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Title: "Great-Heart": The Life Story of Theodore Roosevelt

Author: Daniel Henderson

Author of introduction, etc.: Leonard Wood

Illustrator: Jay N. Darling

Release date: June 29, 2015 [eBook #49317]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Richard Hulse, Charlie Howard, and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
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Cover created by Transcriber, using a photograph from the original book, and placed into the Public Domain.



The Life Story of
By Daniel Henderson

Introduction by
Major-General Leonard Wood
U. S. Army

Illustrated with photographs,
and cartoon by “Ding”


New York
Alfred A. Knopf

The Life Story of Theodore Roosevelt

Copyright, 1919, by William Edwin Rudge
Printed in the United States of America
Published May, 1919

Dedicated to
The Fighting Sons

“It is as though Bunyan’s Mr. Greatheart had died in the midst of his pilgrimage, for he was the greatest proved American of his generation.”



In the following pages Daniel Henderson has presented in condensed form the life story of Theodore Roosevelt. The writer has made no serious effort to go into the details of his official and political career or to deal with the great questions of foreign and home policy which came up during his public career.

Theodore Roosevelt’s activities were so varied and the field he covered so wide, that no work of this kind can give more than the barest outline. Nevertheless, the book is so written as to give those who may read it a general idea of his boyhood, his youth, and many of the things he did, his high ideals, his purity of purpose, his intense patriotism, his love of the outdoor life, and his understanding not only of towns and cities, but of the wild places of the world and the people, animals, and birds who dwell in them.

The story brings out his intense Americanism, his love of fair play, and his fearless and straightforward character. He stands out as a man whose life was characterized not only by devotion to country and truth, as he saw it, but to the best interests of mankind. While his spirit was one of intense Americanism, his sympathies were as wide as the world.

It is a book especially fitted for the youth of the country, and the record of achievements therein will serve as an inspiration to all who read it.

Theodore Roosevelt was the most inspiring and, consequently, the most dominant figure in our national life since Lincoln, and his influence on American youth and upon our people as a whole will always be an uplifting one.

His life will always be an inspiration for greater effort and for higher ideals.

“Great-Heart” is dead but his influence lives on!

Leonard Wood (signature)
Leonard Wood

Major General U. S. Army.


The purpose of the writer has been to show why Rudyard Kipling thought Theodore Roosevelt the incarnation of Bunyan’s character “Great-Heart,” and to reflect the romance and inspiration contained in Roosevelt’s life.

The work has been approached from the viewpoint of one who was not a partisan; of one disposed to be critical; of one who, however, viewing Roosevelt’s career as a whole, was so moved by its grandeur that he became impelled to play what part he could in perpetuating the memory of this inspiring American among his people.

Moreover, there was a natural attraction to write of him whose career from birth to death was a panorama of adventure and climax and achievement; of him whose life had in it those elements which create literature—that human stuff that makes immortal such books as Plutarch’s Lives and Robinson Crusoe.

Full justice to his subject the author could not hope to render. Powerful indeed will be the pen that adequately describes Roosevelt’s life of struggle and triumph, with its warfare against bodily handicaps and political prejudice; warfare against wild beasts in dense jungles; warfare against hunger and exhaustion on inconceivably hard journeys of exploration; warfare against predatory wealth; warfare against men in high places who would grind the faces of the poor; warfare to prepare America to stamp out forever militarism and bloodshed; warfare to lead the race to the loftiest goals.

The writer does not therefore promise that every motive and deed of Roosevelt’s life will be chronicled in this book. He has tried to be faithful to the main facts, and to so group these facts that the narrative will be vivid and moving—typical of the man about whom it is written—so that not only the few, but also the many, will find enjoyment and uplift in the story. The author will be content if the average man or woman or boy or girl, feels beating through these pages the warm pulses of him who was indeed—“Great-Heart.”

Daniel Henderson.

Theodore Roosevelt


I “A Reg’lar Boy” 1
II Roosevelt in the Bad Lands 12
III Broncos and Bears 30
IV Champion of Women and Children 47
V Keeping Fit 61
VI Roosevelt’s “Cops” 70
VII Roosevelt’s Influence on American Naval Affairs 85
VIII Roosevelt’s Rough Riders 99
IX Campaigning in Cuba 110
X The Great Peace-Maker 134
XI Roosevelt’s Political Victories 145
XII First Years in the Presidency 160
XIII Good Will Abroad; a Square Deal at Home 173
XIV The “Bull Moose” 187
XV From White House to Jungle 193
XVI The River of Doubt 208
XVII Roosevelt’s Part in the World War 214
XVIII Great-Heart 233


Theodore Roosevelt’s Portrait Frontispiece
Roosevelt in the Bear Country 16
Just Before Entering Yellowstone Park 32
Roosevelt, the Fighter 48
Roosevelt, the Man 49
Combination Photograph Showing Roosevelt in Characteristic Poses 80
Roosevelt Addressing an Interested Audience 96
Before the Battle of San Juan 112
Hall at Sagamore Hill 128
Family Group Taken While Roosevelt Was Governor of New York 144
Roosevelt’s Cabinet in 1908 160
Roosevelt’s Arrival at Gardiner, Mont. 176
Roosevelt as a Grandfather 192
Roosevelt’s Home, Sagamore Hill 208
Roosevelt’s Service Stars 224
Roosevelt at Sagamore Hill 228


“A Reg’lar Boy”

In Roosevelt, the statesman, still lived “Ted,” the boy. To see this fact in all its clearness one has only to let his thoughts go back to the period when Roosevelt was President and follow him on a camping expedition with his boys and their cousins, come from miles around to share in the expedition.

The beach is reached; the fishing poles are put out; the catch is brought in. Thereupon Roosevelt himself turns cook. It is a big job, for there are many boys and their appetites are keen; but the cook is equal to the task. Then night steals on them. The campfire grows to enormous proportions. Around it the boys sit, listening with breathless interest to the wonder tales of hunting and cow-punching that come from the President who for his boys’ sake has made himself a lad again.

As we recall this scene we remember that the sons of Roosevelt fought for righteousness in France. We recall, too, that campfires and roughly cooked food were the order of the day in the paths these and millions of other boys traveled, and we wonder if, as they bivouacked,2 there did not come to them the memory of those nights when as boys their father led them out on a hard trail and then, in night-wrapped woods, stood guard over them as they rolled themselves in their blankets and fell into that sound sleep which had no room for the terrible dreams war engenders.

It is when such pictures present themselves to our minds that we say to ourselves that Bayard Taylor wrote facts as well as poetry when he said:

“The bravest are the tenderest,
The loving are the daring!”

If a person who knew nothing of Roosevelt’s antecedents were asked to express an opinion as to the type of boy he was, that person, reasoning from Roosevelt’s great vigor and the intensity with which he threw himself into outdoor pursuits, would say that he was a strong, healthy lad.

The reverse, however, is the case. From earliest infancy Theodore Roosevelt had been subject to attacks of asthma that weakened him physically and hindered his growth. He confesses that as a little fellow he was timid, and that when larger boys strove to exercise over him that domination which the boy of an older age thinks himself3 privileged to exercise over a younger lad, he was backward in opposing them. It was his physical weakness that prevented him from going to school and that led him to be placed under the instruction of various tutors.

“Bill” Sewall, the old woodsman and hunter, who figures in several of Roosevelt’s books, and who, for over forty years had been a close friend of Roosevelt, said after the Colonel’s death:

“No, Theodore’s death did not surprise me. Men thought that he was strong and robust. He wasn’t. It was his boundless energy, his determination and his nerves that kept Theodore Roosevelt turning out the enormous quantities of work he did. Really, he suffered from heart disease all his life.”

There dwelt in the boy Roosevelt an indomitable will. He also possessed a love for sports, travel and adventure such as could only be enjoyed with a strong body. Into his ken came the heroes of Captain Mayne Reid’s novels and also the heroes of Fenimore Cooper’s “Leatherstocking Tales.” He wanted to be like these men. Young as he was, he was keen enough to realize that to enter upon the career of which he dreamed he must have a sound constitution and overflowing energy. His will assumed control of his4 feeble body. His mind spurred his heart, limbs and lungs. He determined that the next bullying lad would have to contend with a boy with stronger muscles and heavier frame. Even as he resolved the springs of bodily vigor became loosed in the young boy. The town house became too small to hold him. Jacob Riis relates that a woman who lived next door to the Roosevelts told him that one day she saw young Theodore hanging out of a second-story window, and ran in a desperate hurry to tell his mother. What Ted’s mother said as she hurried off to rescue her son made a lasting impression on this woman: “If the Lord had not taken care of Theodore he would have been killed long ago.”

In addition to the streets of New York beautiful Long Island was his for roving, for here his family spent the summer. He ran races with his chums; stole rides on his father’s mounts; swam, rowed and sailed on Long Island Sound. He explored the hills, caves and woods of his country home. He had sisters, and, of course, his sisters had girl companions, and of course he had his special friend among this group of girl playmates. Naturally, his Southern mother made it her rule to promote chivalry in her son, and so Ted played the gallant on many a picnic or5 horseback ride. Soon his parents saw what the doctors had failed to do the great outdoors was doing. Strong muscles came to him. He lost the fatigue which accompanied his first exertions. His young frame broadened and grew stout enough to stand the rigors of outdoor life. Nature had had little chance with him when he was shut up in New York among his books, but now that he had come to her she gave him the rich blood and the strong nerves which later furnished him the strength to attain the fulfilment of his ambitious plans.

Ted was a sheer boy in these days, and a sheer boy he remained until he went to college. Concerning him an old Long Island stage-driver, in whose stage Ted often rode, remarked to Henry Beech Needham: “He was a reg’lar boy. Always outdoors, climbin’ trees and goin’ bird-nestin’! I remember him particular, because he had queer things alive in his pockets. Sometimes it was even a snake!”

Roosevelt met “Bill” Sewall for the first time when he was eighteen years old. This was when he first came to Sewall’s hunting-camp in Maine, which is still in existence.

“Be very careful with him,” Arthur Cutler, his tutor, warned Sewall. “Don’t take him on6 such tramps as you take yourself. He couldn’t stand it. But he wouldn’t let you know that for a minute. He’d go till he dropped rather than admit it. He isn’t strong, though. You must watch him carefully.”


“I did watch him carefully,” said “Bill” Sewall. “He took a lot of watching,” he added. “Yes, a lot of watching. He’d never quit. I remember the time we set out from my place up at Island Falls to climb Mount Katahdin. That’s the tallest mountain we have in Maine. We were crossing Wissacataquoik Creek. The current is very swift there. Somehow Theodore lost one of his shoes. Away it went downstream. All he had with him to take the place of shoes was a pair of thin-skinned moccasins. The stones and crags on the way up cut his feet into tatters. But he kept on, with never a murmur of complaint. That’s a little thing, perhaps; but he was that way in all things—always.”

Later, when Roosevelt had lost his first wife and also his mother, it was to Sewall, the backwoodsman who, in long walks in the Maine forests, had given him his first lessons in the value of unvarnished democracy, that he turned for7 solace, and it was this Maine guide who went West with him and helped to lead him out of the daze that followed these bereavements.

Roosevelt’s interest in boxing developed when he was fourteen, and rose out of the primitive need of being able to protect himself against boys who sought to impose on him. At that time he ventured forth by himself on a trip to Moosehead Lake and on the stage-coach that bore him there he met two mischievous boys of his own age who proceeded to make life miserable for him. Made desperate by their persecutions, he decided to lick them, but found that either one singly was more than a match for him.

Bitterly determined that he should not be again humiliated in this way, he resolved to learn how to defend himself, and, with his father’s approval, started to learn boxing.

Mr. Roosevelt himself relates how, under the training of John Long, an ex-prize-fighter, whose rooms were ornamented with vivid pictures of ring champions and battles, he first put on the gloves. For a long period he was knocked around the ring with no other fighting quality in evidence but the ability to take punishment. But then, when his boxing master arranged a series of matches, he was entered in a lightweight contest8 and entrusted to the care of his guardian angel.

Luckily his opponents chanced to be two youths whose ambitions greatly exceeded their science and muscular development, and, to the surprise of all concerned, he emerged the possessor of the prize cup for his class—a pewter mug that, though it would have been dear at fifty cents, was nevertheless a rich compensation for the knockdowns and bruises he had endured during his training.


In his account of Roosevelt as an outdoor man Henry Beach Needham furnishes this interesting picture of Theodore in his college days:

“It was a bout to decide the lightweight championship of Harvard. The heavyweight and middleweight championships had been awarded. The contest for the men under 140 pounds was on. Roosevelt, then a junior, had defeated seven men. A senior had as many victories to his credit. They were pitted against each other in the finals. The senior was quite a bit taller than Roosevelt and his reach was longer. He also weighed more by six pounds, but Roosevelt was the quicker man on his feet and knew more of the science of boxing. The first round was vigorously9 contested. Roosevelt closed in at the very outset. Because of his bad eyes he realized that infighting gave him his only chance to win. Blows were exchanged with lightning rapidity, and they were hard blows. Roosevelt drew first blood, but soon his own nose was bleeding. At the call of time, however, he got the decision for the round.

“The senior had learned his lesson. Thereafter he would not permit Roosevelt to close in on him. With his longer reach, and aided by his antagonist’s near-sightedness, he succeeded in landing frequent blows. Roosevelt worked hard, but to no avail. The round was awarded to the senior. In the third round the senior endeavored to pursue the same tactics, but with less success. The result of this round was a draw, and an extra round had to be sparred. Here superior weight and longer reach began to tell, but Roosevelt boxed gamely to the end. Said his antagonist: ‘I can see him now as he came in fiercely to the attack. But I kept him off, taking no chances, and landing at long reach. I got the decision, but Roosevelt was far more scientific. Given good eyes, he would have defeated me easily.’”

In the summer of 1883 Roosevelt, struggling through a more than usually serious attack of asthma, “went West,” in the hope that outdoor10 life in Dakota would restore him to strength.

Medora, the place to which fortune directed him, was a little prairie settlement barely inhabited except on pay day, when the cowboys galloped in from the surrounding ranches to spend their well-earned money in the saloons.

Roosevelt had selected Medora as a possible haunt of buffalo-hunters, and he inquired eagerly of the inhabitants as to how he could find a guide for a bison-hunt.

One of the owners of the Chimney Butte Ranch, Joe Ferris, chanced to be in town that day, and while his companions were eyeing the spectacled “tenderfoot” with amusement or suspicion, Ferris, attracted by the newcomer’s friendly and honest looks, invited him to his ranch.

Roosevelt gladly accepted this opportunity to know ranch life at first hand. After a drive of twelve miles, Ferris led him up to a crude ranch house. When Roosevelt entered its door he found its furniture quite as primitive as was the building.

The place was owned by Joe Ferris and his brother, Sylvane, who were in partnership with one Joe Merrifield. The young Easterner handled himself in a way that won the esteem of these hardy, keen-eyed “cow-punchers.” They took him on a trying trip through the desolate11 “Bad Lands” in search of bison, but Roosevelt endured the hardships without flinching and in the end got what he went after—a bull buffalo.

When the trip was over Roosevelt found himself in love not only with his comrades, but also with their cattle and ponies and crude outfit. He bought the ranch; left Merrifield in charge as his foreman; and came East to enter upon another vigorous term in the Legislature.

Two years later, Roosevelt found himself sick of politics, and at odds with life itself. His adored mother had died, and, a few hours after her passing, his wife had also died in giving birth to his daughter Alice. Leaving the child in the best of care in New York, he went back to Dakota, resolved to devote himself to ranching.

He selected a site for his new ranch house at Elkhorn, and his favorite companions, Sewall and Wilmot Dow, Sewall’s nephew, who came West to join him, had a great deal to do with the building of this house.

Sewall states that Roosevelt at the time intended to take up cattle-raising as a permanent business, having heard that there was “money in it.”


Roosevelt in the Bad Lands

“Hell-Roaring Bill Jones,” a citizen of the forlorn little cattle town of Medora, possessed four distinctions: He was sheriff of the county, he was a gun-fighter, he was a handy man with his fists, and he became a friend of Theodore Roosevelt, who had now acquired the two cattle ranches, the Chimney Butte and the Elkhorn.

There was an election in town. A fight was threatened. Roosevelt, fresh from his own political battles in the New York Assembly, heard out on his ranch that one of the parties would import section hands from nearby railroad stations to throw their weight into the conflict. Instantly the place of election became the only spot in the world for him.

The news had been late in reaching him, and when he rode into Medora the election was well under way. Roosevelt inquired if there had been any disorder.

“Disorder, hell!” said a bystander. “Bill Jones just stood there with one hand on his gun and with the other pointing over toward the new jail whenever any man who didn’t have the13 right to vote came near the polls. The only one of them who tried to vote Bill knocked down! Lord! the way that man fell!”

“Well!” Bill ejaculated, “if he hadn’t fell I’d have walked around behind him to see what was propping him up!”

It was with men like these, in surroundings like these, that young Roosevelt had elected to learn to the full extent the lesson of democracy.

Before his Western trip Roosevelt had already had his manhood and his spirit of brotherhood tested in the hard-waged battles of New York political life. Now was to come a test infinitely greater. The former member of the New York Assembly, the man who had occupied a high place in New York social life, who in his earlier days was noted for his well-tailored figure and his eyeglasses, had turned his back on all this. He told his folks that he was going West to “rough it” and to mix with mankind, and both of these he did to the utmost.


The place he chose for his home ranch was one of the worst of the undeveloped sections of the country. The ranch lay on both sides of the Little Missouri River. In front of the ranch14 house itself was a long veranda, and in front of that a line of cottonwood trees that shaded it. The bluffs rose from the river valley; stables, sheds and other buildings were near. A circular horse corral lay not far from the house. In winter wolves and lynxes traveled up the river on the ice, directly in front of the ranch house.

Life at the ranch house was of the most primitive nature. Though they had a couple of cows and some chickens, which supplied them with milk and eggs, they lived for the most part on canned fare.

At the roundups and during his long rides over the range, and on many hunting trips, Roosevelt had his favorite horse as companion—Manitou. This horse was so fond of him that it used to come up of its own accord to the ranch house and put its head into the door to beg for bread and sugar.

When it was not a question of roundup or herding cattle, or driving them to new grazing lands, the men at the ranch house broke in horses, mended their saddles and practised with the rope. Hunting trips broke into regular ranch life. The primitive little sitting-room of the Elkhorn Ranch was adorned with buffalo robes and bearskins of Roosevelt’s own killing;15 and in winter there was always to be found good reading and a cheery fire.


Roosevelt brushed elbows in Medora with newly arrived hunters from the plains and mountains, clad in buckskin shirts and fur caps—greasy and unkempt, yet strong and resolute men. Then there were teamsters, in slouch hats and great cowhide boots; stage-drivers with faces like leather; Indians wrapped in blankets; cowboys galloping through the streets. These men had all come to town to obtain relief from the monotony of their occupations or from long periods of peril and hardship, and the only entertainment that awaited them were “flaunting saloons and gawdy hells of all kinds,” to borrow Roosevelt’s own description. Among them moved the “bad men,” professional thieves and man-killers, who owed their lives to their ability to draw their weapons before other men could draw theirs.

Roosevelt was deeply interested in these unusual characters and scenes. Indeed, it was to drink in this frank, self-reliant spirit that he had come West. He met these men on their own ground, fearlessly. They saw that, in spite of16 his eyeglasses, he was a man after their own kind. Often he found himself in places of danger and saw men killed beside him in drunken brawls, yet there was something about him that made bad men pause before they challenged him.

Among Roosevelt’s cowboys was a Pueblo Indian who was a bad lot, a Sioux who was faithful and a mulatto who was one of his best men. The men would carry the “brand” of their ranch even in their own nicknames. Thus it would be said that “Bar Y” Harry had married the “Seven Open A” girl.

It was when he was thrown into contact day after day with the men of his own ranch that the most severe test of Roosevelt as a “good fellow” came.



He came through his initiation into ranch life the idol of his men, though they never got to the stage where they would neglect a chance to poke sly fun at him. He relates how once, when on a wood-chopping expedition, he overheard someone ask Dow, a ranchman bred in the Maine woods, what the total cut had been. Dow, unconscious that he was within hearing, said:

“Well, Bill cut down fifty-three, I cut forty-nine and the boss he beavered seventeen.”


The force of the jest, Roosevelt explains, lies not in the small number of trees his ax felled, but in the comparison of his chopping with the gnawing of the beaver.

At another time Roosevelt, struggling desperately to mount an unwilling horse, heard behind him a cowboy remark to the effect that he would find it hard to qualify for the job of “bronco buster.”

Roosevelt enjoyed these jokes as much as those who made them. The West was a bad place for a coward or a shirker, and the man who permitted himself to be bullied and made a butt was in for an uncomfortable existence. On the other hand, the man who did his work and gave and took jests in the spirit in which they were intended quickly made lasting friends.

One of the stories “Bill” Sewall tells of Roosevelt’s ranch life is this:

“Once on the cattle ranch in North Dakota during a roundup, his horse reared, threw him and then fell on top of him. The spill broke Theodore’s shoulder-blade. But he was afraid the cow-punchers might think he was a quitter. So he stayed out on the roundup for three days, suffering the intensest pain all the while, but never saying a word about it to anyone.”

18 The men usually carried revolvers, and now and then an ill temper or an excess of drinking led to a shooting affray. Roosevelt was witness to or had first-hand knowledge of several of these. In his book “Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail” he tells how a desperado, a man from Arkansas, had a quarrel with two Irish desperadoes who were partners. For several days the three lurked about the streets of the town, each trying to get the drop on the other. Finally one of the Irishmen crept up behind the Arkansan as he was walking into a gambling hall and shot him in the back. Mortally wounded, the man fell; yet, with the dauntless spirit found in so many of this class, he twisted around as he dropped and shot his slayer dead. Knowing that he had but a few minutes more to live and expecting that his other foe would run up on hearing the shooting, he dragged himself on his arms out into the street and waited. The second partner came up at once, to be slain instantly by a bullet from the revolver of the wounded man. The victor of this gruesome combat lived just twenty minutes after his victory.

On another occasion, Welshy, a saloon-keeper, and a man named Hay had been at odds for some time. One day Hay entered Welshy’s19 saloon out of temper and became very abusive. Suddenly Welshy took out his revolver and fired at Hay. The saloon-keeper almost fainted with surprise when Hay, after staggering slightly, shook himself, stretched out his hand and gave back to his would-be slayer the ball. It had glanced along his breast-bone, gone into the body and come out at the point of the shoulder, then dropped down the sleeve into his hand. Roosevelt thought the story worthy of the pen of a Wister or a Bret Harte, but the editor of “The Bad Lands Cowboy” mentioned the event merely as an “unfortunate occurrence between two of our most esteemed fellow citizens.”

On still another occasion a Scotchman and a Minnesota man, both with “shooting” records, had a furious quarrel, and later the Scotchman mounted his horse, with rifle in hand, and rode to the door of the American’s mud ranch, breathing threats of slaughter. The latter, however, was not caught napping. From behind a corner of his building he instantly shot down his foolish assailant.

Soon afterward there was a cowboy ball held in the place. Whether or not this was in celebration of the victory is not stated, but a historic fact in connection with the ball is that Roosevelt20 was selected to open the dancing with the wife of the victor of the shooting affair. The husband himself danced opposite, instructing Roosevelt in the steps of the lanciers.

Sometimes Roosevelt found himself involved in situations that required both a cool head and a sense of humor. When he entered a strange place it always took him a day or two to live down the fact that he wore spectacles, and he found it a justifiable policy to ignore remarks about “four-eyes” until it became apparent to him that his keeping still was being mistaken for cowardice, on which occasion he went at the aggressor hammer and tongs.

An amusing happening in which he was a central figure occurred when he was out on a search for a lost horse. He stopped for the night at a little cow town, but was informed by the owner of the only hotel that the only accommodation left was a room containing two double beds, and that three men were already occupying these beds. Roosevelt accepted the offer of the vacant half bed and turned in.

Two hours later a lantern flashed in his face and he awoke to find himself staring into the muzzle of a revolver. Two men bent over him. “It ain’t him!” said one, and the next moment21 his bedfellow was covered by their guns, and one of them said, persuasively: “Now, Bill, don’t make a fuss, but come along quiet.”

“I’m not thinking of making a fuss,” said Bill.

“That’s right,” was the answer, “we don’t want to hurt you; we just want you to come along. You know why.”

Bill dressed himself and went with them. “I wonder why they took Bill?” Roosevelt asked naively.

“Well,” drawled one of his neighbors, “I guess they wanted him.”

Roosevelt heard later that Bill had held up a Northern Pacific train and by shooting at the conductor’s feet, made him dance. Bill was more a joker than a train robber, but the holding up of the train had delayed the mails, and the United States Marshal had sent for him.


A peril Roosevelt faced arose from his proximity to bad Indians. In roaming through the uninhabited country surrounding his ranch there was constant danger of meeting bands of young bucks. These redskins were generally insolent and reckless, and if they met a white man when the chances of their detection and punishment22 were slight they would take away his horse and rifle, if not his life.

One morning Roosevelt had set out on a solitary trip to the country beyond his ranch. He was near the middle of a plateau when a small band of Indians suddenly rode over the edge in front of him. The minute they saw him, out came their guns. Full tilt they dashed at him, whooping and brandishing their weapons in typical Indian style. Roosevelt reined up and dismounted. His horse, Manitou, stood steady as a rock. When the Indians were a hundred yards off, Roosevelt threw his rifle over Manitou’s back and drew a bead on the foremost redskin. Instantly the party scattered, doubled back on their tracks and bent over alongside their horses to shield themselves from Roosevelt’s gun. Out of rifle range, they held a consultation, and then one came forward alone, dropping his rifle and waving a blanket over his head. When he was within fifty yards he yelled out: “How! Me good Indian.” Roosevelt returned the “How,” and assured him that he was delighted to know that he was a good Indian, but that he would not be permitted to come closer. The other Indians came closer, but Roosevelt’s rifle covered them. After an outburst of profanity, they galloped23 away in an opposite direction from Roosevelt’s route. Later in the day Roosevelt met two trappers, who told him that his assailants were young Sioux bucks, who had robbed them of two horses.

In his account of this episode, Roosevelt takes care to point out that there is another side to the Indian character, as indeed all America has found out since the gallantry of our Indian brothers in the world war. He illustrates this by telling how, while spending the night in a small cow ranch on the Beaver, he lay in his bunk listening to the conversation of two cowboys. They were speaking of Indians, and mentioned a jury that had acquitted a horse-thief of the charge of stealing stock from a neighboring tribe, though the thief himself had openly admitted its truth. One of these cowboys suddenly remarked that he had once met an Indian who was a pretty good fellow, and he proceeded to tell the story.

A small party of Indians had passed the winter near the ranch at which he was employed. The chief had two particularly fine horses. These so excited the cowboy’s cupidity that one night he drove them off and hid them in a safe place. The chief looked for them high and low, but without success. Soon afterward one of the cowboy’s own horses strayed. When spring came24 the Indians went away, but three days afterward the chief returned, bringing with him the strayed horse, which he had happened to run across. “I couldn’t stand that,” said the narrator, “so I just told him I reckoned I knew where his own lost horses were, and I saddled up my bronco and piloted him to them.”

