One of the leaders of the poisonous brood who had made this young man believe such villainous nonsense was a foreign woman named Emma Goldman, who for twenty or thirty years went up and down the land, trying to overthrow the law and government, yet always calling for the protection of both when she was in danger. The American Government tolerated this mischiefmaker until 1919, when it properly sent her, and others of her stripe, back to their own country.
President McKinley, who was the gentlest and kindest of men, did not die immediately from the bullet wound, but lingered for about a week. Vice-President Roosevelt joined him in Buffalo, and came to believe, from the reports of the doctors, that the President would get well. So he returned to his family who were in the Adirondacks. A few days later, while Mr. Roosevelt was mountain- climbing, a message came that the President was worse and that the Vice-President must come at once to Buffalo. He drove fifty miles by night, in a buckboard down the mountain roads, took a special train, and arrived in Buffalo the next afternoon.
Mr. McKinley was dead, and Theodore Roosevelt took the oath of office as President. He was under forty-three years of age, the youngest man who had ever become President.
It is important to note his first act. It was to insist that all of Mr. McKinley's Cabinet remain in office. Thus he secured for the continued service of the Nation, some of its ablest men: Mr. Hay, one of the most accomplished Secretaries of State we have ever had, and Mr. Root, Secretary of War, and afterwards Secretary of State, whose highly trained legal mind placed him at the head of his profession.
A test of a great man, as well as a test of a modest man, in the true sense, is whether he is willing to have other able and eminent men around him as his assistants and fellow-workers. The most remarkable instances of this among our Presidents were Washington and Lincoln. The latter appointed men not because they admired him, or were personally agreeable to him; indeed some of his strongest and bitterest antagonists were put in his Cabinet, because he knew that they could well serve the country.
Mr. McKinley had chosen excellent Cabinet officers, and these Mr. Roosevelt kept in office, promoting them and appointing other men of high ability to other offices as the need arose. He did not care to shine as a great man among a group of second-rate persons; he preferred to be chief among his peers, the leader of the strongest and most sagacious of his time.
In saying this, I do not mean to compare Roosevelt with Washington or Lincoln or any of the noble figures of the past. Such comparisons are made too often; every President for fifty years has been acclaimed by his admirers as "the greatest since Lincoln," or "as great as Lincoln." This is both foolish and useless. There has been no character in our land like Lincoln; he stands alone. What we can say of Mr. Roosevelt, now, is that he was admired and beloved by millions of his fellow-countrymen while he lived; that his was an extraordinary and entirely different character from that of any of our Presidents; and that upon his death thousands who had opposed him and bitterly hated him but a few years before, were altering their opinion and speaking of him in admiration—with more than the mere respect which custom pays to the dead. This has gone on, and other unusual signs have been given of the world's esteem for him. So much we can say; and leave the determination of his place in our history for a later time than ours.
One thing which many people feared when Roosevelt became President was that he would get the country into a war. They thought he liked war for its own sake. Men said: "Oh! this Roosevelt is such a rash, impulsive fellow! He will have us in a war in a few months!" The exact opposite was the truth. He kept our country and our flag respected throughout the world; he avoided two possible wars; he helped end a foreign war; we lived at peace. Of him it can truly be said: he kept us out of war, and he kept us in the paths of honor.
He preached the doctrine of the square deal.
"A man who is good enough to shed his blood for his country, is good enough to be given a square deal afterward. More than that no man is entitled to, and less than that no man shall have." [Footnote: Springfield, Ill., July 4, 1503. Thayer, p. 212.]
He did not seek help and rewards from the rich by enabling them to prey upon the poor; neither did he seek the votes and applause of the poor by cheap and unjust attacks upon the rich. To the people who expect a public man to lean unfairly to one side or the other; who cannot understand any different way of acting, he was a constant puzzle.
"Oh! we have got him sized up!" they would say, "he is for the labor unions against the capitalist!" and in a few months they would be puzzled again: "No; he is for Wall Street and he is down on the poor laboring man."
For a long time they could not get it into their heads that he was for the honest man, whether laboring man or capitalist, and against the dishonest man, whether laboring man or capitalist.
"While I am President the doors of the White House will open as easily for the labor leader as for the capitalist,—and no easier." [Footnote: Hagedorn, p. 242. ]
Many Presidents might have said the first part of that sentence. Few of them would have added the last three words.
He annoyed many people in the South by inviting a very able and eminent Negro, Booker T. Washington, to eat luncheon with him. According to the curious way of thinking on this subject, Mr. Washington who had been good enough to eat dinner at the table of the Queen of England, was not good enough to eat at the White House. Shortly after being violently denounced for being too polite to a Negro, he was still more violently denounced for being too harsh to Negroes. He discharged from the Army some riotous and disorderly Negro soldiers. Persons with small natures had attacked him for showing courtesy to a distinguished man; other persons with equally small natures now attacked him for acting justly towards mutinous soldiers.
What did he do while he was President? What laws were passed by Congress, which he advocated or urged, and which he approved by his signature? Here are some of them as they are given by Mr. Washburn, [Footnote: Washburn, "Theodore Roosevelt," p. 128.] a Congressman of that time:
The Elkins Anti-Rebate Law, to end unjust business dealings of the railroads.
The creation of the Department of Commerce and Labor.
The law for building the Panama Canal.
The laws to prevent impure and poisonous food being sold under false labels; and the law to establish the proper inspection of meat.
The creation of the Bureau of Immigration.
The law limiting the working hours of employees and protecting them in case of injury in their occupations.
The law against child-labor in the District of Columbia.
The reformation of the Consular Service.
The law to stop corporations from giving great sums of money for political purposes at election time.
You will notice that these were not laws to enable a few rich men to get richer still at the expense of the many; neither were they designed to help dishonest labor leaders to plunder the employers. They were aimed to bring about justice between man and man, to protect the weak.
There was, when Mr. Roosevelt became President, a long standing dispute between this country and England and Canada about the boundary of Alaska. This was quickly settled by arbitration; our rights were secured; and all possible causes of war were removed.
The South American country, Colombia, made an attempt to block the building of the Panama Canal. This canal had been planned to run through the State of Panama, which was part of the Republic of Colombia. It was a part of that country, however, separated by fifteen days' journey from the capital city, Bogota, and so separated in friendship from the rest of the country that it had made over fifty attempts in fifty years to revolt and gain independence. Our State Department, through Mr. Hay, had come to an understanding with the Minister from Colombia as to the canal, and the amount we were to pay Colombia for the privilege of building this important waterway, for the benefit of the whole world.
But the Colombian Government at that time were a slippery lot,— dealing with them, said President Roosevelt, "was like trying to nail currant jelly to a wall." It struck them that they would do well to squeeze more money yet out of Uncle Sam, and that they might by twisting and turning, get forty million dollars as easily as ten millions. So they delayed and quibbled.
In the meantime, the people of Panama, not wishing to lose the advantage of the canal, and desiring greatly to take any opportunity to free themselves from the Colombians who had plundered them for years, declared a revolution, which took place without bloodshed. Colombian troops, coming to try to reconquer Panama, were forbidden to land by our ships, acting under President Roosevelt's orders. We were under treaty agreement to preserve order on the Isthmus. Our Government recognized the new Republic of Panama, an act which was promptly followed by all the nations of the earth. We then opened negotiations with Panama, paid the money to her, and built the Canal.
Of course the politicians in Colombia howled with rage. A tricky horse-dealer, who has a horse which he has abused for years, but desires to sell to a customer for four times its value, would be angry if the horse ran away, and he lost not only the animal, but also his chances of swindling the customer. So with the Colombians. Some people in this country took up their cry, and professed to feel great sorrow for Colombia. It was noticed, however, that this sorrow seemed to afflict most pitifully the people who were strongest in their opposition to Mr. Roosevelt, and this caused a suspicion that their pretended horror at the act of our Government was not so much based upon any knowledge of the facts, as upon a readiness to think evil of the President. Others who joined in an expression of grief at the time, and later attempted to bolster up Colombia's claims for damages, belonged to that class referred to in connection with the sinking of the Maine, who always think the best of any foreign country and suspect the worst of their own.
The fact that other countries instantly recognized Panama, and that President Roosevelt's action was completely and emphatically endorsed by Secretary Hay, proved that the Panama incident was an example of the promptness, wisdom and courage in the conduct of foreign relations which leads alike to justice and the satisfactory settlement of difficult problems. For not the bitterest opponent of Mr. Roosevelt's administration ever dared to cast a shadow of doubt upon the honesty of Secretary Hay. The canal is now built, thanks in large part to President Roosevelt, and we have had a chance to see that wise decisions may often be reached swiftly; whereas dawdling, hesitation and timidity, which are sometimes mistaken for statesmanship, are more than apt to end, not only in general injustice, but in practical failure.
The war between Russia and Japan took place during President Roosevelt's term of office. After it had been going on over a year, and Japan had won victories by land and sea, the President asked both countries to open negotiations for peace. He continued to exert strong influence in every quarter to help bring the two enemies to an agreement. Only since his death has it become generally known how hard he worked to this end. A peace conference was held at Kittery Navy Yard in Maine, and a treaty was signed which ended the war.
