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Source: Commoner
Source type: newspaper
Document type: editorial
Document title: “The Turning Point”
Author(s): anonymous
City of publication: Lincoln, Nebraska
Date of publication: 27 September 1901
Volume number: 1
Issue number: 36
Pagination: 1-2

“The Turning Point.” Commoner 27 Sept. 1901 v1n36: pp. 1-2.
full text
Theodore Roosevelt (assumption of presidency: personal response); Roosevelt presidency (predictions, expectations, etc.); Grover Cleveland; Rutherford B. Hayes; presidents (single-term incumbency).
Named persons
Grover Cleveland; Rutherford B. Hayes; Theodore Roosevelt; George Washington.


The Turning Point

     Theodore Roosevelt has reached the turning point in his political career. For several years he has cherished the ambition to be President; when he was offered the nomination for Vice President last year he hesitated to accept it for fear that it might interfere with his desire to reach the first place. Ever since his inauguration he has looked forward to 1904 as the time for the realization of his hopes. He expected to secure the nomination of his party, but he knew that it would be secured, if secured at all, at the end of a spirited contest. All at once, as the result of an assassin’s shot, he was ushered into the Presidency. His fondest aspirations have been realized; the highest honor within the gift of the people in any land is now his. With what spirit will he enter upon the discharge of his duties? The answer to this question is of tremendous importance to him and to his country. He has three years [1][2] and one-half in which to show the American people his conception of official duty. Will he be content to devote himself unselfishly to the public good as he sees it, or will he begin to plan for the capture of the next republican convention? Will he decide all controversies with an eye single to the nation’s welfare, or will the advancement of his own political fortune be uppermost in his mind? When Mr. Cleveland accepted the Democratic nomination in 1884, he said:

     “When an election to office shall be the selection by the voters of one of their number to assume for a time a public trust instead of his dedication to the profession of politics; when the holders of the ballot, quickened by a sense of duty, shall avenge truth betrayed and pledges broken, and when the suffrage shall be altogether free and uncorrupted, the full realization of a government by the people will be at hand. And of the means to this end, not one would, in my judgment, be more effective than an amendment to the constitution disqualifying the president from re-election.
     “When we consider the patronage of this great office, the allurements of power, the temptation to retain public office once gained, and, more than all, the availability a party finds in an incumbent whom a horde of office-holders, with zeal born of benefits received and fostered by the hope of favors yet to come, stand ready to aid with money and trained political service, we recognize in the eligibility of a president for re-election a most serious danger to that calm, deliberate and intelligent political action which must characterize a government by the people.”

     Mr. Cleveland would have stood better in history and his party would have been benefitted if he had followed his own advice and declined a second term, but his acceptance of a renomination only proved the strength of the influences against which he warned his countrymen.
     If Mr. Roosevelt desires republican authority on this subject, he can find it in the letter of acceptance of Mr. Hayes in 1876. He said:

     “The declaration of principles by the Cincinnati convention makes no announcement in favor of a single presidential term. I do not assume to add to that declaration, but believing that the restoration of the civil service to the system established by Washington and followed by the early presidents can be best accomplished by an executive officer who is under no temptation to use the patronage of his office to promote his own re-election, I desire to perform what I regard as a duty in stating now my inflexible purpose, if elected, not to be a candidate for election to a second term.”

     President Hayes adhered to his determination and his party was stronger in 1880 than it was in 1876.
     Mr. Roosevelt will find that there are many things that “can be best accomplished by an executive officer who is under no temptation to use the patronage of his office to promote his own re-election.” If he will announce his determination not to be a candidate for renomination, he will be relieved of a great deal of embarrassment and anxiety, and he will find sufficient “strenuous life” in an effort to make his administration conspicuous for its honesty and efficiency. If he intends to appear before the next republican convention as a candidate he must prepare to fight the bosses of his party or to surrender to them. He is aware of the fact that the republican organization did not look with favor upon his candidacy; he was thought too independent. If he is independent and does his own thinking he will alienate those gentlemen (it is not necessary to name them) who insist upon controlling political affairs in their various sections. There is one question which President Roosevelt will have to meet upon which his course is likely to be determined by his ambition. If he is going to seek another term, he will find it difficult to antagonize the great corporations which are rapidly securing a monopoly of the nation’s industries, for the trust magnates are influential in republican conventions and their contributions are helpful during campaigns. The financiers will insist upon controlling the financial policy of his administration and their threats will be potent if he must pass through a republican convention before he can get to the people for an endorsement, but their fury will be of no avail if he is content with the record made during the present term.
     Scarcely a day will pass but that he will have to decide between himself and the people. What will his decision be? Three years and a half of work as a conscientious, earnest and brave defender of the interests of the people would win for him more real glory than seven years and a half devoted to the advancement of his own interests—the first half spent in contracting obligation with influential men and corporations and the second half spent in discharging the obligations at the expense of the people.
     President Roosevelt has reached the parting of the ways; which road will he take?



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