Still another story is cited by Roosevelt in denial of the saying, “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” Once, on visiting a neighboring ranch, he found waiting there three well-behaved and self-respecting Sioux. The woman on the ranch told him that a white man had come along and tried to run off with their horses. Running out, they had caught him, retaken their horses, deprived him of his guns and released him.

“I don’t see why they let him go,” exclaimed Roosevelt’s hostess. “I don’t believe in stealing Indians’ horses any more than white folks’ so I told them they could go along and hang him—I’d never cheep.”

When, many years later, Roosevelt became President, his knowledge of the condition of the Indians led him to become their stanch champion. There was then an enormous amount of fraud practised by white men in obtaining possession of Indian lands. Roosevelt used his executive25 power to protect Indian rights and appointed as Indian Commissioner Francis E. Leupp, one of the best friends the Indians ever had.


There was much horse-stealing and cattle-killing in this part of the country while Roosevelt was a resident of it. Under the direction of the big cattle-owners, vigilantes were organized to rid the territory of the “rustlers”—the cowboys’ name for horse and cattle-thieves.

Roosevelt admitted the need of these stringent methods, but his own way of fighting lawlessness was to accept the office of deputy sheriff for his locality.

It was while filling this office that Roosevelt first made the acquaintance of Seth Bullock, who later became one of his warmest friends and greatest admirers, and who served as marshal of South Dakota under Roosevelt when the latter became President.

Roosevelt first met Seth when the latter was sheriff in the Black Hills district. A horse-thief Seth wanted escaped into Roosevelt’s territory and was captured by him, a matter that led Seth to give some attention to the young cub of a26 deputy two or three hundred miles north of him.

Later, Bill Jones, Ferris and Roosevelt went down to Deadwood on business. At the little town of Spearfish they met Seth. The trip had been a hard one, and the three travelers were dusty and unkempt. Seth’s reception of them at first was decidedly stand-offish, but when their identity became known he unbent. “You see,” he explained to the future President, “by your looks I thought you were some kind of a tin-horn gambling outfit, and that I might have to keep an eye on you!”

Roosevelt’s reputation as an upholder of the law was further enhanced by his arrest of the three desperadoes from whom his neighborhood had suffered. The vigilantes had almost cleared the country of scoundrels, but there remained three men who had long been suspected of cattle-killing and horse-stealing. One was a half-breed, another was an old German of the shiftless type, while the leader was a strapping fellow named Finnigan, with a crop of red hair reaching to his shoulders. These men, finding the neighborhood becoming too hot for them, were anxious to quit that section of the country. Roosevelt possessed a clinker-built boat that had been used to ferry his men across the river.

27 One day one of the men brought back to the house news that the boat had been stolen. The end of the rope had been cut off with a sharp knife. Near the stream lay a red woolen mitten with a leather palm. These three desperadoes were at once suspected. Undoubtedly they knew that to travel on horseback in the direction they wanted to go was almost impossible and that the river offered them the best avenue of escape. They must also have reasoned that by taking Roosevelt’s boat they would possess the only one on the river and that, therefore, they could not be pursued.

They reckoned without Roosevelt’s fighting spirit, however. With the aid of two of his cowboys, Sewall and Dow, who, coming from Maine woods, were therefore skilled in woodcraft and in the use of the ax, paddle and rifle, they turned out in two or three days a first-class flat-bottomed scow. This was loaded with supplies, and early one morning Roosevelt, Sewall and Dow started down the river in chase of the thieves. On the third day of their pursuit, as they came around a bend, they saw the lost boat moored against a bank. Some yards from the shore a campfire smoke arose. The pursuers shoved their scow into the bank and approached the camp.28 They found the German sitting by the campfire with his weapons on the ground. His two companions were off hunting. When the two thieves returned they walked into three cocked rifles. Roosevelt shouted to them to hold up their hands. The half-breed obeyed at once. Finnigan hesitated, but as Roosevelt walked a few paces toward him, covering his chest with his rifle, the man, with an oath, let his own rifle drop and threw his hands high above his head.

Then came the hardest and most irksome part of the task—getting the prisoners safely to jail. After many monotonous days and nights, in which it was necessary to keep a close guard on the prisoners and at the same time navigate the river, they came to a cow camp. There Roosevelt learned that at a ranch fifteen miles off he could hire a large prairie schooner and two tough broncos for the transportation of his prisoners to Dickinson, the nearest town. This was done. Sewall and Dow went back to the boats. Roosevelt put the prisoners in the wagon along with an old settler, who drove the horses while he walked behind, ankle-deep in mud, with his Winchester over his shoulder. After thirty-six hours of sleeplessness the wagon jolted into the main street of Dickinson, where Roosevelt delivered29 his prisoners into the hands of the sheriff, and received, under the laws of Dakota, his fees as a deputy sheriff, amounting to some fifty dollars.


Broncos and Bears

Hunting lost broncos was one of the commonest and most irksome of Roosevelt’s ranch duties. On one occasion, when three horses under his charge had been running loose for a couple of months and had become as wild as deer through their stolen liberty, he had to follow at full speed for fifteen miles, until by exhausting them, he was able to get them under control and headed toward a corral.

At other times he and his men were not so lucky. Two horses had been missing from the ranch for nearly eighteen months. They were seen by his men and pursued but the horses of the pursuers became exhausted and broken before they caught up with the runaways.

On another occasion a horse that had been on the Roosevelt ranch nine months developed a case of homesickness, went off one night and traveled two hundred miles back to its former roaming grounds, swimming the Yellowstone to achieve its goal.

When Roosevelt was attending one of the recent national political conventions, up came George Meyer, one of his former ranchmen, with31 this tale of Roosevelt’s roundup days on the Little Missouri:

“When the Colonel gets into a mix-up like he is in at this convention the picture comes to me of the time when he and I started to get two calves across the river. I singled out the meekest looking, grabbed it up in my arms, held it while I managed to get on my horse, and started to cross the river. Half way across I turned to see how ‘the boss’ was getting along.

“He had roped his calf and was dragging it toward the river. The calf, bleating and bouncing, swung round under the horse’s tail. This set the bronco on a rampage. The river bank was high, but over it he bucked. I saw ‘the boss’ clutching the reins with one hand and the calf rope with the other. The sudden tautness of the rope as the horse plunged into the water hurled the calf into the air, landing him beside ‘the boss.’ Through the water the horse plunged, and back of bronco and rider floundered the calf. It arrived on the other shore half strangled and half drowned, but it was still bleating and bouncing as ‘the boss’ hauled it to the pen.”



One of the most interesting tasks of the day was the breaking in of a new horse. The professional bronco-buster who did this was always an object of admiration to the strenuous Roosevelt. Roosevelt expressed his respect for these men in unreserved terms. He described their calling as a most dangerous trade, at which no man can hope to grow old. His work was infinitely harder than that of the horse-breaker in the East, because he had to break many horses in a limited time. Horses were cheap on the plains. Each outfit had a great many, and the pay for breaking the animals was only $5 or $10.

Giving a keener edge to the work of dealing with broncos is the peril that confronts the ranchmen from vicious horses. One of Roosevelt’s horses would at times rush at a man open-mouthed like a wolf, ready to bury his teeth in the ranchman’s flesh if he was not quick enough to fight him.



Once in a while a wild stallion was caught. This sort of animal fears no beast except the grizzly; yet, Roosevelt stated, he has one master among animals. That creature is the jackass. A battle between jack and stallions came under 33Roosevelt’s observation. Among the animals of a certain ranch were two great stallions and a jackass. The latter was scarcely half the size of the stallions. The animals were kept in separate pens, but one day the horses came together, and a fight between them ensued. They rolled against the pen of the jackass, breaking it down. Instantly the jackass with ears laid back and mouth wide open, sprang at the two horses. The gray horse reared on his hind legs and struck at his antagonist with his fore feet, but in a second the jack had grasped the gray by the throat.

The stallion made frantic endeavors to drive him off, but the jack kept his hold. The black stallion now plunged into the scrimmage, attacking both the gray and the jack alternately, using hoofs and teeth in his efforts to kill one or the other. The jack responded to the new attack with increased ferocity, and would doubtless have killed at least one of the stallions had not the ranchmen, by desperate efforts, separated the maddened brutes.

Roosevelt, on his first roundup, had enough experiences with wild broncos to satisfy the most hardened rough rider. It was impossible to bridle or saddle single-handed one of his horses. Another was one of the worst buckers on the34 ranch. Once it bucked Roosevelt off, resulting in a fall that broke a rib. Another would balk and then throw himself over backward. Roosevelt was once caught under him, and suffered as a result a broken shoulder.

Roosevelt welcomed roundup work as a relief to the monotony of the daily tasks on the ranch. The spring roundup was the big event of the season. The bulk of calves were to be branded then. Out-of-the-way parts of the country where cattle were supposed to have wandered had to be searched, so that the roundup usually extended for six or seven weeks, with no rest for the herders.

First the captain of the roundup was chosen. His qualifications were an ability to command and control the wild rough riders who served under him. The rendezvous was set, and from each ranch a cowboy rode out to meet at this common starting place. A four-horse wagon carried the bedding and food. The teamster acted as cook and was first-rate at both jobs. A dozen cow-punchers accompanied the wagon. Then, to take charge of the horses, there were two horse-rangers.

When the meeting place was reached, several days elapsed in making arrangements for the35 roundup. The time was passed in racing, breaking rough horses or in skylarking. Horse-racing was a mania with the cow-punchers, both whites and Indians. The horses were ridden bareback. Intense excitement preceded the race, and where the horses participating were well enough known to have partisans there generally arose quarrels between the two sides.

The races were short-distance dashes. Down between two thick rows of spectators, some on foot and some on horseback, the riders passed. Some of the lookers-on yelled and shouted encouragement at the top of their lungs. Some fired off their revolvers. All waved their hats and cloaks in encouragement. Naturally, the excitement made both horses and riders frantically eager to win, and when the goal was reached they were exhausted with nervous excitement.

The most exciting and dangerous part of the roundup comes when the cattle are stampeded by a storm or through fright. Anything may start them—the plunge of a horse, the approach of a coyote, the arrival of new steers or cows. In an instant the herd rises to its feet and rushes off. Then the work of the cowboys is cut out for them. No matter how rough the ground or how black the night, the cow-punchers must ride36 without sparing themselves to head them off and finally stop them. Even when stopped there is danger of them breaking again. Sometimes a man gets caught in the rush of the beasts and is trampled to death. Roosevelt never experienced this danger, but he knew the very hardest part of the work. On one occasion he was for thirty-six hours in the saddle, dismounting only to change horses or to eat.

At another time he was helping to bring a thousand head of young cattle down to his lower range. At night he and a cowboy stood guard. The cattle had been without water that day, and in their thirst they tried to break away. In the darkness Roosevelt could dimly see the shadowy outlines of the frantic herd. With whip and spurs he circled around the herd, turning back the beasts at one point just in time to wheel and keep them in at another. After an hour of violent exertion, by which time he was dripping with sweat, he and his companion finally quieted the herd.

On still another occasion Roosevelt was out on the plains when a regular blizzard came. The cattle began to drift before the storm. They were frightened and maddened by the quick, sharp flashes of lightning and the stinging rain.37 The men darted to and fro before them and beside them, heedless of danger, checking them at each point where they threatened to break through. The thunder was terrific. Peal followed peal. Each flash of lightning showed a dense array of tossing horns and staring eyes. At last, however, when the storm was raging in fury, and when it seemed impossible to hold the herd together any longer, the corrals were reached, and by desperate efforts Roosevelt and his companions managed to turn the herds into the barns. It was such work as this that brought Roosevelt self-reliance and hardihood and made him in later life a firm advocate of horsemanship.

Though Roosevelt’s ranch life yielded him big assets in health and experience, financially it proved a failure. It is estimated that he lost $100,000 on the venture. “Bill” Sewall testifies that Roosevelt shared all gains with Dow and him, who were practically his partners, but that when the cattle died Roosevelt assumed all losses without a word of complaint to his comrades.


We now enter upon the most adventurous part of Roosevelt’s Western experiences. Of dash, adventure and excitement he had plenty in38 his life as a ranchman, and yet through it all a still greater adventure called him. About him lay the wilderness. In that wilderness lurked big game. Roosevelt became a hunter. Something of the perils and hardships of the wild life he was about to enter upon can best be illustrated by the story he tells in his book “Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail” of the experiences of two starving trappers.

These two men had entered a valley in the heart of the mountains where game was so abundant that they decided to pass the winter there. As winter came on they worked hard at putting up a log cabin, killing just enough meat for immediate use. Winter set in with tremendous snowstorms. Game left the valley, abandoning it for their winter haunts. Starvation stared the trappers in the face. One man had his dog with him. The other insisted that the dog should be killed for food. The dog’s owner, who was deeply attached to the animal, refused. One night the other trapper tried to kill the dog with his knife, but failed. The scanty supply of flour the partners possessed was now almost exhausted. Hunger was beginning to intensify their bad feelings. Neither dared to sleep for fear that the other would kill him.

39 Finally the man who owned the dog proposed that, to give each a chance for life, they should separate. He himself agreed to take one-half of the handful of flour that was left and to start off in an attempt to get home. The other was to stay. If one tried to interfere with the other after the separation it meant a fight to the death. For two days the man and his dog plunged through snowdrifts. On the second evening, looking back over a high ridge, he saw his companion following him. He followed his own trail back, lay in ambush and shot down the man following him as if he had been a wild beast. The next evening he baked his last cake and divided it with the dog. Only a short stretch of time stood between them and death. Just then, however, the dog crossed the tracks of a wolf and followed its trail. The man staggered after and came at last to where the wolf stood over the body of a deer it had killed. The meat of the deer replenished the strength of the trapper and dog, and they continued their journey. A week later they reached a miner’s cabin.

While Roosevelt in his hunting experiences never had an adventure so harrowing as this, he nevertheless managed to crowd into his life as many big moments as most professional hunters40 and trappers find in a lifetime. At fifteen, an age when most boys are only dreaming of becoming huntsmen, Roosevelt killed his first deer.

His brother, his cousin and himself were camping out for the first time in their lives. Their camp was located on Lake St. Regis. The other two boys went fishing. Roosevelt was not overly fond of this sport, so he went off on a deer hunt. With him went the two guides, Hank Martin and Mose Sawyer. The first day of the hunt he not only did not kill a deer—he failed to see one that stood within range; and, on the way home, shot in mistake for one a large owl that was perched on a log.

The next day, goaded by the teasing of his camp mates, he started out again. This time he had better luck. As his canoe swung out from between forest-lined banks into a little bay, he saw, knee-deep among the water lilies that fringed the shore, a yearling buck. His first shot killed him.

The youthful adventure helped to stimulate Roosevelt’s ardor for hunting. One of the reasons why he went West was that he hoped to find big game, and when he found himself upon the track of the grizzly he was in his element indeed.

41 We find Roosevelt one day setting out from his ranch on a hunt for grizzly on the Big Horn Range. His eagerness to come in close contact with the grizzly was in no way dampened by the fact that a neighbor of his, while prospecting with two other men near the headwaters of the Little Missouri in the Black Hills country, had had a terrible experience with one.

The neighbor and two other men were walking along the river. Two of them followed the edge of the stream. The third followed a game trail some distance away from them. Suddenly the second heard an agonized shout from the third man, intermingled with the growling of the bear. They rushed to the scene just in time to see their companion in close contact with a grizzly. The bear was so close to the man that he had no time to fire his rifle, but merely held it up as a guard to his head. The immensely muscular forearm of the grizzly, with nails as strong as steel hooks, descended upon the man, striking aside the rifle and crushing the man’s skull like an eggshell.

Still another of the Colonel’s friends, while hunting in the Big Horn Mountains, had pursued a large bear and wounded him. The animal turned and rushed at the man, who fired at him42 and missed. The bear closed with him and passed on, striking only a single blow, yet that blow tore the man’s collarbone and snapped three or four ribs. The shock was so great that he died that night.

With his interest stimulated by such accounts of grizzly hunting, Roosevelt set out. It was early in September. The weather was cool and frosty and the flurries of snow made it easy to track the bears. There were plenty of blacktail deer in the woods, as well as bands of cow and calf elk, or of young bull. There were no signs of grizzly however.

One day Roosevelt and Merrifield separated, but at last Roosevelt heard the familiar long-drawn shout of a cattleman and dashed toward him on his small, wiry cow pony. Merrifield announced that he had seen signs of bears about ten miles distant. They shifted camp at once and rode to the spot where the bear tracks were so plentiful.

As Roosevelt came home toward nightfall from a vain hunt, walking through a reach of burned forest, he came across the huge half-human footprints of a great grizzly which had evidently passed a short time before. He followed the tracks in the fading twilight until it became43 too dark to see them, and had to give up the pursuit as darkness closed in about him. The next day, toward nightfall, as the two men were again returning home without having caught sight of the grizzly, they heard the sound of the breaking of a dead stick. It was the grizzly whose tracks they had seen around the remains of a black deer that Merrifield had shot. Again they had to postpone pursuit of him on account of darkness, but they made up their minds that they would get him the next morning.

Merrifield was a skilful tracker, and the next day he took up the trail at once where it had been left off. After a few hundred yards the tracks turned off on a well-beaten path made by the elk. The beast’s footprints were plain in the dust. The trail turned off into the tangled thicket, within which it was almost certain that the quarry could be found.

Still they followed the tracks, advancing with noiseless caution, climbing over dead tree trunks and upturned stumps and taking care that no branches rustled or caught on their clothes. Suddenly Merrifield sank on one knee, his face ablaze with excitement. Roosevelt strode past him with his rifle at the ready. There, not ten steps off, the great bear rose slowly from his bed44 among young spruces. He had heard his hunters, but did not know their exact location, for he reared up on his haunches and was sidewise to them. Then suddenly he caught sight of them and dropped on his fores, the hair on his neck and shoulders seeming to bristle as he turned toward them.

Roosevelt raised his rifle. The bear’s head was bent slightly down, and when Roosevelt looked squarely into the small, glittering, evil eyes he pulled his trigger. The bear half rose, then toppled over in the death throes. The bullet had gone into his brain. He was the first grizzly Roosevelt had ever seen, and a huge one at that. Naturally, he felt proud that within twenty seconds from the time he had caught sight of the game he had killed it.

Merrifield’s chief feeling was one of disappointment, not that he had not killed the game, but that Roosevelt had shot and killed him before the bear had had a chance to fight. Merrifield was reckless. He did not fear a grizzly any more than he did a jackrabbit. He wanted to see the bear come toward them in a typical grizzly charge and to bring him down in the rush. However, Roosevelt, not so much a veteran at bear-hunting, was quite contented in looking at45 the monstrous fellow to have brought him down before his charge commenced.

Lieutenant-Governor William Francis Sheehan once told a story illustrative of the Colonel’s whole-hearted spirit of adventure. Repeating a conversation he had with Mr. Roosevelt, Mr. Sheehan described the former President as standing before the mounted skin of a monster grizzly bear which he had shot at close range—so close that the odds at one instant seemed greatly in favor of the grizzly. After a description of the dramatic fight the Colonel suddenly turned to Sheehan and said:

“But, Governor, I shall never be satisfied until I have killed a grizzly bear with a knife!”

When one reads of Roosevelt in such surroundings one does not wonder that the Roosevelt home at Sagamore Hill at times resembled a veritable menagerie. At one time there were a lion, a hyena, a zebra, five bears, a wildcat, a coyote, two macaws, an eagle, a barn owl and several snakes and lizards. Kangaroo rats and flying squirrels slept in the pockets and blouses of the Roosevelt children, went to school with them and often were guests at dinner. While campaigning in Kansas in 1903 a little girl brought a baby badger, carried by her brother,46 to Roosevelt’s train, whence it was later transferred to the Sagamore Hill menagerie. There was a guinea-pig named Father O’Grady by the children, but this proved to be of the softer sex. One day two of the children rushed breathlessly into a room where the Roosevelts were entertaining mixed company. “Oh! oh!” they cried. “Father O’Grady has had some children!”

As a result of their closeness to nature Roosevelt’s sons became sportsmen and naturalists worthy of their father.

Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., killed his first buck just before he was fourteen, and his first moose, a big bull with horns that spread fifty-six inches, just before he was seventeen. Both of these animals were killed in the wilderness, on hunting trips which tested to the utmost the boy’s endurance and skill.


Champion of Women and Children

Many people misunderstood Roosevelt. Seeing the virile, fighting side of his nature, they came to look at him as representing strength without tenderness. On the contrary, no man was more tender to women, children and animals. He always impressed his close friend, Jacob Riis, as being as tender as a woman.

One day while Theodore Roosevelt was Assistant Secretary of the Navy, he prevailed on Mr. Riis to go home with him. In those days the Roosevelt children were little. Instead of rushing upon Mr. Roosevelt when he entered the door, as was their custom later, they waited their father’s coming in the nursery.

Entering the house, Mr. Roosevelt invited Mr. Riis to go up with him to see the babies. Mrs. Roosevelt met them in the hall with the warning that he was not to play bear, that the baby was being put to sleep. However, when the two arrived in the nursery, the baby itself squirmed out of the nurse’s arms and growled and clawed at the father very much like a little bear cub, and,48 thus incited, the rest of the children flew upon him with all of the amazing vigor of childhood. The house was in a turmoil. No menagerie in its wildest moment gave forth more shrieks, howls and thumps. As a climax the door opened and Mrs. Roosevelt, wearing a look of great sternness, stood viewing the scene. Thereupon her husband arose meekly from the floor explaining that the baby was thoroughly awake when he arrived. This story explains the following:

One day, when Roosevelt was Police Commissioner, a policeman was ordered before him on charges. Roosevelt reviewed his past offences and resolved to dismiss him. The stage was set for the dismissal; only the formalities remained. But someone had told the culprit the Commissioner’s weak side. In the morning as Roosevelt came from a romp with his babies, the doomed policeman stood before him surrounded by eleven weeping youngsters.

Roosevelt’s stern expression relaxed to one of instant sympathy.

“Where is your wife, O’Keefe?”

“Dead, Sir!”

Dead! And this man, left alone with all these children! Clearly it would be inhuman to discharge him. He must be given one more chance.



49 Out went the patrolman with his new lease of life. And his first duty was to return to his neighbors in the tenement the nine children he had borrowed to accompany his own two in his task of melting the heart of the Comissioner.

Some years ago, a man Roosevelt had met out West wrote this letter to him:

“Dear Colonel: I write you because I am in trouble. I have shot a lady in the eye. But, Colonel, I was not shooting at the lady. I was shooting at my wife.”

Roosevelt replied to his friend in need that while he appreciated marksmanship in almost every form, he drew the line at shooting at ladies, whether or not they were related to the man who held the gun.



Roosevelt, much as he understood the character of the Western man, was even more interested in and sympathetic to the Western woman. It was on the prairie that Roosevelt learned the doctrine which he afterward preached, that “the prime work for the average woman must be keeping the home and rearing her children.” When with his men on the ranch he listened by hours to their accounts of the charms and virtues of their sweethearts, while from his own close observation he acquired a knowledge of the homely50 virtues of the women pioneers of the plains that led him to show small sympathy in later years with the idle, luxury-loving women of the big cities.

In his description of frontier types Roosevelt pictured how the grinding work of the wilderness drives the beauty and bloom from a woman’s face long before her youth leaves her. She lives in a log hut chinked with moss, or in a sod adobe hovel; or in a temporary camp.

Motherhood comes and leaves her sinewy, angular, thin of lip and furrowed of brow. She is up early, going about her work in a dingy gown and ugly sunbonnet, facing her many hard duties, washing and cooking for her husband and children; facing perils and hardships and poverty with the courage her husband shows in facing his own hard and dangerous lot. She is fond and tender toward her children. Yet necessity dictates that she must bring them up in hardihood. One of the wives of Roosevelt’s teamsters, when her work prevented her giving personal care to her flock picketed them out, each child being tied by the leg with a long leather string to a stake driven in the ground and so placed that it could not get into a scuffle with the next child nor get its hand on breakable things.

51 Independent and resourceful as the frontiersman became in contact with the desolate prairie, his wife was no less similarly developed. Roosevelt met one of these women living alone in her cabin on the plains, having dismissed her erring husband some six months previously. Her living she earned by making hunting shirts, leggins and gauntlets for neighboring cow-punchers and Indians, and every man who approached her cabin door was made to walk the straightest kind of line.

The West had its lewd women—as have our big cities today—but Roosevelt testified that the sense of honor and dignity of the average plainswoman was as high as that found in the centers of culture. In the cowboy balls, to which men and women flocked from the surrounding towns, the greatest decorum was observed, and those behaving unseemingly were banished and punished with typical cowboy celerity and vim.

In his later years Roosevelt wrote a vigorous paper on the parasite woman, appealing therein to American women to rear strong families for their country, and to train them to be prepared for military service if needed. A Michigan woman of the same brave pioneer stamp described above formed the conclusion that Roosevelt52 was writing without knowledge of the hardships many of her sex were forced to undergo, and wrote to him this letter:

“Dear Sir: When you were talking of ‘race suicide’ I was rearing a large family on almost no income. I often thought of writing to you of some of my hardships, and now when ‘preparedness’ may take some of my boys, I feel I must. I have eleven of my own and brought up three stepchildren, and yet, in the thirty years of my married life I have never had a new cloak or winter hat. I have sent seven children to school at one time. I had a family of ten for eighteen years, with no money to hire a washerwoman though bearing a child every two years. Nine—several through or nearly—of my children have got into high school and two into State Normal School, and one into the University of Michigan. I haven’t eaten a paid-meal in twenty years or paid for a night’s lodging in thirty. Not one of the five boys—the youngest is fifteen—uses tobacco or liquor. I have worn men’s discarded shoes much of the time. I have had little time for reading.

“I think I have served my country. My husband has been an invalid for six years—leaving53 me the care and much work on our little sandy farm. I have bothered you enough. To me race suicide has perhaps a different meaning when I think my boys may have to face the cannon.


“MRS. ——”

Roosevelt’s reply to her was warmly sympathetic, but there was no withdrawing from the principles he had set forth. The following paragraphs from his reply illustrate that tender yet just attitude that Roosevelt took toward American women, including, of course, the women of his own household:

“Now, my dear Mrs. ——, you have described a career of service which makes me feel more like taking off my hat to you, and saluting you as a citizen deserving of the highest honor, than I would feel as regards any colonel of a crack regiment. But you seem to think, if I understand your letter aright, that ‘preparedness’ is in some way designed to make your boys food for cannon.

“Now, as a matter of fact, the surest way to prevent your boys from being food for cannon is to have them, and all the other young men of the country—my boys, for instance, and the boys of all other fathers and mothers throughout the54 country—so trained, so prepared, that it will not be safe for any foreign foe to attack us. Preparedness no more invites war than fire insurance invites a fire. I shall come back to this matter again in a moment. But I will speak to you first a word as to what you say about race suicide.

