Roosevelt had that reverence for the great men of the past which should stir every heart with a capacity for noble things. In the White House he never forgot the Presidents who had dwelt there before him. "I like to see in my mind's eye," he said to Mr. Rhodes, the American historian, "the gaunt form of Lincoln stalking through these halls." During a visit at the White House, Mr. Rhodes watched the President at work throughout an entire day and set down the points which chiefly struck him. Foremost among these was the lack of leisure which we allow our Presidents. They have work to do which is more important than that of a railroad manager, or the president of the largest business corporation, or of the leader of the American Bar. They are expected to know the pros and cons of each bill brought before them to sign so that they can sign it not only intelligently but justly, and yet thanks to the constant intrusion which Americans deem it their right to force on the President, he has no time for deliberation, and, as I have said, Mr. Roosevelt was often obliged, when he wished to have an undisturbed consultation with one of his Cabinet Secretaries, to take him off on a long ride.
"I chanced to be in the President's room," Mr. Rhodes continues, "when he dictated the rough draft of his famous dispatch to General Chaffee respecting torture in the Philippines. While he was dictating, two or three cards were brought in, also some books with a request for the President's autograph, and there were some other interruptions. While the dispatch as it went out in its revised form could not be improved, a President cannot expect to be always so happy in dictating dispatches in the midst of distractions. Office work of far-reaching importance should be done in the closet. Certainly no monarch or minister in Europe does administrative work under such unfavorable conditions; indeed, this public which exacts so much of the President's time should in all fairness be considerate in its criticism." *
* Rhodes: Historical Essays, 238-39.
To cope in some measure with the vast amount of business thrust upon him, Roosevelt had unique endowments. Other Presidents had been indolent and let affairs drift; he cleared his desk every day. Other Presidents felt that they had done their duty if they merely dispatched the important business which came to them; Roosevelt was always initiating, either new legislation or new methods in matters which did not concern the Government. One autumn, when there was unusual excitement, with recriminations in disputes in the college football world, I was surprised to receive a large four-page typewritten letter, giving his views as to what ought to be done.
He reorganized the service in the White House, and not only that, he had the Executive Mansion itself remodeled somewhat according to the original plans so as to furnish adequate space for the crowds who thronged the official receptions, and, at the other end of the building, proper quarters for the stenographers, typewriters, and telegraphers required to file and dispatch his correspondence. Promptness was his watchword, and in cases where it was expected, I never knew twenty-four hours to elapse before he dictated his reply to a letter.
The orderliness which he introduced into the White House should also be recorded. When I first went there in 1882 with a party of Philadelphia junketers who had an appointment to shake hands with President Arthur, as a preliminary to securing a fat appropriation to the River and Harbor Bill of that year, the White House was treated by the public very much as a common resort. The country owned it: therefore, why shouldn't any American make himself at home in it? I remember that on one of the staircases, Dr. Mary Walker (recently dead), dressed in what she was pleased to regard as a masculine costume, was haranguing a group of five or six strangers, and here and there in the corridors we met other random visitors. Mr. Roosevelt established a strict but simple regimen. No one got past the Civil War veteran who acted as doorkeeper without proper credentials; and it was impossible to reach the President himself without first encountering his Secretary, Mr. Loeb.
To the President some persons were, of course, privileged. If an old pal from the West, or a Rough Rider came, the President did not look at the clock, or speed him away. The story goes that one morning Senator Cullom came on a matter of business and indeed rather in a hurry. On asking who was "in there," and being told that a Rough Rider had been with the President for a half-hour, the Senator said, "Then there's no hope for me," took his hat, and departed.
Although, as I have said, Roosevelt might be as intimate and cordial as possible with any visitor, he never forgot the dignity which belonged to his office. Nor did he forget that as President he was socially as well as officially the first person in the Republic. In speaking of these social affairs, I must not pass over without mention the unfailing help which his two sisters gave him at all times. The elder, the wife of Admiral William S. Cowles, lived in Washington when Roosevelt was Civil Service Commissioner, and her house was always in readiness for his use.
His younger sister, Mrs. Douglas Robinson, lived in New York City, and first at No. 422 Madison Avenue and later at No. 9 East Sixty-third Street, she dispensed hospitality for him and his friends. Nothing could have been more convenient. If he were at Oyster Bay, it was often impossible to make an appointment to meet there persons whom he wished to see, but he had merely to telephone to Mrs. Robinson, the appointment was made, and the interview was held. It was at her house that many of the breakfasts with Senator Platt—those meetings which caused so much alarm and suspicion among over-righteous reformers—took place while Roosevelt was Governor. Mr. Odell nearly always accompanied the Senator, as if he felt afraid to trust the astute Boss with the very persuasive young Governor. Having Mrs. Robinson's house as a shelter, Theodore could screen himself from the newspaper men. There he could hold private consultations which, if they had been referred to in the papers, would have caused wild guesses, surmises, and embarrassing remarks. His sisters always rejoiced that, with his wonderful generosity of nature, he took them often into his political confidence, and listened with unfeigned respect to their point of view on subjects on which they might even have a slight difference of opinion.
Mr. Charles G. Washburn tells the following story to illustrate Roosevelt's faculty of getting to the heart of every one whom he knew. When he was hunting in Colorado, "he met a cowboy who had been with him with the Rough Riders in Cuba. The man came up to speak to Roosevelt, and said, 'Mr. President, I have been in jail a year for killing a gentleman.' 'How did you do it?' asked the President, meaning to inquire as to the circumstances. 'Thirty-eight on a forty-five frame,' replied the man, thinking that the only interest the President had was that of a comrade who wanted to know with what kind of a tool the trick was done. Now, I will venture to say that to no other President, from Washington down to and including Wilson, would the man-killer have made that response." *
* Washburn, 202-03.
I think that all of us will agree with Mr. Washburn, who adds another story of the same purport, and told by Roosevelt himself. Another old comrade wrote him from jail in Arizona: "Dear Colonel: I am in trouble. I shot a lady in the eye, but I did not intend to hit the lady; I was shooting at my wife." Roosevelt had large charity for sinners of this type, but he would not tolerate deceit or lying. Thus, when a Congressman made charges to him against one of the Wild Western appointees whom he accused of drinking and of gambling, the President remarked that he had to take into consideration the moral standards of the section, where a man who gambled or who drank was not necessarily an evil person. Then the Congressman pressed his charges and said that the fellow had been in prison for a crime a good many years before. This roused Roosevelt, who said, "He never told me about that," and he immediately telegraphed the accused for an explanation. The man replied that the charge was true, whereupon the President at once dismissed him, not for gambling or for drinking, but for trying to hide the fact that he had once been in jail.
In these days of upheaval, when the most ancient institutions and laws are put in question, and anarchists and Bolshevists, blind like Samson, wish to throw down the very pillars on which Civilization rests, the Family, the fundamental element of civilized life, is also violently attacked. All the more precious, therefore, will Theodore Roosevelt's example be, as an upholder of the Family. He showed how essential it is for the development of the individual and as a pattern for Society. Only through the Family can come the deepest joys of life and can the most intimate duties be transmuted into joys. As son, as husband, as father, as brother, he fulfilled the ideals of each of those relations, and, so strong was his family affection, that, while still a comparatively young man, he drew to him as a patriarch might, not only his own children, but his kindred in many degrees. With utter truth he wrote, "I have had the happiest home life of any man I have ever known." And that, as we who were his friends understood, was to him the highest and dearest prize which life could bestow.
CHAPTER XVIII. Hits And Misses
In this sketch I do not attempt to follow chronological order, except in so far as this is necessary to make clear the connection between lines of policy, or to define the structural growth of character. But in Roosevelt's life, as in the lives of all of us, many events, sometimes important events, occurred and had much notice at the moment and then faded away and left no lasting mark. Let us take up a few of these which reveal the President from different angles.
