship—has made him as conscientious a public servant as we have ever had; and, as graver and graver tasks have fallen to him in his rapid advancement, he has become as conservative in making plans as he is energetic in executing them. Still he may be depended upon for action; and those who prefer a figure-head for President, if there be such, must now forego their preference; for where he works things come to pass.
His energetic nature, tempered by the gravest responsibilities, is surely a fit and hopeful equipment for the further development of the political programme that was wrought out under President McKinley’s guidance. His temperament is in keeping with the active era of the Greater Republic; and the deep seriousness of his character, with the high duties that await him. A strong personality working under the most solemn responsibilities—this is a conjunction of man and conditions which shows that our rough party machinery has, once more at least, provided such a succession in the Chief Magistracy that a crime which has shocked the world does not jar our institutions in their steady course.