“I have never preached the imposition of an excessive maternity on any woman. I have always said that every man worth calling such will feel a peculiar sense of chivalric tenderness toward his wife, the mother of his children. He must be unselfish and considerate with her. But, exactly as he must do his duty, so she must do her duty. I have said that it is self-evident that unless the average woman, capable of having children, has four, the race will not go forward; for this is necessary in order to offset the women who for proper reasons do not marry, or who, from no fault of their own, have no children, or only one or two, or whose children die before they grow up. I do not want to see Americans forced to import our babies from abroad. I do not want to see the stock of people like yourself and like my family die out—and you do not either; and it will inevitably die out if the average man and the average woman are so selfish and55 so cold that they wish either no children, or just one or two children.

“We have had six children in this family. We wish we had more. Now the grandchildren are coming along; and I am sure you agree with me that no other success in life—not being President, or being wealthy, or going to college, or anything else—comes up to the success of the man and woman who can feel that they have done their duty and that their children and grandchildren rise up to call them blessed.

“Mrs. Roosevelt and I have four sons, and they are as dear to us as your sons are to you. If we now had war, these four boys would all go. We think it entirely right that they should go if their country needs them. But I do not think it fair that they should be sent to defend the boys who are too soft or too timid ‘to face the cannon,’ or the other boys who wish to stay at home to make money while somebody else protects them.”


In the lore of the Middle West brilliantly stands out the figure of Johnny Appleseed, who traveled westward distributing apple-seeds to the farmers and ranchers, from whence sprang56 up the great apple orchards that have blessed these regions.

It was service of a similar kind that Roosevelt performed when he went among these primitive people of the wilderness. Schools were scarce in those days and opportunity for culture was almost entirely lacking. But here had come among them a man who had graduated from one of the great Eastern colleges, and who had brought with him a choice library of books that contained characters and philosophy entirely comprehensible by these untutored minds when interpreted by such an enthusiastic and sympathetic expounder as young Roosevelt.

On the long winter evenings Roosevelt’s fireside became the rendezvous for the ranchers and their wives. Roosevelt would select a classic story and begin reading. The tale would be a familiar one to him, and yet the genius of the author would again cast its spell over him, and he would read with interest and expression that were magnetic. Swiftly the night passed, and when in the late hours his hearers went to their rest they lay awake remembering the poetry of “that chap Browning” or the Rosalind or Lear of “Mr. Shakespeare,” conning them over in their minds until they became part of their57 beings, to be transmitted later to the minds and lips of their children, and thus to become a part of the civilization of their section.

To the women, with their starved existence—so far as education was concerned—Roosevelt proved a benefactor indeed; but no less did he administer to the mental craving of his men comrades.

Monotonous and threadbare grew the conversation at a cow-camp. Seldom did the talk vary from such topics as these, described by him:

“A bunch of steers had been seen traveling over the buttes to the head of Elk Creek. A stray horse, with a blurred brand on the left hip, had just joined the saddle ponies. The red F. V. cow had been bitten by a wolf. The old mule, Sawback, was getting over the effects of the rattlesnake bite. The river was going down, but the fords were still bad, and the quicksand at the Caster Trail crossing had worked along so that wagons had to be taken over opposite the blasted cottonwood. Bronco Jim had tried to ride the big, bald-faced sorrel belonging to the Oregon horse outfit and had been bucked off and his face smashed in. It was agreed that Jim ‘wasn’t the sure-enough bronco-buster he thought himself,’ and he was compared very58 unfavorably to various heroes of the quirt and spurs who lived in Texas and Colorado.”

These topics having been exhausted, the rumor was discussed that the vigilantes had given notice to quit to two men who had just built a shack at the head of the Little Dry River, and whose horses included a suspiciously large number of different brands, most of them blurred. Then the talk became more personal. Roosevelt would be asked to write or post letters for the cow-punchers. Then his companions, growing friendly, would make him the confident of their love affairs, and make him listen for an hour to the charms of their sweethearts.

Here Roosevelt’s books stood both him and his companions in good stead. No matter what adverse conditions surrounded the young ranch-owner, favorite volumes were at hand, and out they came at the first opportunity.

On one occasion, while hunting on Beaver Creek for a lost horse, he met a cowboy and made friends with him. Caught in a heavy snowstorm, they lost themselves, and after eight or nine horns of drifting, finally came across an empty hut near Sentinel Butte. Making their horses comfortable in a sheltered nook with hay found in an old stack, the two cold and tired men59 sat down to spend the long winter evening together. Out of Roosevelt’s pocket came a small edition of Hamlet. His cowboy companion was greatly interested in the reading, and Roosevelt tells us that he commented very shrewdly on the parts he liked, especially Polonius’s advice to Laertes. His final comment was extremely gratifying to the man who had introduced to him the treasures of the world’s greatest dramatist, and would doubtless have given great pleasure to the immortal bard himself:

“Old Shakespeare saveyed human natur’ some!”

On another evening the men at the Roosevelt ranch began to discuss the English soldiers. Thereupon Roosevelt got down “Napier” and read them extracts from his descriptions of the fighting in the Spanish peninsula. He also told them about the fine appearance and splendid horses of the cavalry and hussars he had seen.

Thus when the East called Roosevelt home there was left behind in the minds of the sons and daughters of the great West not only the recollection of a tried and true comrade, but also the seeds of a culture whose fruitage is still springing forth from the lives he touched.

From a business standpoint Roosevelt’s ranching60 venture was a failure. The country was poorly adapted to cattle-raising. His reviving interest in politics and his engagement to Edith Carow came to draw him back to the fields where happiness and success waited. Sewall and Dow returned East with him.

The duty of a biographer is to record and not to speculate, yet as we look at Roosevelt’s later life in his unpretentious home at Sagamore Hill; when we think of the democratic sewing circle at Oyster Bay to which Mrs. Roosevelt goes regularly to sew garments for crippled children, and when we see the democratic simplicity with which Roosevelt mingled with his neighbors and shared their experiences and confidences; when we read of him or Captain Archie playing Santa Claus to the village children, we are led to pronounce this judgment, which we feel Roosevelt, if he were living, would heartily second—that while he gave to the men and women of the West the best that was in him, he also received from their kind hearts and frank and open natures a deepening and ripening of his sense of brotherhood that was equivalent in value to the finest gifts he gave these frontier folks.


Keeping Fit

It is a matter of conjecture how far the attitude of the doughboy is due to the training he got in the army, but the fact remains that boxing and wrestling have been recognized and practised by our army officers as valuable adjuncts to military training. Uncle Sam encouraged the science of fisticuffs on shipboard and in the training camps, under a committee headed by no other than the famous ex-champion, James J. Corbett, because the positions and motions used in boxing are almost the same as those used in bayonet practice. The development of gameness in the recruit is another important benefit derived from the sport.

One of the anecdotes that came out of the trenches has for its hero a short but stocky Yank who, in an encounter with a huge Prussian, dropped his rifle and went for his foe with his fists. He knocked the fight out of the surprised German and brought him in a prisoner. An officer who had watched his exploit thought it proper to caution him as to the danger that lay in this departure from the rules of attack.

“Danger!” spoke up the Yank, “there isn’t a62 Fritz alive that I can’t lick with just my fists!”

Theodore Roosevelt, had he realized his desire to serve with the colors during the world conflict, would undoubtedly have been an enthusiastic spectator at such of the army’s ring battles as were within reach of him. Indeed, had he been still occupant of the White House it would not have been surprising to have heard of his inviting champions from the various cantonments to test their skill under the White House roof. Mr. Roosevelt was first drawn to two naval chaplains, Fathers Chidwick and Rainey, through his discovery that each of them had bought sets of boxing gloves and encouraged their crews in boxing. While he was President fencing or boxing were Mr. Roosevelt’s favorite indoor exercises. He was also intensely interested in jiu-jitsu, the “muscleless art.” To perfect himself in this exercise he employed one of the best of the Japanese instructors, and took a course of twenty lessons.

After learning the various grips, the President would practise them upon his teacher. He soon mastered the science, and his enthusiasm over it led him to introduce jiu-jitsu instruction at Annapolis and West Point.

When Mr. Roosevelt entered upon his public63 career heavy burdens were laid upon him, and to keep in condition to meet the hard physical and mental strain he again turned to boxing and wrestling for exercise. When Governor of New York the champion middleweight wrestler of America came several evenings a week to wrestle with him. The news of the purchase of a wrestling mat for the Governor’s mansion at Albany created consternation on the part of the Controller, but was greeted with great enthusiasm by the red-blooded men to whom the Governor had become an idol. Many of these would have paid a great price to have been able to stand at the edge of the mat and cheer their champion in his strenuous amusement. To the middleweight champion the job was a hard one. Not because he experienced any difficulty in downing the Governor, but because he was so awed by the Governor’s position and responsibilities that he was always in dire anxiety lest the Governor should break an arm or crack a rib. This gingerly attitude of his opponent exasperated Roosevelt. He didn’t feel that it was fair for him to be straining like a tiger to get a half-Nelson hold on the champion while the latter seemed to feel that he must play the nurse to him. After repeated urgings he managed to get64 the champion to throw him about in real earnest—then he was satisfied.

Colonel Roosevelt relates in his reminiscences that, while he was in the Legislature, he had as a sparring partner a second-rate prizefighter who used to come to his rooms every morning and put on the gloves for a half hour. One morning he failed to arrive, but a few days later there came a letter from him. It developed that he was then in jail; that boxing had been simply an avocation with him, and that his principal business was that of a burglar.

Roosevelt was fond of boxing with “Mike” Donovan, trainer at the New York Athletic Club, as well as with William Muldoon, the wrestler and trainer. His opponents testify that the Colonel was handicapped by his poor sight. He wanted to see his adversary’s eyes—to catch the gleam that comes before a blow. Roosevelt always maneuvered to see his opponent’s face, and he liked to “mix in” when boxing.

Hard and heavy was the Colonel’s method, and his opponents forced the colonel to adapt his plan of fighting to theirs. It did not matter to Roosevelt. It was the striving, not the result, that interested him.

An illustration of Roosevelt’s fondness for the65 Japanese art of wrestling is found in this extract from the diary of John Hay, Secretary of State:

“April 26—At the Cabinet meeting this morning the President talked of his Japanese wrestler, who is giving him lessons in jiu-jitsu. He says the muscles of his throat are so powerfully developed by training that it is impossible for any ordinary man to strangle him. If the President succeeds once in a while in getting the better of him he says, ‘Good! Lovely!’”

Lieutenant Fortescue, a distant relative of the Roosevelt family, sometimes put on the gloves with the Colonel. One day, feeling in fighting trim, Fortescue asked the Colonel to box with him. Finally the Colonel agreed to go four rounds. According to Joseph Grant, detective sergeant of the Washington Police Department, detailed to the White House to “guard” the President, it was the fastest bout he ever saw.

“The Colonel began to knock Lieutenant Fortescue right and left in the second round,” said the detective. “His right and left got to the army officer’s jaw time after time, and the bout was stopped in the third round to prevent the army man from getting knocked out. Then the Colonel turned to me and said: ‘I think I can do the same to you. Put on the gloves!’

66 “I drew them on reluctantly, and I put up the fight of my life. The best I could do was to prevent a decision and get a draw.”

It was a sporting rule of the Colonel’s not only to give as good a blow as he could, but also to take without squirming the hardest blow his opponent could deliver. The wrestler who hesitated to stand him on his head because he was Governor of New York exasperated him; nor would he have permitted a man to spar with him who held back his blows.

Nothing illustrates this rule better than an episode which the Colonel himself made public. In October, 1917, in the course of an interview with newspaper men, he told this story in explanation of his relinquishing the gloves:

“When I was President I used to box with one of my aids, a young captain in the artillery. One day he cross-countered me and broke a blood vessel in my left eye. I don’t know whether this is known, but I never have been able to see out of that eye since. I thought, as only one good eye was left me, I would not box any longer.”

This story was too promising for the newspaper men to let drop without endeavoring to have it amplified by the soldier who delivered the blow.

67 A few days later, in “The New York Times,” appeared this interview with Colonel Dan T. Moore, of the 310th Field Artillery Regiment, 79th Division, National Army:

“Colonel Dan T. Moore, of the 310th Field Artillery Regiment, 79th Division, National Army, admits he struck the blow that destroyed the sight of Colonel Roosevelt’s eye.

“‘I am sorry I struck the blow. I’m sorry the Colonel told about it, and I’m sorry my identity has been so quickly uncovered. I give you my word I never knew I had blinded the Colonel in one eye until I read his statement in the paper. I instantly knew, however, that I was the man referred to, because there was no other answering the description he gave who could have done it. I shall write the Colonel a letter in a few days, expressing my regrets at the serious results of the blow.

“‘I was a military aid at the White House in 1905. The boxers in the White House gym were the President, Kermit Roosevelt and myself. The President went further afield for his opponents in other sports, but when he wanted to don the boxing gloves he chose Kermit or myself.’

“‘Tell about the blow that blinded the President.’

68 “‘I might as well try to tell about the shell that killed any particular soldier in this war. When you put on gloves with President Roosevelt it was a case of fight all the way, and no man in the ring with him had a chance to keep track of particular blows. A good fast referee might have known, but nobody else. The Colonel wanted plenty of action, and he usually got it. He had no use for a quitter or one who gave ground, and nobody but a man willing to fight all the time and all the way had a chance with him. That’s my only excuse for the fact that I seriously injured him. There was no chance to be careful of the blows. He simply wouldn’t have stood for it.’”

Roosevelt to his last days remained keenly interested in ring champions. He numbered among his prizefighting friends John L. Sullivan, Bob Fitzsimmons, Battling Nelson and many another man whose fame was won by strength and skill in the ring. Among his treasures is the pen-holder Bob Fitzsimmons made for him out of a horse-shoe, and the gold-mounted rabbit’s foot which John L. Sullivan gave to him for a talisman when he went on his African trip.

He championed the cause of prizefighters on many occasions, though never hesitating to69 denounce the crookedness that has attended the commercializing of the ring. He held that powerful, vigorous men of strong animal development must have some way in which their spirits can find vent. His acts while Police Commissioner of New York show clearly how he distinguished between the art of boxing itself and the men who are trying to make money out of it. On one hand, he promoted the establishment of boxing clubs in bad neighborhoods in order to draw the attention of street gangs from knifing and gun-fighting. On the other hand, finding that the prize ring had become hopelessly debased and run for the benefit of low hangers-on, who permitted brutality in order to make money out of it, he aided, as Governor, in the passage of a bill putting a stop to professional boxing for money.


Roosevelt’s “Cops”

The New York Police Department needed a cleaning up. The force at that time was under a heavy cloud. There had been a Mayorality election. Tammany had made a hard fight but the Republican candidate, Strong, had been elected. The vote meant that the citizens thought the time had come for a New York police reform. Mayor Strong asked Roosevelt, then serving on the national Civil Service Commission, to be Police Commissioner.

Roosevelt’s friends thought that he was too big a man to take such a position. He saw a work that needed to be done.

Proctor, a friend and fellow worker, tried to persuade him not to undertake the job. Roosevelt had given the matter earnest thought. He believed himself capable of bringing about the necessary reforms. He knew that such a work would be of great benefit to his fellow citizens.

“Proctor,” he said, “it is my duty. I am going.”

“Go then!” said Proctor. “You must always have your own way. Yet I believe you are right. Clean up the city thoroughly!”

Roosevelt faced a bigger job than he knew.71 The metropolitan police system was in the hands of corrupt politicians. The Tammany ring exercised a tyranny over the policemen. Incompetency, immorality and dishonesty honeycombed the department. Many of the policemen, instead of being a protection to the people, were a menace.

Promotions went by favor and money. The man who wanted to become a policeman could get the job for from $200 to $300. A police lieutenant could buy his appointment for from $10,000 up. The men who secured positions in this way paid the money with the expectation of getting it back through graft. They had free rope so long as they delivered to the political leaders half of their spoils.

If a saloonkeeper wanted to obey the law and tried to get along without paying tribute to the policemen of his district, he found that a rival saloonkeeper was being accorded extraordinary privileges in order that he himself might be either ruined or forced to “come across.” Gambling dens, saloons and disorderly houses were free from punishment so long as they paid toll. Vice flaunted itself in the face of the law-abiding element of the city.

The very coming of Roosevelt to Mulberry72 Street was a challenge to the disorderly and corrupt elements of the metropolis. His friends warned him that other commissioners, with good intentions, had tried to do what he was about to attempt, but had found the police force so full of jealousy, favoritism and blackmail that little progress could be made.

“Tom” Byrnes, a detective of national fame, was the head of the New York police at that time. Roosevelt decided that reform should begin at the top. He dismissed Byrnes. The latter hurled at him this challenge:

“The system will break your opposition. You will give in, for you are only human, after all.”

Roosevelt kept on. No one was allowed anything to say concerning his appointments and promotions. Those who were physically and morally weak he banished from the service. Those who showed merit and faithfulness he promoted.

He started in at once to acquire an intimate knowledge of the men who worked under him. He accomplished this by making personal tours at night through the various police districts. Francis E. Leupp, whose previously-mentioned book, “The Man Roosevelt,” will always be a fruitful source to Roosevelt’s biographers, gives this description of such an expedition:



“The friend (Leupp) found the Commissioner at the appointed place and hour, armed only with a little stick and a written list of the patrolmen’s posts in the district which was to be visited. They walked over each beat separately. In the first three beats they found only one man on post. One of the others had gone to assist the man on the third, but there was no trace of the third man’s whereabouts. They came upon a patrolman seated on a box with a woman.

“‘Patrolman,’ asked the Commissioner, ‘are you doing your duty on post 27?’

“The fellow jumped up in a hurry. This pedestrian, though unknown to him, was obviously familiar with police matters; so he stammered out, with every attempt to be obsequious: ‘Yes, sir; I am, sir.’

“‘Is it all right for you to sit down?’ inquired the mysterious stranger.

“‘Yes, sir—no, sir—well, sir, I wasn’t sitting down. I was just waiting for my partner, the patrolman on the next beat. Really, I wasn’t sitting down.’

“‘Very well,’ said the stranger, cutting him short and starting on.

74 “The officer ran along, explaining again with much volubility that he had not been sitting down—he had just been leaning a little against something while he waited.

“‘That will do; you are following me off post. Go back to your beat now and present yourself before me at headquarters at half-past nine in the morning. I am Commissioner Roosevelt.’

“Another three blocks and the strollers came upon a patrolman chatting with a man and a woman. They passed the group, went a little way, and returned; the woman was gone, but the patrolman and the man were still there, and deep in conversation. The talk was interrupted to enable the officer to answer the Commissioner’s questions. The man seized the opportunity to slip off.

“‘They were drunk, sir, a little intoxicated, sir,’ was the patrolman’s excuse, as he caught an inkling of the situation. ‘I was just trying to quiet them down a bit. I’m sorry, sir, very sorry.’

“‘That’s enough. Come to Commissioner Roosevelt’s office at half-past nine.’

“In search of the roundsman the Commissioner started to call him to account for all this laxity in discipline. The roundsman was found gossiping with two patrolmen on another beat.

75 “‘Which of you men belongs here?’ demanded the Commissioner, addressing the patrolmen.

“They and their companion met the inquiry defiantly. One of the trio retorted: ‘What business is that of yours?’

“The Commissioner made no response except to repeat his question in another form: ‘Which one of you is covering beat 31?’”

It was now plain that they were in trouble. By the light of a neighboring gas lamp the roundsman recognized the interrogator’s face. He cast a significant look at one of his companions, who answered meekly enough: “It’s me, sir.”

The other told where he belonged and left quickly for his post, while the roundsman made a poor fist of explaining that he was “just admonishing the patrolmen to move around and do their duty” when the commissioner came up.

“You may call on me at half-past nine and tell me all about it,” was the response. “I haven’t time now to listen.”

The culprits, when they appeared the next morning, had every conceivable excuse for their shortcomings. Many of them pleaded that this was their first offense.

“Take care that you do not do it a second time,”76 was Roosevelt’s response. “I am going to see with my own eyes how you men employ your time.”

On the other hand, where policemen had been found to have performed their duties well, they were also ordered to call at headquarters the next day, but instead of being reprimanded like the others, they were warmly praised. For the first time each man had a show for promotion on his merits. Neither politics nor religion counted. The man who did a brave deed was promoted. The man who was found corrupt was “broken.” That was all there was to it. It required no pull or money to become a member of the police force when Roosevelt had charge of it. This is illustrated by his selection of one of his policemen from the Bowery branch of the Young Men’s Christian Association. He tells the story that he had gone to the branch of the association one night and the secretary informed him that they had a young man who had just rescued a woman from a burning building, showing great coolness and courage.

The Commissioner was interested—brave men always attracted him. He asked to see the young man, who was a Russian and who had some years ago come to America during one of the waves77 of persecution in the realm of the Czar. He had been studying in the association classes for some time and wanted employment. Physically he was of the right type, and he passed his examination for the force.

He made one of the best policemen in the city, and in consequence of his pay he was able to provide for his mother and his old grandmother and to start his small brothers and sisters in life. Said Colonel Roosevelt, “He was already a good son and brother, so that it was not surprising that he made a good policeman.”

Roosevelt’s strenuous and novel methods soon began to count. Instead of being tools of blackmailers, the men became self-respecting and “straight.” It became a badge of honor to be known as a “Roosevelt cop.”

Mr. Enright, the present Chief of the New York Police Department and an old member of the force, testifies to the remarkable executive ability shown by Roosevelt. “He was the first Commissioner to inaugurate a strict civil service examination,” said Mr. Enright, “and he sent out a letter requesting 1,000 young men through the state to enter the examination and become members of the force. He tested them very severely, asking questions on history and geography.78 One of his questions was to name five states west of the Mississippi River and give the capitals. Another was to name five consecutive Presidents.

“He made drastic rules to enforce the excise law in those days, and on many Sundays used the whole Police Department in his work by placing a uniformed patrolman in front of the door of every saloon.”

Another warm admirer of Colonel Roosevelt is Captain Bourke, who received from Roosevelt his first promotion after he had arrested Mike Callahan, owner of a saloon at Mott Street and Chatham Square, who had been violating the excise law. Callahan was credited with being immune to arrest, due to his influence with politicians, and Bourke made the arrest after he had been only six weeks on the force. It was rumored that Bourke would be dismissed for his act, but when Callahan was arraigned and convicted Bourke was promoted.

Certain elements of the city rebelled against Roosevelt’s rigid enforcement of the excise laws and organized a parade in protest. A reviewing stand was built and, unknown to the promoters, Colonel Roosevelt slipped into the stand. At the head of a division was a stout German—a veteran79 of the Franco-Prussian War. Roosevelt’s endeavor to deprive him of his Sunday beer had aroused his wrath and as he passed the platform he shouted scornfully in German:

“Now, where is that Roosevelt?”

Mr. Roosevelt, leaning over the side of the stand, queried, also in German:

“Here I am. What will you, comrade?”

The astonished German when it dawned upon him that Roosevelt had heard him, raised his hat and shouted: “Hurrah for Roosevelt!” Roosevelt’s good humor caught the crowd. The cheer was repeated and the demonstration turned to one for the commissioner instead of against him.

On one occasion when Roosevelt was on a night tour of investigation, he walked around a certain beat three times without being able to find his man. Just as he was about to leave, a quarrel occurred in a cafe and the owner came out on the sidewalk and knocked with a stick as a signal that he needed police protection. Three times he rapped, but the policeman did not come. Roosevelt heard him say:

“Where in thunder is the scoundrel sleeping? He should have told me that he had given up sleeping in the barber shop so that I could have found him.”

80 The next morning the policeman received a summons to headquarters to explain why he had changed his sleeping place.

It is also told of Roosevelt that an anti-Hebrew lecturer, intending to denounce Jews, asked for police protection at a lecture. The protection was promised and sent—thirty Hebrew policemen, whose presence so awed the speaker that his lecture became quite tame.

The attachment of members of the Jewish race for Roosevelt was illustrated at his funeral. The one man who was permitted to sit alone in the trophy room at Sagamore Hill, with the body of the Colonel, was Lieutenant Otto Raphael of the New York Police Force, a Hebrew of the East side. Mr. Roosevelt, in his biography, describes Raphael as “a powerful fellow with a good-humored face. He and I were both ‘straight New Yorkers,’ to use the vernacular. To show our community of feeling and our grasp of the facts of life, I may mention that we were almost the only men in the Police Department who picked Fitzsimmons as a winner over Corbett.”



Captain William B. Sullivan, now in command of the Gates Avenue Police Station, Brooklyn, who served as bodyguard to Roosevelt while he was Police Commissioner, attests that Roosevelt 81was a born policeman. “There wasn’t a man in the department,” said Sullivan, “that he didn’t know by name.”

While prosecuting his fight for the enforcement of the Sunday laws, Roosevelt made the police enforce a regulation which declared that ice must not be sold after 10 o’clock in the morning on Sundays. This proved to be a real hardship to the masses of the East side. A strong appeal was made to the commissioner to be less severe in the prosecution of this law, but he felt that he was in the right and kept to his course.

Then a reporter wrote a story of the death of a little girl in a tenement on the East Side. The narrative said that the mother had gone to buy ice for her after 10 o’clock on Sunday morning and that the iceman was arrested for selling it, and in the mother’s absence the child was said to have died.

This tale proved to be nothing more or less than a fable, written to show what could happen under the continued enforcement of this law. Roosevelt furiously denounced both the reporter and the editor of the newspaper which published this story, yet he soon withdrew his opposition to the selling of ice on Sunday. He said that he had received more than two hundred letters82 because of the story and that some of the women who wrote him declared that they would like to tear him to pieces.

In spite of the many bitter battles Roosevelt faced as Police Commissioner, he never lost his kindness of heart. He found one gray-haired veteran who had saved twenty-eight lives at the risk of his own. All of the recognition he had earned from the Police Board for this heroic deed was the privilege of buying a new uniform at his own expense, after he ruined his old one in the rescue of the lives.

The Police Board resolved, at Roosevelt’s request, that the clothes ruined in rescuing a life on duty should be paid for by the department.

Children found him always a warm, helpful friend. When things happened in their neighborhood that did violence to their youthful sense of justice, they came to him with their complaints and, if it were at all possible, he adjusted them.

His enemies tried many times to “get something on him.” One night they had him shadowed, thinking to catch him off his guard. News came to him of their attempt. He bridled with indignation. “They found me going home to my babies. Let them make the most of that,” he cried.

83 While Police Commissioner, Roosevelt acted also as a member of the Department of Health. Here, working hand in hand with Jacob Riis, he did much to make conditions better for the poor. In those days it was the children that were the greatest sufferers from the lack of health laws.

While on his night visits Roosevelt went into dark courts and entered foul tenements to discover for himself the misery that lay within their walls. At his recommendation, the worst of these shacks were bought by the city and torn down. Fire-traps and disease-holes were abolished. Public playgrounds and parks in the crowded districts were laid out. Even in such good work Roosevelt met with opposition. He was sued by two landlords who had been forced to tear down their old buildings, but the court upheld his action.