Since the close of the Civil War the Negro Question had brooded over the South. The war emancipated the Southern negroes and then politics came to embitter the question. Partly to gain a political advantage, partly as some visionaries believed, to do justice, and partly to punish the Southerners, the Northern Republicans gave the Southern negroes equal political rights with the whites. They even handed over the government of some of the States to wholly incompetent blacks. In self-defense the whites terrorized the blacks through such secret organizations as the Ku-Klux Klan, and recovered their ascendancy in governing. Later, by such specious devices as the Grandfathers' Law, they prevented most of the blacks from voting, and relieved themselves of the trouble of maintaining a system of intimidation. The real difficulty being social and racial, to mix politics with it was to envenom it.
Roosevelt took a man for what he was without regard to race, creed, or color. He held that a negro of good manners and education ought to be treated as a white man would be treated. He felt keenly the sting of ostracism and he believed that if the Southern whites would think as he did on this matter; they might the quicker solve the Negro Question and establish human if not friendly relations with the blacks.
The negro race at that time had a fine spokesman in Booker T. Washington, a man who had been born a slave, was educated at the Hampton Institute, served as teacher there, and then founded the Tuskegee Institute for teaching negroes. He wisely saw that the first thing to be done was to teach them trades and farming, by which they could earn a living and make themselves useful if not indispensable to the communities in which they settled. He did not propose to start off to lift his race by letting them imagine that they could blossom into black Shakespeares and dusky Raphaels in a single generation. He himself was a man of tact, prudence, and sagacity with trained intelligence and a natural gift of speaking.
To him President Roosevelt turned for some suggestions as to appointing colored persons to offices in the South. It happened that on the day appointed for a meeting Washington reached the White House shortly before luncheon time, and that, as they had not finished their conference, Roosevelt asked him to stay to luncheon. Washington hesitated politely. Roosevelt insisted. They lunched, finished their business, and Washington went away. When this perfectly insignificant fact was published in the papers the next morning, the South burst into a storm of indignation and abuse. Some of the Southern journals saw, in what was a mere routine incident, a terrible portent, foreboding that Roosevelt planned to put the negroes back to control the Southern whites. Others alleged the milder motive that he was fishing for negro votes. The common type of fire-eaters saw in it one of Roosevelt's unpleasant ways of having fun by insulting the South. And Southern cartoonists took an ignoble, feeble retaliation by caricaturing even Mrs. Roosevelt.
The President did not reply publicly. As his invitation to Booker Washington was wholly unpremeditated, he was surprised by the rage which it caused among Southerners. But he was clear-sighted enough to understand that, without intending it, he had made a mistake, and this he never repeated. Nothing is more elusive than racial antipathy, and we need not wonder that a man like Roosevelt who, although he was most solicitous not to hurt persons' feelings and usually acted, unless he had proof to the contrary, on the assumption that everybody was blessed with a modicum of good-will and common sense, should not always be able to foresee the strange inconsistencies into which the antipathy of the white Southerners for the blacks might lead. A little while later there was a religious gathering in Washington of Protestant-Episcopal ministers. They had a reception at the White House. Their own managers made out a list of ministers to be invited, and among the guests were a negro archdeacon and his wife, and the negro rector of a Maryland parish. Although these persons attended the reception, the Southern whites burst into no frenzy of indignation against the President. Who could steer safely amid such shoals? * The truth is that no President since Lincoln had a kindlier feeling towards the South than Roosevelt had. He often referred proudly to the fact that his mother came from Georgia, and that his two Bulloch uncles fought in the Confederate Navy. He wished to bring back complete friendship between the sections. But he understood the difficulties, as his explanation to Mr. James Ford Rhodes, the historian, in 1905, amply proved. He agreed fully as to the folly of the Congressional scheme of reconstruction based on universal negro suffrage, but he begged Mr. Rhodes not to forget that the initial folly lay with the Southerners themselves. The latter said, quite properly, that he did not wonder that much bitterness still remained in the breasts of the Southern people about the carpet-bag negro regime. So it was not to be wondered at that in the late sixties much bitterness should have remained in the hearts of the Northerners over the remembrance of the senseless folly and wickedness of the Southerners in the early sixties. Roosevelt felt that those persons who most heartily agreed that as it was the presence of the negro which made the problem, and that slavery was merely the worst possible method of solving it, we must therefore hold up to reprobation, as guilty of doing one of the worst deeds which history records, those men who tried to break up this Union because they were not allowed to bring slavery and the negro into our new territory. Every step which followed, from freeing the slave to enfranchising him, was due only to the North being slowly and reluctantly forced to act by the South's persistence in its folly and wickedness.
The President could not say these things in public because they tended, when coming from a man in public place, to embitter people. But Rhodes was writing what Roosevelt hoped would prove the great permanent history of the period, and he said that it would be a misfortune for the country, and especially a misfortune for the South, if they were allowed to confuse right and wrong in perspective. He added that his difficulties with the Southern people had come not from the North, but from the South. He had never done anything that was not for their interest. At present, he added, they were, as a whole, speaking well of him. When they would begin again to speak ill, he did not know, but in either case his duty was equally clear. *
* February 20, 1905.
Inviting Booker Washington to the White House was a counsel of perfection which we must consider one of Roosevelt's misses. Quite different was the voyage of the Great Fleet, planned by him and carried out without hitch or delay.
We have seen that from his interest in American naval history, which began before he left Harvard, he came to take a very deep interest in the Navy itself, and when he was Assistant Secretary, he worked night and day to complete its preparation for entering the Spanish War. From the time he became President, he urged upon Congress and the country the need of maintaining a fleet adequate to ward off any dangers to which we might be exposed. In season and out of season he preached, with the ardor of a propagandist, his gospel that the Navy is the surest guarantor of peace which this country possesses. By dint of urging he persuaded Congress to consent to lay down one battleship of the newest type a year. Congress was not so much reluctant as indifferent. Even the lesson of the Spanish War failed to teach the Nation's law-makers, or the Nation itself, that we must have a Navy to protect us if we intended to play the role of a World Power. The American people instinctively dreaded militarism, and so they resisted consenting to naval or military preparations which might expand into a great evil such as they saw controlling the nations of Europe.
Nevertheless Roosevelt, as usual, could not be deterred by opposition; and when the Hague Conference in 1907, through the veto of Germany, refused to limit armaments by sea and land, he warned Congress that one new battleship a year would not do, that they must build four. Meanwhile, he had pushed to completion a really formidable American Fleet, which assembled in Hampton Roads on December 1, 1907, and ten days later weighed anchor for parts unknown. There were sixteen battleships, commanded by Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans. Every ship was new, having been built since the Spanish War. The President and Mrs. Roosevelt and many notables reviewed the Fleet from the President's yacht Mayflower, as it passed out to sea. Later, the country learned that the Fleet was to sail round Cape Horn, to New Zealand and Australia, up the Pacific to San Francisco, then across to Japan, and so steer homeward through the Indian Ocean, the Suez Canal, and the Mediterranean to Gibraltar, across the Atlantic, and back to Hampton Roads.
The American public did not quite know what to make of this dramatic gesture. Roosevelt's critics said, of course, that it was the first overt display of his combativeness, and that from this he would go on to create a great army and be ready, at the slightest provocation, to attack any foreign Power. In fact, however, the sending of the Great Fleet, which was wholly his project, was designed by him to strengthen the prospect of peace for the United States. Through it, he gave a concrete illustration of his maxim: "Speak softly, but carry a big stick." The Panama Canal was then half dug and would be finished in a few years. Distant nations thought of this country as of a land peopled by dollar-chasers, too absorbed in getting rich to think of providing defense for themselves. The fame of Dewey's exploit at Manila Bay had ceased to strike wonder among foreign peoples, after they heard how small and almost contemptible, judging by the new standards, the Squadron was by which he won his victory. Japan, the rising young giant of the Orient, felt already strong enough to resent any supposed insult from the United States. Germany had embarked on her wild naval policy of creating a fleet which would soon be able to cope with that of England.