For his action in this, President Roosevelt was the first American to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. This was a sad reverse to the predictions of those who had been so sure that he was longing to start wars, instead of end them. Indeed, men who prophesied evil about Mr. Roosevelt, as well as those who tried to catch him in traps, had a most disappointing experience. The Nobel Prize consisted of a diploma, and an award in money of $40,000. This he tried to devote to helping the cause of peace between capital and labor in America. When Congress failed to take the needed action to apply his money for this purpose, it was returned to him. During the Great War he gave all of it to different relief organizations, like the Red Cross, and other societies for helping the sufferers.
The President assembled the most powerful fleet we had ever had together, sixteen battleships, with destroyers, and sent them on a cruise around the world. This was bitterly opposed at the time. Public men and newspapers predicted that the fleet could never make the voyage, or that even if it could, its effect would be to cause war with some other nation. The most emphatic predictions were made by a famous newspaper that the entrance of the fleet into the Pacific Ocean would be the signal for a declaration of war upon us by a foreign power. Nothing of the sort happened. The cruise attracted to the American navy the admiration of the world; it immensely increased the usefulness of the Navy itself by the experience it gave the officers and men; and it served warning upon anybody who needed it (and some folk did need it) that America was not a country of dollar-chasing Yankees, rich and helpless, but that it had the ability to defend itself.
This was an illustration of Roosevelt's use of the old saying: "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far." When he first repeated this, it was seized upon by the newspapers for its amusing quality, and he was henceforth pictured as carrying a tremendous bludgeon, of the sort which giants usually bore in the tale of "Jack the Giant Killer." Timid folk thought that it proved their worst fears about his fondness for a fight. They failed to notice the "Speak softly" part of the saying. It was only a vivid way of advising his countrymen to be quiet and polite in their dealings with other nations, but not to let America become defenseless. What hasty and shallow critics denounced as the threat of a bully, proved in practice to be the sagacious advice of a statesman, whose promise when he took office, to preserve the peace and honor of his beloved country, was kept faithfully and precisely.
And he was able to keep the peace, to fill the office of President for seven years without having a shot fired by our forces, because he made it clear that this country would not submit to wrong, would not argue or bicker with foreign trespassers, kidnappers, highwaymen or murderers, but would promptly fight them. He did not fill the air with beautiful words about his love of peace; but we had peace. For as he knew perfectly well, there were countries, like Canada, with which we could live at peace for a hundred years and more, without needing forts or guns between them and us, because we think alike on most subjects, and respect each other's honor.
And there were other countries, Germany in particular, against whom all her neighbors have to live armed to the teeth, and in deadly fear, because the Germans respect nothing on earth except force. To argue or plead with the Germans, as he well knew, was not only a waste of time, it was worse: it was a direct invitation to war. Because since 1870 the Germans think that any country which professes to love peace, any country whose statesmen utter noble thoughts about peace, is simply a cowardly country, bent on making money, and afraid to fight. So when,—during Roosevelt's administration, the biggest swaggering "gun-man" of the world, the Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany, made a threat against the peace of America, Roosevelt no more read him pretty lectures about his love of peace, than he would have recited poetry to that other gun-man in the hotel in Dakota years before. He simply told the Kaiser in a few words, just what would happen if Germany didn't drop it. It was so quietly done that nobody knew anything at all about it until years afterward. There was no delay; there was no endless note-writing; there was no blustering; the Kaiser climbed down; AND THERE WAS NO WAR.
This, I am inclined to think, was one of the most important events of Roosevelt's seven years in the White House. If we wish America to live henceforth in peace and in honor, there is no incident of the past thirty years which should be studied by every American with more care. Germany began her attack on the world long before 1914. She bullied here, and she schemed and plotted there, but she was at work for years. In 1898 she tried to range the countries of Europe against us, as we went to war with Spain. England stood our friend and kept her off. Germany sent a fleet meddling into Manila Harbor to annoy and threaten Admiral Dewey. He refused to be frightened by them however and as an English squadron which was also there played the part of a good friend, the German admiral had his trip for nothing.
Later, about a year after Mr. Roosevelt became President, the German Kaiser discovered a way, as he thought, to grab some territory in South America. Our Monroe Doctrine, which insures peace in the Western Hemisphere, by forbidding European nations to seize land here, was an obstacle to the Kaiser. He disliked it. But taking as pretext the fact that some people in Venezuela owed money to various Europeans, including Germans, he induced England and Italy to join in sending a fleet for a blockade of the Venezuelan coast. The English and Italians agreed, before long, to arbitrate their difficulty with Venezuela, and moreover they had no intention of seizing land. The German plan was quite different. They threatened to bombard Venezuelan towns, and we know enough now of their methods to say that they were hoping for something which might serve as an excuse for landing troops and taking possession of towns and territory. This was in defiance of our Monroe Doctrine; it aimed at setting up an Emperor's colonies in South America, and putting the peace of both South and North America into danger. Mr. Roosevelt did not mean to allow it. But consider the situation. Germany was the foremost military power of the world. Her army was almost the greatest; probably the best trained and equipped. Ours was one of the smallest. Germany was not engaged in difficulties elsewhere. She faced us across no barriers but the sea. No great French and British armies held the lines against her, as they did in later years when once more she threatened America. No mighty British fleet held the seas and kept the German Navy cooped up where it could do no harm,—except to such merchant ships, passenger steamers and hospital boats as it could strike from under the water. We faced Germany alone. But we had two means of defense. One of them was Admiral Dewey and his ships. The first of them, however, and the only one needed, was the cool-headed and brave-hearted man in the White House.
He told the German Ambassador, quietly and without bluster, that unless the Kaiser agreed to arbitrate his quarrel with Venezuela, and unless he agreed within a short time, ten days or less, Admiral Dewey would be ordered to Venezuela to protect it against a German attack. The German ambassador said that, of course, as the All Highest Kaiser had refused once before to arbitrate, there could be nothing done about it. All Highests do not arbitrate. People simply have to step aside.
President Roosevelt informed the German Ambassador that this meant war. A few days later when the German Ambassador was again at the White House, the President asked if the Kaiser had changed his mind. The Ambassador seemed to think that it was a joke. The Kaiser change his mind at the bidding of a Yankee President! It was almost funny!
"All right," said President Roosevelt, "I can change my mind. Admiral Dewey will not even wait until Tuesday to start for Venezuela. He will go on Monday. If you are cabling to Berlin, please tell them that."
The pompous Ambassador was much flustered. He hurried away, but returned in about a day and a half, still out of breath.
"Mr. President," he said, "His Imperial Majesty the Emperor has agreed to arbitrate with Venezuela."
So there was no delay, no long and distressing argument; and there was no war. The President could do this because he knew his countrymen; he knew that they were not cowards. He knew they never had failed to back up their leader in the White House. He knew that no President need worry about loyalty when he tells America that a foreign enemy is making threats. He had seen his courageous predecessor, Grover Cleveland, rouse America, as one man, over another Venezuelan incident, a dozen or more years before. And he knew that the only occasion when America had ever seemed about to fall into doubt and hesitation in time of danger, was when that doubt and hesitation began in the White House,—in the administration of Buchanan, before the Civil War. America will always support her President, if war threatens,—but America expects him to show leadership. Timidity in the leader will make timidity in the nation.
So the Kaiser changed his mind and gave in,—why? Because he knew that there was a President in the White House whose words were easy to understand; they did not have to be interpreted nor explained. And moreover, when these words were uttered, the President would make them good, every one.
THE LION HUNTER
Other important events of President Roosevelt's administration will best be described farther on. For their importance increased after he was out of office, and they had a great influence upon a later campaign.
Here, it should be said that in 1904, as the term for which he was acting as Mr. McKinley's successor, drew toward an end, he was nominated by the Republican Party to succeed himself. There was some talk of opposition within his party, especially from the friends of "big business" who thought that he was not sufficiently reverent and submissive to the moneyed interests. This opposition took the form of a move to nominate Senator Hanna. But the Senator died, and the talk of opposition which was mostly moonshine, faded away.
When the campaign came in the autumn of 1904, his opponent was the Democratic nominee, Judge Parker, also from New York. Mr. Roosevelt was elected by a majority of more than two million and a half votes,—the largest majority ever given to a President in our history, either before or since that time.
On the night of election day he issued a statement in which he said: "Under no circumstances will I be a candidate for or accept another nomination." Of this he writes:
The reason for my choice of the exact phraseology used was twofold. In the first place, many of my supporters were insisting that, as I had served only three and a half years of my first term, coming in from the Vice-Presidency when President McKinley was killed, I had really had only one elective term, so that the third term custom did not apply to me; and I wished to repudiate this suggestion. I believed then (and I believe now) the third term custom or tradition to be wholesome, and therefore, I was determined to regard its substance, refusing to quibble over the words usually employed to express it. On the other hand I did not wish simply and specifically to say that I would not be a candidate for the nomination in 1908, because if I had specified the year when I would not be a candidate, it would have been widely accepted as meaning that I intended to be a candidate some other year; and I had no such intention, and had no idea that I would ever be a candidate again. Certain newspaper men did ask me if I intended to apply my prohibition to 1912, and I answered that I was not thinking of 1912, nor of 1920, nor of 1940, and that I must decline to say anything whatever except what appeared in my statement. [Footnote: "Autobiography," pp. 422-3.]