Throughout his term of office he followed the rule he had inaugurated while Civil Service Commissioner of giving the widest publicity to everything that went on in his department. He gave full access to newspaper men so that the public could know exactly what was going on. Any one could visit him in his own office and he tried to help everybody who desired help.

Roosevelt’s attitude toward the commercialized84 social evil in the red-light districts was one of determined and unwavering opposition.

In his autobiography he states that he considered the social evil the saddest part of his police work. He made it a rule to treat the men caught in raids on houses of ill fame precisely as the women were treated. It was his belief that by treating men and women on an exact equality for the same act much could be done to minimize the evil. His judgment was that the same moral level for both sexes must be achieved by raising the standard for the man and not by lowering it for the woman.

As a remedy for these evils Roosevelt advocated higher wages for girls, early marriages and a co-operation of nation, state and municipality to crush commercialized vice.

The verdict of history was that Roosevelt was in advance of his time in his battle for righteousness within the police ranks of New York. He did a great work, but the job he had undertaken would have worn out a hundred Roosevelts.

He resigned from the department on April 17, 1897, to accept an appointment from the McKinley administration as Assistant Secretary of the Navy.


Roosevelt’s Influence on American Naval Affairs

In 1897 the menace of war hung heavy above America. Spain’s barbarous rule in Cuba had stirred the American conscience. It became plain that it was the duty of America to become the protector of the sunny island that cried out to it for deliverance from the oppression of the Old World power.

Cuba, under Spain’s management, was a pest hole of yellow fever. Her government was vile and corrupt. The Spanish rulers crushed remonstrances with blood and iron.

A new American navy was then being built. Before it began, Roosevelt himself said, America was not in a position to fight Spain or anyone else. Timidly and haltingly, contrasting strongly with America’s present-day naval programme, the work had been begun by the country. The need was felt for a man of energetic character, modern methods and foresight to put the fleet in condition for war. Roosevelt’s work as Police Commissioner had made him famous throughout the country, and the nation met with hearty86 approval President McKinley’s appointment of him as Assistant Secretary of the Navy.

It was Senator H. C. Lodge, of Massachusetts, a long and close friend of Roosevelt, who worked hardest for his appointment. Fifteen years before, Roosevelt had written “The History of the Naval War of 1812,” and since that time had taken a deep interest in the navy.

He was a strong opponent of that class of impractical men typified by a Senator who, in answer to a question as to what we would do if we were suddenly attacked by a foreign power, replied:

“We would build a battleship in every creek.”

Roosevelt, in his autobiography, thus describes how gingerly the American people went about the work of building the ships that later won the battle of Santiago Bay:

“We built some modern cruisers to start with, the people who felt that battleships were wicked compromising with their misguided consciences by saying that the cruisers could be used ‘to protect our commerce’—which they could not be, unless they had battleships to back them.

“Then we attempted to build more powerful fighting vessels, and as there was a section of the public which regarded battleships as possessing87 a name immorally suggestive of violence, we compromised by calling the new ships armored cruisers, and making them combine with exquisite nicety all the defects and none of the virtues of both types. Then we got to the point of building battleships.

“But there still remained a public opinion as old as the time of Jefferson which thought that in the event of war all our problem ought to be one of coast defence; that we should do nothing except repel attack; an attitude about as sensible as that of a prizefighter who expected to win by merely parrying instead of hitting.

“To meet the susceptibilities of this large class of well-meaning people we provided for the battleships under the name of ‘coast defence battleships,’ meaning thereby that we did not make them quite as seaworthy as they ought to have been, or with quite as much coal capacity as they ought to have had. Then we decided to build real battleships.

“But there still remained a lingering remnant of public opinion that clung to the coast defence theory, and we met this in beautiful fashion by providing for ‘seagoing coast defence battleships,’ the fact that the name was a contradiction in terms being of very small consequence as88 compared to the fact that we did thereby get real battleships.

“Our men had to be trained to handle the ships singly and in fleet formation, and they had to be trained to use the new weapons of precision with which the ships were armed.

“Not a few of the older officers, kept in the service under our foolish rule of pure seniority promotion, were not competent for the task; but a proportion of the older officers were excellent, and this was true of almost all the younger officers.

“They were naturally first-class men, trained in the admirable naval school at Annapolis. They were overjoyed that at last they were given proper instruments to work with, and they speedily grew to handle their ships individually in the best fashion. They were fast learning to handle them in squadron and fleet formation; but when war with Spain broke out they had as yet hardly grasped the principles of modern scientific naval gunnery.”

While bearing the title of Assistant to Secretary of the Navy John D. Long, Roosevelt’s work was soon felt in every department of the navy. He found out that many evils had grown up that would seriously handicap the department if suddenly89 brought face to face with the problem of preparing for war. He therefore began a thorough overhauling of the various bureaus, cutting red tape in every direction. The list of merchant vessels that could be drafted for an auxiliary navy was incomplete and full of errors. This he revised.

Meanwhile the good offices extended by the United States to bring about peace between Spain and the Cubans who had rebelled against her tyranny were refused by Spain. She even refused to consider selling Cuba to the United States. The natives cried to the United States for help.

The commercial interests of our country in Cuba also required protection. Public opinion began to demand armed intervention.

President McKinley, a man wholly inclined to peace, hesitated. Roosevelt, however, had become convinced that the interests of humanity required a declaration of war against Spain. He felt that Spain should be made to withdraw from American soil. He cited the Monroe Doctrine as one of his chief reasons.

Francis E. Leupp, in his book “The Man Roosevelt,” thus describes Roosevelt’s attitude at this time:

90 “One Sunday morning in March, 1898, we were sitting in his library discussing the significance of the news that Cervera’s squadron was about to sail for Cuba, when he suddenly rose and brought his hands together with a resounding clap.

“‘If I could do what I pleased,’ he exclaimed, ‘I would send Spain notice today that we should consider her dispatch of that squadron a hostile act. Then, if she didn’t heed the warning, she would have to take the consequences.’

“‘You are sure,’ I asked, ‘that it is with unfriendly intent that she is sending the squadron?’

“‘What else can it be? The Cubans have no navy; therefore the squadron cannot be coming to fight the insurgents. The only naval power interested in Cuban affairs is the United States. Spain is simply forestalling the “brush” which she knows, as we do, is coming sooner or later.’

“‘And if she refused to withdraw the orders to Cervera’—

“‘I should send out a squadron to meet his on the high seas and smash it! Then I would force the fighting from that day to the end of the war.’”

The President’s Cabinet was divided in its opinion. The President himself, surrounded by91 men of different views, remained in a quandary.

One day the President learned that Roosevelt had stated what course he would pursue. McKinley sent for Roosevelt and heard his plans.

Later in the day, at a Cabinet meeting, McKinley remarked:

“Gentlemen, not one of you have put half so much enthusiasm into your expressions as Mr. Roosevelt, our Assistant Secretary of the Navy. He has mapped out a programme for the impending war!”

“Let’s ask him to explain it!” one of the secretaries said, rather jocosely.

McKinley sent for Roosevelt and asked him some leading questions. Roosevelt urged that Spain be warned that she must take the consequences if the fleet came to our waters. McKinley remarked that, as the country was still at peace with Spain, to interfere with her fleet would be an act of war. Roosevelt replied that Spain should be made to understand that the sending of her fleet to America would be considered by us an act of war. Roosevelt then launched upon his war plan. With characteristic gestures and expressions he set forth what he would do to Spain if she did not consent to the just demands of the United States.

92 The members of the Cabinet complimented him, patted him on the back, and, as he bowed himself out, wondered whether this was just a radical young enthusiast or indeed a born leader. Some of them afterward told of the scene in the Cabinet chamber, and the tale was gossiped throughout official circles as a good joke on Roosevelt.

Meanwhile, with the care of the fleet resting largely on his shoulders, Roosevelt toiled to secure from Congress appropriations that would put it in first-class fighting condition.

Interesting, in view of our modern naval appropriations, is the following incident in Roosevelt’s battles to secure naval appropriations:

On one occasion he asked for $500,000 for the purpose of buying ammunition. Congress gave it to him. A few months later he asked for $800,000 more. Congress asked what had become of the first $500,000.

“We spent it for powder and guns used in target practice,” said Roosevelt.

“What will you do with this $800,000?” a Congressman queried.

“Spend it in the same way,” Roosevelt promptly replied.

93 He got the money.

In addition to improving the marksmanship of the navy Roosevelt also took many other important steps in preparation for war. Feeling that the United States must soon land troops in Cuba, he bought and equipped transports. He found jealousy existing between regular officers and engineer officers, and worked hard to remove this. He formed the United States warships stationed on the Atlantic into one squadron and drilled them so that they could act in concert if war came. He selected depots for fuel, provisions and munitions.

When Admiral Dewey found coal and ammunition at Hong Kong at the outbreak of the war, and was thus enabled to reach Manila a week ahead of his time, it was due to the foresight and energy of Roosevelt that this was accomplished.

There were profiteers in those days, too. Roosevelt, in buying ships to carry naval supplies, found himself forced to do business with them. Ships were scarce, and sometimes those available were offered by their owners at exorbitant prices. Here is the way Leupp heard Roosevelt handle a lawyer who was representing one of these extortionate firms:

94 “Don’t you feel ashamed to come to me today with another offer after what you did yesterday? Don’t you think that to sell one rotten ship to the government is enough for a single week? Are you in such a hurry that you couldn’t wait even over Sunday to force your damaged goods upon the United States? Is it an excess of patriotism that brings you here day after day in this way or only your realization of our necessities?”

“Why our clients”——began the lawyer.

“Yes, I know all about your clients,” burst in the Assistant Secretary. “I congratulate them on having an attorney who will do work for them which he wouldn’t have the face to do for himself. I should think, after having enjoyed the honors you have at the hands of the government, you’d feel a keen pride in your present occupation! No, I don’t want any more of your old tubs. The one I bought yesterday is good for nothing except to sink somewhere in the path of the enemy’s fleet. It will be God’s mercy if she doesn’t go down with brave men on her—men who go to war and risk their lives, instead of staying home to sell rotten hulks to the government!”

Finally war came. The battleship Maine on February 15, 1898, was blown up in Havana Harbor and 260 American sailors were killed.

95 Afterward a court of inquiry met to determine what had caused the explosion. The jury disagreed. Be that as it may, the spark had been applied to the powder magazine. America was in a convulsion—its voice was for war.

On April 20 President McKinley declared war on Spain.


Roosevelt had suggested that when war came it would be wise for the United States to seize the Philippine Islands, then under Spanish possession. He it was who, when the War Department proposed to supplant Dewey, successfully urged that he be retained at the Asiatic station. “Keep the Olympia! Provide yourself with coal,” he cabled to Dewey at this time.

No sooner had President McKinley declared war than Roosevelt sent a still more vital message to Dewey, ordering him to sail into the port of Manila and to capture or destroy the Spanish fleet.

Those who, at the Cabinet meeting, scoffed at Roosevelt’s plan for a war now remembered that he had advocated this very act in his programme and that the officer who had so splendidly captured Manila was the very man Roosevelt had96 managed against strong opposition to keep on the job.

Roosevelt’s reputation as a picker of men was further illustrated at this time by the interest he took in Lieutenant Sims, then American naval attaché at Paris.

Sims had written to his superiors letter after letter pointing out how backward our fleet was in marksmanship. He had definite plans for teaching Yankee sailors how to shoot. Those in authority considered Sims an alarmist, but Roosevelt grew concerned as he noted the small proportion of hits to shots made by our ships. He then sounded the slogan that “the shots that hit are the shots that count.”

Roosevelt could do little then in support of Sims, but when he became President he remembered Sims and appointed him to lead in revolutionizing the fleet’s training in marksmanship. It was due to Sims—now the admiral who has served this country so well in the present war—that the fighting efficiency of the navy, as far as gunnery went, became three times more effective.



The following account and appreciation of Admiral Dewey’s work derives a special interest from the fact that it was written by Colonel Roosevelt shortly after the battle of Manila:


“Admiral Dewey was sent to command the fleet on the Asiatic station primarily because he had such a record in the past that the best officers in the navy believed him to be peculiarly a man of the fighting temperament and fit to meet emergencies, and because he had shown his willingness to assume heavy responsibilities.

“For our own sakes, and in particular for the sake of any naval officer who in the future may be called upon to do such a piece of work as Dewey did, let us keep in mind the further fact that he could not have accomplished his feat if he had not had first-class vessels and excellently trained men; if his warships had not been so good and his captains and crews such thorough masters of their art.

“A man of less daring courage than Dewey would never have done what he did; but the courage itself was not enough. The Spaniards, too, had courage. What they lacked was energy, training, forethought. They fought their vessels until they burned or sank; but their gunnery was so poor that they did not kill a man in the American fleet. Even Dewey’s splendid capacity would not have enabled him to win the battle of Manila Bay had it not been for the traditional energy and seamanship of our naval service, so98 well illustrated in his captains, and the excellent gun practice of the crews, the result of years of steady training.”

Roosevelt never lost his interest in the navy. Admiral Chadwick wrote a book on the early period of the American navy. As soon as the book was published Senator Lodge hurried to the White House, hoping to surprise Mr. Roosevelt with the news of the publication.

“I see,” he remarked, “that Admiral Chadwick has written a book on the American navy.”

“Yes,” broke in Roosevelt, “I have read it. It’s bully. I didn’t think Chadwick was equal to it.”

Roosevelt felt that his work for the navy was done at the outbreak of the war.

“I have nothing more to do,” he said. “I must go to war myself.”

He was urged to keep his position. The women of the Cabinet reminded him that he had six children.

“I have done what I could to bring about the war,” he said; “now I have no right to ask others to fight it out while I stay home.”

He resigned to go to the front.


Roosevelt’s Rough Riders

When America went to war with Germany she was in her typical state of unpreparedness. In spite of her handicaps, the world admits that she did her tremendous job efficiently.

The same state of confusion and unpreparedness existed when America went to war with Spain. The thing that saved the day in both cases was the latent fighting strength of the nation. At the beginning of the Spanish war, just as at the beginning of the war with Germany, the young men thronged the enlistment centers. Regiments and ships were besieged with applicants. Men who had deserted in peace times returned, begging for a chance to fight.


Typical examples of this true American spirit were Theodore Roosevelt and his comrade, Army Surgeon Leonard Wood. Roosevelt saw in Wood a man after his own heart. Wood traced his ancestry back to the “Mayflower”; he was directly descended from Susanna White, whose son, Peregrine White, was the first white child born in New England. Wood was born at Winchester,100 New Hampshire, on October 9, 1860. His father was Dr. Charles Jewett Wood, who followed the profession of a country doctor. The boy Leonard went to the district school and later attended an old-fashioned academy at Middleboro.

Upon the death of his father in 1880, Wood entered the Harvard Medical School. When he graduated he became an intern at the Boston City Hospital. At twenty-four he began the practice of medicine in Staniford Street, Boston. He was located in a poor neighborhood and had all he could do to make ends meet.

In 1885 he took an examination for admission as a surgeon in the army. He passed second in a competitive class of fifty-nine. His first service was at Fort Warren, Massachusetts. From this post he was ordered to Arizona. Here he met Captain H. L. Lawton of the Fourth Cavalry, who later became Major-General Lawton. The two fought Apaches together. Wood developed into such a good fighting man that before he had been commissioned three months, and while he still held the rank of surgeon, he was given the command of the infantry of the expedition.

While engaged in this work he announced his opinion that a well-trained white man could endure101 more than an Indian. It became his ambition to prove this so far as he himself was concerned.

General Miles, in forwarding to the War Department his report of Captain Lawton’s expedition against Geronimo, had this to say of Wood:

“He not only fulfilled the duties of his profession in his skillful attention to disabled officers and soldiers, but at times performed satisfactorily the duties of a line officer, and, during the whole extraordinary march, by his example of physical endurance, greatly encouraged others, having voluntarily made many of the longest and most difficult marches on foot.”

After service in Mexico, Los Angeles, New Mexico and other posts, General Wood was ordered to duty as an army surgeon in Washington in 1895. He became a friend of President Cleveland and his family, and later received a summons from President McKinley to become the regular medical adviser to Mrs. McKinley and himself. It was at this time that he met Roosevelt, then Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Their first meeting occurred when they were guests at dinner of the Lowndes family. They were at once attracted to each other. They possessed102 the same ideals. They went tramping together, ran foot races, scaled steep hills, crossed log bridges and did anything that would increase their strength and endurance.

When the talk of war with Spain arose, the two men became so eager to see active service that President McKinley, who was a close friend to both Wood and Roosevelt, called them “The War Party.” When Wood visited McKinley, the latter would ask: “Have you and Theodore declared war yet?”

General Alger, to whom Wood was also medical adviser, was heartily in favor of the “Rough Rider” regiment, and when Wood was commissioned to raise the regiment and appointed its Colonel, General Alger gave him a desk in his office with the injunction: “Now don’t let me hear from you again until your regiment is raised!”

In the campaign that followed, Roosevelt testified in regard to Wood:

“No soldier could outwalk him, could live with greater indifference on hard and scanty fare, could endure hardship better or do better without sleep.” Others who served under Wood testified that he went through a hail of bullets without fear, that he would walk erect along the line when103 his soldiers were hugging the ground, and that he would calmly caution his men: “Don’t swear, men. Shoot!”

General Wood’s work as governor of Santiago, and later as governor of the whole island of Cuba, and his still later efforts shoulder to shoulder with Roosevelt to arouse America’s conscience and to make the American army an efficient fighting force, is well known to the American public.

Roosevelt himself, having publicly expressed the opinion that it was the duty of the United States to free Cuba, was intensely eager to back up his words by deeds. The berserker strain in his blood would not permit him to stay at home.

Having submitted his resignation as Assistant Secretary of the Navy on April 16, Roosevelt applied for an appointment on General Fitzhugh Lee’s staff. However, a greater opportunity arose. Congress had authorized the raising of three national volunteer cavalry regiments that were to act independently of the state troops. Secretary of War Alger offered Roosevelt the command of one of these regiments. Roosevelt had had four years membership in the 8th Regiment of the New York State National Guard and had risen to the rank of captain. This was a104 basis for his military career. He told Alger that after six weeks’ service in the field he felt that he would be competent to handle the regiment, but that he would not know how to equip it or how to get it ready for the first action. He recommended that Wood be given the command, and that he be allowed to serve under him. Alger laughed at his modesty, but the matter ended with Wood being appointed colonel of the regiment while Roosevelt became lieutenant-colonel. The regiment was called the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry, but the public soon nicknamed it “Roosevelt’s Rough Riders.”

This regiment was to be raised from the states of Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. It was at first limited to 780 men. Later the number was raised to 1,000. Strong and picturesque was the company that composed the contingent.

During Roosevelt’s stay on his ranch in Dakota he had learned to value the plainsmen as men of great courage and resistance, with bodies in splendid condition for undergoing the hardships of war. They were skilled horsemen; they knew how to use their guns, and they were therefore ideal material for the cavalry. Roosevelt called to them and they came. Along with these cowboys105 flocked hunters from the backwoods, trappers from the Rockies, Indian fighters and even redskins themselves. Prominent young clubmen of New York and Boston; students of Harvard, Yale, Princeton and other universities; policemen who had served under Roosevelt on the New York police force clamored for places in the regiment. No men were taken, however, until they proved that they possessed ability as horsemen, that they were skilled in the use of the rifle and that they were physically able to endure a strenuous campaign.

The officers were generally selected from men who had been in the regular army, who, having fought against the Apache or the Cheyenne, had ended their terms of service and settled in the Southwest. Other officers were recruited from the ranks of sheriffs and deputy sheriffs, marshals and deputy marshals—men who had waged unceasing warfare against bad Indians or white desperadoes.

The men in the ranks had careers just as adventurous. Some had typical Western names: Cherokee Bill, Happy Jack of Arizona, Bronco Buster, Smoky Moore and Rattlesnake Pete. Professional gamblers mingled with Baptist or Methodist clergymen to the enlightenment of106 each. One of the gamest fighters was a full-blooded Pawnee named Pollock. Another was a Cherokee.

Some one called the regiment “Roosevelt’s Rough Riders.” The name caught the public’s fancy. It spread from coast to coast and made Roosevelt’s name a household word.

Roosevelt had his work cut out for him in welding the various elements under him into a disciplined unit. He measured fully up to his task. No man was better equipped than he for such a command. In roundups in the Far West, in hunting expeditions, in the political districts of New York City, in clubs and drawing-rooms and in official circles he had met all sorts and conditions of men. He knew how to talk with each class in its own language. He knew how to be friendly and intimate, yet at the same time to keep his dignity and their respect. The men began to obey orders and assume the military manner in a way that aroused their officers’ warmest commendation. They comprehended that without discipline they would be a mere mob, dangerous to themselves and to their country, and, however tiresome were the drills and tactics, they performed them quickly and efficiently.

The relations between officers and men were107 democratic and friendly, suggesting the relations of our officers and privates during the present war. The Colonel, in his book, “The Rough Riders,” gives several instances of this.

Holderman, the cook, announced dinner to the Colonel and three majors in this way: “If you fellows don’t come soon everything’ll get cold.”

No one rebuked him. A sentinel who had just mastered the manual of arms saluted with great pride as Roosevelt passed; then he added heartily:

“Good evening, Colonel!” This breach of military etiquette the Colonel found it wise to overlook.

Another sentinel, when mosquitoes were bad, slapped at them vigorously, with this side remark to the Colonel:

“Ain’t they bad?”

“That they are!” returned Roosevelt, slapping away in his turn.

The horses for the regiment were brought from the Western ranges. Some of them were so wild that the men were compelled to throw them down and tie them before they could be shod. Others bucked their riders. The regiment, however, was not lacking in men who knew how to tame and handle rebellious broncos, and the splendid horsemanship of the riders resulted in them making108 their horses perform each maneuver with speed and accuracy. However vicious or restless a horse might be, his rider would force him to stay in line. Naturally, such horsemen and such horses gave the regiment an appearance of dash and ease that excited the admiration of all who saw the skirmish drills.

Colonel Roosevelt’s own mounts came from Texas. While the price paid for them was only $50 each—ridiculously low compared to the high price of horseflesh during the world war—they proved tough and hardy and rendered Roosevelt excellent service.

Colonel Wood and Lieutenant-Colonel Roosevelt were anxious to get their men to the firing line. They knew the regular army would have the most difficult work, and their object was to train and equip their regiment so that its fighting efficiency would gain it a place at the very front. Finally marching orders came. The men cheered and were off.

A big disappointment—though of a minor nature so far as military affairs were concerned—was in store for them. A pity it is to narrate that this body of men were not allowed to show their prowess as horsemen. It developed that, after all, the men were not to be used as mounted109 soldiers. The blow was an especially hard one to Roosevelt, who had trained his men in shock tactics for use against hostile cavalry. The decision was also a trying one for some of the men who were more at home in the saddle than on foot.

However, the men took the order like good soldiers, and in slouch hats, blue flannel shirts, brown trousers, leggings and boots, with handkerchiefs knotted around their throats, they marched off on the first step of their journey to Cuba.


Campaigning in Cuba

The Rough Riders, as they left their Texas encampment for Tampa, Fla., their point of embarkation for Cuba, humorously changed their nickname to “Wood’s Weary Walkers,” a title that, through their long marches in the jungles of Cuba, came to have more truth than humor in it.

Viewing the Spanish campaign in the light of the world war, it will be seen that there is a striking similarity between this regiment and the French Foreign Legion. This parallel is true not only of the personnel of the contingent, which included adventurous spirits from all sections of the country, but also of the fighting spirit of the men.

How to reach the fighting field was the biggest question that confronted the Rough Riders. They were among the very last to receive permission to go, and if it had not been for Roosevelt’s dogged determination they would probably have been left behind. Even when orders came to entrain for Tampa, transportation was refused. Roosevelt, however, was equal to the emergency. He jumped aboard the engine of a coal train and111 demanded of its crew that they transport his men. The crew obeyed orders. The regiment reached Tampa covered with coal dust.

At Tampa the Rough Riders found themselves without an official assignment to a transport. Nothing daunted, Roosevelt moved his men immediately on board the nearest vessel.

When the landing place in Cuba was reached the Colonel got his men ashore among the first and soon after landing began his march to the front.

While Roosevelt’s picturesque personality led to his figuring largely in the newspaper accounts of the war, yet in all of these movements he was in close association with Colonel Wood. The two worked together as one man. While the men had been intimate before, it was in this campaign that the friendship was welded that was to last and deepen until death ended it.

Later in the campaign Colonel Wood was promoted to the rank of general and Lieutenant-Colonel Roosevelt become colonel.

The corps to which the Rough Riders were attached was under the command of Major-General Shafter. Major-General Wheeler, a veteran of the Civil War and a dashing cavalry leader, commanded the cavalry. Under the latter, as112 commander of the 2d Brigade, was Brigadier-General Young. Young’s brigade was composed of the 1st and 10th regiments of cavalry. The 10th regiment was composed of negroes and the 1st Regiment of the Rough Riders.

General Wheeler was anxious to strike the first blow with his cavalry and while Brigadier-General Lawton, who commanded the infantry, was protecting the landing from the enemy, General Wheeler ordered General Young to advance early in the morning from the little village of Siboney toward Santiago and to attack the enemy wherever he was found. The Rough Riders were included in this advance.

Two roads about a mile apart, lead from Siboney to Santiago. General Young advanced on the eastern road and directed Wood and Roosevelt to take the western road, which led over the mountains. The two roads drew together near the village of Las Guasimas. Here the two commands were to meet.



On the march from the landing place inland the troops traveled over rugged hills, covered for the most part by dense jungles. They camped on a dusty, brush-covered flat, with jungle on one side and a disease-breeding pool, fringed with palm trees, on the other side. The baggage had 113not yet come ashore, and the soldiers had only what food they carried with them. Roosevelt’s equipment consisted of a raincoat and a tooth-brush.

They met hundreds of Cuban insurgents—tattered crews armed with all sorts of weapons, all of which were in poor condition.


When the Rough Riders reached the scene of action they had first to climb a very steep hill. They went into action with less than five hundred men.

Captain Capron’s troop was in the lead, followed by Colonel Wood. Roosevelt rode close behind them at the head of the other three troops of his squadron. The trail was so narrow that at many places the men had to march in single file. At other times they had to force their way through dense, tangled jungles. After marching for over an hour they came to a halt, but Colonel Wood announced that the advance guard had come upon a Spanish outpost.

A minute later Wood gave Roosevelt orders to deploy three troops to the right of the trail and advance. A roar in front of them soon announced that the fight was on.

114 Roosevelt and his officers were searching for the place from which the smokeless powder of the Spaniards was pouring Mauser bullets upon his men.

It was the famous war correspondent, Richard Harding Davis, who first showed Roosevelt’s men where to direct their fire. He had accompanied the Rough Riders and had taken a place at the extreme front of the line, from which place he spotted with his glasses the exact location of the Spaniards.

“There they are, Colonel!” he suddenly cried. “Look! Over there! I can see their heads near that glade!”

Roosevelt looked across the valley where Davis was pointing. He, too, discovered the heads of the Spanish soldiers and directed his sharp-shooters to fire on them.