When, however, the Great Fleet steamed into Yokohama or Bombay or any other port, it furnished a visible evidence of the power of the country from which it came. We could not send an army to furnish the same object-lesson. But the Fleet must have opened the eyes of any foreign jingoes who supposed that they might send over with impunity their battleships and attack our ports. In this way it served directly to discourage war against us, and accordingly it was a powerful agent for peace. Spectacular the voyage was without question, like so many of Roosevelt's acts, but if you analyze it soberly, do you not admit that it was the one obvious, simple way by which to impress upon an uncertain and rapacious world the fact that the United States had manpower as well as money-power, and that they were prepared to repel all enemies?
On February 22, 1909, the White Fleet steamed back to Hampton Roads and was received by President Roosevelt. It had performed a great moral achievement. It had also raised the efficiency of its officers and the discipline of its crews to the highest point. There had been no accident; not a scratch on any ship.
"Isn't it magnificent?" said Roosevelt, as he toasted the Admirals and Captains in the cabin of the Mayflower. "Nobody after this will forget that the American coast is on the Pacific as well as on the Atlantic." Ten days later he left the White House, and after he left, the prestige of the American Fleet was slowly frittered away.
So important is it, if we would form a just estimate of Roosevelt, to understand his attitude towards war, that I must refer to the subject briefly here. One of the most authoritative observers of international politics now living, a man who has also had the best opportunity for studying the chief statesmen of our age, wrote me after Roosevelt's death: "I deeply grieve with you in the loss of our friend. He was an extraordinary man. The only point in which I ever found myself seriously differing from him was in the value he set upon war. He did not seem to realize how great an evil it is, and in how many ways, fascinated as he was by the virtues which it sometimes called out; but in this respect, also, I think his views expanded and mellowed as time went on. His mind was so capacious as to take in Old-World affairs in a sense which very few people outside Europe, since Hamilton, have been able to do."
Now the truth is that neither the eminent person who wrote this letter, nor many others among us, saw as clearly during the first decade of this century as Roosevelt saw that war was not a remote possibility, but a very real danger. I think that he was almost the first in the United States to feel the menace of Germany to the entire world. He knew the strength of her army, and when she began to build rapidly a powerful navy, he understood that the likelihood of her breaking the peace was more than doubled; for with the fleet she could at pleasure go up and down the seas, picking quarrels as she went. If war came on a great scale in Europe, our Republic would probably be involved; we should either take sides and so have to furnish a contingent, or we should restrict our operations to self-defense. In either case we must be prepared.
But Roosevelt recognized also that on the completion of the Panama Canal we might be exposed to much international friction, and unless we were ready to defend the Canal and its approaches, a Foreign Power might easily do it great damage or wrest it from us, at least for a time. Here, too, was another motive for facing the possibility of war. We were growing up in almost childish trust in a world filled with warlike nations, which regarded war not only as the obvious way in which to settle disputes, but as the easiest way to seize the territory and the wealth of rich neighbors who could not defend themselves.
This being the condition of life as our country had to lead it, we were criminally remiss in not taking precautions. But Roosevelt went farther than this; he believed that, war or no war, a nation must be able to defend itself; so must every individual be. Every youth should have sufficient military training to fit him to take his place at a moment's notice in the national armament. This did not mean the maintenance of a large standing army, or the adoption of a soul and character-killing system of militarism like the German. It meant giving training to every youth who was physically sound which would develop and strengthen his body, teach him obedience, and impress upon him his patriotic duty to his country.
I was among those who, twenty years ago, feared that Roosevelt's projects were inspired by innate pugnacity which he could not outgrow. Now, in this year of his death, I recognize that he was right, and I believe that there is no one, on whom the lesson of the Atrocious War has not been lost, who does not believe in his gospel of military training, both for its value in promoting physical fitness and health and in providing the country with competent defenders. Roosevelt detested as much as anyone the horrors of war, but, as he had too much reason to remind the American people shortly before his death, there are things worse than war. And when in 1919 President Charles W. Eliot becomes the chief advocate of universal military training, we need not fear that it is synonymous with militarism.
On one subject—a protective tariff—I think that Roosevelt was less satisfactory than on any other. At Harvard, in our college days, John Stuart Mill's ideas on economics prevailed, and they were ably expounded by Charles F. Dunbar, who then stood first among American economists. Being a consistent Individualist, and believing that liberty is a principle which applies to commerce, not less than to intellectual and moral freedom, Mill, of course, insisted on Free Trade. But after Roosevelt joined the Republican Party—in the straw vote for President, in 1880, he had voted like a large majority of undergraduates for Bayard, a Democrat—he adopted Protection as the right principle in theory and in practice. The teachings of Alexander Hamilton, the wonderful spokesman of Federalism, the champion of a strong Government which should be beneficent because it was unselfish and enlightened, captivated and filled him. In 1886, in his Life of Benton, he wrote: "Free traders are apt to look at the tariff from a sentimental standpoint; but it is in reality a purely business matter and should be decided solely on grounds of expediency. Political economists have pretty generally agreed that protection is vicious in theory and harmful in practice; but if the majority of the people in interest wish it, and it affects only themselves, there is no earthly reason why they should not be allowed to try the experiment to their heart's content." *
* Roosevelt: Thomas H. Benton, 67. American Statesmen Series.
Perhaps we ought to infer from this extract that Roosevelt, as an historical critic, strove to preserve an open mind; as an ardent Republican, however, he never wavered in his support of the tariff. Even his sense of humor permitted him to swallow with out a smile the demagogue's cant about "infant industries," or the raising of the tariff after election by the Republicans who had promised to reduce it. To those of us who for many years regarded the tariff as the dividing line between the parties, his stand was most disappointing. And when the head of one of the chief Trusts in America cynically blurted out, "The Tariff is the mother of Trusts," we hoped that Roosevelt, who had then begun his stupendous battle with the Trusts, would deal them a staggering blow by shattering the tariff. But, greatly to our chagrin, he did nothing.
His enemies tried to explain his callousness to this reform by hinting that he had some personal interest at stake, or that he was under obligations to tariff magnates. Nothing could be more absurd than these innuendoes; from the first of his career to the last, no man ever brought proof that he had directly or indirectly secured Roosevelt's backing by question able means. And there were times enough when passions ran so high that any one who could produce an iota of such testimony would have done so. The simple fact is, that in looking over the field of important questions which Roosevelt believed must be met by new legislation, he looked on the tariff as unimportant in comparison with railroads, and conservation, and the measures for public health. I think, also, that he never studied the question thoroughly; he threw over Mill's Individualism early in his public career and with it went Mill's political economy. As late as December, 1912, after the affronting Payne Aldrich Tariff Act had been passed under his Republican successor, I reminded Roosevelt that I had never voted for him because I did not approve of his tariff policy. To which he replied, almost in the words of the Benton extract in 1886, "My dear boy, the tariff is only a question of expediency."
In this field also I fear that we must score a miss against him.
Cavour used to say that he did not need to resort to craft, which was supposed to be a statesman's favorite instrument, he simply told the truth and everybody was deceived. Roosevelt might have said the same thing. His critics were always on the look out for some ulterior motive, some trick, or cunning thrust, in what he did; consequently they misjudged him, for he usually did the most direct thing in the most direct way.
The Brownsville Affair proved this. On the night of August 13, 1906, several colored soldiers stationed at Fort Brown, Texas, stole from their quarters into the near-by town of Brownsville and shot up the inhabitants, against whom they had a grudge. As soon as the news of the outbreak reached the fort, the rest of the colored garrison was called out to quell it, and the guilty soldiers, under cover of darkness, joined their companions and were undiscovered. Next day the commander began an investigation, but as none of the culprits confessed, the President discharged nearly all of the three companies. There upon his critics insinuated that Roosevelt had indulged his race hatred of the blacks; a few years before, many of these same critics had accused him of wishing to insult the Southern whites by inviting Booker Washington to lunch. The reason for his action with the Brownsville criminals was so clear that it did not need to be stated. He intended that every soldier or sailor who wore the uniform of the United States, be he white, yellow, or black, should not be allowed to sully that uniform and go unpunished. He felt the stain on the service keenly; in spite of denunciation he trusted that the common sense of the Nation would eventually uphold him, as it did.