From March 4, 1905, until March 4, 1909, he was an elected President, not a President who had succeeded to the office through the death of another. When the end of his term approached he threw his influence in favor of the nomination of Mr. William H. Taft, Secretary of War in his Cabinet. He could have had the nomination himself if he had wished it; indeed he had to take precautions against being nominated. But Mr. Taft was nominated, and in November, 1908, was elected over Mr. Bryan, who was then running for the Presidency for the third time.
President Roosevelt and President-elect Taft drove up Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol together, March 4, 1909, in a cold gale of wind, which had followed a sudden blizzard. The weather was an omen of the stormy change which was coming over the friendship of these two men. An hour or two later it was President Taft who drove back to the White House, while Mr. Roosevelt, once more a private citizen, was hurrying to his home in Oyster Bay, to get ready for his hunting trip to Africa.
This was the vacation to which he had been looking forward for years. He had long been a friend of a number of famous hunters, and had corresponded with and received visits from some of them. Chief among these was Mr. Frederick Selous, one of the greatest of African hunters. Those who have read any of Rider Haggard's fine stories of adventure (especially "King Solomon's Mines" and "Allan Quartermain") will be interested to know that Mr. Selous was the original of Quartermain. Adventures like these of Selous, the opportunity to see the marvelous African country, and the chance to shoot the dangerous big game, made Roosevelt long to visit Africa.
So he headed a scientific expedition sent out by the Smithsonian Institution to collect specimens for the National Museum at Washington. With him went his son Kermit, a student at Harvard; and three American naturalists. They left America only two or three weeks after his term as President had ended, and they came out of the African wilderness at Khartoum about a year later. With friends whom they met in Africa, English and American hunters, and a long train of native bearers and scouts, they visited the parts of Africa richest in game, and killed lions, leopards, hyenas, elephants, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, zebra, giraffe, buffalo, and dozens of other kinds of animals. Mr. Roosevelt and Kermit shot about a dozen trophies for themselves; otherwise nothing was killed which was not intended as a museum specimen or for meat. No useless butchery of animals was allowed; often at great inconvenience and even danger, animals were avoided or driven off rather than let them be killed needlessly. Some of the finest groups of mounted animals in the country are now standing in the National Museum, as a result of this trip.
They saw many wonderful sights. They saw a band of Nandi warriors, fierce savages, naked, and armed only with shields and long spears, attack and kill a big lion. Kermit Roosevelt took photographs of most of the large game, coming up to close quarters in order to get his pictures. He took two or three photographs of a herd of wild elephants in the forest, going at great risk within twenty-five yards of the herd to be sure to get a good view.
One day's hunting, which Mr. Roosevelt describes, shows what the country was like, how full it was of all kinds of animals. Leaving camp at seven in the morning they were out altogether over fifteen hours. They were after a lion, so did not look for other game. They soon passed some zebra, and antelope, but left them alone. The country was a dry, brown grassland, with few trees, and in some places seems to have looked like our Western prairie. At noon they sighted three rhinoceros, which they tried to avoid, as they did not wish to shoot them. Of course, in such circumstances it is necessary to do nothing to disturb the temper of the animals— stupid, short-sighted beasts—or else in their anger or alarm, they will blindly charge the hunter, who then is forced to shoot to save himself from being tossed and gored on that great horn. There was a hyena disturbing the other game, and as these are savage nuisances, Mr. Roosevelt shot this one at three hundred and fifty paces. While the porters were taking the skin, he could not help laughing, he says, at finding their party in the center of a great plain, stared at from all sides by enough wild animals to stock a circus. Vultures were flying overhead. The three rhinoceros were gazing at them, about half a mile away. Wildebeest (sometimes called gnu) which look something like the American buffalo or bison, and hartebeest, stood around in a ring, looking on. Four or five antelope came in closer to see what was happening, and a zebra trotted by, neighing and startling the rhinoceros.
After a rest for luncheon, they went on, looking for lions. Two wart-hogs jumped up, and Mr. Roosevelt shot the biggest of them. By this time it was getting late in the afternoon; time for lions to be about. At last they saw one; a big lioness. She ran along the bed of a stream, crouching so as not to be seen in the failing light. The two hunters rode past and would have missed her if one of the native followers had not sighted her a second time. Then Roosevelt and the other hunter left their horses, and came in close on foot. This is perhaps as dangerous as any hunting in Africa. A man must be cool and a good shot to go after lions; sooner or later almost every lion hunter either gets badly hurt or gets killed.
This time all went well; Roosevelt hit her with his first shot; ran in close and finished her. She weighed over three hundred pounds. The porters—much excited, as they always are at the death of a lion—wished to carry the whole body without skinning it, back to camp. While they were lashing it to a pole another lion began to growl hungrily. The night was dark, without a moon, and the work of getting back was hard for the porters, as well as rather terrifying to them. Lions were grunting all about; twice one of them kept alongside the men as they walked,—much to their discomfort. Then a rhinoceros, nearby, let off a series of snorts, like a locomotive. This did not cheer up the porters to any great degree. Roosevelt and the other white hunter had trouble to keep them together and to keep on the watch, with their rifles ready to drive off any animals which might attack.
At last they came to the camp of a tribe of savages called Masai. As they were still four miles from their own camp and as the porters were about exhausted from carrying the lion, they decided to go in there, skin the lion and rest for a while. There was some trouble about this, as the Masai feared that the scent of the dead lion would scare their cattle. They agreed at last, however, admitted the white men and the porters, and stood about, in the fire-light, leaning on their spears, and laughing, while the lion was being skinned. They gave Roosevelt milk to drink and seemed pleased to have a call from "Bwana Makuba," the Great Chief, as the porters called him.
So here was an Ex-President of the United States, not many months from his work as Chief Magistrate in the Capitol of a civilized nation, talking to a group of savages, who in their dwellings, weapons, clothing and customs had hardly changed in three thousand years; the twentieth century A. D. meeting the tenth century B.C.
At ten o'clock they got back to their own camp, and after a hot bath, sat down to a supper of eland venison and broiled spur fowl,—"and surely no supper ever tasted more delicious."
Another day, when hunting with the same companion he had the experience of being charged by a wounded lion. It was a big, male lion, with a black and yellow mane. They chased him on horseback for about two miles. Then he stopped and hid behind a bush. A shot wounded him slightly and, Mr. Tarlton, Roosevelt's companion, an experienced lion-hunter, told him that the lion was sure to charge.
Again I knelt and fired; but the mass of hair on the lion made me think he was nearer than he was, and I undershot, inflicting a flesh wound that was neither crippling nor fatal. He was already grunting savagely and tossing his tail erect, with his head held low; and at the shot the great sinewy beast came toward us with the speed of a greyhound. Tarlton then very properly fired, for lion hunting is no child's play, and it is not good to run risks. Ordinarily it is a very mean thing to experience joy at a friend's miss, but this was not an ordinary case, and I felt keen delight when the bullet from the badly sighted rifle missed, striking the ground many yards short. I was sighting carefully from my knee, and I knew I had the lion all right; for though he galloped at a great pace he came on steadily—ears laid back, and uttering terrific coughing grunts—and there was now no question of making allowance for distance, nor, as he was out in the open, for the fact that he had not before been distinctly visible. The bead of my foresight was exactly on the center of his chest as I pressed the trigger, and the bullet went as true as if the place had been plotted with dividers. The blow brought him up all standing, and he fell forward on his head.
The soft-nosed Winchester bullet had gone straight through the chest cavity, smashing the lungs and the big blood-vessels of the heart. Painfully he recovered his feet, and tried to come on, his ferocious courage holding out to the last; but he staggered and turned from side to side, unable to stand firmly, still less to advance at a faster pace than a walk. He had not ten seconds to live; but it is a sound principle to take no chances with lions. Tarlton hit him with his second bullet probably in the shoulder; and with my next shot I broke his neck. I had stopped him when he was still a hundred yards away, and certainly no finer sight could be imagined than that of this great maned lion as he charged. [Footnote: "African Game Trails," pp. 192-3.]
To the man who can shoot straight, and shoot just as straight at a savage animal as at a target, African game-hunting is for part of the time not very dangerous. Nine or ten lions or elephants or rhinoceros may be killed, without seeming risk. The tenth time something unexpected happens, and death comes very near to the hunter.