The Spaniards sprang out of the cover and ran to another spot. The shots of the Americans had told. The Spaniards continued to retreat. The Rough Riders and the other troops pursued. They were forced to leave the wounded in the jungle where they fell.

Harry Hefner of G Troop, fell mortally wounded in the hip. Two of his companions dragged him behind a tree. He propped himself115 up and asked for his canteen and his rifle. He then resumed shooting, and continued firing until he died.

Roland, a New Mexican cow-puncher, fought beside Roosevelt. The Colonel noticed blood issuing from his side and ordered the trooper to go to the rear. Roland grumbled, but went back. Fifteen minutes later he was on the firing line again. He told the Colonel that he could not find the hospital. Roosevelt doubted it, but let him stay until the end of the fight, when it was discovered that a bullet had broken one of his ribs.

When the scrimmage began some of the men began to curse. “Don’t swear—shoot!” Wood growled at them.

Toward the end of the engagement Roosevelt was falsely informed that Wood had been killed. The command of the regiment for the time being devolved upon the Colonel. He started to lead his men toward the main body, but met Wood himself, who told him that the fight was over and that the Spaniards had retreated.

In this first scrimmage the Rough Riders lost eight men killed and thirty-four wounded. They had taken a Spanish fort, defended by more than twelve hundred men, and had won from them complete possession of the entire Spanish position.



Next came the historic battle of San Juan. When news of the battle reached General Shafter he was told that the Americans had been cut to pieces. It was also said that the regiment had passed the advanced outpost without orders. Shafter exploded.

“I will send that damned cowboy regiment,” he said, “so far to the rear that it will not get another chance.”

Later, however, came the news that the cowboys had been victorious, so Shafter wrote a flattering letter to Roosevelt, in command, congratulating him on the success of his attack.

There followed a period of inaction. Then the Rough Riders received orders to proceed against Santiago.

The regiment struck camp and marched to the front behind the 1st and 10th Cavalry. Every man carried three days’ rations.

Roosevelt’s command joined General Wood at El Paso Hill and camped for the night.

The next morning it was announced that the main fighting against Santiago was to be done by Lawton’s infantry division, which was ordered to take El Caney, while the Rough Riders were117 ordered simply to make a diversion with artillery.

When the firing began shrapnel shells exploded over Roosevelt’s head. One of the shrapnel bullets struck his wrist. The same shell wounded four men of his regiment. He at once led his men from their exposed position into the underbrush.

General Wood then ordered Roosevelt to follow behind the 1st Brigade, and the Rough Riders began a march toward the ford of the San Juan River. They reached the ford and crossed it. In front of them was a rise of ground, afterward called Kettle Hill. Roosevelt found the 1st Brigade engaged in a hot battle, so he halted his men and sent back word for orders.

On top of Kettle Hill were large haciendas, or ranch buildings. The Spaniards, from their stations on the hills, poured a heavy fire on the American troops, who were hidden in sheltered lanes and along the edge of the San Juan River, or in patches of jungle grass. Roosevelt, lying with his troops under this severe fire, sent messenger after messenger to General Sumner or General Wood to secure permission to advance. He had about determined to go ahead when Lieutenant-Colonel Dorst rode up with the command to “move forward and support the regulars in118 the assault on the hills in front.” The impatient Roosevelt leaped upon his horse. He had intended to go into action on foot, but he saw that he would be unable to run up and down the line and superintend matters if he were on foot. His men went eagerly to the attack. The Colonel started in the rear of his men, as was the custom for a Colonel, but his ardor soon bore him to the head of the regiment.

As he rode down the line he saw a slacker hidden behind a little bush. To urge the soldier forward he called:

“Are you afraid to stand up while I am on horseback?”

While Roosevelt was speaking, a bullet, evidently aimed at him, struck and killed the man who was hiding.

There has been much discussion as whether Roosevelt exceeded his authority in the capture of Kettle Hill. In reviewing the matter it is best to take the Colonel’s own account of what happened. In his book “The Rough Riders” he thus describes the charge:

“By the time I had come to the head of the regiment we ran into the left wing of the 9th Regulars, and some of the 1st Regulars, who were lying down while the officers were walking119 to and fro. The officers of the white and colored regiments alike took the greatest pride in seeing that the men more than did their duty; and the mortality among them was great.

“I spoke to the captain in command of the rear platoons, saying that I had been ordered to support the regulars in the attack upon the hills, and that in my judgment we could not take these hills by firing at them, and that we must rush them. He answered that his orders were to keep his men lying where they were, and that he could not charge without order. I asked where the colonel was, and, as he was not in sight, said: ‘Then I am the ranking officer here and I give the order to charge,’ for I did not want to keep the men longer in the open suffering under a fire which they could not effectively return.

“Naturally, the captain hesitated to obey this order when no word had been received from his own colonel. So I said: ‘Then let my men through, sir,’ and rode on through the lines, followed by the grinning Rough Riders, whose attention had been completely taken off the Spanish bullets, partly by my dialogue with the regulars and partly by the language I had been using to themselves as I got the lines forward, for I had been joking with some and swearing at120 others, as the exigencies of the case seemed to demand.

“When I got to where the head of the left wing of the 9th was lying, through the courtesy of Lieutenant Hartwick, two of whose colored troopers threw down the fence, I was enabled to get back into the lane, at the same time waving my hat and giving the order to charge the hill on our right front. Out of my sight, over on the right, Captains McBlain and Taylor, of the 9th, made up their minds independently to charge at just about this time; and at almost the same moment Colonels Carroll and Hamilton, who were off, I believe, to my left, where we could see neither them nor their men, gave the order to advance. But of all this I knew nothing at the time. The whole line, tired of waiting and eager to close with the enemy, was straining to go forward; and it seems that different parts slipped the leash at almost the same moment. The 1st Cavalry came up the hill just behind, and partly mixed with my regiment and the 9th. As already said, portions of the 3d, 6th and 10th followed, while the rest of the members of these three regiments kept more in touch with the infantry on our left.”

Roosevelt, at the head of his cheering, firing121 men, galloped toward the hill. Forty yards from the top he ran into a wire fence and was forced to dismount from his horse, Little Texas, and turn it loose.

The Spaniards fled from the ranch buildings as the Americans approached, and soon the hill was covered with Rough Riders and the colored troopers of the 9th, with some men from the 1st. On the top of the hill was a huge iron kettle, used probably for sugar refining. From this big pot the battle derived its name of Kettle Hill.


Having aided materially in the capture of Kettle Hill, Roosevelt and his men looked toward their left, to where the Spaniards were fighting in the trenches under the San Juan blockhouse. General Hawkins’ brigade was storming this blockhouse and soon captured it. When the blockhouse fell the Colonel ordered a charge to a line of hills still further on.

Only four men started with him. Three of these were shot. Roosevelt gave one of the wounded his canteen of water and ran back to find out why the other soldiers had not followed. He found that nobody had heard his orders.

By this time General Sumner had come up and122 Roosevelt asked of him permission to lead the charge. Sumner gave his consent and the Rough Riders stormed the Spanish entrenchment. There was close fighting, which resulted in the taking of a few prisoners, and what was more important to the men, the capture of Spanish provisions.

Later in the day the Spaniards counter-attacked. The Rough Riders were glad of the chance to fight in the open, and drove back the Spaniards with laughter and cheers. During this fight Roosevelt was the highest officer in command at his part of the front.

A rumor went around that the men were to be ordered to fall back. That evening after the fight, General Wheeler visited the front and told Roosevelt to keep himself in readiness to fall back if necessary. Roosevelt answered:

“Well, general, I really don’t know whether we would obey an order to fall back. We can take that city by a rush and if we have to move out of here at all I should be inclined to make the rush in the right direction.”

General Wheeler thought for a moment, then he expressed his hearty agreement with the Colonel’s sentiments and promised that there would be no falling back. Wheeler had been ill for a couple of days, but like the old gamecock he was,123 he had managed to take a strong part in the fight.

It was the opinion of the Rough Riders that if there had been one in high command to press the attack that afternoon the Americans would have gone right into Santiago.

The next day the battle became a siege and most of the fighting was done from trench works. The flag of truce was sent to demand the surrender of the city. Each day thereafter the soldiers expected to see Santiago surrendered, and whatever fighting was done was of a minor nature.

During the truce certain military attachés and foreign officers came out to visit the Rough Riders. Interesting, in view of the warm relations between Britain and America during the world war, was the incident that happened when Prince X, a Russian, visited Roosevelt. The Colonel introduced him to one of the regular army officers, a splendid fellow, who yet viewed foreign relations from a strictly mid-Western viewpoint. Roosevelt overheard him remark to the Russian, whom he called “Prince” as familiarly as a Kentuckian called his neighbor “Colonel”:

“You see, Prince, the great result of this war is that it has united the two branches of the Anglo-Saxon people; and now that they are together they can whip the world, Prince! They can whip the world!”

124 Other army officers, who had not received the training in diplomacy and international relationship that our American officers have received in the late conflict, had the habit of grouping all of these foreign attachés under the title of “Dutchmen.”

When this same Russian was making his farewell round, a general shook hands with him heartily, with this parting remark:

“Well, goodby; sorry you are going. Which are you anyhow—a German or a Russian?”

On the 17th of July, Santiago formally surrendered, and the Rough Riders with the rest of the army were drawn up beside their trenches. The American flag was hoisted, the trumpets sounded and the men cheered. Their fighting was over.

After the siege, the army officers in Washington proposed to keep the army stationed around Santiago. General Shafter tried his best to have the army ordered home. The health of the troops was becoming very bad. Yellow fever and malarial fever had attacked them. If the soldiers remained it is possible that at least one-half of them would have died or have become invalided.

General Shafter’s attempts failed and at last he called a council of his commanders and general125 medical officers and consulted them in the matter.

Roosevelt, while he had command of a brigade, was only a colonel and did not mean to attend the conference, but General Shafter sent word to him that he was wanted particularly, and he went.

The general explained to his officers that he could not get the War Department to appreciate their situation and that the public itself was ignorant of the ravages disease was making upon their ranks. He felt that there should be some announcement issued which would make the War Department take action before most of the men were down with sickness.

At this point General Shafter sought Roosevelt’s assistance. He explained to him that as he was a volunteer officer, about to return immediately to civil life, he could afford to take risks which regular army men could not afford to take. Therefore, he suggested that the Colonel write a letter or make a statement appealing for a withdrawal of the army from the fever holes of Cuba.

Roosevelt left the meeting with the understanding that he would give an interview on the subject to the press. General Wood, however, hinted to him that it would be better to put his statement in the form of a letter to General Shafter. This Roosevelt did. Then he presented126 the letter to General Shafter, who waved it away and said:

“I don’t want to take it; do what you wish with it!”

The Colonel, however, persisted in handing it to him. At the same time a “Round Robin” was in course of preparation by the commanding officers. This also was addressed to General Shafter.

This document, at the request of the commanding officers, was written by General Wood, who being a surgeon, keenly realized the need of removing the men from their pestilential quarters, and was signed by Generals Kent, Bates, Chaffee, Sumner, Ludlow, Ames and Wood.

The Associated Press representative was anxious to secure a copy of this “Round Robin,” but Wood told him it was impossible for him to have it or see it.

Wood then went to General Shafter, handed him the paper and said:

“The matter is now in your hands.”

Shafter said: “I don’t care whether this gentleman has it or not,” referring to The Associated Press correspondent.

The Associated Press representative then127 secured a copy of the dispatch and thus the affair became public. The result of this publicity became immediately felt. Within three days the army received orders to prepare to sail for home.

On August 7 the Rough Riders embarked on the transport Miamee. At last the transport sighted the Long Island coast, and late on the afternoon of the 14th it entered the waters of the Sound and cast anchor at Montauk Point.

The Rough Riders stood by their Colonel to the man. In the United States disparaging remarks had been made about the Colonel and his regiment. Some of the officials in Washington, angered at his criticisms of the canned beef and the short supplies sent to the men, took occasion to sneer at his campaign.

In the jungles of Cuba, however, the Rough Riders saw Roosevelt in his true light. He looked after their comfort and well-being. He sympathized with them in their predicaments. He understood them and helped them out of many difficulties. When they broke rules he was as merciful to them as it was possible to be, and whatever attitude he assumed toward them was felt by them to be for their own good.

These were times when battles were won, not by the side that had the greatest amount of shells128 and shock troops, but by those who displayed a personal bravery, and Roosevelt fought in such a gallant manner that those who had accused him of enlisting for personal motives soon grew ashamed of their spitefulness.

Roosevelt was not given to profanity, but when there came times when a soldier could only be handled by the use of language he knew, the Colonel did not balk at using that language. It is said of him that he once confessed to another officer in a repentant manner: “I swore today.”

Then he made this explanation:

“A captain riding off in cool disregard of orders is enough to make the sweetest-tempered archangel use ‘language.’ What I said, or rather bellowed was: ‘What in —— are you doing? Good ——, wheel into line!’ What I might have said was: ‘Really, my dear sir, do you not observe that you are acting in direct opposition to my instructions? I beg that you will not march your troop into Kamchatka.’ Well, one always thinks afterward of what one might have said.”



It is interesting to note that the original idea for a regiment such as the Rough Riders was suggested to Roosevelt several years before the Spanish War by no other man than Baron von Sternburg of the German Embassy. The baron, 129when only seventeen, had served in the Franco-Prussian War as a hussar. There was no war with Germany on the American horizon in those days and the baron spent a week in camp at Montauk with the Rough Riders upon their return.

On the Sunday before the regiment disbanded at Montauk, there came an occasion of genuine surprise to the Colonel. He was asked out of his tent by Lieutenant-Colonel Brodie and found the whole regiment formed in a hollow square. When he entered the square one of the men stepped forward and presented him with a splendid bronze of Remington’s “The Bronco Buster.” Roosevelt was deeply touched and deeply appreciative of this very appropriate gift. After the presentation the men filed past and Roosevelt shook hands with each and bade him farewell.

The next morning the men scattered to their homes. Some went North and South. Some went to the great cities of the East. Some turned to the plains, the mountains and the deserts.

The straight-from-the-shoulder sermon the Colonel preached to his Rough Riders as they went out to resume their citizen occupations was one that made a permanent impression upon their lives.

130 “Get action; do things; be sane,” he said to them, “don’t flitter away your time; create; act; take a place wherever you are and be somebody!”

Through the remainder of his historic career the Colonel never reached too great a place to be out of touch with his Rough Riders, no matter what humble positions they held. No member of the regiment ever came to the White House to see his former chief without Roosevelt breaking all engagements to shake his hand and talk over with him the stirring events in Cuba.

It is said that when Senator Shelby M. Cullom, of Illinois, went to call on President Roosevelt and was forced to wait before he could get in to see him he asked of the doorkeeper: “Who is in there?”

“A former Rough Rider,” was the reply.

“Then,” queried Cullom, “what chance have I, merely a Senator?”

He turned away, promising to return at a time when he would not have to compete with such an attraction.

Roosevelt’s experience during the Cuban campaign made him deeply sympathetic with the lot of the soldier. This was in evidence when, while he was President, our army was engaged in combating the guerilla warfare in the Philippines. An131 order was then issued by the War Department that while the names of officers killed should be reported by cable, only the numbers of privates fallen should be sent.

The press of the country announced that a certain regiment had been engaged in battle. The War Department was besieged by the parents of the soldiers for information, but no news as to who were killed or wounded came until the lists arrived by mail.

President Roosevelt was at Sagamore Hill when the facts were reported to him. General Corbin was present. He asked the general what the order meant. The general told him that it had been issued for the purpose of economy, that each officer had a symbol in the cable code, but that to transmit the name and regiment of each private would cost $25 or more for each man. When this explanation had been made Roosevelt said:

“Corbin, can you telegraph from here to the Philippines?”

The general said that he could and suggested that he be allowed to do so when he returned from Washington.

“No,” said Roosevelt, “we cannot wait. Send the order to have the names telegraphed at once.132 Those mothers gave the best they had to their country. We will not have them breaking their hearts for $25 or $50.”

Now that the world war is over and the question of whether the United States is to depend on volunteer military organization or on regular armies has been definitely settled in favor of the latter view, it is well to admit that the decision is a wise one. A regiment like the Rough Riders was exceptional among volunteers. Roosevelt himself, in his book “The Rough Riders,” makes this comparison between the volunteer regiment and the regular regiment:

“The regiment was a wholly exceptional volunteer organization, and its career cannot be taken as in any way a justification for the belief that the average volunteer regiment approaches the average regular regiment in point of efficiency until it has had many months of active service. In the first place, though the regular regiments may differ markedly among themselves, yet the range of variation among them is nothing like so wide as that among volunteer regiments, where at first there is no common standard at all; the very best being, perhaps, up to the level of the regulars while the very worst are no better than mobs, and the great bulk come in between. The133 average regular regiment is superior to the average volunteer regiment in the physique of the enlisted men, who have been very carefully selected, who have been trained to life in the open, and who know how to cook and take care of themselves generally.”


“The Great Peace-Maker”

We have dwelt in this narrative principally upon Colonel Roosevelt’s fighting qualities; perhaps because they are the most picturesque and appeal more to the imagination of author and public. Yet the story of Theodore Roosevelt’s life would be indeed lacking if it did not emphasize the fact that underneath his philosophy of conflict for that which was right there lay an abiding love of peace and a desire for world brotherhood.

Roosevelt’s experiences taught him that in the era in which he lived war at times was essential to establish justice. He did not believe in surrendering to the blusterer, or to the ruler who tried to overrun his neighbor’s boundaries by force. He trained himself to be a warrior and a hunter because he believed that a strain of the primitive man was necessary to combat the too often debilitating influences of modern life.

His sons, in their manhood, became warriors like himself, but in their youth he trained them to love animals and to deal kindly with men. His advice to them under all circumstances was “Be kind!”

135 The man who was sneered at by his political foes as “The Man on Horseback” became “The Great Peacemaker.”

His own words form the best illustration of his attitude toward world amity:

“Whenever on any point we come in contact with a foreign power, I hope that we shall always strive to speak courteously and respectfully of that foreign power. Let us make it evident that we intend to do justice. Then let us make it equally evident that we will not tolerate injustice being done us in return. Let us further make it evident that we use no words which we are not prepared to back up with deeds, and that while our speech is always moderate we are ready and willing to make it good. Such an attitude will be the surest possible guarantee of that self-respecting peace the attainment of which is and must ever be the prime aim of a self-governing people.”

His acts while President bore out his preaching. When The Hague Tribunal of Arbitration was established, a large part of the work, so far as this nation was concerned, fell to Roosevelt.

When the old Alaskan boundary dispute between Great Britain and the United States arose again, at Roosevelt’s suggestion the matter was136 settled for all time by a joint commission that met in London. This commission decided in favor of America.

Another dramatic crisis arose for Roosevelt’s solution when an American, Ion Perdicaris, and his English son-in-law were kidnapped from their home near Tangier, in Morocco, by the Moorish bandit, Raisuli, on May 18, 1904. The bandit demanded a ransom and other favors from the Sultan of Morocco before he would release his prisoners. Roosevelt ordered the U. S. S. Brooklyn, Rear-Admiral Chadwick commanding, to go to Tangier. Admiral Jewell followed with three warships. British warships joined the American fleet.

“Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead!” was said to be the slogan that Roosevelt hurled at the Sultan. Whether or not he uttered it, the report rang like Concord’s bullet around the world. A month later the American and Englishman had been released.

Another example of Roosevelt’s desire to keep the peace of the world was illustrated when, at the Easter of 1903, there occurred a massacre of Jews in Kishinef, Russia. The Hebrews of the United States were greatly aroused at the atrocities and besought their government to protest137 to the Czar against these outrages. The Russian government sent word privately to the European countries and to President Roosevelt that the matter was exclusively a domestic one and that the Russian government would not entertain any representations upon the subject. The European governments took no further steps in the matter. Roosevelt, however, promised the Jews of the United States that he would bring their paper to the notice of the Czar.

Thus a crisis had arisen. Would Russia resent such a move? If she refused to accept the representations of the United States, would that be considered an affront by our government? Was war on the horizon?

No international troubles occurred. Though the Russian government refused to receive the memorial, the American representative at St. Petersburg visited the Foreign Office with a letter from Secretary of State Hay, which inquired as to whether the Russian government would accept the document. This letter to the Russian government went on to set forth the full text of the memorial. The Russian Foreign Office agreeably accepted it. Its publication in the press put before the world every word of the petition of the American Jews. Thus America,138 through Roosevelt, had spoken its opinion in the courts of mankind without bringing about the war which timid souls predicted.

When Roosevelt became President it was his rule of peace that dominated our country’s relations with other powers and that prevailed in the new policy of territorial annexation entered upon in President McKinley’s administration and carried forward by Roosevelt.

He decided that Cuba should not be taken over by the United States. Europe expected the United States to annex Cuba, and many leading men of his own party advised that this course be pursued, but he determined that the little island should be given every opportunity to govern itself as an independent republic. It was by his inspiration that the American officials who administered government in the Philippines, Porto Rico and, during the American occupancy, in Cuba, devoted themselves to the welfare of the people in a way that won the commendation of our sister nations. His course in this respect was governed by a belief that when it was necessary for our government to administer the affairs of the weaker nations under its control that government should be, not for the profit of the people in the United States, but for the people governed.

139 Always a sincere seeker of peace, he nevertheless exemplified in his statesmanship his motto: “Speak softly, but carry a big stick!”

This was illustrated when he directed his policy directly athwart that of the German Kaiser.

Those who remember the Venezuela incident of 1902 will recall that the German and British fleets thought it necessary to discipline President Castro. Germany, early in the proceedings, gave evidence that she intended to seize a point in Venezuelan territory and hold it in order to control the approach to the Isthmian Canal. The watchful Roosevelt perceived this scheme, sounded out England and found that she had no stomach for the alliance with Wilhelm’s fleet, and would refuse to help Germany to fight America if a quarrel arose over Germany’s grasping policy. Thereupon Roosevelt sent Dewey to the Caribbean Sea for fleet maneuvers and sent word to Germany through her Ambassador that if Germany did not agree to arbitrate within ten days he would instruct Dewey to resist her taking possession of a foot of Venezuelan soil. This meant war, and the President knew it, but he held resolutely to his purpose. The ten days dwindled to two days, but no agreement had come from Germany. Six more fateful hours140 passed. Then Germany agreed to arbitrate.

Thus ended a disagreeable diplomatic episode that foreshadowed the acts of the present Germany, but which revealed that the American spirit was more than a match for that of the Hun.

The act that won for Roosevelt the enduring title of “the Great Peacemaker” came during the Russo-Japanese War. When, in February, 1904, war was declared between Japan and Russia, Roosevelt showed his deep concern in the matter by ordering his great Secretary of State, John Hay, to send forth the famous Hay note, which asked the two combatants to respect the neutrality of China, lest there should be precipitated a still greater catastrophe. Both nations agreed to Roosevelt’s request.

Then came Roosevelt’s nomination to succeed himself as President. He was elected by the greatest popular vote ever accorded a Presidential candidate.

Grave domestic problems pressed upon him, but the Russo-Japanese War continued to occupy the uppermost place in his thoughts. The time of his entering upon a new term seemed to him the right moment to propose to Japan and Russia that they declare a truce and settle their difficulties in conference.

141 Japan had already suffered terribly from the drain upon her men and resources. Even if she were victorious in the conflict the chances were that she would lose more than she would gain. The same was true of Russia.

Roosevelt met with difficulty in getting the two powers to agree to a common meeting place. Each, however, finally agreed to send representatives to a conference at Portsmouth, N. H.

Roosevelt received the two delegations at Oyster Bay on the U. S. S. Mayflower, and then had them conveyed by the Mayflower and another naval vessel from Oyster Bay to Portsmouth.

The peace treaty was signed on September 5, 1905, and the world acclaimed Roosevelt the warrior for his services in behalf of peace. For bringing the two nations together he was awarded in the following year the Nobel Peace Prize. This consisted of a medal and a sum of $40,000, which, at the time, he turned over to a board of trustees as a fund to be used in establishing industrial peace. However, when the World War broke out, without this money having been expended by the trustees, Roosevelt requested that the money, now increased to $45,000, be distributed to the Red Cross and other war charities.

142 No greater sidelight can be thrown on Roosevelt’s influence for world peace than this tribute paid to him at his death by Baron Makino, the head of the Japanese Peace Commission, convened after the great world war:

“I embrace this opportunity to pay a tribute to the immortal Roosevelt, whose death is a sad calamity. He was a superb American, also a great world’s citizen. His services were not confined to America, but extended to the Orient. Especially are we grateful to him for the following reasons:

“First, for his noble services in bringing to a successful conclusion the Russo-Japanese war. The Japanese public and the rest of the world did not comprehend at that time how sturdy were his efforts to attain the result, but we who knew the inside facts regarding the war situation in Manchuria felt that our good friend Roosevelt secured a just peace—fair to both parties.

“Second, we are thankful for his extraordinary success in settling the friction between the United States and Japan over the San Francisco school incident in 1906.

“Most unusual was it for a President of the United States to say that he would use every power within his control to secure a right143 settlement. The ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ was the result.

“Third, we are deeply appreciative likewise of the fair appraisal he made of Japan’s part in the World War. Few Americans are apprised as to the extent of Japan’s participation in the war. But this remarkable man fully comprehended and in many published articles gave full credit to the stanch, honest co-operation Japan gave to her allies and to the United States.”

In 1906 Roosevelt again went contrary to the plans of the German government in the Algeciras affair. Possessing the pledge of the German Emperor to accept his decision in this international dispute, he made a decision that, while just, went against Germany.

It is an interesting commentary, however, upon his success as a diplomat that when he came to settle the war between Japan and Russia he induced the Kaiser to help him in an appeal to the rulers of the warring countries.

Later on, when he was touring Europe, Roosevelt had the unique experience of watching the maneuvers of the German troops, in company with the Kaiser, whom he had thwarted. On this occasion he heard himself thus addressed by the Hohenzollern:

144 “My friend Roosevelt, I am glad to welcome you, a most distinguished American. You are the first civilian who has ever reviewed German soldiers.”




Roosevelt’s Political Victories

There is a phrase, attributed to Napoleon, to the effect that God fights on the side of the big battalions. There is a truth in the saying that applies to big men, just as well as to big armies.

Fate seemed to battle on the side of Theodore Roosevelt through every step of his political career, though a study of the man shows that by his superhuman energy he himself was almost always the creator and molder of the circumstances that seemed to advance him.

When Roosevelt, at twenty-three, determined to enter politics, the political cards were stacked against him.

When, moved by a desire to belong to the governing class instead of to the governed, he told his folks that he wanted to join the Republican Club as his first step in politics, he relates that they told him that he would meet the groom and the saloonkeeper there; that in addition politics were low and that for this reason no gentleman could146 afford to join with such men in ward affairs.

Roosevelt was as ready then with an answer as he was in later life. “If that is so,” he replied, according to his close friend, Jacob Riis, “the groom and the saloonkeeper are the governing class and you confess weakness. You have all the chances, the education, the position, and you let them rule you. They must be better men!” He went to the Republican Club, leaving his would-be advisers dolefully shaking their heads.