A few months later he came to Cambridge to make his famous "Mollycoddle Speech," and in greeting him, three or four of us asked him jokingly, "How about Brownsville?" "Brownsville?" he replied, laughing; "Brownsville will soon be forgotten, but 'Dear Maria' will stick to me all my life." This referred to another annoyance which had recently bothered him. He had always been used to talk among friends about public matters and persons with amazing unreserve. He took it for granted that those to whom he spoke would regard his frank remarks as confidential; being honorable himself, he assumed a similar sense of honor in his listeners. In one instance, however, he was deceived. Among the guests at the White House were a gentleman and his wife. The latter was a convert to Roman Catholicism, and she had not only all the proverbial zeal of a convert, but an amount of indiscretion which seems incredible in any one. She often led the conversation to Roman Catholic subjects, and especially to the discussion of who was likely to be the next American Cardinal. President Roosevelt had great respect for Archbishop Ireland, and he said, frankly, that he should be glad to see the red hat go to him. The lady's husband was appointed to a foreign Embassy, and they were both soon thrown into an Ultramontane atmosphere, where clerical intrigues had long furnished one of the chief amusements of a vapid and corrupt Court. The lady, who, of course, could not have realized the impropriety, made known the President's regard for Archbishop Ireland. She even had letters to herself beginning "Dear Maria," to prove the intimate terms on which she and her husband stood with Mr. Roosevelt, and to suggest how important a personage she was in his estimation. Assured, as she thought, of her influence in Washington, she seems also to have aspired to equal influence in the Vatican. That would not be the first occasion on which Cardinals' hats had been bestowed through the benign feminine intercession. Reports from Rome were favorable; Archbishop Ireland's prospects looked rosy.
But the post of Cardinal is so eminent that there are always several candidates for each vacancy. I do not know whether or not it came about through one of Archbishop Ireland's rivals, or through "Dear Maria's" own indiscretion, but the fact leaked out that President Roosevelt was personally interested in Archbishop Ireland's success. That settled the Archbishop. The Hierarchy would never consent to be influenced by an American President, who was also a Protestant. It might take instructions from the Emperor of Austria or the King of Spain; it had even allowed the German Kaiser, also a Protestant, indirectly but effectually to block the election of Cardinal Rampolla to be Pope in 1903; but the hint that the Archbishop of St. Paul, Minnesota, might be made Cardinal because the American President respected him, could not be tolerated. The President's letters beginning "Dear Maria" went gayly through the newspapers of the world, and the man in the street everywhere wondered how Roosevelt could have been so indiscreet as to have trusted so imprudent a zealot. "Dear Maria" and her husband were recalled from their Embassy and put out of reach of committing further indiscretions of that sort. Archbishop Ireland never became Cardinal. In spite of the President's forebodings, the "Dear Maria" incident did not cling to him all his life, but sank into oblivion, while the world, busied with matters of real importance, rushed on towards a great catastrophe. Proofs that a man or a woman can do very foolish things are so common that "Dear Maria" could not win lasting fame by hers. I do not think, however, that this experience taught Roosevelt reticence. He did not lose his faith that a sense of honor was widespread, and would silence the tongues of the persons whom he talked to in confidence.
No President ever spoke so openly to newspaper men as he did. He told them many a secret with only the warning, "Mind, this is private," and none of them betrayed him. When he entered the White House he gathered all the newspaper men round him, and said that no mention was to be made of Mrs. Roosevelt, or of any detail of their family life, while they lived there. If this rule were broken, he would refuse for the rest of his term to allow the representative of the paper which published the unwarranted report to enter the White House, or to receive any of the President's communications. This rule also was religiously observed, with the result that Mrs. Roosevelt was spared the disgust and indignity of a vulgar publicity, which had thrown its lurid light on more than one "First Lady of the Land" in previous administrations, and even on the innocent Baby McKee, President Harrison's grand-child.
We cannot too often bear in mind that Theodore Roosevelt never forgot the Oneness of Society. If he aimed at correcting an industrial or financial abuse by special laws. he knew that this work could be partial only. It might promote the health of the entire body, but it was not equivalent to sanifying that entire body. There was no general remedy. A plaster applied to a skin cut does not cure an internal disease. But he watched the unexpected effects of laws and saw how that influence spread from one field to another.
Roosevelt traced closely the course of Law and Custom to their ultimate objects, the family and the individual. In discussing the matter with Mr. Rhodes he cordially agreed with what the historian said about our American rich men. He insisted that the same thing held true of our politicians, even the worst: that the average Roman rich man, like the average Roman public man, of the end of the Republic and of the beginning of the Empire, makes the corresponding man of our own time look like a self-denying, conscientious Puritan. He did not think very highly of the American multi-millionaire, nor of his wife, sons, and daughters when compared with some other types of our citizens; even in ability the plutocrat did not seem to Roosevelt to show up very strongly save in his own narrowly limited field; and he and his womanhood, and those of less fortune who modeled their lives upon his and upon the lives of his wife and children, struck Roosevelt as taking very little advantage of their opportunities. But to denounce them with hysterical exaggeration as resembling the unspeakable tyrants and debauchees of classic times, was simple nonsense. Roosevelt hoped he had been of some assistance in moving our people along the line Mr. Rhodes mentioned; that is, along the line of a sane, moderate purpose to supervise the business use of wealth and to curb its excesses, while keeping as far aloof from the policy of the visionary and demagogue as from the policy of the wealthy corruptionist.
CHAPTER XIX. CHOOSING HIS SUCCESSOR
Critics frequently remark that Roosevelt was the most masterful politician of his time, and what we have already seen of his career should justify this assertion. We need, however, to define what we mean by "politician." Boss Platt, of New York, was a politician, but far removed from Roosevelt. Platt and all similar dishonest manipulators of voters—and the dishonesty took many forms—held their power, not by principles, but by exerting an unprincipled influence over the masses who supported them. Roosevelt, on the other hand, was a great politician because he saw earlier than most men certain fundamental principles which he resolved to carry through whether the Bosses or their supporters liked it or not. In a word he believed in principles rather than in men. He was a statesman, and like the statesman he understood that half a loaf is often better than no bread and that, though he must often compromise and conciliate, he must surrender nothing essential.
As a result, his career as Assemblyman, as Civil Service Commissioner, as Police Commissioner of New York City, as Governor of New York State, and as President, seems a continuous rising scale of success. We see the achievement which swallows up the baffling difficulties and the stubborn opposition. These we must always remember if we would measure the extent of the victory. It was Roosevelt's persistence and his refusal to be baffled or turned aside which really made him seem to triumph in all his work.
He never doubted, as I have often said, the necessity of party organization in our political system, although he recognized the tendency to corruption in it, the unreasoning loyalty which it bred and its substitution of Party for Country in its teaching. He had known something of political machine methods at Albany. After he became President, he knew them through and through as they were practiced on national proportions at Washington. The Machine had hoped to shelve him by making him Vice President, and in spite of it he suddenly emerged as President. This confrontation would have been embarrassing on both sides if Roosevelt had not displayed unexpected tact. He avowed his purpose of carrying out McKinley's policies and he kept it faithfully, thus relieving the Machine of much anxiety. By his straightforwardness he even won the approval of Boss Quay, the lifelong political bandit from Pennsylvania, who went to him and said in substance: 'I believe that you are square and I will stand by you until you prove otherwise.' Roosevelt made no bargain, but like a sensible man he did not forbid Quay from voting on his side. Personally, also, Quay's lack of hypocrisy attracted him; for Quay never pretended that he was in politics to promote the Golden Rule and he had skirted so close to the Penal Code that he knew how it looked and how he could evade it. Senator Hanna, the Ohio political Boss, who had made McKinley President by ways which cannot all be documented except by persons who have examined the Recording Angel's book (and research students of that original source never return), was another towering figure whom Roosevelt had to get along with. He found out how to do it, and to do it so amicably that it was reported that he breakfasted often with the Ohio Senator and that they even ate griddle-cakes and scrapple together. The Senator evidently no more understood the alert and fascinating young President than we under stand what is going on in the brain of a playful young tiger, but instinct warned him that this mysterious young creature, electrified by a thousand talents, was dangerous and must be held down. And so with the other members of the Republican Machine which ran both Houses of Congress and expected to run the undisciplined President too. Roosevelt studied them all and discovered how to deal with each.