In shooting an elephant in the forest one day, Roosevelt had what was perhaps his closest call since the bear nearly killed him, years before in Idaho. He had just shot an elephant, when there came a surprise:
But at that very instant, before there was a moment's time in which to reload, the thick bushes parted immediately on my left front, and through them surged the vast bulk of a charging bull elephant, the matted mass of tough creepers snapping like packthread before his rush. He was so close that he could have touched me with his trunk. I leaped to one side and dodged behind a tree trunk, opening the rifle, throwing out the empty shells, and slipping in two cartridges. Meantime Cunninghame fired right and left, at the same time throwing himself into the bushes on the other side. Both his bullets went home, and the bull stopped short in his charge, wheeled, and immediately disappeared in the thick cover. We ran forward, but the forest had closed over his wake. We heard him trumpet shrilly, and then all sounds ceased. [Footnote: "African Game Trails," p. 251.]
EUROPE AND AMERICA
At Khartoum Mr. Roosevelt and his son were joined by other members of his family. They all crossed to Europe, for he had been invited by the rulers and learned bodies of a number of countries to pay them a visit. He went to Italy, Austria, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Holland, France, Denmark, Belgium and England, receiving the highest compliments from their rulers, honorary degrees from the universities, and a welcome from the people everywhere which had been given with such heartiness to no other American since General Grant traveled round the world after the Civil War.
In Norway he spoke to the Nobel Committee in thanks for the Peace Prize which they had awarded him after the Russo-Japanese War. In Germany, the Kaiser ordered a review of troops for him; and he was received by the University of Berlin. In Paris, he addressed the famous institution of learning, the Sorbonne. The English universities received him, and gave him their honorary degrees. London made him a "freeman." His speeches before the learned men of Europe might not have been extraordinary for a university teacher, but when we think that his life had alternated between the hustle of politics, the career of a ranchman, of a soldier, and of a hunter of big game, it is evident that we shall have to search long and far among our public men before we can find any to match him in the variety of his interests and achievements.
In England, King Edward VII had just died, and Mr. Roosevelt was appointed by President Taft as the American representative at the funeral. There was a gathering in London of thirteen reigning monarchs, and many curious stories are told about the occasion. Of course the Kaiser was there, strutting about and trying to patronize everybody. Mr. Roosevelt had been politely received by the Kaiser and believed, as did every one, that beneath his arrogant manners, there was a great deal of ability. But he did not allow himself to be treated by the "All Highest" with magnificent condescension.
A story is repeated, of which one version is that the Kaiser suddenly called out, at some reception:
"Oh, Colonel Roosevelt, I wish to see you before I leave London, and can give you just thirty minutes, to-morrow afternoon at two."
"That's very good of Your Majesty," replied Mr. Roosevelt, "and I'll be there. But unfortunately I have an engagement, so that I'll only be able to give you twenty minutes."
Another story concerns a little boy,—the Crown Prince of one of the countries where royal folk have simpler and better manners than in Germany. He and his parents and other persons of royal rank were at the palace where Mr. Roosevelt was staying. As any man would know, boys are interested in much the same things whether they are princes or not, and this one was greatly taken by Mr. Roosevelt's stories of hunting, and by being taught some of the games which the American father and his boys had played in the White House, not many years before. So it happened that as a group of the visitors, including two or three kings and queens, stepped out of one of the rooms of the palace into a corridor one evening, they were astonished to see a gentleman down on his hands and knees on a rug, playing "bear" with a little boy. The gentleman was the Ex-President of the United States, and the boy was the future King of one of the countries of Europe.
Roosevelt's return to New York was the signal for a tremendous reception. New York outdid itself in salutes, parades, and wildly cheering crowds. Nothing like it had been seen before. Even after the excitement of the first day of his return, he could not go out without being surrounded by cheering crowds. He knew that it could not last, and said to his sister: "Soon they will be throwing rotten apples at me."
He was right. A period was about to begin when he was to be defeated in every campaign in which he engaged. All the enemies he had made in his long fight for better government—and they were many and bitter enemies—were to join hands with all the people who opposed him just because they disliked him. He was to part company from some of his nearest friends, and persistently to be reviled, misunderstood and attacked. Yet he was to rally around him a body of devoted friends, and make these the greatest years of his life.
It is partly comic and partly sad, to look back and consider the things for which Roosevelt had fought in his public life, and to recall that a fight had to be made for things like these; that the man advocating them had to stand unlimited abuse. He had been abused for trying to stop the sale of liquor to children, and opposed in his efforts to prevent the making of cigars in filthy bed-rooms. He had been violently attacked for enforcing the liquor laws of New York. Lawyers and public men had grown red with anger as they denounced him as a tyrant, and an enemy to the Constitution, because he wished to stop a dishonest system of rebates by the railroads. A man looks back and wonders if he were living among sane people, or in a mad-house, when he recalls that Roosevelt was viciously attacked because he proposed that the meat-packers of this country should not be allowed to sell to their countrymen rotten and diseased products which foreign countries refused even to admit. Sneers greeted his attempts to prevent poisons being sold as medicine, and laudanum being peddled to little children as soothing-syrup. His fight to prevent greedy folk from destroying the forests, wasting the minerals, and spoiling the water supplies of America had to be made in the face of every sort of legal trickery and the meanest of personal abuse.
The Republican Party had been founded during one of the greatest efforts for human freedom ever made in our history. In its long years in power, and in the amazing increase in prosperity and wealth in America, if had become the defender of wealth. Many of its highest and most powerful men could see no farther than the cash drawer. Human rights and wrongs, human suffering, or any attempt to prevent such sufferings, simply did not interest them. They were not cruel men personally, but they had heard repeated for so many years that this or the other thing could not be done "because it would hurt business," that they had come to worship "business" as a savage bows his head before an idol. Many of them could give money for an orphan asylum or a children's hospital, and yet on the same day, vote to kill a bill aimed to prevent child-labor. To pass such a bill as that would "hurt business."
The Democratic Party was no better. It was simply weaker, and usually less intelligent. Wherever it was powerful, it, too, was apt to be the servant of corruption. The politicians of both parties loved to keep up a continual fight about the tariff, to distract public attention from other important subjects.
There had been disagreements in the Republican Party for a number of years. These had gone on during the Roosevelt administration. In the main, these struggles can be described by saying that President Roosevelt and those who agreed with him were looking out for the advantage of the many, and for the welfare and health of great masses of the people. His opponents were more interested to see that nothing checked the activities of great corporations, railroads, and manufacturing interests. They sincerely believed that this was the first concern of all true patriots. Roosevelt wished every man to have a square deal, an equal chance, so far as possible, to earn as good a living as he could. His opponents thought that if the great business interests could only go on, as they liked, without being annoyed by the government, they would be able to give employment to almost everybody, and to all the unfortunates, who were crushed in the struggle, they would give charity.
Between these two groups there was a ceaseless fight all the years Roosevelt was in the White House. He had been strongly approved at the polls; many of the measures he advocated had been made laws by Congress. So he thought, and the larger part of the Republican Party thought, when Mr. Taft became President, that the measures which they had approved were going to be advanced still further.
It soon appeared that they were in for a disappointment. Mr. Taft proved friendly to the older politicians; the younger and progressive men were not in favor. He made his associates, and chose as his advisers, the men who called Mr. Roosevelt "rash," "a socialist," "an anarchist." Many of the men who surrounded President Taft were honest and patriotic. But there were also a number of stick-in-the-mud statesmen,—old gentlemen who had been saying the same thing, thinking the same things, doing the same things, for forty years. To change, to be up with the times, to progress, to alter methods to meet new conditions, struck them as simply indecent. Their idea of a happy national life was great "prosperity" for a fortunate few, a lesser degree of success for some others who could cling to the chariot wheels of the rich, and,—charity for the rest. That was always their answer to the old, hard problem of wealth and poverty. Like quack doctors they would try to cure the symptoms, rather than like wise physicians seek to find the causes. They were like the Tories in our Revolution who were for King George against George Washington, because King George was the legal King of the American colonies, or like the Northern pro-slavery men, who defended slavery because it was permitted by the Constitution and the slaves were legal "property." The Constitution was, for them, an instrument to be used to block all change, whether good or bad.
Other men, near to President Taft, were neither patriotic nor innocent. They were shrewd, powerful Bosses,—men of the type of Platt. Only, Mr. Taft did not stand on the alert with them, as Roosevelt had done as Governor, working with them when he could, and fighting them when they went wrong. He allowed them to influence his administration, and, at last, accepted a nomination engineered by them for their own selfish purposes.
The Republicans who followed President Taft, the "stand-patters," believed in property rights first, and human rights second. If any of them did not actually believe this, they joined people who did thoroughly believe it, and so their action counted toward putting that belief into practice. The others, the "Insurgents" or Progressive Republicans, (later called the Bull Moose) believed in human rights first. That is as near as the thing can be stated, remembering that it was a disputed point, with good men on both sides. The stand-patters said the Progressives were cranks,— visionary and impractical; the Progressives replied that it was better to be both of these things than to be quite so near to the earth and selfish as Mr. Taft's followers or managers. The events of later years have not borne out the contention that Roosevelt was "rash" and "dangerous"; while the charge that Mr. Taft made a President more pleasing to the Bosses than to the people was amply proved, in the campaign of 1912.