This opposition overcome, Roosevelt found another obstacle in his way. He had transferred his citizenship from Oyster Bay, where he cast his first vote, to the fashionable Murray Hill district. He therefore was handicapped by a “silk stocking” reputation. Immediately he went to work to show the politicians that, while he had associated with wearers of silk hose, he knew how to wear a slouch hat and how to get down to a shirt-sleeves basis if by doing so he could make those with whom he mingled feel easier. Joe Murray, Roosevelt’s first political sponsor, was won to him by the genuine spirit of democracy he saw in the young aspirant.

Murray was in need of friends just at that time. He had rebelled against the rule of “Jake” Hess, the Republican boss of the district. Jake147 had his own special candidate for the next Assemblyman from the 21st District. Murray had become the leader of the anti-Hess faction, but had no worth-while candidate for the Legislature. He observed that Roosevelt was popular with the crowd.

“Look here men,” Murray said to his adherents, “what this district wants is a swell candidate who can go as a guest to the drawing room and at the same time be man enough to shake hands with the butler. Teddy Roosevelt is the one!”

He asked Roosevelt to become a candidate. Roosevelt refused. Instead he suggested the names of several men; but Murray kept on persuading, until at last he drew from Roosevelt a promise to be his candidate if he could not secure a better one. Joe at once stopped searching.

“I can’t find any better nor as good!” was his verdict. The matter ended in the nomination of the youthful-looking collegiate “Teddy,” now thoroughly warm to the campaign. He plunged into the battle with an intensity that was earnest of the ardor with which he went into his later and more important political conflicts.

The next barrier that rose before the candidate was high license. A trip to the saloons was said by his political sponsors to be a necessary part148 of the campaign. At Valentine Young’s saloon on Sixth Avenue, Roosevelt opened his campaign. Mr. Young was against high license. He expressed the hope that Roosevelt was also opposed to it. Roosevelt promptly replied that he was for it, and would advocate it as hard as he could. The argument became hot; the saloon-keeper made personal remarks. Then and there Roosevelt quitted the saloon canvass. Murray and his friends were dismayed, but Roosevelt appealed to his neighbors. The silk-stocking vote joined that of the footmen and shopkeepers, who had become enthusiastic over the scrappy and democratic young candidate. Roosevelt was elected and became the youngest member of the Legislature.


The next obstruction that confronted young Roosevelt was the attitude of his party associates in the Legislature. Many of these men were in politics for purely commercial reasons. They frowned on crusaders and tried to squelch any tendency in Roosevelt toward independence of thought and action. His part, as they saw it, was to be merely the smallest cog in the political machine, moving only when a man higher up applied the power.

149 Though none of these men realized it at the time, the appearance of this ardent young man in the Legislature marked an epoch. The sun was beginning to set for the spoilsmen. The better elements of the state needed a force behind which they could rally. Roosevelt was that man.

An elevated railroad company had been exposed in a scandal that involved the Attorney General of the state and a judge of the Supreme Court. The public conscience was aroused. The people grew indignant when the legislators shelved their petitions. Roosevelt stood waiting for his elders to act. He could not believe that, when such charges had been preferred against one of the judiciary, his associates would seek to dodge the issue. Convinced at last that nothing would be done unless he acted, on April 6, 1882, he demanded from the floor that Judge Westbrook, of Newburgh, be impeached by the Assembly. He was a David going up against a Goliath of graft and obstruction, yet he attacked fearlessly.

It took splendid moral courage for Roosevelt to take this step. Young, idealistic and untrained in politics as he was, he could not have been blind to the fact that he was facing consequences that150 would probably be the ruin of his political career.

His speech was distinguished by its boldness and candor. Before he finished, men with millions had been branded as thieves and bribers. A judge and an attorney general were denounced in terms that startled the public—terms that nevertheless were potent with truth.

The Republican leader, with huge contempt for the raw young legislator, answered the charge patronizingly and with sneers. “I have seen,” he said, “many reputations in the state broken down by loose charges made in the Legislature.” He recommended to the Assembly that this reckless young man be given time to think, by voting to refuse to act on his loose charges. The legislators obeyed the whip. Mainly through his own party Roosevelt went down to defeat.

The Roosevelt teeth came into evidence then. Roosevelt’s associates actually heard him gritting them. In spite of the ridicule and sneers of the previous day Roosevelt returned the next day to the charge.

The press interviewed him. Moved half by admiration of the courage of this puny young chap, half by a desire to furnish amusement for their readers, they told the public of his fight. Then, all of a sudden the young David found151 himself vigorously supported. Public opinion came to his help in no uncertain way. The state was aroused. Roosevelt kept up the fight with renewed vigor. Assemblymen began to hear from the folks back home. The party leaders trembled before the man they could not “gum shoe.” The Legislature yielded. By a vote of 104 to 6 Roosevelt carried the day. The committee whitewashed the accused, but the testimony had more than vindicated Roosevelt’s position. Debauchery in politics had received a setback. What was worse for the corrupt politicians, they were now at war against an adversary who was not to stop fighting until the whole nation had been won to his ideals of clean politics.

Back to Albany Roosevelt was sent as an Assemblyman in 1882 and again in 1883. In the latter year he became minority leader of the Assembly, which had now become Democratic. With the coming into power of Grover Cleveland the Republicans had gone into retirement as a state force until they could put their house in order.

In Roosevelt’s last two terms in the Assembly he came into close touch with Grover Cleveland, then Governor. Representing opposite political faiths, there was nevertheless a bond of152 sympathy between the two men in their independence of thought. Cleveland grew to rely on his young opponent even more than he did on some of the leaders of his own party. The two fought shoulder to shoulder in behalf of civil service. Roosevelt, after recommendations for civil service improvements had appeared in the Governor’s message, pushed through the Legislature a state civil service act which was almost parallel to the Federal act which went into effect about that time.

Roosevelt’s next political fight came in 1884. Roosevelt was made chairman of the state delegation to the Republican convention at Chicago which nominated Blaine, “The Plumed Knight,” as opponent to Cleveland in the Presidential campaign. Roosevelt, with typical independence of thought, opposed the nomination of Blaine and placed in nomination United States Senator George F. Edmunds.

Then came a crucial point in Roosevelt’s career. He had been classed as a reformer in politics and as one that would not work with the party organization. Henry Cabot Lodge, of Massachusetts, a great personal friend, conferred with him as to what they should do. They decided that their proper course was to stay with their153 party; to endeavor by fair means to influence its decision, but when its nominations were made to stand by the candidates.

When the Blaine campaign was over Roosevelt retired to his Dakota ranch, where he spent the next two years. He was called from his ranch to become a candidate for Mayor of New York City. Opposed to him was Abraham S. Hewitt. Roosevelt, because of conditions apart from his own popularity and standing, met one of his few defeats.

Next followed Roosevelt’s membership in the National Civil Service Commission under Presidents Harrison and Cleveland. Roosevelt’s six years in Washington as Civil Service Commissioner opened up for him a broader field than he had up to that time entered. Here he began that friendship with public men that later was to encircle the nation.

Little did he expect, however, that there were coming events that would make him an occupant of the White House. It would be wrong to say that he never thought of such a possibility. Every American is born a potential resident of the Executive Mansion, and Roosevelt admitted to Henry L. Stoddard that when he was Civil Service Commissioner his heart would beat a little154 faster as he walked by the White House and thought that possibly—with emphasis on the “possibly”—he would some day occupy it as President.

Then came his appointment in 1895 as president of the New York Police Board. In 1897 he received his appointment as Assistant Secretary of the Navy. The stirring episodes that came to him during these periods are related elsewhere in this narrative. Out of them he emerged Governor of the State of New York.


In 1898 Senator Platt was asked if there was any doubt as to the renomination of Frank S. Black as Governor of New York. “Yes, there is,” was his response. “McKinley and Congress are liable to declare war on Spain at any moment. That war may develop a hero. Theodore Roosevelt has just resigned as Assistant Secretary of the Navy and is drilling his Rough Riders in the West. He may come out of the war adorned with such laurels as to compel his nomination.”

Platt was a true prophet. Roosevelt crowned with military glory, came back from the Battle of San Juan Hill. Chauncey Depew and others suggested to Platt that Roosevelt would be an155 ideal candidate for Governor. Platt sent Lemuel Eli Quigg, known as “the Accelerator,” to Roosevelt at Montauk Point, where he was camped with his troops. Quigg’s mission was to sound the Colonel as to his willingness to run for Governor.

Roosevelt was in a receptive mood. He accepted the Republican nomination unconditionally, but he took pains to announce during the campaign that on all important questions of policy and legislation he would consult with the Republican state leader, Senator Platt. He made it clear that he would not act on Platt’s advice if it were not in accordance with his own ideas of what was right.

Roosevelt made a dramatic campaign. He made Richard Croker, the Tammany boss, who had been pilloried by the Lexow committee, an issue. The Rough Rider won by over 17,000 plurality.


Now Roosevelt came to the crisis of his career. The events of the next few years made him later President of the United States. Politicians conspired against him, but Fate fought with him. He was indeed a “Man of Destiny.”

156 In spite of his agreement with Senator Platt to consult him upon important matters of government—a pledge Roosevelt faithfully kept—he still became a thorn in the side of Platt and the machine politicians.

Immediately after his inauguration Governor Roosevelt cleaned house in whirlwind fashion at Albany. Superintendent of Insurance Lou F. Payn, who was thrown out of a job, ran to Senator Platt with this cry:

“I warned you that this fellow would soon have you dangling at his chariot wheel. You would not believe me. He has begun by scalping members of your ‘Old Guard.’ He’ll get you, too, soon.”

The big dispute between Roosevelt and Platt came when Roosevelt determined that corporations must pay a franchise tax. He had bills drawn up to this effect. His party leaders rebelled. Roosevelt gritted his teeth and drove through the Legislature this franchise tax law. Following this, Roosevelt let it be known that he would be the candidate for renomination as Governor.

Platt and his henchmen decided that they had had quite enough of him. To eliminate him from state politics they decided to shelve him in the157 office of Vice-President. Platt and his friends went to the Republican National Convention at Philadelphia determined to carry this plan through. Mark Hanna was opposed to nominating Roosevelt as a candidate for the Vice-Presidency. Platt joined forces with Senator Quay.

Roosevelt discovered the plan to get rid of him, and gave the newspapers an interview in which he stated positively that he would not accept the nomination; that his most valued friends had advised him against being a candidate, and that he would follow their advice.

Senator Platt went on with his plans. He conferred with Senator Hanna. Roosevelt came to Platt’s rooms.

“I shall go to the New York caucus and tell the delegates that I shall, if nominated for Vice-President, arise in the convention and decline.”

“But you cannot be renominated for Governor, and you are going to be nominated for Vice-President,” was the retort Platt claims to have made.

“I cannot be renominated?” queried Roosevelt.

“No. Your successor is in this room!” said Platt, pointing to Chairman Odell.

Facing this situation, Roosevelt let it be known that he would yield if the convention “took the158 bit in its teeth” and insisted upon nominating him.

The wisdom of the nomination of Roosevelt as McKinley’s running mate was vindicated at the polls. The McKinley-Roosevelt ticket smothered that of Bryan and his mate, and New York State remained in the Republican column. Senator Platt went down to Washington for the inauguration with the remark:

“I am going to see Roosevelt put on the veil.”

But Platt and the men who thought Roosevelt was safely out of the way were overlooking the fact that Roosevelt’s fortune was in the hand of a greater power than theirs.

Roosevelt’s term as Vice-President proved to be short. He took office on March 4, 1901, and presided over the Senate at the succeeding session. With McKinley and his Cabinet his relations were intimate and cordial.

In September Roosevelt went camping with his family in the Adirondacks. There he received the news of the shooting of President McKinley, who died before the Vice-President could reach his bedside. Roosevelt took the oath of office as President at Buffalo on the evening of September 14.

The new President fully appreciated the159 deplorable circumstances under which he became the head of the nation. He issued this proclamation:

“In this hour of deep and national bereavement I wish to state that it shall be my aim to continue absolutely and without variance the policy of President McKinley, for the peace, prosperity and honor of our beloved country.” Roosevelt kept this pledge to the letter.

Afterward Senator Platt, with true political sagacity, claimed credit for his insistence upon the nomination for the Vice-Presidency, since it had led to Roosevelt becoming President of the United States. Those, however, who knew of the anxiety of the New York politicians to get rid of Roosevelt as a factor in state politics looked the other way and winked.


First Years in the Presidency

When Roosevelt was a member of the New York Legislature, Andrew D. White, President of Cornell College, who had been keenly watching his career, remarked to his class:

“Young gentlemen, some of you will enter public life. I call your attention to Theodore Roosevelt, now in our legislature. He is on the right road to success. It is dangerous to predict a future for a young man, but let me tell you that if any man of his age was ever pointed straight for the Presidency, that man is Theodore Roosevelt.”

Mr. White was not alone in his opinion. George W. Curtis, who was then editor of Harper’s “Easy Chair,” thus answered a man who sneered at the youth and obscurity of Roosevelt:



“You will know more, sir, later; a good deal more, or I am much in error. Young? Why, he is just out of school almost, yet he is a force to be reckoned with in New York. Later the nation will be criticizing or praising him. While respectful161 to the gray hairs and experience of his elders, not one of them can move him an iota from convictions as to men and measures once formed and rooted. He will not truckle nor cringe; he seems to court opposition to the point of being somewhat pugnacious. His political life will probably be turbulent; but he will be a figure, not a figure-head, in future developments—or if not, it will be because he gives up politics altogether.”

These opinions from men who knew Roosevelt all his life go to show that his course to the Presidency was clearly marked for him from the time he entered New York politics.

Jeremiah Curtin, the historian and philosopher, was another person who early became impressed with the idea that Roosevelt was a dynamic force for the highest place in the land. Curtin, in his “History of the Mongols,” wrote thus of seeing Roosevelt as a Civil Service Commissioner:

“All at once, in the large room before us, I saw a young man, alert to his duties and perfectly confident. There was no one else in the apartment. I told (Congressman) Greenhalge to look at him.

“‘That man looks precisely as if he had examined the building and, finding it suitable, has made up his mind to inhabit it!’

162 “‘He is the living picture of that pose,’ replied Greenhalge; ‘but do you know him? That is Theodore Roosevelt!’”

The assassination of President McKinley, which led Roosevelt to the White House, simply hastened the goal which was already in sight.

From his early days in politics he took a high moral stand and formed the habit of going to the people over the heads of the politicians whenever he thought that the public interest required such drastic measures. He set for himself a high standard, yet, when he quitted the Presidency, that standard had been set even higher than when he made his first campaign for clean politics in the New York Legislature.

Roosevelt’s first notable act on entering the Presidency was to retain in office all of McKinley’s subordinates. It had been the habit on the three previous occasions when Vice-Presidents succeeded Presidents through the death of the President to change the personnel of the higher offices, especially in the Cabinet. Roosevelt did not think this a wise course. He asked all of the members of the Cabinet to stay and help him carry out McKinley’s policies.

Some of his friends told him this would make him only “a pale copy of McKinley.” He told163 them that he was not concerned in following or not following in McKinley’s footsteps. What he wanted to do was to face and solve the new problems that arose.


In the fall of 1902 he adopted a course of action in regard to labor disputes that, at the time, called forth much criticism, but which from the public standpoint was soon justified.

That spring a universal strike began in the anthracite coal regions. It was continued through the summer and early fall. The feeling between the mine operators and the miners was very bitter, and the big operators had banded together and refused to yield a point in their dispute with their workers.

As winter approached a coal famine menaced the nation. In the East, where anthracite is the principal household fuel, soft coal proved to be a very poor substitute.

The Governor of Massachusetts and the Mayor of New York were among the conservative men who urged Roosevelt to take action. They pointed out that if the coal famine continued the suffering throughout the Northeast would be alarming and that disastrous riots were liable to occur.

164 Roosevelt delayed interfering as long as possible, though he directed Carroll Wright, head of the Labor Bureau, to report all of the facts of the case to him.

The coal operators, knowing that the suffering among the miners was great, felt confident that if the government did not interfere, the miners would be forced to yield. Bent on winning, they refused to see that the rights of the people were affected.

Roosevelt saw things from the people’s viewpoint and tried to get both sides to submit to a commission of arbitration, with a promise to accept its decision. Under this arrangement the miners were to go to work as soon as the commission was appointed, at the old rate of wages. The miners, headed by John Mitchell, agreed to this proposition. The operators refused and Roosevelt confined his efforts to securing an agreement between the operators and the miners.

On October 3 he called the representatives of both before him. This time Roosevelt, by sheer force of will, secured his object. The operators obstinately held out for the appointment of a commission of five that did not include even one representative of labor. Roosevelt insisted that labor be represented and carried his point.165 Human rights had triumphed over property rights.

When the battle was over the President stood clearly before the people as a man who would champion them against the so-called captains of industry when it was necessary to do so.

The President let it be known early in his administration that in the South he would appoint good Democrats to office rather than bad Republicans.

It was while the President was making appointments of Democrats to office in the South, winning praise from those who had never before praised anything Republican, that the famous Booker T. Washington incident took place.

It had been through the help of the South that Washington had been able to accomplish his great work as a negro educator, but this section of the country, with the negro as a social problem very close to it, bitterly resented Roosevelt’s dining with the colored man.

The South took it as an affront, though evidently the President had not thought one way or the other as to the possible consequences. The criticisms heaped upon him he ignored.

Roosevelt did not long remain in the bad graces of the Southern people. He did not permit the166 South to forget that his mother was a Georgian woman, and that her brothers had fought in the Confederacy. The following incident illustrates the fine diplomacy with which he won back the regard of the Southern people:

On one of his Southern trips his train stopped at Charlotte. N. C. A committee of women led by Mrs. Thomas J. Jackson, widow of General Stonewall Jackson, was at the depot to meet Colonel Roosevelt. When he was introduced he referred to himself as by right a Southerner, and then being introduced to Mrs. Jackson, he added a remark which flashed through the South:

“What! The widow of the great Stonewall Jackson? Why, it is worth the whole trip down here to have a chance to shake your hand,” and he reminded her that he had appointed her grandson to a cadetship at West Point.

The South loved a fighter, and Roosevelt put his knowledge of this fact to good use when he went on a campaigning tour of that territory. If there had been anything timorous about him he would have attacked the Democracy in Minnesota, where it would be safe to do so. Instead, he picked out Atlanta, where his audience was composed almost entirely of Democrats.

The audience tried to roar him down. For five167 minutes the tumult went on. It seemed as if the meeting could not go on. Roosevelt then made a characteristically audacious move. There was a table near him, and he leaped upon it. The mob was startled into stillness. Before it could recover from its surprise, he had poured forth a half-dozen striking sentences, and by that time his opponents were interested enough to give him a hearing.


From the date of his entering the Presidency until after the election of 1904 Roosevelt was under restraint. Although he knew that his policies had the full approval of the people, he felt himself to be a President by accident. It is well known that he desired a nomination and election in 1904.

“I do not believe in playing the hypocrite,” he said. “Any strong man fit to be President would desire a nomination and re-election after his first term. Lincoln was President in so great a crisis that perhaps he neither could nor did feel any personal interest in his own re-election. But at present I should like to be elected President just as John Quincy Adams, or McKinley, or Cleveland, or John Adams, or Washington168 himself desired to be elected. It is pleasant to think that one’s countrymen think well of him. But I shall not do anything whatever to secure my nomination save to try to carry on the public business in such shape that decent citizens will believe I have shown wisdom, integrity and courage.”

From the start his nomination was assured, although there was already strong opposition to him on the part of many machine politicians.

No other name than his was seriously considered in the convention. He was nominated for the Presidency at Chicago on June 23, with Charles W. Fairbanks, of Indiana, as candidate for Vice-President. He was elected in November by a popular vote of 2,523,750 over Alton B. Parker, the Democratic candidate, and a majority over all candidates of 1,735,403. The vote in the electoral college was 336 for Roosevelt to 140 for Parker.

It was the largest popular support that any President of the United States had ever received.


In foreign affairs the most important action Roosevelt took during the second administration was in regard to the building of the Panama169 Canal. His action is still termed “unconstitutional” by many people, and a bill is now under discussion to compensate Colombia for the alleged damages she sustained through the secession of the State of Panama, and the building of the canal without her consent.

Roosevelt’s defense, and the defense of his eminent Secretary of State, John Hay, was, to put it bluntly, “We got the canal.”

During the four centuries that had passed since Balboa crossed the Isthmus, statesmen had talked of connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans by an Isthmus canal. It had been talked about in Washington for a half-century, but nothing had come of it.

Shortly after Roosevelt became President, an agreement was reached with the French Panama Company, and the Hay-Pauncefote Treaty was signed, by which the United States acquired possession, so far as Europe was concerned, which warranted her undertaking the task.

The logical location for the canal was the line already begun by the French company in Panama. Panama belonged to Colombia. Colombia had promised friendly co-operation. Her delegate to the Pan-American Congress in Mexico had joined in the unanimous vote which requested the170 United States to proceed with building the canal.

Both Colombia and the Isthmus had been places of frequent revolutions and outbreaks. Many times United States warships had been forced to patrol the Isthmus, at times at the urgent request of the Colombian government. Through another revolution Colombia had come under the dictatorship of Marquin, its former vice-president. Marquin, although he had consented to the Hay-Herran Treaty, by which Colombia had agreed to the building of the canal, now made use of his power as a dictator to break his promise. He summoned a congress especially to break the canal treaty. This congress, which Roosevelt describes as “a congress of mere puppets,” carried out Marquin’s wishes. The treaty was rejected.

The President, through Secretary Hay, had warned Colombia that grave consequences might follow her rejection of the treaty. He had information that the entire population of Panama felt that it was of vital concern to their prosperity that the canal be immediately built; newspaper correspondents predicted a revolution on the Isthmus.

On November 8, 1903, the revolution occurred. The Colombian troops stationed on the Isthmus171 joined in the revolution, and there was no bloodshed, except the life of an unfortunate Chinaman.

Roosevelt immediately recognized the Republic of Panama and the other principal nations did likewise. A canal treaty was at once negotiated with the new republic, and, after considerable debate in the Senate, the treaty was ratified by that body and the work on the canal began.

Roosevelt’s case against Colombia was that, so long as the United States was considering the alternative route through Nicaragua, Colombia eagerly pressed this country to build a canal across the Isthmus. When the United States was committed to this latter course, Colombia, under her usurper, refused to fulfil the agreement, with the hope of securing the rights and property of the French Panama Company, so as to secure the $40,000,000 the United States had authorized as payment to this company. John Hay thus defended Roosevelt’s course: “The action of the President in the Panama matter is not only in the strictest accordance with the principles of justice and equity, and in line with the best precedents of our public policy, but it was the only course he could have taken in compliance with our treaty rights and obligations.”

In November, 1906, the President’s interest in172 the work on the canal led him to go in person to Panama. This act caused a storm of disapproval in certain quarters, similar to that which President Wilson met when he decided to attend the peace conference at Paris. Roosevelt’s critics pointed out that no President had ever gone beyond the bounds of his country. Roosevelt went and let his critics howl. Here, in one thing at least, Wilson and Roosevelt were in agreement, namely, that where the President of this country sets foot that place is within the sphere of the United States.


Good Will Abroad; A Square Deal at Home

In Roosevelt’s opinion and in the opinion of the entire country, his act in sending the fleet upon its world mission did more to favorably advertise the United States to the world and to establish cordial international relations, than any other of his deeds as President. His object in sending the battle fleet on this voyage was to prove to foreign nations that American battleships could be assembled in the Pacific Ocean as well as in the Atlantic, without this movement assuming the nature of a threat against any Asiatic or European power.

The impression prevailed among foreign navies that the American fleet could not pass from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The English and German naval authorities thought it impossible to take their own fleets of great battleships around the world, and, of course, they did not believe that the American fleet could make the voyage.

Then, too, Europe was expecting a war between the United States and Japan and thought that if such a fleet sailed into the Pacific, Japan174 would think that the United States intended to attack her. Roosevelt desired to clear up all of these notions. He wanted to establish friendly relations with Japan and he wanted more than anything else to arouse the pride of the American people in their navy.

All of the President’s purposes were accomplished. The cruise made a deep and favorable impression abroad, and no single thing in the history of the new United States Navy did as much to stimulate the American public’s enthusiasm as this voyage. Everything worked out just as was thus predicted by the “London Spectator” when the fleet sailed from Hampton Roads:

“All over America the people will follow the movements of the fleet; they will learn something of the intricate details of the coaling and commissariat work under war-like conditions, and in a word their attention will be aroused. Next time Mr. Roosevelt or his representatives appeal to the country for new battleships they will do so to people whose minds have been influenced one way or the other. The naval programme will not have stood still. We are sure that, apart from increasing the efficiency of the existing fleet, this is the aim which Roosevelt has in mind. He has a policy which projects itself far into the175 future, but it is an entire misreading of it to suppose that it is aimed narrowly and definitely at any single power.”

The fleet of sixteen battleships which, though it may seem small in comparison with the navies that have been engaged in the world war, was a large one in those days, went through the Strait of Magellan to San Francisco. From there Roosevelt ordered them to sail to New Zealand and Australia, stopping at the Philippines, China and Japan, then home through the Suez Canal, stopping in the Mediterranean. There was never a hitch or a delay in the schedule. The most notable incident of the cruise was the warm reception given to the fleet by the Japanese. When the fleet returned after its sixteen months’ voyage, Roosevelt greeted it in Hampton Roads. The battleships arrived there on Washington’s Birthday, February 22, 1907.

Roosevelt’s views on the success of this expedition are best summed up in the following address, which he spoke on the flagship of the admiral to the officers and enlisted men:

“Over a year has passed since you steamed out of this harbor, and over the world’s rim, and this morning the hearts of all who saw you thrilled with pride as the hulls of the mighty warships176 lifted above the horizon. You have been in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres; four times you have crossed the line; you have steamed through all the great oceans; you have touched the coast of every continent. Ever your general course has been westward; and now you come back to the port from which you set sail. This is the first battle fleet that has ever circumnavigated the globe. Those who perform the feat can but follow in your footsteps.



“The little torpedo flotilla went with you around South America, through the Straits of Magellan, to our own Pacific Coast. The armored cruiser squadron met you, and left you again, when you were half-way round the world. In all your long cruise not an accident worthy of mention has happened to a single battleship, nor yet to the cruisers or torpedo boats. You left this coast in a high state of efficiency and you return with your efficiency increased; better prepared than when you left, not only in personnel, but even in material. During your world cruise you have taken your regular gunnery practice, and skilled though you were before with the guns, you have grown more skilful still; and through practice you have improved in battle tactics, though here there is more room for improvement 177than in your gunnery. Incidentally, I suppose I need hardly say that one measure of your fitness must be your clear recognition of the need always steadily to strive to render yourselves more fit; if you ever grow to think that you are fit enough, you can make up your minds that from that moment you will begin to go backward.