At the beginning of the year 1904, everybody began to discuss the next Presidential campaign. Who should be the Republican candidate? The President, naturally, wished to be elected and thereby to hold the office in his own right and not by the chance of assassination. Senator Hanna surprised many of the politicians by bagging a good many delegates for himself. He probably did not desire to be President; like Warwick he preferred the glory of king-maker to that of king; but he was a shrewd business man who knew the value of having goods which, although he did not care for them himself, he might exchange for others. I doubt whether he deluded himself into supposing that the American people would elect so conspicuous a representative of the Big Interests as he was, to be President, but he knew that the fortunes of candidates in political conventions are uncertain, and that if he had a considerable body of delegates to swing from one man to another, he might, if his choice won, become the power behind the new throne as he had been behind McKinley's. And if we could suspect him of humor he may have enjoyed fun to a mild degree in keeping the irrepressible Roosevelt in a state of suspense.
Senator Hanna's death, however, in March, 1904, removed the only competitor whom Roosevelt could have regarded as dangerous. Thenceforth he held the field, and yet, farseeing politician though he was, he did not feel sure. The Convention at Chicago nominated him, virtually, by acclamation. In the following months of a rather slow campaign he had fits of depression, although all signs pointed to his success. Talking with Hay as late as October 30, he said: "It seems a cheap sort of thing to say, and I would not say it to other people, but laying aside my own great personal interests and hopes,— for of course I desire intensely to succeed,—I have the greatest pride that in this fight we are not only making it on clearly avowed principles, but we have the principles and the record to avow. How can I help being a little proud when I contrast the men and the considerations by which I am attacked, and those by which I am defended?" *
* W. R. Thayer: John Hay, II, 356, 357.
Just at the end, the campaign was enlivened by the attack which the Democratic candidate, Judge Alton B. Parker, made upon his opponent. He charged that Mr. Cortelyou, the manager of the Republican campaign, had received great sums of money from the Big Interests, and that he had, indeed, been appointed manager because, from his previous experience as Secretary of the Department of Commerce, he had special information in regard to malefactors of great wealth which would enable him to coerce them to good purpose for the Republican Corruption Fund. President Roosevelt published a letter denying Judge Parker's statements as "unqualifiedly and atrociously false." If Judge Parker's attack had any effect on the election it was to reduce his own votes. Later, Edward H. Harriman, the railroad magnate, tried to smirch Roosevelt by accusing him of seeking Harriman's help in 1904, but this charge also was never sustained.
At the election on November 8, Roosevelt had a majority of nearly two million and a half votes out of thirteen million and a half cast, thus securing by large odds the greatest popular majority any President has had. The Electoral College gave him 336 votes and Parker 140. That same evening, his victory being assured, he dictated the following statement to the press: "The wise custom which limits the President to two terms, regards the substance and not the form, and under no circumstances will I be a candidate for and accept the nomination for another." Those who heard this statement, or who had talked the matter over with Roosevelt, under stood that he had in mind a renomination in 1908, but many persons regarded it as his final renunciation of ever being a candidate for the Presidency. And later, when circumstances quite altered the situation, this "promise" was revived to plague him.
>From March 4, 1905, he was President "in his own right." Behind him stood the American people, and he was justified in regarding himself, at that time, as the most popular President since Washington. The unprecedented majority of votes he had received at the election proved that, and proved also that the country believed in "his policies." So he might go ahead to carry out and to extend the general reforms which he had embarked on against much opposition. No one could question that he had a mandate from the people, and during his second term he was still more aggressive.
Now, however, came the little rift which widened and widened and at last opened a great chasm between Roosevelt and the people on one side and the Machine dominators of the Republican Party on the other. For although Roosevelt was the choice of the Republicans and of migratory voters from other parties, although he was, in fact, the idol of millions who supported him, the Republican Machine insisted on ruling. Before an election, the Machine consents to a candidate who can win, but after he has been elected the. Machine instinctively acts as his master. A strong man, like President Cleveland, may hold out against the Bosses of his party, but the penalty he has to pay is to find himself bereft of support and his party shattered. This might have happened in Roosevelt's case also, if he had not been more tactful than Cleveland was in dealing with his enemies.
He now had to learn the bitter knowledge of the trials which beset a President whose vision outsoars that of the practical rulers of his party. In the House of Representatives there was a little group led by the Speaker, Joseph G. Cannon, of Illinois, who controlled that part of Congress with despotic arrogance. In the Senate there was a similar group of political oligarchs, called the Steering Committee, which decided what questions should be discussed, what bills should be killed, and what others should be passed. Aldrich, of Rhode Island, headed this. A multi-millionaire himself, he was the particular advocate of the Big Interests. Next came Allison, of Iowa, an original Republican, who entered Congress in 1863 and remained there for the rest of his life, a hide-bound party man, personally honest and sufficiently prominent to be "talked of" for Vice President on several occasions. He was rather the peacemaker of the Steering Committee, having the art of reconciling antagonists and of smoothing annoying angles. A little older, was Orville H. Platt, the Senator from Connecticut who died in 1905, and was esteemed a model of virtue among the Senators of his time. As an offset to the men of threescore and ten and over was Albert J. Beveridge, the young Senator from Indiana, vigorous, eloquent, fearless, and radical, whose mind and heart were consecrated to Roosevelt. Beveridge, at least, had no ties, secret or open, with the Trusts, or the Interests, or Wall Street; on the contrary, he attacked them fiercely, and among other Anti-Trust legislation he drove through the Meat Inspection Bill. How he managed to get on with the gray wolves of the Committee it would be interesting to hear; but we must rid ourselves of the notion that those gray wolves sought personal profit in money by their steering. None of them was charged with using his position for the benefit of his purse. Power was what those politicians desired; Power, which gave them the opportunity to make the political tenets of their party prevail. Orville Platt, or Allison, regarded Republicanism with al most religious fanaticism; and we need not search far in history to find fanatics who were personally very good and tender-hearted men, but who would put heretics to death with a smile of pious satisfaction.
Roosevelt's task was to persuade the Steering Committee to support him in as many of his Radical measures as he could. They had done this during his first Administration, partly because they did not see whither he was leading. Senator Hanna, then a member of the Steering Committee, attempted to steady all Republicans who seemed likely to be seduced by Roosevelt's subversive novelties by telling them to "stand pat," and, as we look back now, the Senator from Ohio with his stand-pattism broom reminds us of the portly Mrs. Partington trying to sweep back the inflowing Atlantic Ocean. During the second Administration, however, no one could plead ignorance or surprise when Roosevelt urged on new projects. He made no secret of his policies, and he could not have disguised, if he would, the fact that he was thorough. By a natural tendency the "Stand-Patters" drew closer together. Similarly the various elements which followed Roosevelt tended to combine. Already some of these were beginning to be called "Insurgents," but this name did not frighten them nor did it shame them back into the fold of the orthodox Republicans. As Roosevelt continued his fight for reclamation, conservation, health, and pure foods, and governmental control of the great monopolies, the opposition to him, on the part of the capitalists affected, grew more intense. What wonder that these men, realizing at last that their unlimited privileges would be taken away from them, resented their deprivation. The privileged classes in England have not welcomed the suggestion that their great landed estates shall be cut up, nor can we expect that the American dukes and marquises of oil and steel and copper and transportation should look forward with meek acquiescence to their own extinction.
Nevertheless, there is no politics in politics, and so the gray wolves who ran the Republican Party, knowing that Roosevelt, and not themselves, had the determining popular support of the country, were too wary to block him entirely as the Democrats had done under Cleveland. They let his bills go through, but with more evident reluctance, only after bitter fighting. And as they were nearly all church members in good standing, we can imagine that they prayed the Lord to hasten the day when this pestilent marplot in the White House should retire from office. Trusting Roosevelt so far as to believe that he would stand by his pledge not to be a candidate in 1908, they cast about for a person of their own stripe whom they could make the country accept.