THE BULL MOOSE
It was not personal ambition which made Roosevelt become the leader of the revolt in the Republican Party, and later head a new party. The revolt had been growing while he was in Africa, and he was long besought to become its leader. At first, Senator La Follette seemed a possible leader, but he broke down in a nervous attack, and the belief that he was not the man for the place has been justified by later events.
As President Taft's administration drew to an end, in 1911 and 1912, it was clear that he was steadily losing the public confidence. State elections, and other straws, showed how the wind was blowing. The Progressive Republicans pointed out to their fellow-members of the party that only where a Progressive ran for office in a state election did the party win. Otherwise the Democrats were victorious. The lesson was plain; but the stand- patters did not care to see it. By the beginning of 1912 it was freely predicted in print that the Democrats would nominate Governor Wilson of New Jersey, their strongest candidate, and that they would win if the Republicans insisted on naming Mr. Taft. But the old-line Republicans were above taking advice. The Democrats were naturally gleeful about the situation; they kept their faces straight and solemnly warned the Republicans, in the name of the safety of the country, not to listen to the "wild man," Roosevelt, but to be sure to nominate Mr. Taft. And the Republicans listened to the advice of their opponents. "Whom the Gods would destroy they first make mad."
Roosevelt had been telling his friends that he would not run again; that he did not wish to oppose Mr. Taft, who had been his close friend and associate. But neither he, nor the Republicans who thought as he did, liked to see their party drift back and back to become the organization for plunder which the Bosses would have made it long before, if they had always had a "good-natured" man in the White House. When the governors of seven States— Michigan, West Virginia, Wyoming, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Missouri and Kansas—united in an appeal to Roosevelt for leadership, he began to change his mind.
He said in private, that he knew it would be hard, if not impossible, for him to get the nomination; President Taft had all the machinery on his side. He knew that it meant parting with many of his best friends; the older politicians would mainly oppose him; he would have to go directly to the people for his support, and rely upon the younger leaders as his lieutenants.
In going straight to the people he was following one of the principles of the Insurgent or Progressive Republicans. In order to fight the Bosses, and overcome the crooked and secret influence of "big business" in politics, the Progressives were proposing various methods by which it was hoped the people might rule more directly, and prevent a few men from overcoming the wishes of the many. One of these methods was the direct primary, so that the voters might choose their candidates themselves, instead of leaving it to the absurd conventions, where large crowds of men are hired to fill the galleries, yell for one candidate, and try to out-yell the opposing crowd.
In February, 1912, Roosevelt announced that he was a candidate for the Republican nomination.
"My hat is in the ring," he said.
The storm of abuse which raged around him now was terrific. All the friends of fattened monopoly—and this included many of the most powerful newspapers—screamed aloud in their fright. Mostly they assailed him on three counts: that he was "disloyal" to his friend, Mr. Taft, that he had promised never to run for President again; and that it meant the overthrow of the Republic and the setting up of a monarchy if any man ever disregarded Washington's example and was President for three terms.
The charge of disloyalty to Mr. Taft does not deserve discussion. Those who made it never stopped to think that they were saying that a man should set his personal friendships higher than his regard for the nation; that he must support his friend, even if he believed that to do so would work harm to the whole country. Moreover, if there had been any disloyalty, it had not been on Mr. Roosevelt's side! He had remained true to his principles. As for the promise never to run again, we have already seen what he said about that. The notion that Washington laid down some law against reelecting a President for more than two terms is an example of how a complete error may pass into popular belief and become a superstition. Washington said and believed the very opposite. He did not wish a third term himself, because he was old and weary, but in regard to third terms he seems to have been even more liberal than Roosevelt, who disapproved of three terms IN SUCCESSION. But Washington distinctly said that he saw no reason why a President should not be reelected as often as the people needed his services. He said nothing about four, eight, or twelve years, but in discussing this very question in a letter to Lafayette, wrote:
"I can see no propriety in precluding ourselves from the services of any man, who on some emergency shall be deemed most capable of serving the public." [Footnote: Sparks, "Writings of George Washington," ix. 358.]
In the primary campaign, in the spring of 1912, the Progressive Republicans and Mr. Roosevelt proved their case up to the hilt. In every instance but one, where it was possible to get a direct vote of the people, Roosevelt beat President Taft, and overwhelmingly. Thus, in California he beat him nearly two to one; in Illinois, more than two to one, in Nebraska more than three to one, in North Dakota more than twenty to one, in South Dakota more than three to one. In New Jersey, Maryland, Oregon and Ohio, Roosevelt won decisively; in Pennsylvania by a tremendous majority. Massachusetts, the only remaining State which held a direct primary, where both men were in the field, split nearly even, giving Mr. Taft a small lead.
In the face of this clear indication of what the voters wished, for the Republican leaders to go ahead and nominate Mr. Taft was sheer suicide from a political point of view. It was also something much worse: the few denying the will of the many. This, of course, is tyranny,—what our ancestors revolted against when they founded the nation. But go ahead they did. It is probable that even as early as this they had no idea of winning the election; they merely intended to keep the party machinery in their own hands. Gravely talking about law and the Constitution they proceeded to defy the first principles of popular government.
By use of the Southern delegates, from States where the Republican Party exists mostly in theory, by contesting almost every delegation, and always ruling against Roosevelt, by every manipulation which the "Old Guard" of the party could employ, Mr. Taft was nominated. In at least one important and crucial case, delegates were seized for Mr. Taft by shameless theft. The phrase is that used by Mr. Thayer,—a historian, accustomed to weigh his words, and a non-partisan in this contest, since he favored neither Mr. Taft nor Roosevelt.
In August the Progressive Party was founded at a convention held in Chicago. Roosevelt and Johnson were the nominees for President and Vice-President. The men gathered at this convention were out of the Republican Party; they had not left it, but the party had left them. Not willingly did they take this action; men whose grandfathers voted for Fremont in 1856 and for Lincoln in 1860, and again for Lincoln in 1864, when the fate of the Republic really depended on the success of the Republican Party. The sons of men who had fought for the Union did not lightly attack even the name of the old party. But there was nothing left but its name; its worst elements led it; many of the better men who stayed in it kept silent. Probably even they realized the nauseous hypocrisy of the situation when Mr. William Barnes of New York came forward and implored that the country be saved, that our liberty be saved, that the Constitution be saved!
For the destroyer, from whom the country was to be saved, was one of the greatest and most honorable men of his time,—while it was later established in court that it was no libel to say that Mr. Barnes was a Boss and had used crooked methods.
The Progressives, soon called the Bull Moose Party, attracted the usual group of reformers, and some cranks. Each new party does this. Roosevelt had, many years before, spoken of the "lunatic fringe" which clings to the skirts of every sincere reform.
"But the whole body," writes Mr. Thayer, "judged without prejudice, probably contained the largest number of disinterested, public-spirited, and devoted persons, who had ever met for a national and political object since the group which formed the Republican Party in 1854."
All the new measures which they proposed, although denounced by the two old parties, were in use in other democratic countries; many of them have since been adopted here. Roosevelt foresaw the radical wave which was later to sweep over the country and was trying to make our government more liberal, so as to meet the new spirit of things. The more radical of Socialists always hated him as their worst enemy, for they knew that his reasonable reforms would make it impossible for them to succeed in their extreme proposals.
The jokes made about the new party were often most amusing and added a great deal of interest to an exciting campaign. The Bull Moosers were very much in earnest, and had a camp-meeting fervor, which laid them open to a good deal of ridicule. But they could stand it, for they knew that as between themselves and the Republicans, the last laugh would be theirs. The Republicans had nominated Mr. Taft by means of delegates from rock-ribbed Democratic States like Alabama, Florida and Georgia, let them now see if they could elect him by such means!
One phase of the campaign was a shame and a disgrace. The Republican newspapers joined in the use of abusive terms against Roosevelt, to a degree which has never been paralleled, before nor since. They described him as a monster, a foul traitor, another Benedict Arnold, and for weeks used language about him for which the writers would be overcome with shame if it were brought home to them now. This had its natural result. Just as the speeches of Emma Goldman and others stirred up the murderer of President McKinley to his act, so this reiteration of abuse, this harping on the assertion that Roosevelt was the enemy of the country, the destroyer of law and liberty, induced another weak-minded creature to attempt murder.
A man named Schrank who said that he had been led on by what he read in the papers, waited for Roosevelt outside a hotel in Milwaukee. This was during the campaign and Roosevelt was leaving the hotel to make a speech in a public hall. As he stood up in his automobile, Schrank shot him in the chest. The bullet was partially checked by a thick roll of paper—the notes for his speech—and by an eye-glasses case. Nevertheless, with the bullet in him, only stopping to change his blood-soaked shirt, he refused to quit. He went and made his speech, standing on the platform and speaking for over an hour.
He thought of himself as a soldier fighting for a cause, and he would no more leave because of a wound than he would have deserted his fellow-hunter in Africa, when that charging lion came down on them.
For two weeks he had to keep out of the campaign, recovering from his wound, first in a hospital and then at home. Governor Wilson, the Democratic nominee, soon to be the President-Elect, generously offered to cease his campaign speeches, but this offer was declined by Mr. Roosevelt.
In the election, Mr. Wilson was the winner, with Mr. Roosevelt second. The Progressive candidate beat the Republican, as it had been predicted he would. Mr. Roosevelt received over half a million more votes than Mr. Taft, and had eighty-eight electoral votes to eight for Mr. Taft. The Bosses were punished for defying the will of the voters and a useful lesson in politics was administered.
The testimony of Mr. Thayer is especially valuable, since he was a supporter of Mr. Wilson in this election. He writes that since the election showed that Roosevelt had been all the time the real choice of the Republican Party "it was the Taft faction and not Roosevelt which split the Republican Party in 1912."
I cannot rest from travel; I will drink Life to the lees. All times I have enjoy'd Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades Vext the dim sea. I am become a name; For always roaming with a hungry heart Much have I seen and known,—cities of men And manners, climates, councils, governments, Myself not least, but honor'd of them all,— And drunk delight of battle with my peers, Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy. ... How dull it is to pause, to make an end, To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use! As tho' to breathe were life! Life piled on life Were all too little, and of one to me Little remains; but every hour is saved From that eternal silence, something more, A bringer of new things; and vile it were For some three suns to store and hoard myself, And this grey spirit yearning in desire To follow knowledge like a sinking star, Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.
Mr. Roosevelt took his defeat without whimpering. When he was in a fight he gave blows and expected to receive them. His enemies often hit foul blows, and this his friends resented, especially when the attacks actually provoked an attempt at murder. When his private character was assailed he defended himself, promptly and successfully. But neither he nor any of his friends asked that he should be sacred from all criticism; nor feebly protested that he was above ordinary mortals, and only to be mentioned with a sort of trembling reverence. He was too much of a man to be kept wrapped in wool.
In 1913 he traveled through South American countries to speak before learned bodies which had invited him to come before them. Afterwards, with his son Kermit, some American naturalists, and Colonel Rondon, a brave and distinguished Brazilian officer, he made a long trip through the wilderness of Brazil, to hunt and explore. Some of the country through which they traveled was little known to white men; some of it absolutely unknown. They hunted and killed specimens of the jaguar, tapir, peccary, and nearly all of the other strange South American animals.
In February 1914, they set out upon an unknown stream called the River of Doubt. They did not know whether the exploration of this river would take them weeks or months; whether they might have to face starvation, or savage tribes, or worse than either, disease. They surveyed the river as they went, so as to be able to map its course, and add to geographical knowledge. Strange birds haunted the river, and vicious stinging insects annoyed the travelers. They constantly had to carry the canoes around rapids or waterfalls, so that progress was slow. Some of the canoes were damaged and others had to be built. Large birds, like the curassow, and also monkeys, were shot for food. The pest of stinging insects grew constantly worse,—bees, mosquitoes, large blood-sucking flies and enormous ants tormented them. The flies were called piums and borashudas. Some of them bit like scorpions.
Kermit Roosevelt's canoe was caught in the rapids, smashed and sunk, and one of the men drowned. Once they saw signs of some unknown tribe of Indians, when, one of the dogs belonging to the party was killed in the forest, almost within sight of Colonel Rondon, and found with two arrows in his body. The river was dangerous for bathing, because of a peculiar fish—the piranha—a savage little beast which attacks men and animals with its razor- like teeth, inflicts fearful wounds and may even kill any unfortunate creature which is caught by a school in deep water. Some members of the party were badly bitten by the piranhas.
As their long and difficult course down the river continued, and as their hardships increased, one of the native helpers murdered another native—a sergeant—and fled. Roosevelt, while in the water helping to right an upset canoe, bruised his leg against a boulder. Inflammation set in, as it usually does with wounds in the tropics. For forty-eight days they saw no human being outside their own party. They were all weak with fever and troubled with wounds received in the river. Colonel Roosevelt (who was nearly fifty-six years old) wrote of his own condition:
The after effects of the fever still hung on; and the leg which had been hurt while working in the rapids with the sunken canoe had taken a turn for the bad and developed an abscess. The good doctor, to whose unwearied care and kindness I owe much, had cut it open and inserted a drainage tube; an added charm being given the operation, and the subsequent dressings, by the enthusiasm with which the piums and boroshudas took part therein. I could hardly hobble, and was pretty well laid up. "But there aren't no 'stop conductor,' while a battery's changing ground." No man has any business to go on such a trip as ours unless he will refuse to jeopardize the welfare of his associates by any delay caused by a weakness or ailment of his. It is his duty to go forward, if necessary on all fours, until he drops. Fortunately, I was put to no such test. I remained in good shape until we had passed the last of the rapids of the chasms. When my serious trouble came we had only canoe-riding ahead of us. It is not ideal for a sick man to spend the hottest hours of the day stretched on the boxes in the bottom of a small open dugout, under the well-nigh intolerable heat of the torrid sun of the mid-tropics, varied by blinding, drenching downpours of rain, but I could not be sufficiently grateful for the chance. Kermit and Cherrie took care of me as if they had been trained nurses; and Colonel Rondon and Lyra were no less thoughtful. [Footnote: "Through the Brazilian Wilderness," p. 319.]
It is known that his illness was more serious, and his conduct much more unselfish than he told in his book. When he could not be moved, he asked the others to go forward for their own safety and leave him. They refused, naturally, and he secretly resolved to shoot himself if his condition did not soon improve, rather than be a drag on the party. In his report to the Brazilian Government, which had made the expedition possible by its aid, Mr. Roosevelt was able to say:
"We have put on the map a river about 1500 kilometers in length running from just south of the 13th degree to north of the 5th degree and the biggest affluent of the Madeira. Until now its upper course has been utterly unknown to every one, and its lower course, although known for years to the rubber men, utterly unknown to cartographers."
The Brazilian Government renamed the river in his honor, first the Rio Roosevelt, later the Rio Teodoro. Branches of it were named in honor of other members of the party, the Rio Kermit and the Rio Cherrie,—the latter for the American naturalist, Mr. George K. Cherrie.
What did Theodore Roosevelt do during his life that raised him above other men? What were his achievements? Why are memorials and monuments raised in his honor, books written about him? Why do people visit his grave, and care to preserve the house where he was born?
First, because he helped the cause of better government all his life, as, while in college, he said that he was going to do.
Second, because he had a good influence on politics, upon business, and upon American life generally. Dishonest and shady dealings which were common when he left college, became very much less common as a result of his work. No other American did as much as he for this improvement.
Third, because he practiced the "square deal." It did not matter to him if the evil-doer was rich or poor,—Roosevelt was his enemy. The criminal who had many friends in Wall Street was a criminal still in his eyes; and the rascal who had friends in labor unions was nevertheless a rascal to him. He would not denounce one and go easy with the other. Poisoning people with bad meat was no less a crime to him because it was said to be done in the interests of "business"; blowing up people with bombs was not to be considered any less than murder because some one said it was done to help "labor."
Next, he practiced what he preached. When the great time came, he was ready "to pay with his body for his soul's desire."
While President, he proved by his conduct of our relations with foreign countries, that it is possible both to keep peace and to keep our self respect, and that this can be done only by firmness and courage.
He maintained our national defenses at the highest possible level, scorning to risk his fellow-countrymen's lives and fortunes through neglect of the Army and Navy.
By his wisdom, promptness and moral courage in an emergency he made the Panama Canal possible.
He led in a great fight for liberal politics, trying to put the ruling power of the nation once more in the hands of its citizens, and showing by his action that his country was dearer to him than any political party.
Finally, in the very last years of his life, and in a time of dreadful national trial, his great voice became the true voice of America to lead his countrymen out of a quagmire of doubt and disloyalty.
You may have heard it said that he was conceited, arrogant, head- strong. What did the men nearest him think? John Hay, the polished diplomat, who had been private secretary to Abraham Lincoln, wrote about Roosevelt in his diary. November 28, 1904:
I read the President's message in the afternoon. ... Made several suggestions as to changes and omissions. The President came in just as I had finished and we went over the matter together. He accepted my ideas with that singular amiability and open- mindedness which form so striking a contrast with the general idea of his brusque and arbitrary character.
You may have heard it said that he acted hastily, went ahead on snap-judgments. On this subject, Mr. Hay wrote:
Roosevelt is prompt and energetic, but he takes infinite pains to get at the facts before he acts. In all the crises in which he has been accused of undue haste, his action has been the result of long meditation and well-reasoned conviction. If he thinks rapidly, that is no fault; he thinks thoroughly, and that is the essential.
He was never a humbug. He did not deny that he enjoyed being President. He never let his friends point to him, while he was in the White House, as a martyr. He had a good time wherever he was. As he wrote:
I remember once sitting at a table with six or eight other public officials, and each was explaining how he regarded being in public life—how only the sternest sense of duty prevented him from resigning his office, and how the strain of working for a thankless constituency was telling upon him—and that nothing but the fact that he felt that he ought to sacrifice his comfort to the welfare of his country kept him in the arduous life of statesmanship. It went round the table until it came to my turn. This was during my first term of office as President of the United States. I said: "Now, gentlemen, I do not wish there to be any misunderstanding. I like my job, and I want to keep it for four years more." [Footnote: Abbott, p. 100.]
As for the question whether he acted from personal ambition, or from devotion to the cause he represented, the following incident is as strong a piece of evidence as we have about any of our public men. It is related by Mr. Travers Carman, of the Outlook, who accompanied Colonel Roosevelt to the Republican convention in 1912.
Roosevelt, on the evening of this conference in the Congress Hotel, lacked only twenty-eight votes to secure the nomination for President. Mr. Carman was in the room, when a delegate entered, in suppressed excitement, announcing that he represented thirty-two Southern delegates who would pledge themselves to vote for the Colonel, if they could be permitted to vote with the "regular" Republicans on all matters of party organization, upon the platform, and so on. Here were thirty-two votes,—four more than were needed to give him the nomination.
Without a moment's hesitation and in the death-like silence of that room the Colonel's answer rang out, clearly and distinctly: "Thank the delegates you represent, but tell them that I cannot permit them to vote for me unless they vote for all progressive principles for which I have fought, for which the Progressive element in the Republican party stands, and by which I stand or fall." Strong men broke down under the stress of that night. Life- long friends of Mr. Roosevelt endeavored to persuade him to reconsider his decision. After listening patiently he turned to two who had been urging him to accept the offer of the Southern delegates, placed a hand on the shoulder of each, and said: "I have grown to regard you both as brothers; let no act or word of yours make that relationship impossible." [Footnote: Abbott, p. 85.]
Two important law-suits occupied some of Roosevelt's time after the Progressive campaign. One of the favorite slanders about Roosevelt, repeated mostly by word of mouth, was that he drank to excess or was an habitual drunkard. At last it began to be repeated in print; a Michigan newspaper printed it, coupled with other falsehoods concerning his use of profane language. Few public men would have cared to bring suit, because the plaintiff must stand a cross-examination. But Roosevelt was careful of his good name; he did not intend that persons should be able to repeat slander about him, except in deliberate bad faith.
He and his lawyers went to the trial, bringing with them dozens of witnesses, life-long friends, hunting companions, reporters who had accompanied him on political campaigns, fellow-soldiers, Cabinet officers, physicians, officers of the Army and Navy. These witnesses testified for a week to his temperate habits, agreeing absolutely in their testimony. The doctors pointed out that only a temperate man could have recovered so quickly from his wound. It was established that he never drank anything stronger than wine, except as a medicine; that he drank very little wine, and never got drunk.
At the end, the newspaper editor withdrew his statement, apologized, was found guilty and fined only nominal charges. Mr. Roosevelt was not after this small creature's money, but was only bent on clearing his reputation. So it was at his request that the fine was fixed at six cents.
Mr. William Barnes, the Albany politician, sued Mr. Roosevelt for libel, because Roosevelt had called him a Boss, and said that he used crooked methods. This had been said in a political campaign. The Republicans were looking for some chance to destroy Roosevelt, and Mr. Barnes, aided by an able Republican lawyer, thought that they would be doing a great service if they could besmirch Mr. Roosevelt in some way.
So they worked their hardest and best, cross-examined him for days and searched every incident of his political life. At the end they joined that large band of disappointed men who tried to destroy Roosevelt or catch him in something disreputable. For the jury decided in Mr. Roosevelt's favor, indicating that he had uttered no untruth when he made his remarks about Mr. Barnes.
As a writer, Mr. Roosevelt would have made a name for himself, if he had done nothing else. The success of his books is not due to the high offices which he held, for his best writings had nothing to do with politics. As a writer on politics he was forceful and clear. There was no doubt as to the meaning of his state papers; they never had to be explained nor "interpreted." They were not designed to mean any one of two or three things, according to later circumstances. Strength and directness were the characteristics. When writing about the by-ways of politics his enjoyment of the ridiculous made his work especially readable. When he felt deeply about any great issue, as in his last years, about the Great War, and our part in it, his indignation found its way into his pages, which became touched with the fire of genuine eloquence.
He wrote about books and animals, and about outdoor life, as no President has ever done. His remarks upon literature are those of a great book-lover, sensible, well-informed and free from pose.
Every one should read his "Autobiography," his "Hero Tales from American History" which he wrote in company with Senator Lodge, and his "Letters to His Children." His early accounts of hunting in the West make good reading, but in his book about his African hunt, and in the one on the South American trip, he probably reached his highest level as a writer. If any American has written better books of travel than these, more continuously interesting, fuller of pleasing detail about the little incidents, the birds and tiny animals which he encountered, and at the same time with a stricter regard for accuracy of observation, I do not know where they are to be found.
This man of politics had a true poetic feeling for the countries he visited; time and again he moves his readers in describing the wonders of the great waste places, the melancholy deserts and wildernesses, the deadly fascination of the jungle, and the awful glory of the tropic dawns and sunsets. When something awakened his imagination he could write passages full of the magic of poetry. Witness this, it is not a description of scenery, but a vision of the true historian of the future:
The true historian will bring the past before our eyes as if it were the present. He will make us see as living men the hard-faced archers of Agincourt, and the war-worn spear-men who followed Alexander down beyond the rim of the known world. We shall hear grate on the coast of Britain the keels of the Low-Dutch sea- thieves whose children's children were to inherit unknown continents. ... Beyond the dim centuries we shall see the banners float above armed hosts ... Dead poets shall sing to us of the deeds of men of might and the love and beauty of women. We shall see the dancing girls of Memphis. The scent of the flowers in the hanging gardens of Babylon will be heavy to our senses. We shall sit at feast with the kings of Nineveh when they drink from ivory and gold. ... For us the war-horns of King Olaf shall wail across the flood, and the harps sound high at festivals in forgotten halls. The frowning strongholds of the barons of old shall rise before us, and the white palace-castles from whose windows Syrian princes once looked across the blue AEgean. ... We shall see the terrible horsemen of Timur the Lame ride over the roof of the world; we shall hear the drums beat as the armies of Gustavus and Frederick and Napoleon drive forward to victory. [Footnote: "History as Literature," p. 32, et seq.]
Here is one of Mr. Roosevelt's anecdotes of an incident in the White House. It shows why the people were interested in that house while he lived in it:
"No guests were ever more welcome at the White House than these old friends of the cattle ranches and the cow camps—the men with whom I had ridden the long circle and eaten at the tail-board of a chuck-wagon—whenever they turned up at Washington during my Presidency. I remember one of them who appeared at Washington one day just before lunch, a huge powerful man, who, when I knew him, had been distinctly a fighting character. It happened that on that day another old friend, the British Ambassador, Mr. Bryce, was among those coming to lunch. Just before we went in I turned to my cow-puncher friend and said to him with great solemnity, 'Remember, Jim, that if you shot at the feet of the British Ambassador to make him dance, it would be likely to cause international complications'; to which Jim responded with unaffected horror, 'Why, Colonel, I shouldn't think of it! I shouldn't think of it!'" [Footnote: "Autobiography," p. 132.]
And here is one about his children:
"The small boy was convalescing, and was engaged in playing on the floor with some tin ships, together with two or three pasteboard monitors and rams of my own manufacture. He was giving a vivid rendering of Farragut at Mobile Bay, from memories of how I had told the story. My pasteboard rams were fascinating—if a naval architect may be allowed to praise his own work—and as property they were equally divided between the little girl and the small boy. The little girl looked on with alert suspicion from the bed, for she was not yet convalescent enough to be allowed down on the floor. The small boy was busily reciting the phases of the fight, which now approached its climax, and the little girl evidently suspected that her monitor was destined to play the part of victim.
"Little boy. 'And then they steamed bang into the monitor.'
"Little girl. 'Brother, don't you sink my monitor!'
"Little boy (without heeding and hurrying toward the climax). 'And the torpedo went at the monitor!'
"Little girl. 'My monitor is not to sink!'
"Little boy, dramatically; 'And bang the monitor sank!'
"Little girl. 'It didn't do any such thing. My monitor always goes to bed at seven, and it's now quarter past. My monitor was in bed and couldn't sink!'" [Footnote: "Autobiography," p. 367.]
THE GREAT AMERICAN
Death closes all; but something ere the end, Some work of noble note, may yet be done. ... Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho' We are not now that strength which in old days Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,—One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield.
Not many months after Roosevelt came back from South America, the Great War in Europe broke out. It is but dreaming now to surmise what might have been done in those fearful days of July 1914, when the German hordes were gathering for their attack upon the world. Once before, and singlehanded, this country had made the German Kaiser halt. Had there been resolution in the White House in 1914, could all the neutral nations have been rallied at our side, and could we have spoken in tones so decisive to the Hun that he would have drawn back even then, have left Belgium unravaged, and spared the world the misery of the next four years? It may be so; Germany did not expect to have to take on England as an enemy. If she had been told, SO THAT THERE WAS NO MISTAKING OUR MEANING, that she would have us against her as well, then it might have been her part to hesitate, and finally put back her sword.
Roosevelt supported the President at first, in his policy of neutrality, supposing him to have some special information. He supported him with hesitation, and with qualifications however, pointing out that neutrality is no proud position, and has many disadvantages. Perhaps he had some inklings of the danger to the country when our foreign affairs are managed by pacifists. Certainly America had noticed the grim fact that a Government which forever talked about peace had in actual practice, shed more blood in a few hours at Vera Cruz than had been spilled in all the seven years while Roosevelt was President. Moreover, this blood was shed uselessly; no object whatever having been gained by it.
It is impossible to understand Roosevelt; it is impossible to get any idea of what he did during his term of office; it is impossible to learn anything from his career, unless we contrast him and his beliefs and actions with the conduct of our Government during the Great War. An object lesson of the most illuminating sort is afforded by this contrast, and we may make up our minds about the wisest paths to be followed in the future if we notice what Roosevelt said and did at this time, how far and how wisely his counsel was accepted or rejected.
He disapproved, for instance, President Wilson's speech, made a day or two after the sinking of the Lusitania in which the President spoke of a nation being "too proud to fight." Roosevelt said that a nation which announced itself as too proud to fight was usually about proud enough to be kicked; and it must be admitted that the Germans took that view of it, and for a year and more continued to kick. He did not deem it wise, when President Wilson informed the Germans, ten days later, that we remembered the "humane attitude" of their Government "in matters of international right," for he happened to recall that Belgium was at that moment red with the blood of its citizens, slain by the Germans in a sort of warfare that combined highway robbery with revolting murder. Neither did it seem useful to him to speak about German influence as always "upon the side of justice and humanity."
Mr. Roosevelt had always been strong for having the nation ready for war if war should come. Mr. Wilson first said that persons who believed this were nervous and excited. Next he joined these persons himself, so far as words went, and finally he let the matter drop until we were at war. Mr. Roosevelt believed that when you once were at war it was a crime to "hit softly." Mr. Wilson waited until we had been at war a year and over, and then announced in a speech that he was determined to use force!
Mr. Roosevelt wrote regularly for The Outlook, later for the Metropolitan Magazine and the Kansas City Star. Thousands of his countrymen read his articles, and found in them the only expression of the American spirit which was being uttered. Americans were puzzled, troubled and finally humiliated by the letters and speeches which came from Washington. To be told that in this struggle between the blood-guilty Hun, and the civilized nations of the earth, that we must keep even our minds impartial seemed an impossible command. School-boys throughout the country must have wondered why President Wilson, with every means for getting information, should have to confess that he did not know what the war was about! And when Mr. Wilson declared in favor of a peace without victory, his friends and admirers were kept busy explaining, some of them, that he meant without victory for the Allies, and others that he meant without victory for Germany, and still others that he meant without victory for anybody in particular.
It was not strange that Americans began to wonder what country they were living in, and whether they had been mistaken in thinking that America had a heroic history, in which its citizens took pride. No wonder they turned their eyes to Europe, where scores of young Americans, sickening at the state of things at home, had eagerly volunteered to fight with France or England against the Hun. One of these, named Alan Seeger, who wrote the fine poem "I have a Rendezvous with Death," died in battle on our Independence Day. He also wrote a poem called "A Message to America." [Footnote: Seeger. Poems, pp. 164, 165.] In it he said that America had once a leader:
... the man Most fit to be called American.
In it he spoke further of the same leader
I have been too long from my country's shores To reckon what state of mind is yours, But as for myself I know right well I would go through fire and shot and shell And face new perils and make my bed In new privations, if ROOSEVELT led.
One did not have to be long with the men who volunteered at the beginning of the war to know that Roosevelt's spirit led these men, and that they looked to him and trusted him as the great American. The country's honor was safe in his hands, and no mawkish nor cowardly words ever came from his lips.
He pointed out the folly of the pacifist type of public men, like Mr. Bryan and Mr. Ford. The latter, helpless as a butterfly in those iron years, led his quarreling group of pilgrims to Europe, on his "Peace Ship," and then left them to their incessant fights with each other. The American public was quick to see the contrast, when war came, and Roosevelt's four sons and son-in-law all volunteered, while Mr. Ford's son took advantage of some law and avoided military duty, in order to add more millions to his already enormous heap. The lesson of Roosevelt's teaching and example was not lost, and the people recognized that the country would endure while it had men like the Roosevelts, but that it would go down in infamy if the other sort became numerous.
In the election of 1916 Mr. Roosevelt, after refusing the Progressive nomination, supported Mr. Hughes, the Republican, against President Wilson. He tried hard to get Mr. Hughes to come out with some utterance which would put him plainly on record against the Germans and Pro-Germans who were filling America with their poisonous schemes. For we continued to entertain German diplomats and agents (paymasters, as they were, of murderers and plotters of arson) and to run on Germany's errands in various countries. The cry "He kept us out of war" was effectively used to reelect Mr. Wilson, although members of the Government must have been thoroughly well aware that war was coming and coming soon.
It had long been Mr. Roosevelt's hope that if war came he might be allowed to raise a division, as he had once helped to raise a regiment, and take them, after suitable training, to the front. He knew where he could put his hands on the men, regular army officers, ex-volunteers and Rough Riders of the Spanish War, and other men of experience, who in turn could find other men, who could be made into soldiers, for they knew the important parts of a soldier's work, and could be trained quickly.
But the War Department and the President would have none of Mr. Roosevelt's services. The President replied that the high officers of the Army advised him against it, which was undoubtedly true. It is also extremely likely that the high officers of the Democratic Party would advise against letting Mr. Roosevelt serve his country, as they still feared him, and still vainly hoped that they could lessen his influence with the American people. Unlike President Lincoln, who would gladly accept the services of any man who could serve the country, Mr. Wilson could work only with men who were personally pleasing, who thought as he did on all subjects. The officer of the Army best known to European soldiers, and the one who trained one of the best divisions, was Roosevelt's old commander, General Leonard Wood. But he, like a statesman, had been advising preparedness for years, and he was therefore displeasing to the politicians who only began to prepare after war was declared. America and the Allies did not have the benefit of this distinguished officer's services in France.
Against the slothfulness of the Government in these years, Roosevelt voiced the true opinion of America. He did not merely criticize, for he offered his own services, and when he disapproved of what was being done, he pointed out what might be done by way of improvement. In spite of much condemnation of his course, his suggestions were nearly all adopted—six months or a year later. His offer to raise a division showed how many men were eager to fight, and spurred the Government into action.
The Germans and their friends in this country, the peace-at-any- price folk who defended or apologized for the worst crimes of the Germans, and all the band of disloyal persons who think that patriotism is something to be sneered at,—all these hated Roosevelt with a deadly hatred. It was not a proud distinction to be numbered with these, and all who joined with them have made haste to forget the fact.
In his own family, his eldest son, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., became first a Major and later a Lieutenant-Colonel of Infantry; Kermit and Archibald were both Captains; and Quentin was a Lieutenant in the Aviation force. His son-in-law, Dr. Richard Derby, was a Major in the Medical Corps. All of them sought active service, made every effort to get to the front, and succeeded. Two of them were wounded, and Quentin was killed in a battle in the air.
The death of his youngest son was a terrible blow to him, but he would not wince. His son had been true to his teaching; he had dared the high fortune of battle.
"You cannot bring up boys to be eagles," said he, "and expect them to act like sparrows!"
Some distinguished Japanese visitors calling on Mr. Roosevelt at this time came away deeply affected. To them he recalled the Samurai, with their noble traditions of utter self-sacrifice.
Throughout his life, but now as never before, he told his countrymen, there was no place in America for a divided loyalty. No German-Americans, nor Irish-Americans, nor Scotch-Americans. He would have no man try to split even, and be a "50-50 American."
Shortly after war had ended, he sent this message to a patriotic meeting:
There must be no sagging back in the fight for Americanism merely because the war is over. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and this excludes the red flag, which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization, just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which we are hostile. We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language, for we intended to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, of American nationality, and not as dwellers in a polyglot boarding-house; and we have room for but one soul loyalty, and that is loyalty to the American people. [Footnote: Hagedorn, p. 384.]
It was practically his last word to the country he had loved and served so well. That was on January 5, 1919.
Years before, when he and his children had played together, he had told them a story about lions. Some of the boys had been called the lion cubs, and henceforth their father was to them "The Old Lion."
On the sixth of January, one of his sons, who was at home recovering from his wounds, sent a message to his brothers in France:
The Old Lion is dead.
He was buried in a small cemetery near his Long Island home. A plain grave-stone marks the place. To his grave have come a King and a Prince and other men of great name from Europe, to lay wreaths there, as they put them on the tombs of Washington and Lincoln. But what would have pleased him even more is that every Sunday and holiday thousands of men, women and children who knew him, thousands who loved him, although they never saw him, men who fought at his side, and men who fought against him, go out to stand for a moment at his grave, because they know him now as a wise, brave, and patriotic American.