“As a war machine the fleet comes back in better shape than it went out. In addition, you, the officers and men of this formidable fighting force, have shown yourselves the best of all possible ambassadors and heralds of peace. Wherever you have landed you have borne yourselves so as to make us at home proud of being your countrymen. You have shown that the best type of fighting man of the sea knows how to appear to the utmost possible advantage when his business is to behave himself on shore, and to make a good impression in a foreign land. We are proud of all the ships and all the men in this whole fleet, and we welcome you home to the country whose good repute among nations has been raised by what you have done.”


Roosevelt’s chief service to his country while President was undoubtedly that of preventing178 the huge combinations and trusts which threatened to gain control of the country during his administration.

For years great business corporations had been in formation. They controlled enormous wealth and their financial power led them to disregard public opinion, even to the extent of defying the law.

Public disapproval was growing stronger and stronger. Independent newspapers and magazines had informed the public of the oppressive methods of these trusts. A leader was wanted. Roosevelt became that leader.

The foe was mighty. It had entrenched itself in Congress, yet Roosevelt won several noteworthy victories and started the nation in the way of ending this evil.

The warfare against the trusts was continued throughout Roosevelt’s entire administration. Measures for the control of the trusts were prepared and pressed on Congress with Rooseveltian strenuosity.

A railway rate bill was passed, forbidding under severe penalties the fraud of rebates. A general pure food law was passed, penalizing the act of adulteration, and requiring that every article of medicine or food should be labeled and179 sold for just what it was. With these and several other measures, corporation fraud was thus brought to a halt.

At this period Roosevelt was a flaming fire. His spirit was as a fierce blaze consuming the materialism that had crept from the ranks of business into public life. Popular grievances against unjust exploitation by leaders of industry became to him the signal to attack. His ordering of the suit of dissolution against the Northern Securities Company subjected him to the enmity of powerful men, yet before a short time passed the opinion became general that his decision had been vital to the public good.

He aroused the bitter opposition of Big Business by his successful endeavors to control it, but time proved that by his act on behalf of the people he had saved the vested interests from the wholesale division by Congress of such monopolies had they been formed.

While he was the first of our Presidents to come into conflict with corporate power, he nevertheless favored and promoted legitimate business, and he stood for the protection of American industries from the cheap labor of Europe.

His suit for the dissolution of the Standard Oil Company was one of the most significant180 acts of his administration. This suit was not brought to a successful conclusion until 1911, but the credit for its prosecution is due mainly to him.

In all these measures Roosevelt was simply carrying out his doctrine of the square deal, which he began to preach when he assumed public office and which in different language, but with unvarying purpose, he preached to the end of his life.

His doctrine of fair dealing is best summed up in this speech spoken at Dallas, Tex., April 5, 1905:

“When I say I believe in a square deal I do not mean, and probably nobody that speaks the truth can mean, that he believes it possible to give every man the best hand. If the cards do not come to any man, or if they do come, and he has not got the power to play them, that is his affair. All I mean is that there shall be no crookedness in the dealing. In other words, it is not in the power of any human being to devise legislation or administration by which each man shall achieve success and have happiness; it not only is not in the power of any man to do that, but if any man says that he can do it, distrust him as a quack.... All any of us can pretend181 to do is to come as near as our imperfect abilities will allow to securing through governmental agencies an equal opportunity for each man to show the stuff that is in him; and that must be done with no more intention of discrimination against the rich man than the poor man, or against the poor man than the rich man; with the intention of safeguarding every man, rich or poor, poor or rich, in his rights, and giving him as nearly as may be a fair chance to do what his powers permit him to do; always providing he does not wrong his neighbor.”

This view he re-emphasized at another place:

“When I say a square deal I mean a square deal; exactly as much a square deal for the rich man as for the poor man; but no more. Let each stand on his merits, receive what is due him, and be judged according to his deserts. To more he is not entitled, and less he shall not have.”

“This government was formed with, as its basic idea, the principle of treating each man on his worth as a man, of paying no heed to whether he was rich or poor, no heed to his creed or social standing, but only to the way in which he performed his duties to himself, to his neighbor, to the state. From this principle we cannot afford to vary by so much as a hand’s breadth.”

182 It would be a mistake to think that while attacking the evils of corporate power he did not also attack those men of Bolshevik tendencies who out of mere discontent, tried to stir up class feeling.

This is what he had to say about these men:

“In dealing with both labor and capital and the questions affecting both corporations and trade unions, there is one matter more important to remember than aught else, and that is the infinite harm done by preachers of mere discontent. These are the men who seek to excite a violent class hatred against all men of wealth. They seek to turn wise and proper movements for the better control of corporations and for doing away with the abuses connected with wealth into a campaign of hysterical excitement and falsehood in which the aim is to inflame to madness the brutal passions of mankind....”

One shudders to think of what fate would have befallen the United States if the monopolies which Roosevelt curbed while he was President had been allowed to flourish until this era of revolution. That the working people of America are contented and peace-loving today is largely due to Roosevelt’s saving them from exploitation by the trusts.



Most important in his own estimation and from the standpoint of personal credit, was Roosevelt’s work for the conservation of the natural resources of the country. In May, 1908, he called a conference of the Governors of all the states for this purpose.

The natural wealth of the nation was disappearing at an alarming rate. The forests were being destroyed by wasteful methods of lumbering and by devastating fires. The coal supply was being wastefully handled. Ignorance and greed were exhausting the fisheries. These things needed wise and honest treatment and the conference led to the formation of a National Conservation Commission to take these matters in hand.


While President Roosevelt coined many expressive terms that still remain as part of American speech—such phrases as “Malefactors of great wealth,” “Speak softly but carry a big stick,” “Swollen fortunes,” originated with him.

He branded so many men as liars that a newspaper humorist coined the name “Ananias Club,”184 and used it to include most of those who had incurred Mr. Roosevelt’s enmity. The name stuck, but it did not deter Mr. Roosevelt from going right on calling a spade a spade.

Roosevelt kept his mind fresh in the stifling political atmosphere of the Capitol by keeping in touch with his Rough Rider and cowboy friends.

In spite of his strenuous battles, Roosevelt always found time for play and diversion while he was an occupant of the White House. He it was who started the army upon a course of physical training that undoubtedly had a bearing upon its efficiency in France. Old swivel-chair officers secretly rebelled against his order that they should show their physical ability by periodical long-distance hikes and rides, but when the President showed that he was willing to lead the way and undergo the same tests, there was nothing to do but submit.


Roosevelt was now confronted by the problem as to whether he should run for a third term. Previously, in a public address, he had made the statement that he would not be a candidate for a third term. If he had listened to the pleadings185 of his friends and allowed himself to be nominated there is no doubt that he would have been elected.

His answer to the pleas of his admirers and to the voice of perhaps his own ambition was to select William Howard Taft as his successor and to urge his nomination, taking care to let the Republican national convention know that he himself would refuse a nomination. Taft was nominated on the first ballot.

On March 4, 1909, William H. Taft was inaugurated as President of the United States. That day Roosevelt left Washington.


“Let us therefore boldly face the life of strife, resolute to do our duty well and manfully; resolute to uphold righteousness by deed and by word; resolute to be both honest and brave; to serve high ideals, yet to use practical methods. Above all, let us shrink from no strife, moral or physical, within or without the nation, provided we are certain that the strife is justified, for it is only through strife, through hard and dangerous endeavor, that we shall ultimately win the goal of true national greatness.

Theodore Roosevelt.


The “Bull Moose”

After more than a year’s absence in Africa and Europe, Roosevelt returned to the United States in June, 1910, and again, both by inclination and the compelling force of circumstances, took an active interest in politics.

While Roosevelt was hunting in Africa, there came a sharp division in the Republican party. The conservatives who supported Taft and the rebels who could see no good in his policies developed into bitter factions, each of which tried to win the support of Roosevelt when he returned home crowned with world honors. For a time Roosevelt kept silent, hearing both sides of the matter, weighing the evidence in the dispute, trying to determine whether it was wise to continue the support he had given Taft formerly, or to listen to these new but strong voices that had arisen in his party since he himself left the Presidency.

The first indication of the stand Roosevelt was to take appeared when he let it become known that he approved Gifford Pinchot’s stand in his controversy with Ballinger, whom Taft had supported. He also announced that he opposed certain188 treaties with Japan and South America which Taft was advocating. As the months passed Taft became the champion of conservative Republicanism, and the forceful personality and progressive spirit of Roosevelt made him the natural leader of the revolting group.

In 1910 Roosevelt made a tour of the country, in which he announced the doctrine of the New Nationalism. He advocated a closer relation between the states and the national government; making economic opportunity equal; conserving the resources of the nation; military preparedness; and the shifting of the viewpoints of the courts from too much emphasis on the security of property and contracts to a greater concern for the welfare of human beings.

To these principles Roosevelt added, in 1912, the issues of direct nominations, preferential primaries, the initiative, the referendum, and the recall for judicial decisions as well as for officials. These reforms he announced as a new Charter for Democracy and when, in 1912, in answer to the appeal of seven Governors, he announced that he would become a candidate for the Presidency, these doctrines were embodied in the platform of his party.

Roosevelt made a typically strenuous fight for189 the control of delegates to the national Republican Convention, and when he was defeated he and his supporters created the Progressive party, by which at Chicago, he was nominated for the Presidency. In response to those who criticised him for seeking a third term when he had previously announced that he would not accept another nomination, he explained that he had meant three consecutive terms.

It was while he was conducting a whirlwind campaign for election that he was shot by a crank. The shooting occurred in Milwaukee. Roosevelt was entering the automobile that was to drive him to the meeting place when the fanatic fired at him. The bullet lodged in his shoulder. With characteristic dauntlessness, Roosevelt insisted on going on the platform, where he told the waiting multitude that he had been shot, and then went on to deliver a rousing speech that lasted over an hour.

When Woodrow Wilson heard of the assault upon Roosevelt, he chivalrously offered to discontinue his own campaign, but the Colonel refused this concession. After a few days spent in recuperation he resumed his speaking tour with undiminished vigor. In the Presidential election which followed he received eighty-eight electoral190 votes. He had divided the Republican party in all states. In twenty-eight of the states he received a majority over Taft. Through this division in the Republican ranks, Woodrow Wilson became President.


While Roosevelt and Wilson were for the most part in opposition to each other, some have wrongly said, with regard to the proposal for a league of nations, that Roosevelt was backward and reactionary in his attitude. This is directly confuted by the prophetic speech he delivered at Christiania, Norway, May 5, 1910, while on his world tour. His utterance there shows that fundamentally President Wilson and he were thinking alike on this subject:

“Something should be done as soon as possible to check the growth of armaments, especially naval armaments, by international agreement. No one power could or should act by itself; for it is eminently undesirable, from the standpoint of peace and righteousness, that a power which really does believe in peace should place itself at the mercy of some rival which may at bottom have no such belief and no intention of acting on it.

191 “But, granted sincerity of purpose, the great powers of the world should find no insurmountable difficulty in reaching an agreement which would put an end to the present costly and growing extravagances of expenditures on naval armaments. An agreement merely to limit the size of ships would have been very useful a few years ago, and would still be of use; but the agreement should go much further.

“Finally, it would be a master stroke if those great powers honestly bent on peace would form a league of peace, not only to keep peace among themselves, but to prevent by force if necessary, its being broken by others.

“The supreme difficulty in connection with developing the peace work of The Hague arises from the lack of any executive power, of any police power to enforce the decrees of the court. In any community of any size the authority of the courts rests upon actual or potential force; on the existence of a police, or on the knowledge that the able-bodied men of the country are both ready and willing to see that the decrees of judicial and legislative bodies are put into effect.

“In new and wild communities where there is violence, an honest man must protect himself, and until other means of securing his safety are192 devised, it is both foolish and wicked to persuade him to surrender his arms while the men who are dangerous to the community remain there. He should not renounce the right to protect himself by his own efforts until the community is so organized that it can effectively relieve the individual of the duty of putting down violence.

“So it is with nations. Each nation must keep well prepared to defend itself until the establishment of some form of international police power, competent and willing to prevent violence as between nations. As things are now, such powers to command peace throughout the world could best be assured by some combination between those great nations which sincerely desire peace and have no thought themselves of committing aggressions. The combination might at first be only to secure peace within certain definite limits and certain definite conditions; but the ruler or statesman who should bring about such a combination would have earned his place in history for all time and his title to the gratitude of all mankind.”




From White House to Jungle

“Oh, our manhood’s prime vigor! No spirit feels waste,
Not a muscle is stopped in its playing nor sinew unbraced.
Oh, the wild joys of living! The leaping from rock to rock;
The strong rending of boughs from the fir-trees; the cool, silver shock
Of the plunge in a pool’s living water; the hunt of the bear,
And the sultriness showing the lion is crouched in his lair.
* * * * *
How good is man’s life, the mere living! How fit to employ
All the heart and the soul and the senses forever in joy!”


These splendid lines of Browning were Roosevelt’s outdoor creed. His exploits as a hunter in Africa were merely a development of his life as a naturalist and out-of-door man. At Harvard Roosevelt had devoted himself to a study of natural science, and had even thought seriously of making it his lifework. Politics claimed him then, but always underlying Roosevelt the statesman was Roosevelt the naturalist.

Francis Parkman—hunter, trapper, horticulturist and America’s most interesting historian—was Roosevelt’s example for his life in the open. There was a close relation between the careers of the two men. Parkman was handicapped in health and bad eyesight. Roosevelt, as a youth, had a weak frame and his sight was also poor. Parkman loved Nature and had a passion for writing. He had an indomitable will that enabled him to overcome his physical handicaps and to make a splendid mark in literature. Roosevelt possessed the same qualities.

It was with Parkman in mind that Roosevelt scaled the most difficult peaks of the Alps; plunged in the Canadian wilderness; took up prairie life. As a result of the trained eye and trained ear Roosevelt gained through these195 experiences, in his books will be found observations of animal life and bird life, and a knowledge of plants and trees that is enlightening to even the experienced naturalist.

John Burroughs, in his book “Camping and Tramping with Roosevelt,” states that when Roosevelt entered Yellowstone Park he wanted all the freedom and solitude possible. The Colonel craved to be alone with Nature. It was evident that he was hungry for the wild and the aboriginal. It was this hunger that came to him periodically and resulted in his going forth on hunting and exploring trips to the Far West, Africa and Brazil.

As an illustration of the fact that it was love of nature itself more than love of killing that drove Roosevelt into the wilds, Burroughs describes how, at their second camp, which they reached in mid-afternoon, their attention was attracted by a strange note in the spruce woods. The question arose as to whether it was a bird or a beast. Their guide thought it was an owl.

“Let’s run that bird down,” said the Colonel to Burroughs.

They ran across a small open plain and at last saw the bird on the peak of a spruce. Burroughs imitated its call, but they could not discern the species of the bird.

196 “Why did we not think to bring the glasses?” said Roosevelt.

“I will run and get them,” said Burroughs.

“No,” said Roosevelt, “you stay here and keep that bird treed and I will fetch them.”

Off the Colonel went like a boy, returning swiftly with the glasses. Then it was discovered that it was indeed an owl; a pigmy owl, not much larger than a bluebird. Roosevelt was as delighted as if he had slain a grizzly. He had never seen a bird like this before.

At one time Roosevelt and his companions camped at the Yellowstone Canyon, with the river four or five hundred feet below them. Mountain sheep appeared on the opposite side. The rules of the park forbade hunting, so the sheep showed no fear of them. Between the sheep and the riverbed there was a precipice. The question arose among the watchers as to whether these four-footed creatures could pass down this steep declivity to the riverbed. Roosevelt asserted that they could. Then he entered his tent to shave. When the shaving was half completed someone shouted that the sheep were going down. Roosevelt rushed out, with a towel around his throat and one side of his face white with lather. He watched the sure-footed sheep making their197 descent with great interest. Then he said: “I knew they could do it.”

While Roosevelt was on this trip in the Yellowstone he remarked:

“I heard a Bullock’s-oriole!”

“You may have heard one,” said a man familiar with the country, “but I doubt it. Those birds won’t come for two weeks yet.”

“I caught two bird notes which could not be those of any bird except an oriole,” the Colonel insisted.

“You may have the song twisted,” said another member of the party.

That evening at supper Roosevelt suddenly laid down his knife and fork, exclaiming, “Look! Look!”

On a shrub before the window was a Bullock’s-oriole. This vindication of his hearing pleased the Colonel immensely.

Burroughs, after visiting the Colonel at Sagamore Hill in 1907, wrote that the appearance of a new warbler in the woods “seemed an event that threw the affairs of state and the Presidential succession into the background.” He told a political visitor at that time that it would be impossible for him to discuss politics then as he wanted to talk and hunt birds, and for the purpose he took his visitor with him.

198 “Fancy,” said Burroughs, “a President of the United States stalking rapidly across bushy fields to the woods, eager as a boy and filled with the one idea of showing to his visitors the black-throated green warbler!”

Roosevelt told Burroughs that when he was President he would sometimes go on bird excursions in the White House grounds. People passing would stop and stare at him as he stood gazing up into the trees.

“No doubt they thought me insane,” he said.

“Yes,” added Mrs. Roosevelt, who was present, “and as I was always with him, they no doubt thought that I was the nurse that had him in charge.”

Roosevelt’s effective war on “nature fakirs” could not have been possible had he not known intimately the habits and nature of birds and animals, and never was he found wanting. Roosevelt’s intense interest in wild animals, it may be noted in passing, showed itself in his early boyhood. Of the minister of his church he demanded to know the nature of a “zeal.”

“What is a zeal?” repeated the puzzled parson.

“You read about him in the Psalms,” said Ted.

The minister picked up his Bible. There he found the answer: “For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.”



How Roosevelt should employ his energy when he left the Presidency had been a problem he had thought about for many months before his second term closed.

Roosevelt was surrounded then by his famous “Tennis Cabinet.” This was an elastic term, for the cabinet included not only such old Western friends as Ben Daniels, Seth Bullock, Luther Kelly—who was formerly an army scout against the Sioux—and Abernathy, the wolf hunter, but also men like Leonard Wood, James Garfield, Secretary of the Interior, and Robert Bacon, afterward Secretary of State.

One of the chief of the many athletic diversions of the “Tennis Cabinet” was swimming in the Potomac. Roosevelt in his autobiography tells how one day, when the French Ambassador, Jusserand, was along, the members of the party, including the Ambassador, took off their clothes preliminary to swimming in the river.

Just as they were entering the water someone cried:

“Mr. Ambassador, Mr. Ambassador, you haven’t taken off your gloves!”

The Ambassador promptly replied:

200 “I think I will leave them on, we might meet ladies!”

Often big game hunters from abroad were entertained by Roosevelt and the “Tennis Cabinet,” and when the Colonel mentioned to this group his ambition to bring his hunting experiences to a grand climax in the wilds of Africa he received the enthusiastic encouragement that one would expect to come from these hunters and sportsmen.

On March 23, 1909, with his son Kermit, he sailed from New York to Naples, thence, by way of Suez, to British East Africa, for a hunting trip in its jungles.

The Smithsonian Institute had commissioned him to collect specimens, and the faunal and floral trophies he brought back from this almost unknown country show that he fulfilled this part of his mission with brilliant success.

Roosevelt was on his way to one of the wildest parts of the earth, yet he did not entirely cut himself off from the influences of culture. Always there were books to ease his mind when the strenuous hunt was over or when the journey into the jungle grew monotonous. With him he took his famous “Pigskin library,” bound in pigskin that they might be handled by powder-stained or oil-201stained hands. This strangely assorted list, which showed the wide range of Roosevelt’s reading, included the following-named authors and works:

“The Federalist,” Carlyle’s “Frederick the Great”, the “Song of Roland,” the “Nibelungenlied,” the Bible and Apocrypha, Homer, Dante, Spenser and Milton, Shelley, Emerson, Longfellow, Tennyson, Keats, Poe, Bret Harte, Bacon, Lowell, Euripides, Froissart, Macaulay, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Dickens, Thackeray, Cooper and Scott. “Huckleberry Finn” and “Tom Sawyer” were included for humor, and later were added such books as “Alice in Wonderland,” “Tartarin,” “Don Quixote” and works of Darwin, Goethe and Huxley.

The members of the Smithsonian African Expedition accompanying Roosevelt were Dr. and Colonel Edgar A. Mearns, U. S. A. (retired) one of the first field naturalists of the United States; Edmund Heller, of Stanford University, a thoroughly trained naturalist; J. Alden Loring, of Oswego, N. Y., a successful collector of birds and small animals.

Among the white pioneers who had preceded Roosevelt in the African jungles were such famous men as Livingstone and Stanley. In the footsteps of these self-sacrificing men came great202 hunters, drawn by the fascination of facing the lordly lion or the furious elephant or the dangerous rhinoceros. Among the boldest of these was Roosevelt, the first great American to track these savage creatures into the secret places of the Dark Continent.

Penetrating the jungles of East and Central Africa, he and his party remained for months almost entirely cut off from the outside world.

In his book, “African Game Trails,” published by Charles Scribner’s Sons, the hunter-naturalist-author has described fascinatingly the story of his encounters with lions, buffaloes, rhinoceroses, and other dangerous animals.

At Heatley’s ranch, a place seventeen miles long and four miles wide, he found the haunts of the buffalo, a creature it had been his desire for a long time to shoot. Of these animals he wrote:

“There is no doubt that under certain circumstances buffalo, in addition to showing themselves exceedingly dangerous opponents when wounded by hunters, become truculent and inclined to take the offensive themselves. There are places in East Africa where, as regards at least certain herds, this seems to be the case; and in Uganda the buffalo have caused such loss of life and such damage to the native plantations that they are now ranked203 as vermin and not as game, and their killing is encouraged in every possible way.”

Here is his account of his shooting of his first buffaloes:

“Cautiously threading our way along the edge of the swamp, we got within 150 yards of the buffalo before we were perceived. There were four bulls, grazing close by the edge of the swamp, their black bodies glistening in the early sun rays, their massive horns showing white, and the cow herons perched on their backs. They stared sullenly at us with outstretched heads from under their great frontlets of horn.

“The biggest of the four stood a little out from the other three, and at him I fired, the bullet telling with a smack on the tough hide and going through the lungs. We had been afraid they would at once turn into the papyrus, but instead of this they started across our front directly for the open country.

“This was a piece of huge good luck. Kermit put his first barrel into the second bull and I my second barrel into one of the others, after which it became impossible to say which bullet struck which animal, as the firing became general. They ran a quarter of a mile into the open, and then the big bull I had first shot, and which had no204 other bullet in him, dropped dead, while the other three, all of which were wounded halted beside him.

“One bull dropped to the shot as if poleaxed, falling straight on his back with his legs kicking, but in a moment he was up again and after the others. Later I found that the bullet, a full metal patch, had struck him in the head, but did not penetrate the brain, and merely stunned him for a moment.

“All the time we kept running diagonally to their line of flight. They were all three badly wounded, and when they reached the tall, rank grass, high as a man’s head, which fringed the papyrus swamp, the two foremost lay down, while the hindmost turned, and, with nose outstretched, began to come toward us. He was badly crippled, however, and with a soft-nosed bullet from my heavy Holland I knocked him down, this time for good. The other two rose and though each was again hit they reached the swamp, one of them to our right, the other to the left, where the papyrus came out in a point.”

Roosevelt the hunter had faced many dangerous situations in his adventures in the wilds, but his first encounter with an elephant brought him closer to death than he had ever been. It was205 his comrade, F. C. Selous, an able and experienced African hunter, who saved the American on this occasion.

A shot from Roosevelt’s party had badly wounded a great lion. It had finally taken refuge in a dense thicket. Selous advised the party that it would be dangerous to come to close quarters with it. Roosevelt excited by the chase, plunged into the thicket in pursuit of the beast.

The party had seen no elephants and were unaware that any were in their vicinity. Selous, who, with Kermit, had followed Roosevelt, saw the Colonel lift his gun hurriedly to his shoulder. He glanced in the same direction and caught sight of a herd of elephants led by an enormous tusker. This animal was less than two hundred feet away.

Selous shouted: “For the life of you, don’t shoot! A bullet will bring a charge of the herd and we may be trampled to death. Follow me!”

Roosevelt reluctantly lowered his rifle. Selous led the Colonel and Kermit to a safe spot and bade them climb a tree. From this position Selous showed his companions how to aim. Roosevelt raised his Winchester and sent a half-dozen bullets into the leader of the herd.

With a scream of pain, the elephant charged, but when close to the tree he fell with a tremendous206 crash. He had received his death wound. The rest of the herd fled, pursued by Kermit’s bullets.

Many a big game hunter has been killed by the swirling trunk or the trampling feet of a wounded elephant. If the Colonel had fired from the position from which Selous rescued him he would undoubtedly have been crushed to death when the brute charged.

Roosevelt’s exploits in Africa aroused the intense admiration of the natives, and as a compliment to his shooting ability they named him “Bwana Tumbo,” the Great Hunter.

Carl Akeley, head of the elephant hunting expedition in Africa for the American Museum of Natural History, met the Roosevelt expedition in Africa and spent several days hunting with the Colonel.

Mr. Akeley found that while the Colonel took a huge interest in the hunt for big game, he was yet so much of a naturalist that he showed a keen interest in even the most insignificant of wild creatures. A small rodent had been discovered on the North American Continent. The discovery was of small moment. Few men remembered it, yet the Colonel was found to know all about it. Akeley says:

207 “I found Colonel Roosevelt one of the most refreshing and delightful companions I ever had the pleasure of knowing. He was as ideal and keen a sportsman as ever lived. The least of his pleasure was in the killing of animals. He found infinite joy in studying wild animal life in its native haunts. His greatest pleasures lay in seeing and learning, thereby proving himself an ideal naturalist.”


“The River of Doubt”

At Gondokoro, Uganda, Roosevelt ended his African hunts. He came through his many perilous situations unharmed. Kermit was also in the best of health. The latter was praised by Scout Cunninghame as one of the best shots and most daring hunters he had ever seen.

The Colonel on his journey back to civilization, visited first the Congo Free State, where the Belgian officers in charge of that colony gave him a warm welcome.

The journey was then continued by way of the Nile to Khartum, where the first newspaper men Roosevelt had seen for months raced up the Nile to greet him. Here Mrs. Roosevelt and her daughter met Kermit and him, and there was an affectionate family reunion. The party then traveled through Egypt.

In a speech at Cairo the Colonel referred jokingly to Wall Street’s attitude toward him by saying that when he left America to hunt in Africa “Wall Street expected every lion to do its duty.”



From Alexandria the Colonel took a steamer for Italy and, on landing in Naples, found a 209mountain of letters and cablegrams from America awaiting him. After a tour of Austria Roosevelt went to France. Ambassador Jusserand was the first to greet him. In an address in Paris Roosevelt spoke these prophetic words:

“Made to understand and love each other, our two countries have been friends from the beginning, and no doubt will always remain friends in the future. Every civilized man who comes to France learns something, because France is the cradle of modern civilization.”

The Colonel then visited Belgium, Holland—the home of his ancestors—Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Germany and England.