But Roosevelt himself felt too deeply involved in the cause of Reform, which he had been pushing for seven years, to allow his successor to be dictated by the Stand-Patters. So he sought among his associates in the Cabinet for the member who, judging by their work together, would most loyally carry on his policies, and at length he decided upon William H. Taft, his Secretary of War. "Root would make the better President, but Taft would be the better candidate," Theodore wrote to an intimate, and that opinion was generally held in Washington and elsewhere. Mr. Root had so conducted the Department of State, since the death of John Hay, that many good judges regarded him as the ablest of all the Secretaries of that Department, and Roosevelt himself went even farther. "Root," he said to me, "is the greatest intellectual force in American public life since Lincoln." But in his career as lawyer, which brought him to the head of the American Bar, he had been attorney for powerful corporations, and that being the time when the Government was fighting the Corporations, it was not supposed that his candidacy would be popular. So Taft was preferred to him.
The Republican Machine accepted Taft as a candidate with composure, if not with enthusiasm. Anyone would be better than Roosevelt in the eyes of the Machine and its supporters, and perhaps they perceived in Secretary Taft qualities not wholly unsympathetic. They were probably thankful, also, that Roosevelt had not demanded more. He allowed the "regulars" to choose the nominee for Vice-President, and he did not meddle with the make-up of the Republican National Committee. One of his critics, Dean Lewis, marks this as Roosevelt's chief political blunder, because by leaving the Republican National Committee in command he virtually predetermined the policy of the next four years. Only a very strong President with equal zeal and fighting quality could win against the Committee. In 1908 he had them so docile that he might have changed their membership, and changed the rules by which elections were governed if he had so willed, but, just as before the election of 1904, Roosevelt had doubted his own popularity in the country, so now he missed his chance because he did not wish to seem to wrest from the unwilling Machine powers which it lost no time in using against him.
The campaign never reached a dramatic crisis. Mr. Bryan, the Democratic candidate, who still posed as the Boy Orator of the Platte, although he had passed forty-eight years of age, made a spirited canvass, and when the votes were counted he gained more than a million and a third over the total for Judge Parker in 1904. But Mr. Taft won easily by a million and a quarter votes.
Between election and inauguration an ominous disillusion set in. The Rooseveltians had taken it for granted that the new President would carry on the policies of the old; more than that, the impression prevailed among them that the high officials of the Roosevelt Administration, including some members of his Cabinet, would be retained, but when Inauguration Day came, it appeared that Mr. Taft had chosen a new set of advisers, and he denied that he had given any one reason to believe that he would do otherwise.
March 4, 1909, was a wintry day in Washington. A snowstorm and high winds prevented holding the inaugural exercises out of doors as usual on the East Front of the Capitol. President Roosevelt and President-elect Taft drove in state down Pennsylvania Avenue, and Mr. Taft, having taken the oath of office, delivered his inaugural address in the Senate Chamber. The ceremonies being over, Mr. Roosevelt, instead of accompanying the new President to the White House, went to the railway station and took the train for New York. This innovation had been planned some time before, because Mr. Roosevelt had arranged to sail for Europe in a few days, and needed to reach Oyster Bay as soon as possible to complete his preparations.
Many an eye-witness who watched him leave, as a simple civilian, the Hall of Congress, must have felt that with his going there closed one of the most memorable administrations this country had ever known. Roosevelt departed, but his invisible presence still filled the capital city and frequented every quarter of the Nation.
CHAPTER XX. WORLD HONORS
What to do with ex-Presidents is a problem which worries those happy Americans who have nothing else to worry over. They think of an ex-President as of a sacred white elephant, who must not work, although he has probably too little money to keep him alive in proper ease and dignity. In fact, however, these gentlemen have managed, at least during the past half-century, to sink back into the civilian mass from which they emerged without suffering want themselves or dimming the lustre which radiates from the office. Roosevelt little thought that in quitting the Presidency he was not going into political obscurity.
Roosevelt had two objects in view when he left the White House. He sought long and complete rest, and to place himself beyond the reach of politicians. In fairness, he wished to give Mr. Taft a free field, which would hardly have been possible if Roosevelt had remained in Washington or New York, where politicians might have had access to him.
Accordingly, he planned to hunt big game in Africa for a year, and in order to have a definite purpose, which might give his expedition lasting usefulness, he arranged to collect specimens for the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. His second son, Kermit, then twenty years of age, besides several naturalists and hunters, accompanied him. His expedition sailed from New York on March 23d, touched at the Azores and at Gibraltar, where the English Commander showed him the fortifications, and transshipped at Naples into an East-African liner. He found his stateroom filled with flowers sent by his admiring friend, Kaiser William II, with a telegram of effusive greeting, and with messages and tokens from minor potentates. More important to him than these tributes, however, was the presence of Frederick C. Selous, the most famous hunter of big game in Africa, who joined the ship and proved a congenial fellow passenger. They reached Mombasa on April 23rd, and after the caravan had been made ready, they started for the interior.
We need not follow in detail the year which Roosevelt and his party spent in his African hunting. The railroad took them to Lake Victoria Nyanza, but they stopped at many places on the way, and made long excursions into the country. Then from the Lake they proceeded to the Albert Nyanza and steamed down the Nile to Gondokoro, which they reached on February 26, 1910. On March 14th at Khartoum, where Mrs. Roosevelt and their daughter Ethel awaited them, Roosevelt emerged into civilization again. He and Kermit had shot 512 beasts and birds, of which they kept about a dozen for trophies, the rest going to the Smithsonian Institution and to the museums. A few of their specimens were unique, and the total product of the expedition was the most important which had ever reached America from Africa.
After spending a few days in visiting Omdurman and other scenes connected with the British conquest of the Mahdists, less than a dozen years before, the Roosevelts went down the river to Cairo, where the ex-President addressed the Egyptian students. These were the backbone of the so-called Nationalist Party, which aimed at driving out the British and had killed the Prime Minister a month before. They warned Roosevelt that if he dared to touch on this subject he, too, would be assassinated. But such threats did not move him then or ever. Roosevelt reproved them point-blank for killing Boutros Pasha, and told them that a party which sought freedom must show its capacity for living by law and order, before it could expect to deserve freedom.
>From Egypt, Roosevelt crossed to Naples, and then began what must be described as a triumphal progress through Central and Western Europe. Only General Grant, after his Presidency, had made a similar tour, but he did not excite a tenth of the popular interest and enthusiasm which Roosevelt excited. Although Grant had the prestige of being the successful general of the most tremendous war ever fought in America, he had nothing picturesque or magnetic in his personality. The peasants in the remote regions had heard of Roosevelt; persons of every class in the cities knew about him a little more definitely; and all were keen to see him. Except Garibaldi, no modern ever set multitudes on fire as Roosevelt did, and Garibaldi was the hero of a much narrower sphere and had the advantage of being the hero of the then downtrodden masses. Roosevelt, on the other hand, belonged to the ruling class in America, had served nearly eight years as President of the United States, and was equally the popular idol without class distinction. And he had just come from a very remarkable exploit, having led his scientific and hunting expedition for twelve months through the perils and hardships of tropical Africa. We Americans may well thrill with satisfaction to remember that it was this most typical of Americans who received the honors and homage of the world precisely because he was most typically American and strikingly individual.
Before he reached Italy on his way back, he had invitations from most of the sovereigns of Europe to visit them, and universities and learned bodies requested him to address them. At Rome, as guest of King Victor Emanuel II, he received ovations of the exuberant and throbbing kind, which only the Italians can give. But here also occurred what might have been, but for his common sense and courage, a hitch in his triumphal progress. The intriguers of the Vatican, always on the alert to edify the Roman Catholics in the United States, thought they saw a chance to exalt themselves and humble the Protestants by stipulating that Colonel Roosevelt, who had accepted an invitation to call upon the Pope, should not visit any Protestant organization while he was in that city. Some time before, Vice-President Fairbanks had incensed Cardinal Merry del Val, the Papal Secretary, and his group, by remarks at the Methodist College in Rome. Here was a dazzling opportunity for not only getting even, but for coming out victorious. If the Vatican schemers could force Colonel Roosevelt, who, at the moment, was the greatest figure in the world, to obey their orders, they might exult in the sight of all the nations. Should he balk, he would draw down upon himself a hostile Catholic vote at home. Probably the good-natured Pope himself understood little about the intrigue and took little part in it, for Pius X was rather a kindly and a genuinely pious pontiff. But Cardinal Merry del Val, apt pupil of the Jesuits, made an egregious blunder if he expected to catch Theodore Roosevelt in a Papal trap. The Rector of the American Catholic College in Rome wrote: " 'The Holy Father will be delighted to grant audience to Mr. Roosevelt on April 5th, and hopes nothing will arise to prevent it, such as the much-regretted incident which made the reception of Mr. Fairbanks impossible.' Roosevelt replied to our Ambassador as follows: 'On the other hand, I in my turn must decline to have any stipulations made or submit to any conditions which in any way limit my freedom of conduct.' To this the Vatican replied. through our Ambassador: 'In view of the circumstances for which neither His Holiness nor Mr. Roosevelt is responsible, an audience could not occur except on the understanding expressed in the former message.'" *
* Washburn, 164.
Ex-President Roosevelt did not, by calling upon the Pope, furnish Cardinal Merry del Val with cause to gloat. A good while afterward in talking over the matter with me, Roosevelt dismissed it with "No self-respecting American could allow his actions or his going and coming to be dictated to him by any Pope or King." That, to him, was so self-evident a fact that it required no discussion; and the American people, including probably a large majority of Roman Catholics, agreed with him.
>From Rome he went to Austria, to Vienna first, where the aged Emperor, Francis Joseph, welcomed him; and then to Budapest, where the Hungarians, eager for their independence, shouted themselves hoarse at sight of the representative of American independence. Wherever he went the masses in the cities crowded round him and the people in the country flocked to cheer him as he passed. Since Norway had conferred on him the Nobel Peace Prize after the Russo-Japanese War, he journeyed to Christiania to pay his respects to the Nobel Committee, and there he delivered an address on the conditions necessary for a universal peace in which he foreshadowed many of the terms which have since been preached by the advocates of a League of Nations. In Berlin, the Kaiser received him with ostentatious friendliness. He addressed him as "Friend Roosevelt." Since the Colonel was not a monarch the Kaiser could not address him as "Brother" or as "Cousin," and the word "Friend "disguised whatever condescension he may have felt. There was a grand military review of twelve thousand troops, which the Kaiser and his "Friend" inspected, and he took care to inform Roosevelt that he was the first civilian to whom this honor had ever been paid. An Imperial photographer made snapshots of the Colonel and the Kaiser, and these were subsequently given to the Colonel with superscriptions and comments written by the Kaiser on the negatives. Roosevelt's impression of his Imperial host was, on the whole, favorable. I do not think he regarded him as very solid, personally, but he recognized the results of the power which William's inherited position as Emperor conferred on him.
Paris did not fall behind any of the other European capitals in the enthusiasm of its welcome. There, Roosevelt was received in solemn session by the Sorbonne, before which he spoke on citizenship in a Republic, and, with prophetic vision, he warned against the seductions of phrase-makers as among the insidious dangers to which Republics were exposed.
His most conspicuous triumph, however, was in England. On May 6th, King Edward VII died, and President Taft appointed Colonel Roosevelt special envoy, to represent the United States at the royal funeral. This drew together crowned heads from all parts of Europe, so that at one of the State functions at Buckingham Palace there were no fewer than thirteen monarchs at table. The Colonel stayed at Dorchester House with the American Ambassador, Mr. Whitelaw Reid, and was beset by calls and invitations from the crowned personages. I have heard him give a most amusing account of that experience, but it is too soon to repeat it. Then, as always, he could tell a bore at sight, and the bore could not deceive him by any disguise of ermine cloak or Imperial title. The German Kaiser seems to have taken pains to pose as the preferred intimate of "Friend Roosevelt," but the "Friend" remained unwaveringly Democratic. One day William telephoned to ask Roosevelt to lunch with him, but the Colonel diplomatically pleaded a sore throat, and declined. At another time when the Kaiser wished him to come and chat, Roosevelt replied that he would with pleasure, but that he had only twenty minutes at the Kaiser's disposal, as he had already arranged to call on Mrs. Humphry Ward at three-thirty. These reminiscences may seem trifling, unless you take them as illustrating the truly Democratic simplicity with which the First Citizen of the American Republic met the scions of the Hapsburgs and the Hohenzollerns on equal terms as gentleman with gentlemen.
Some of his backbiters and revilers at home whispered that his head was turned by all these pageants and courtesies of kings, and that he regretted that our system provided for no monarch. This afforded him infinite amusement. "Think of it!" he said to me after his return. "They even say that I want to be a prince myself! Not I! I've seen too many of them! Do you know what a prince is? He's a cross between Ward McAllister and Vice-President Fairbanks. How can any one suppose I should like to be that?" It may be necessary to inform the later generation that Mr. Ward McAllister was by profession a decayed gentleman in New York City who achieved fame by compiling a list of the Four Hundred persons whom he condescended to regard as belonging to New York Society. Vice-President Fairbanks was an Indiana politician, tall and thin and oppressively taciturn, who seemed to be stricken dumb by the weight of an immemorial ancestry or by the sense of his own importance; and who was not less cold than dumb, so that irreverent jokers reported that persons might freeze to death in his presence if they came too near or stayed too long.
All this was only the froth on the stream of Roosevelt's experience in England. He took deep enjoyment in meeting the statesmen and the authors and the learned men there. The City of London bestowed the freedom of the city upon him. The Universities of Cambridge and Oxford gave him their highest honorary degrees. At the London Guildhall he made a memorable address, in which he warned the British nation to see to it that the grievances of the Egyptian people were not allowed to fester. Critics at the moment chided this advice as an exhibition of bad taste; an intrusion, if not an impertinence, on the part of a foreigner. They did not know, however, that before speaking, Roosevelt submitted his remarks to high officers in the Government and had their approval; for apparently they were well pleased that this burning topic should be brought under discussion by means of Roosevelt's warning.
At Cambridge University he exhorted the students not to be satisfied with a life of sterile athleticism. "I never was an athlete," said he, "although I have always led an outdoor life, and have accomplished something in it, simply because my theory is that almost any man can do a great deal, if he will, by getting the utmost possible service out of the qualities that he actually possesses . . . . The average man who is successful—the average statesman, the average public servant, the average soldier, who wins what we call great success—is not a genius. He is a man who has merely the ordinary qualities that he shares with his fellows, but who has developed those ordinary qualities to a more than ordinary degree."
The culmination of his addresses abroad was his Romanes Lecture, delivered at the Convocation at Oxford University on June 7, 1910. Lord Curzon, the Chancellor, presided. Roosevelt took for his theme, "Biological Analogies in History," a subject which his lifelong interest in natural history and his considerable reading in scientific theory made appropriate. He afterwards said that in order not to commit shocking blunders he consulted freely his old friend Dr. Henry Fairfield Osborn, head of the Museum of Natural History in New York City, but the substance and ideas were unquestionably his own.
Dr. Henry Goudy, "the public orator" at Cambridge, in a Presentation Speech, eulogized Roosevelt's manifold activities and achievements, declaring, among other things, that he had "acquired a title to be ranked with his great predecessor Abraham Lincoln—'of whom one conquered slavery, and the other corruption.'" Lord Curzon addressed him as, "peer of the most august kings, queller of wars, destroyer of monsters wherever found, yet the most human of mankind, deeming nothing indifferent to you, not even the blackest of the black."
This cluster of foreign addresses is not the least remarkable of Roosevelt's intellectual feats. No doubt among those who listened to him in each place there were carping critics, scholars who did not find his words scholarly enough, dilettanti made tepid by over-culture, intellectual cormorants made heavy by too much information, who found no novelty in what he said, and were insensible to the rush and freshness of his style. But in spite of these he did plant in each audience thoughts which they remembered, and he touched upon a range of interests which no other man then alive could have made to seem equally vital.
On June 18th Mr. and Mrs. Roosevelt reached New York. All the way up the harbor from Sandy Hook, he was escorted by a vast concourse of vessels, large and small, tugs, steamboats, and battleships. At the Narrows, Fort Wadsworth greeted him with the Presidential salute of twenty-one guns. The revenue-cutter, Androscoggin, took him from the Kaiserin Auguste Victoria, on which he had crossed the ocean, and landed him at the Battery. There an immense multitude awaited him. Mayor Gaynor bade him welcome, to which he replied briefly in affectionate words to his fellow countrymen. Then began a triumphal procession up Broadway, and up Fifth Avenue, surpassing any other which New York had seen. No other person in America had ever been so welcomed. The million or more who shouted and cheered and waved, were proud of him because of his great reception in Europe, but they admired him still more for his imperishable work at home, and loved him most of all, because they knew him as their friend and fellow, Theodore Roosevelt, their ideal American. A group of Rough Riders and two regiments of Spanish War Veterans formed his immediate escort, than whom none could have pleased him better.
His head was not turned, but his heart must have overflowed with gratitude.
Later, when the crowds had dispersed, he went into a bookstore, and some one in the street having recognized him, the word passed, and a great crowd cheered him as he came out. Telling his sister of the occurrence, he said, "And they soon will be throwing rotten apples at me!"
CHAPTER XXI. WHICH WAS THE REPUBLICAN PARTY?
Did those words of Roosevelt spring from his sense of humor—humor which recognizes the topsy-turvy of life and its swift changes, and still laughs—or from the instinct which knows that even in the sweetest of all experiences there must be a drop of bitterness? Whatever their cause, they proved to be a true foreboding. He had not been home twenty four hours before he perceived, on talking with his friends, that the Republican Party during his absence had drifted far from the course he had charted. "His policies" had vanished with his control, and the men who now managed the Administration and the party regarded him, not merely with suspicion, but with aversion.
To tell the story of this conflict is the disagreeable duty of the historian of. that period, especially if he have friends and acquaintances on both sides of the feud. There are some facts not yet known; there are others which must be touched upon very delicately if at all; and, in the main, so much of the episode grew out of personal likes and dislikes that it is hard to base one's account of it on documents. In trying to get at the truth, I have been puzzled by the point-blank contradictions of antagonistic witnesses, whose veracity has not been questioned. Equally perplexing are the lapses of memory in cases where I happen to have seen letters or documents written at the time and giving real facts. The country would assuredly have been alarmed if it had suspected that, during the years from 1909 to 1912, the statesmen who had charge of it, were as liable to attacks of amnesia as they proved to be later.
The head and front of the quarrel which wrecked the Republican Party must be sought in Roosevelt's thoroughly patriotic desire to have a successor who should carry on the principles which he had fought for and had embodied in national laws during the nearly eight years of his Presidency. He felt more passionately than anybody else the need of continuing the work he had begun, not because it was his work, but because on it alone, as he thought, the reconciliation between Capital and Labor in the United States could be brought about, and the impending war of classes could be prevented. So he chose Judge Taft as the person who, he believed, would follow his lead in this undertaking. But the experience of a hundred and ten years, since Washington was succeeded by John Adams, might have taught him that no President can quite reproduce the qualities of his predecessor and that the establishment of a Presidential dynasty is not congenial to the spirit of the American people. Jefferson did, indeed, hand on his mantle to Madison, and the experiment partially succeeded. But Madison was much nearer Jefferson in ability and influence than Judge Taft was near Roosevelt.
During the campaign of 1908, and immediately after the election, we can imagine that Mr. Taft was sincerely open to Roosevelt's suggestions, and that he quite naturally gave Roosevelt the impression that he intended to follow them, not because they were Roosevelt's, but because they were his own also. As soon as he began to realize that he was President, and that a President has a right to speak and act on his own motion, Mr. Taft saw other views rising within him, other preferences, other resolves. From the bosom of his family he may have heard the exhortation, "Be your own President; don't be any body's man or rubber stamp." No doubt intimate friends strengthened this advice. The desire to be free and independent, which lies at the bottom of every normal heart, took possession of him also; further, was it not the strict duty of a President to give the country the benefit of his best judgment instead of following the rules laid down by another, or to parrot another's doctrines?
Whatever may have been the process by which the change came, it had come before Taft's inauguration. He chose a new Cabinet, although Roosevelt supposed that several of the members of his Cabinet would be retained. Before the Colonel started for Africa he felt that a change had come, but he went away with the hope that things would turn out better than he feared. His long absence under the Equator would relieve any anxiety Taft might have as to Roosevelt's intention to dictate or interfere.
Very little political news reached the Colonel while he was hunting. On reaching Italy, on his return journey, he met Mr. Gifford Pinchot, who had come post-haste from New York, and conveyed to him the latest account of the political situation at home. It was clear that the Republican Party had split into two factions-the Regulars, who regarded President Taft as their standard-bearer, and the Insurgents, who rallied round Roosevelt, and longed desperately for his return. To the enemies of the Administration, it seemed that Mr. Taft had turned away from the Rooseveltian policies. In his appointments he had replaced Roosevelt men by Regulars. His Secretary of the Interior, Mr. Ballinger, came into conflict with Mr. Pinchot over conservation, and the public assumed that the President was not only unconcerned to uphold conservation, but was willing that the natural resources of the Nation should fall again into the hands of greedy private corporations. This assumption proved to be false, and Secretary Ballinger was exonerated by a public investigation; but for two years, at least, the cloud hung over Mr. Taft's reputation, and, as always happens, the correction being far less nimble than the accusation, took a much longer time in remedying the harm that it had done.
When, therefore, Roosevelt landed at the Battery on June 18, 1910, the day of his apotheosis, he knew that a factional fight was raging in the Republican Party. His trusty followers, and every one who bore a grudge against the Administration, urged him to unfurl his flag and check any further disintegration; but prudence controlled him and he announced that he should not speak on political matters for at least two months. He was sincere; but a few days later at the Harvard Commencement exercises he met Governor Hughes, of New York State, who was waging a fierce struggle against the Machine to put through a bill on primary elections. The Governor begged the Colonel as a patriotic boss-hating citizen, to help him, and Roosevelt hastily wrote and dispatched to Albany a telegram urging Republicans to support Hughes. In the result, his advice was not heeded, a straw which indicated that the Machine no longer feared to disregard him.
For several weeks Roosevelt waited and watched, and found out by personal investigation how the Republican Party stood. It took little inspection to show him that the Taft Administration was not carrying out his policies, and that the elements against which he had striven for eight years were creeping back. Indeed, they had crept back. It would be unjust to Mr. Taft to assert that he had not continued the war on Trusts. Under his able Attorney-General, Mr. George W. Wickersham, many prosecutions were going forward, and in some cases the legislation begun by Roosevelt was extended and made more effective. I speak now as to the general course of Mr. Taft's Administration and not specially of the events of 1910. In spite of this continuation of the battle with the Octopus—as the Big Interests, Wall Street, and Trusts were indiscriminately nicknamed—the public did not believe that Mr. Taft and his assistants pushed the fight with their whole heart. Perhaps they were misjudged. Mr. Taft being in no sense a spectacular person, whatever he did would lack the spectacular quality which radiated from all Roosevelt's actions. Then, too, the pioneer has deservedly a unique reward. Just as none of the navigators who followed Columbus on the voyage to the Western Continent could win credit like his, so the prestige which Roosevelt gained from being the first to grapple with the great monopolies could not be shared by any successor of his, who simply carried on the work of "trust-busting," as it was called, which had be come commonplace.
Nevertheless, although nobody doubted Mr. Wickersham's legal ability, the country felt that during the Taft Administration zeal had gone out of the campaign of the Administration against the Interests. Roosevelt had plunged into the fray with the enthusiasm of a Crusader. Taft followed him from afar, but without feeling the Crusader's consecration or his terrible sincerity. And during the first six months of his Administration, President Taft had unwittingly given the country the measure of himself.