Source: Washington Herald
Source type: newspaper
Document type: article
Document title: “McKinley’s Death—Roosevelt’s Succession”
Author(s): Roosevelt, Theodore
City of publication: Washington, DC
Date of publication: 7 December 1913
Volume number: none
Issue number: 2619
Part/Section: magazine section
|Roosevelt, Theodore. “McKinley’s Death—Roosevelt’s Succession.” Washington Herald 7 Dec. 1913 n2619: mag. sect., p. .|
|Theodore Roosevelt; Theodore Roosevelt (at Adirondacks); Theodore Roosevelt (assumption of presidency); Theodore Roosevelt (political philosophy); McKinley cabinet (retention by Roosevelt); Theodore Roosevelt (compared with William McKinley).|
|William Loeb; William McKinley; Ansley Wilcox.|
|The article (excerpted below) is an installment in a series titled “Chapters of a Possible Autobiography.”|
McKinley’s Death—Roosevelt’s Succession [excerpt]
On September 6, 1901, President
McKinley was shot by an anarchist in the city of Buffalo. I went to Buffalo
at once. The President’s condition seemed to be improving, and after a day or
two we were told that he was practically out of danger. I then joined my family,
who were in the Adirondacks, near the foot of Mount Tahawus. A day or two afterwards
we took a long tramp through the forest, and in the afternoon I climbed Mount
After reaching the top I had descended a few hundred feet to a shelf of land where there was a little lake, when I saw a guide coming out of the woods on our trail from below. I felt at once that he had bad news, and, sure enough, he handed me a telegram saying that the President’s condition was much worst [sic] and that I must come to Buffalo immediately. It was late in the afternoon, and darkness had fallen by the time I reached the clubhouse where we were staying. It was some time afterwards before I could get a wagon to drive me out to the nearest railway station, North Creek, some forty or fifty miles distant.
The roads were the ordinary wilderness roads and the night was dark. But we changed horses two or three times—when I say “we” I mean the driver and I, as there was no one else with us—and reached the station just at dawn, to learn from Mr. Loeb, who had a special train waiting, that the President was dead. That evening I took the oath of office, in the house of Ansley Wilcox, at Buffalo.
No Reversal of Policy.
On three previous occasions the Vice President had succeeded to the Presidency on the death of the President. In each case there had been a reversal of party policy, and a nearly immediate and nearly complete change in the personnel of the higher offices, especially the Cabinet. I had never felt that this was wise from any standpoint. If a man is fit to be President, he will speedily so impress himself in the office that the policies pursued will be his anyhow, and he will not have to bother as to whether he is changing them or not; while as regards the offices under him, the important thing for him is that his subordinates shall make a success in handling their several departments. The subordinate is sure to desire to make a success of his department for his own sake, and if he is a fit man, whose views on public policy are sound, and whose abilities entitle him to his position, he will do excellently under almost any chief with the same purposes.
The Cabinet Unchanged.
I at once announced that I would continue unchanged McKinley’s policies for the honor and prosperity of the country, and I asked all the members of the Cabinet to stay. There were no changes made among them, save as changes were made among their successors, whom I myself appointed. I continued Mr. McKinley’s policies, changing and developing them and adding new policies only as the questions before the public changed and as the needs of the public developed. Some of my friends shook their heads over this, telling me that the men I retained would not be “loyal to me,” and that I would seem as if I were “a pale copy of McKinley.” I told them that I was not nervous on this score, and that if the men I retained were loyal to their work they would be giving me the loyalty for which I most cared; and that if they were not, I would change them anyhow; and that as for being “a pale copy of McKinley,” I was not primarily concerned with either following or not following in his footsteps, but in facing the new problems that arose; and that if I were competent I would find ample opportunity to show my competence by my deeds without worrying myself as to how to convince people of the fact.