Roosevelt arrived in London while Britain was mourning the death of King Edward. He took part in the great ceremonial funeral procession, made a sensational speech in regard to England’s rule in Egypt, became the guest of Sir Edward Grey, the British Foreign Secretary, and left England for home with this remark:

“My day in New Forest with Sir Edward Grey was the crowning experience of the whole three months.”

His landing in Manhattan was marked by one of the greatest ovations an American citizen had ever received in New York City.



One day in 1908, when Roosevelt’s Presidential term was drawing to a close, Father Zahm, a priest, called on him. The priest had just returned from a trip across the Andes and down the Amazon. He proposed that when Roosevelt left the Presidency he should take a trip with him into the interior of South America.

Roosevelt’s African trip was then uppermost in his mind, so the subject was dropped. Five years later, however, Roosevelt accepted invitations from Argentina and Brazil to address certain societies. It occurred to him then that after making this tour he could come north through the middle of the continent into the valley of the Amazon. His plans for the trip were soon under way. Frank Chapman, curator of the American Museum of Natural History, New York, gladly appointed the naturalists George K. Cherrie and Leo E. Miller to accompany the party. Both were veterans of the tropical American forests. Father Zahm also agreed to go. Kermit Roosevelt joined the party.

On December 9 of the same year, as the party left Asuncion to ascend the Paraguay, Colonel Rondo and other Brazilians joined the expedition211 as representatives of the Brazilian government.

In the latter part of the next February the party started their long descent of the Duvida—“The River of Doubt.” Colonel Roosevelt describes this voyage interestingly in his book “Through the Brazilian Wilderness.” Many dangers confronted them. The descent of the rapids was perilous to men and boats. They were in danger of being slain through encounters with Indians. They faced the necessity of long, wearing portages or contact with impassable swamps. Fever and dysentery were ills that haunted that region. Starvation, caused by the loss of supplies, was not beyond the bounds of possibility.

On they went, however, enduring the dangers and hardships they encountered like the true explorers they were. They had to wade through water for days at a time. Their shoes were never dry. Insect bites became festering wounds in their bodies. Poisonous ants, biting flies, ticks, wasps and bees never ceased to torment them.

Under these circumstances the temper of the men was sorely tried. At last came a tragedy. Julio, one of their attendants, a powerful fellow but a rogue, shot Paishon, a good-natured negro sergeant. The murderer escaped into the wilderness and was never found.

212 At last, exhausted and almost broken by their terrible hardships, they reached their destination. They had put on the map a river of some 1,500 kilometers’ length from its highest source to its confluence with the Amazon.

Some of his statements on the subject of his explorations and discoveries were twisted and ridiculed by the press. The fact remains that he rendered a great service to geographers by locating the mouth of this river exactly. Other explorers had discovered its source but they possessed neither the courage nor endurance to follow it to its mouth. It was a real River of Doubt, because nobody knew where it led until Colonel Roosevelt cleared away the mystery.

Colonel Rondo, chief of the Brazilian mission which had accompanied the Colonel’s party, told later how the Colonel’s leg had become infected. While the party was shooting the rapids in the River of Doubt, he said, the boat came near being capsized, and in trying to save it Colonel Roosevelt received a wound in the leg. Poison spread from this to the blood and impeded the Colonel’s walking.

When he returned to New York, highly honored by the Brazilian government and praised for his achievements by explorers who knew the213 greatness of his undertaking, he was a sick man. Fever burned within him. His constitution was undermined. He admitted now that he had waited too long to undertake the hardest and most perilous task of his life.

These facts lead inevitably to the conclusion that the trip to South America marked the beginning of the end for the Colonel. Friends and physicians point to the fact that from that time began the series of maladies that attacked him recurrently until his death. Viewing the terrible hardships Roosevelt experienced on this journey of exploration it is not going wide of the mark to say that he laid on the altar of science a score of what would have been his most fruitful years.


Roosevelt’s Part in the World War

When America entered the world war Theodore Roosevelt stood among the first of those who volunteered their services. He had dealt with the grasping Prussian spirit in the Venezuelan incident in 1902, and made the sword-clanking junkers back down. He was fervently anxious to help do it again.

The Colonel announced that he had asked the War Department for permission to raise a body of troops. “In such event, I and my four sons will go,” he said, and added: “I don’t want to be put in the position of saying to my fellow countrymen, ‘Go to war.’ I want to be in the position of saying: ‘Come to the war; I am going with you.’”

Then, after a period of suspense in which the Colonel was a veritable Paul Revere in urging the nation to prepare, war actually came. On this momentous day the former President of the United States received the news in about the same spirit that Bill Jones and Henry Brown and the rest of his Oyster Bay neighbors greeted215 it. Colonel Roosevelt forgot that he had been twice President of the United States. He remembered only that America wanted men.

The Colonel felt himself to be fully equipped. Aside from the fact that he was a retired Commander-in-Chief of the United States Army, in the Santiago campaign he had served in the first fight as commander, had earned promotion to the rank of colonel in his regiment and had ended the campaign in command of the brigade.

The Colonel followed up his previous application to the Secretary of War, with the telegram from which these words are quoted:

“To the Secretary of War, Washington, D. C.

“In view of the fact that Germany is now actually engaged in war with us, I again earnestly ask permission to raise a division for immediate service at the front. My purpose would be, after some six weeks’ preliminary training here, to take it direct to France for intensive training, so that it could be sent to the front in the shortest possible time to whatever point was desired. I should, of course, ask no favors of any kind, except that the division be put in the fighting line at the earliest possible moment.

Theodore Roosevelt.

216 Meanwhile, while Colonel Roosevelt waited with the ardor of a boy the answer to this appeal, applications for military service abroad under him were pouring in from all sections of the country. News of his desire to fight in France had spread like wildfire, and every man who had served with the Colonel at Santiago, as well as every man who wished that he had served with him, wired, wrote and telephoned his application to serve now. Authors, artists, engineers, cowboys, clerks, lawyers, ministers, wanted to go to France with “Teddy.” “Battling” Nelson and “Kid” McCoy were among the applicants. North Carolina offered to send a company. This evidence of the loyalty of the red-blooded men who had fought his civic and military battles with him touched the Colonel deeply and very naturally increased the anxiety with which he awaited the answer from the War Department.

Interesting and enthusiastic was this comment of Colonel Henry Watterson, the famous editor of “The Louisville Courier-Journal”:

“The proposal of Theodore Roosevelt to enlist in the world’s army of freedom and to go to one of the fronts in Europe leading a body of American soldiers may not be whistled lightly down the wind as a man who has a positive genius for217 the spectacular. It should be considered very seriously. Men are reached equally through their imagination and their patriotism, and except for the sympathetic and emotional in man there would be no armies. The appearance of an ex-President of the United States carrying the Star-Spangled Banner over a body of American soldiers to the battlefront would glorify us as will nothing else. It will electrify the world.”

After further correspondence by letter and wire, through which the Colonel pleaded with all the fervor of his patriotism and all the strength of his convictions that he be allowed to muster for service the older men of the country, who would not otherwise be called, the Secretary of War forwarded him, with assurances of appreciation of the Colonel’s patriotic spirit, the recommendation of the War College Division of the General Staff to the effect that no American troops be employed in active service in any European theatre until after an adequate period of training and that only regular officers be put in command of them.

Colonel Roosevelt’s unsuccessful effort to go to France with his proposed volunteer division was undoubtedly the keenest disappointment of his life. President Wilson, in his statement218 declining the offer of the Roosevelt division, did not fail to pay tribute to the patriotism and courage of the great volunteer.

The President said in part:

“I shall not avail myself, at any rate at the present stage of the war, of the authority conferred by the act to organize volunteer divisions. I understand that this section was added with a view to providing an independent military command for Mr. Roosevelt and giving the military authorities an opportunity to use his fine vigor and enthusiasm in recruiting.”

Remarking further that it would be “very agreeable” to him to confer this honor on the ex-President, the President added that “to do so would seriously interfere with the carrying out of the chief and most important purpose contemplated by this legislation, the prompt creation and early use of an effective army, and would contribute practically nothing to the effective strength of the armies now engaged against Germany.”



Colonel, one of these days those boys of yours will be putting the name Roosevelt on the map!

Peter Dunne’s remark to Roosevelt,
quoted in the “Metropolitan”

But although the door of active personal service was thus shut to him, there remained open four wide avenues through which the war could come to him and through which he could pour in the greatest measure the inspiration of his ideals—his four sons: Theodore, Jr., Kermit, Archie and Quentin.

Just as the sons of Bill Jones and Henry Brown were flaming with a desire to get to the firing line, so these four sons of the Colonel became dominated with a desire to do their part to save the world from reverting to the barbaric ages and incidentally to prove that they were worthy sons of the man who had led his troops in the battle of San Juan Hill.

In Germany the Kaiser’s six sons, though holding high commands, were so protected that the royal family was about the only family in all Germany that had escaped wounds. Debauches, hunting trips and similar revelries filled the time220 of these princelings. The contrast between them and the four sons of the ex-President of the United States was indeed marked.

Sword-rattling and gold braid were foreign to the nature of this new world breed, and yet, along with millions of other young Americans, when the time came they proved their fighting qualities in a way that put outworn royalty to shame.

Quentin, the youngest, was a sophomore when America entered the war. Theodore, Jr., Archibald and Kermit were all in business, married and had children. Each entered at once the officers’ training camp at Plattsburg, seeking no promotion or honors that did not come through their own merits.

Theodore, Jr., after his Plattsburg training, received from President Wilson his commission in the Officers’ Reserve Corps. He earned his promotion to the rank of major of infantry and left Plattsburg with confidential orders to sail to France. Here he was transferred to the 26th Regiment of the line; was gassed at Cantigny, and later wounded. He received a citation for bravery. After further service with the Army of Occupation, he returned to America with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.

Archie, after the same course of training, left221 Plattsburg with the rank of lieutenant under confidential orders to proceed to General Pershing’s headquarters in France. He was later transferred to the 26th Regiment of the line, and while leading his men in an attack was wounded by a bullet and lay for fourteen hours unattended in No Man’s Land. For his gallantry he was later recommended by General Pershing for promotion to the rank of captain. He received the French War Cross while lying on an operating table. He came back to Sagamore Hill to recover from his wounds, and he was the only one of the Colonel’s sons who was with him when he died.

Kermit was appointed a captain of the United States National Army and left Plattsburg to accept a position in the British army, where, after serving as a captain and receiving the British Military Cross, he was transferred, in accordance with his wishes, to the army in France.

Then there was Quentin—the youngest—who derived his name from an ancestor who left France 225 years ago. Quentin suffered from a defect of vision, which led to his rejection in the first officers’ training camp. He was wild to get to the front; and his next thought was to become an airman. It was natural that the father, who222 had ridden bucking broncos, should be pleased to see in his youngest a desire to gain mastery over a bucking airplane. And it was also very natural that the father should want to try the aerial steed for himself. Hence it was that early one morning the car of the Colonel, driven by Charley Lee, his colored chauffeur, shot down Sagamore Hill to the aviation camp at Mineola, Long Island.

The Colonel’s arrival had been anticipated, for a group of army officers left a nearby hangar and strode forward to greet him. For a moment the Colonel was a youth again, keenly interested in the mechanics of the car and as eager as Quentin to explore the virgin reaches of space. With nonchalance, yet with a heart that no doubt thumped with excitement, the Colonel climbed into the airplane and helped the pilot to buckle him in. The next moment the former President of the United States had soared away on his first air flight. After a forty minutes’ ride over and about Long Island Sound, in which all of the eccentricities of aerial travel were demonstrated, the Colonel was volplaned to the ground. Every other experience in the realm of sportsmanship had been his—and now the climactic experience had been accomplished.

Having met his own boy Quentin on his own223 ground, and having, as a father, learned for himself just what his son was proposing to do, he went back to that interview with Quentin, which resulted in his giving his consent to his enrollment in the most dangerous branch of the service. Quentin was on the verge of applying for enlistment in the Canadian Flying Corps when it was announced that the War Department had accepted him in the U. S. Aviation Section. He went with the first flying unit to France in July, 1917, reaching France a few weeks after Archie and Theodore, Jr.

One day, just after his brothers, Theodore and Archie, had gone to France, Colonel Roosevelt was entertaining about a thousand visitors at a patriotic rally at Sagamore Hill. An army airplane soared up the bay. The airman performed various maneuvers that thrilled the throng but the father did not know till days afterward that the daring aviator was Quentin.

It was one of the ironies of life that not long after this episode there came an overseas cable to Colonel Roosevelt which brought the war home to him in a way that can only be realized by the man who has lost a son.

Mr. Philip E. Thompson, a newspaper man stationed at Oyster Bay, has thus described how the Colonel and Mrs. Roosevelt bore the news of their loss:

224 “At 7:30 on the following morning the newspaper man at Oyster Bay rang the bell at Sagamore Hill. The Colonel came to the door. There was no need to speak.

The two walked to the old-fashioned veranda of the Roosevelt house. And there, with the early morning breezes sweeping from the Sound, the Colonel heard the positive confirmation of the tragedy of the trenches—that the previous night’s cablegrams had been too cruelly verified.

For a long space the Colonel walked in silence, his brow furrowed. Then, turning to his companion, he said:

“But—Mrs. Roosevelt! How am I going to break it to her?”

It was of his wife and not of himself that the Colonel thought and pondered.

Abruptly he turned back to the house—to face the hardest task of his life. For the first time death had entered the intimate Roosevelt family circle.

A few hours later the newspaper man saw the Colonel again. With him was Mrs. Roosevelt, with eyes bright and voice steady. Yet it was plain that she had been told.



Thus, with telegrams and cablegrams of sympathy flooding the little Oyster Bay office by 225thousands, the father and mother of the boy who had given his life above the lines—received the news that their youngest born would never return.”

The only public statement Colonel Roosevelt made concerning Quentin’s death was in every way typical of the man:

“Quentin’s mother and I are very glad that he got to the front and had a chance to render some service to his country and show the stuff that was in him before his fate befell him.”

Quentin lies buried in France. There his body will remain. No formal treaty our country could make with France would be as eloquent of the good will that exists and will continue to exist between these two great republics as the fact that in French soil lie the bodies of Americans who fought and died in the common cause of humanity. Thus Quentin’s father thought; thus the world thinks. The following letter from Colonel Roosevelt to General March, while respecting the wishes of those parents who want the bodies of their boys brought home, carried a message of comfort and agreement to those parents who desired their dead soldier sons to remain in the resting places prepared for them near the field of battle by their comrades:


My Dear General March:

The inclosed clipping states that all the American dead will be taken home after the war, according to orders received by the army chaplains. I do not know whom to write to in the matter, so I merely ask that you turn this over to whomever has charge of it.

Mrs. Roosevelt and I wish to enter a most respectful but most emphatic protest against the proposed course so far as our son Quentin is concerned. We have always believed that

Where the tree falls,
There let it lie.

We know that many good persons feel entirely different, but to us it is painful and harrowing long after death to move the poor body from which the soul has fled. We greatly prefer that Quentin shall continue to lie on the spot where he fell in battle and where the foemen buried him.

After the war is over Mrs. Roosevelt and I intend to visit the grave and then to have a small stone put up saying it is put up by us, but not disturbing what has already been erected to his memory by his friends and American comrades in arms.

With apologies for troubling you,

Very faithfully yours,
Theodore Roosevelt.

227 It seems strange that up to the very time of America’s participation in the war there should be people in this country who did not realize the self-sacrificing work for the national cause done by the Colonel, yet such was true.

At a mass meeting in Madison Square Garden Roosevelt was talking about the part the United States should take in the war, when a man shouted:

“Why aren’t you over there yourself?”

Some men cried, “Put him out!” But Roosevelt raised his hand for silence and said, “No, don’t put him out. Let him stay. I want to answer him.”

When the audience was still he went on:

“I couldn’t go myself, but I did send my four sons, every one of whose lives is a thousand times dearer to me than my own. There, you creature, that is my answer to any man who dares to ask an American father why he isn’t engaged in this war.”

The scorching anger of the Colonel and the scorn of the audience made the heckler slink away with a rebuke he will always remember.



Long before the United States entered the war Roosevelt with his friend, Major-General Wood, vigorously advocated a policy of national preparedness, urging universal military training for the nation’s youth. In explanation of his desire to see universal military service prevail the Colonel said:

“I want to see Mrs. Vanderbilt’s son and Mrs. Astor’s son, with Pat and Jim of Telegraph Hill, sleeping under the same dog tent and eating the same food. I want to see the officers selected from among them on the strict basis of merit, without regard to anything else. Then we will have a democratic system.”

Roosevelt took a great deal of pride in the five-star service button he wore. In a conversation with newspaper men some months after his boys had gone abroad, he told them that he had received news that Theodore had been in action and a bullet had struck his trench helmet and glanced off. Theodore wrote home, his father said, that he regretted he had not been wounded, just for the experience. Later, Theodore was to receive his full share of such experiences.



At the time of this conversation public announcement229 had just been made that “Archie” had been promoted in rank from second lieutenant to captain. Roosevelt told his hearers that “Archie” had led a raiding party out into No Man’s Land at night and that the promotion had been won by gallantry under fire during this raid.

The Colonel said further that Kermit, with the Anglo-Indian forces in Mesopotamia, as the leader of “a troop of Whirling Dervishes,” Indian cavalry, had also been in action.

Later the Colonel’s pride in his family’s war record was to extend to include the women of his family. Mrs. Roosevelt, in the heart-breaking trials she passed through, had proven herself a true heroine. Her daughters and daughters-in-law proved in many ways their devotion to their country’s cause. Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., did especially effective work.

She was the first American woman sent abroad for war service by the Y. M. C. A. She arrived in Paris a few weeks after Pershing. There she conducted a French class for Americans, with ambulance drivers for pupils. Then she worked in the first canteen in Paris, and was in charge of all the women’s work in establishing the first American officers’ hotel.

When she had been in Paris six months the230 army created “leave areas” for the American soldiers. These areas were put under the control of the Y. M. C. A., whose officials gave Mrs. Roosevelt charge of the women’s part of the work.



“Under the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.”
Robert Louis Stevenson.



Since Roosevelt’s death there have been many suggestions made for a memorial to him. Many of the projects are highly commendable and well worthy of popular support, yet the fact remains that Roosevelt’s own works will bring coming generations their best remembrance of him.

Fortunately for posterity, this great American was a faithful recorder of his own works, and libraries and book stores are full of his writings or those of authorized biographers that give us a full range of his extraordinarily active life. Fortunately, too, for the world is the fact that Roosevelt recognized the film as another effective medium for bringing him in touch with the people, and authorized before his death the representation of his life and work in motion pictures.

The deep and permanent impression Roosevelt made on the people of his time—which will extend far into the future to influence coming generations of Americans, is due not only to his personal acts but also to his literary work. As an author and as an editor, the Colonel contributed historical writings and entertaining narratives234 to the literature of our country that earned him brilliant distinction and made his name and works familiar to all who read. His work as a historian led to his election in 1912 to the Presidency of the American Historical Association, and also to his admission into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Roosevelt served “The Outlook” as contributing editor from 1909 to 1914 and then joined the staff of the “Metropolitan Magazine,” remaining on its staff as contributing editor until his death. His contributions to these magazines on contemporary subjects were always interesting, forceful and constructive, and exercised a profound influence on the life and development of the nation.

That Roosevelt was born to be an author as well as a statesman is proven by the fact that no matter how busy he was he always found time to write. In college and while he was reading law in his uncle’s office, he found time to write “The Naval War of 1812,” a standard work on the subject. He wrote his “Life of Thomas Hart Benton” and his “Hunting Trips of a Ranchman” while he was pursuing his arduous career as a rancher. When his duties as Civil Service Commissioner at Washington were pressing upon him he yet found time to write several235 books on hunting, as well as part of his splendid work “The Winning of the West.” Thus it was throughout his career. Greater and greater grew the demands upon his time, yet the number of volumes to his credit mounted steadily.

Since his cattle-raising venture had failed, and since he knew the income from any public positions he should hold would be inadequate to the expenses of the office and generally uncertain, he determined that his pen should support him. The fact that, when he died, his income from his writings was about one hundred thousand dollars a year shows how well he kept his resolution.

Mr. J. H. Whigham, publisher of the “Metropolitan Magazine,” thus interestingly describes the way in which Roosevelt formed and kept his literary decisions:

“His first coming to the ‘Metropolitan’ was in keeping with all the Colonel said and did. The thing that worried him most in making a connection was whether he could faithfully carry out his part of the bargain. I had known Roosevelt first in Cuba when I lived for some weeks with the Rough Riders and shared the precarious but precious potatoes of the Colonel’s own mess. It didn’t require much perspicacity to see that he was the sort of leader to tie to and cherish. Naturally,236 therefore, when the ‘Metropolitan Magazine’ came into my control I looked around for Roosevelt. He was contributing editor of ‘The Outlook’ then, and there is no need to say that he couldn’t be weaned away from his allegiance to the Abbotts, for whom he always had the greatest affection. I managed, however, to get him interested in what we were trying to do with the ‘Metropolitan,’ and he promised to let me know if he ever changed his plans.

“When the war broke out I came back from Europe to find that the Colonel’s time with ‘The Outlook’ was up. Before I could see him, he had begun to publish some syndicated newspaper articles in which he denounced the invasion of Belgium. Hurrying over to his office, which was then in Forty-second Street, I caught him on the verge of closing a year’s arrangement with the syndicate. I reminded him of my prior claim which he freely granted. He couldn’t see, however, how he could deliver full value to a monthly magazine. The syndicate could publish two or three times a month and so get back their money. I told him that was our affair. We wouldn’t worry about not getting our money’s worth. But the Colonel said that he couldn’t avoid worrying. He didn’t like being in the position of not being237 able to deliver full value. He had never been in that position before, and he didn’t propose to be there now. I gave him excellent reasons, as I thought, why he would be worth as much to us as to any newspaper syndicate, and he was nearly convinced but not quite. I left him feeling pretty sure that he would decide against us. But I was determined not to lose him. After wracking my brains for two or three hours for a new argument I suddenly remembered that I had mentioned no period for the proposed association. Suppose that I offered him a three years’ contract instead of one, would not that give us a greater and more exclusive value and so satisfy the Colonel that both parties would profit by the agreement? It was late at night and I had difficulty in getting the number of his private wire at Oyster Bay. Nevertheless I finally brought him to the telephone and made my new proposal. He laughed; and said, ‘You seem to want me pretty badly. I’m sure I can’t think why. It’s true your new offer puts a new complexion on the matter. Come out and see me tomorrow at nine. I have to decide this business by ten in the morning.’

“I went, and it was decided in our favor. We never regretted it and I’m thankful to say the Colonel never regretted it either.”

238 The Colonel at the time of his death was also a regular contributor to the “Kansas City Star.”


So far as his private life is concerned, Roosevelt will be recorded in history as being thoroughly representative of that love of family, domestic simplicity, and devotion to the duties of married life, which go to make a great race. These traits were of course largely influenced by Mrs. Roosevelt herself. She exercised a restraining power upon his impulsiveness. Before entering on any enterprise, he always asked himself, “What will she think of it?”

She was noted for her graceful mastery of every social situation, and as Mistress of the White House, she cultivated and preserved those traditions of hospitality that belong to that high place.

Roosevelt was a devout member of the Dutch Reformed Church. A friend thus describes the Colonel’s attendance at a little church of his faith in Washington: “He came in quietly, unattended, went well up front, bowed a moment in prayer and was ready for the service. The sermon was a good plain gospel sermon and he seemed to enjoy it. His singing and responses239 to the Scripture readings were like his talks to Congress—clear and energetic, as if he didn’t care who heard him as long as he knew he was right. Throughout the sermon he gave the most earnest attention. He impressed one as being a man who believed in exercising the same sincerity in religious matters as in any others, and I got a new light on his now famous ‘square deal’ principles.”

After the service Roosevelt said:

“The services this morning were enjoyable. The sermon was good and I agreed with him in the points he made that the home is the chief foundation stone of the republic and the hope of the church. The ‘Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty’ is one of the grandest of hymns; after a week spent on perplexing problems and in heated contests it does so rest my soul to come into the house of the Lord and worship and to sing, and mean it, the ‘Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty,’ and to know that He is my Father, and He takes me up into His life and plans, and to commune personally with Christ who died for me. I am sure I get a wisdom not my own and a superhuman strength in fighting the moral evils I am called to confront.”

A man with this belief can pass from this240 world unafraid and eager for the adventures of the higher world beyond him. Thus went the Colonel. Warrior though he was his end was peaceful; he approached his grave:

Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.

The historian will draw many great lessons from the life of Roosevelt. His devotion to public duty, his advocacy of the square deal, his hundred per cent. Americanism, his superhuman activity in many fields, will be outstanding features of every biography.

Perhaps, however, the following extract from a memorial tribute made by Dr. Newell Dwight Hillis sums up his characteristics as well as anything that can be said in a few words:


“One of the logical inferences from the successful career of Roosevelt,” said Dr. Hillis, “is that even the richest man’s son can succeed in this republic. In the republic, for some strange reason, a prejudice has grown up in favor of the poor boy and against the son of the palace and the private car. Little by little, extreme wealth has become a handicap, and the child of the241 millionaire is out of the race before he enters it. It is a real obstacle for a man who aspires to political office and honor to fall heir to enormous wealth. The favorites of fortune are those who drive the mule along the canal path or in their teens support a widowed mother, or come from a log cabin to the great city.

“Now and then, however, there is a youth who uses his wealth instead of abusing it. Mr. Roosevelt’s entire career is an incentive to rich men’s sons. Born in a great house; a graduate of Harvard—rich man’s college; traveled abroad; a Civil Service Commissioner with George William Curtis, an intellectual aristocrat; Police Commissioner of New York; a cattle man on the plains of Montana; leader of the Rough Riders in Cuba; Governor of New York; Vice-President and President of the United States—all this represents a long and brilliant career. But Lincoln did not work harder; Garfield was not more industrious; McKinley was not as close a student; Henry Clay was not more democratic; and among Mr. Roosevelt’s closest friends were untaught men, illiterate ranchers, who were full of latent intellect and sound sense. His capacity for friendship was one of the ex-President’s most striking characteristics. By his patience, his242 industry, his hunger for knowledge, his mingling with all sorts and conditions of men, his incessant travel, Mr. Roosevelt overcame every handicap imposed by wealth and became a hero to the rich and poor, the cultivated and the untaught, and a guide and friend and standard for all classes, in all countries.”

* * * * *

On January 8, 1919, Theodore Roosevelt was buried on the hillside of the Oyster Bay Cemetery, near the blue waters of the Sound he loved so dearly and close to the trees and hills he had roamed among from boyhood. On his grave was dropped a wreath from an aviator who had been a friend of “Quentin, the eagle”—the hero son who had died in France.

Two months later, “Bill” Sewall came down from the Maine woods to visit the resting place of the man who had been his companion on many a journey into the wilderness. “It’s just the kind of place Theodore would like to be buried!” he said.



Transcriber’s Notes

Punctuation, hyphenation, and spelling were made consistent when a predominant preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not changed.

Simple typographical errors were corrected.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained.