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Address of Senator Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts in honor of Theodore Roosevelt (Volume 2) online

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[Illustration: Photograph of Theodore Roosevelt inscribed

To Jacob F. Brown
with regards of
Theodore Roosevelt
Sept 20th 1904





_February ninth
Nineteen hundred and

_Privately printed in Boston_

_There have been privately printed by the McGrath-Sherrill Press three
hundred copies of this book of which this is number_



A tower is fallen, a star is set! Alas! Alas! for Celin.

The words of lamentation from the old Moorish ballad, which
in boyhood we used to recite, must, I think, have risen to many lips
when the world was told that Theodore Roosevelt was dead. But whatever
the phrase the thought was instant and everywhere. Variously expressed,
you heard it in the crowds about the bulletin boards, from the man in
the street and the man on the railroads, from the farmer in the fields,
the women in the shops, in the factories, and in the homes. The pulpit
found in his life a text for sermons. The judge on the bench, the child
at school, alike paused for a moment, conscious of a loss. The cry of
sorrow came from men and women of all conditions, high and low, rich
and poor, from the learned and the ignorant, from the multitude who had
loved and followed him, and from those who had opposed and resisted
him. The newspapers pushed aside the absorbing reports of the events
of these fateful days and gave pages to the man who had died. Flashed
beneath the ocean and through the air went the announcement of his
death, and back came a world-wide response from courts and cabinets,
from press and people, in other and far-distant lands. Through it all
ran a golden thread of personal feeling which gleams so rarely in the
somber formalism of public grief. Everywhere the people felt in their
hearts that:

A power was passing from the Earth
To breathless Nature's dark abyss.

It would seem that here was a man, a private citizen, conspicuous by
no office, with no glitter of power about him, no ability to reward
or punish, gone from the earthly life, who must have been unusual
even among the leaders of men, and who thus demands our serious

This is a thought to be borne in mind to-day. We meet to render
honor to the dead, to the great American whom we mourn. But there is
something more to be done. We must remember that when History, with
steady hand and calm eyes, free from the passions of the past, comes to
make up the final account, she will call as her principal witnesses the
contemporaries of the man or the event awaiting her verdict. Here and
elsewhere the men and women who knew Theodore Roosevelt or who belong
to his period will give public utterance to their emotions and to their
judgments in regard to him. This will be part of the record to which
the historian will turn when our living present has become the past, of
which it is his duty to write. Thus is there a responsibility placed
upon each one of us who will clearly realize that here, too, is a duty
to posterity, whom we would fain guide to the truth as we see it, and
to whose hands we commit our share in the history of our beloved
country - that history so much of which was made under his leadership.

We can not approach Theodore Roosevelt along the beaten paths of eulogy
or satisfy ourselves with the empty civilities of commonplace funereal
tributes, for he did not make his life journey over main-traveled
roads, nor was he ever commonplace. Cold and pompous formalities
would be unsuited to him who was devoid of affectation, who was never
self-conscious, and to whom posturing to draw the public gaze seemed
not only repellent but vulgar. He had that entire simplicity of manners
and modes of life which is the crowning result of the highest culture
and the finest nature. Like Cromwell, he would always have said: "Paint
me as I am." In that spirit, in his spirit of devotion to truth's
simplicity, I shall try to speak of him to-day in the presence of the
representatives of the great Government of which he was for seven years
the head.

The rise of any man from humble or still more from sordid beginnings
to the heights of success always and naturally appeals strongly to
the imagination. It furnishes a vivid contrast which is as much
admired as it is readily understood. It still retains the wonder
which such success awakened in the days of hereditary lawgivers and
high privileges of birth. Birth and fortune, however, mean much less
now than two centuries ago. To climb from the place of a printer's
boy to the highest rank in science, politics, and diplomacy would be
far easier to-day than in the eighteenth century, given a genius
like Franklin to do it. Moreover the real marvel is in the soaring
achievement itself, no matter what the origin of the man who comes
by "the people's unbought grace to rule his native land" and who on
descending from the official pinnacle still leads and influences
thousands upon thousands of his fellow men.

Theodore Roosevelt had the good fortune to be born of a well-known,
long-established family, with every facility for education and with
an atmosphere of patriotism and disinterested service both to country
and humanity all about him. In his father he had before him an example
of lofty public spirit, from which it would have been difficult to
depart. But if the work of his ancestors relieved him from the hard
struggle which meets an unaided man at the outset, he also lacked the
spur of necessity to prick the sides of his intent, in itself no small
loss. As a balance to the opportunity which was his without labor,
he had not only the later difficulties which come to him to whom
fate has been kind at the start; he had also spread before him the
temptations inseparable from such inherited advantages as fell to his
lot - temptations to a life of sports and pleasure, to lettered ease, to
an amateur's career in one of the fine arts, perhaps to a money-making
business, likewise an inheritance, none of them easily to be set aside
in obedience to the stern rule that the larger and more facile the
opportunity the greater and more insistent the responsibility. How he
refused to tread the pleasant paths that opened to him on all sides and
took the instant way which led over the rough road of toil and action
his life discloses.

At the beginning, moreover, he had physical difficulties not lightly to
be overcome. He was a delicate child, suffering acutely from attacks
of asthma. He was not a strong boy, was retiring, fond of books, and
with an intense but solitary devotion to natural history. As his
health gradually improved he became possessed by the belief, although
he perhaps did not then formulate it, that in the fields of active
life a man could do that which he willed to do; and this faith was
with him to the end. It became very evident when he went to Harvard.
He made himself an athlete by sheer hard work. Hampered by extreme
near-sightedness, he became none the less a formidable boxer and an
excellent shot. He stood high in scholarship, but as he worked hard, so
he played hard, and was popular in the university and beloved by his
friends. For a shy and delicate boy all this meant solid achievement,
as well as unusual determination and force of will. Apparently he
took early to heart and carried out to fulfillment the noble lines of
Clough's _Dipsychus_:

In light things
Prove thou the arms thou long'st to glorify,
Nor fear to work up from the lowest ranks
Whence come great Nature's Captains. And high deeds
Haunt not the fringy edges of the fight,
But the pell-mell of men.

When a young man comes out of college he descends suddenly from the
highest place in a little world to a very obscure corner in a great
one. It is something of a shock, and there is apt to be a chill in the
air. Unless the young man's life has been planned beforehand and a
place provided for him by others, which is exceptional, or unless he is
fortunate in a strong and dominating purpose or talent which drives him
to science or art or some particular profession, he finds himself at
this period pausing and wondering where he can get a grip upon the vast
and confused world into which he has been plunged.

It is a trying and only too frequently a disheartening experience,
this looking for a career, this effort to find employment in a huge
and hurrying crowd which appears to have no use for the new-comer.
Roosevelt, thus cast forth on his own resources - his father, so beloved
by him, having died two years before - fell to work at once, turning to
the study of the law, which he did not like, and to the completion of a
history of the War of 1812 which he had begun while still in college.
With few exceptions, young beginners in the difficult art of writing
are either too exuberant or too dry. Roosevelt said that his book was
as dry as an encyclopedia, thus erring in precisely the direction one
would not have expected. The book, be it said, was by no means so dry
as he thought it, and it had some other admirable qualities. It was
clear and thorough, and the battles by sea and land, especially the
former, which involved the armaments and crews, the size and speed of
the ships engaged in the famous frigate and sloop actions, of which we
won eleven out of thirteen, were given with a minute accuracy never
before attempted in the accounts of this war, and which made the book
an authority, a position it holds to this day.

This was a good deal of sound work for a boy's first year out of
college. But it did not content Roosevelt. Inherited influences and
inborn desires made him earnest and eager to render some public
service. In pursuit of this aspiration he joined the Twenty-first
Assembly District Republican Association of the city of New York, for
by such machinery all politics were carried on in those days. It was
not an association composed of his normal friends; in fact, the members
were not only eminently practical persons but they were inclined to be
rough in their methods. They were not dreamers, nor were they laboring
under many illusions. Roosevelt went among them a complete stranger.
He differed from them with entire frankness, concealed nothing, and by
his strong and simple democratic ways, his intense Americanism, and the
magical personal attraction which went with him to the end, made some
devoted friends. One of the younger leaders, "Joe" Murray, believed in
him, became especially attached to him, and so continued until death
separated them. Through Murray's efforts he was elected to the New York
Assembly in 1881, and thus only one year after leaving college his
public career began. He was just twenty-three.

Very few men make an effective State reputation in their first year in
the lower branch of the State legislature. I never happened to hear of
one who made a national reputation in such a body. Roosevelt did both.
When he left the assembly after three years' service he was a national
figure, well known, and of real importance, and also a delegate at
large from the great State of New York to the Republican national
convention of 1884, where he played a leading part. Energy, ability,
and the most entire courage were the secret of his extraordinary
success. It was a time of flagrant corporate influence in the New
York Legislature, of the "Black Horse Cavalry," of a group of members
who made money by sustaining corporation measures or by levying on
corporations and capital through the familiar artifice of "strike
bills." Roosevelt attacked them all openly and aggressively and never
silently or quietly. He fought for the impeachment of a judge solely
because he believed the judge corrupt, which surprised some of his
political associates of both parties, there being, as one practical
thinker observed, "no politics in politics." He failed to secure the
impeachment, but the fight did not fail, nor did the people forget it;
and despite - perhaps because of - the enemies he made, he was twice
reelected. He became at the same time a distinct, well-defined figure
to the American people. He had touched the popular imagination. In this
way he performed the unexampled feat of leaving the New York Assembly,
which he had entered three years before an unknown boy, with a national
reputation and with his name at least known throughout the United
States. He was twenty-six years old.

When he left Chicago at the close of the national convention in June,
1884, he did not return to New York, but went West to the Bad Lands
of the Little Missouri Valley, where he had purchased a ranch in the
previous year. The early love of natural history which never abated
had developed into a passion for hunting and for life in the open. He
had begun in the wilds of Maine and then turned to the West and to a
cattle ranch to gratify both tastes. The life appealed to him and he
came to love it. He herded and rounded up his cattle, he worked as a
cow-puncher, only rather harder than any of them, and in the intervals
he hunted and shot big game. He also came in contact with men of a
new type, rough, sometimes dangerous, but always vigorous and often
picturesque. With them he had the same success as with the practical
politicians of the Twenty-first Assembly District, although they were
widely different specimens of mankind. But all alike were human at
bottom and so was Roosevelt. He argued with them, rode with them,
camped with them, played and joked with them, but was always master of
his outfit. They respected him and also liked him, because he was at
all times simple, straightforward, outspoken, and sincere. He became
a popular and well-known figure in that western country and was
regarded as a good fellow, a "white man," entirely fearless, thoroughly
good-natured and kind, never quarrelsome, and never safe to trifle
with, bully, or threaten. The life and experiences of that time found
their way into a book, _The Hunting Trips of a Ranchman_, interesting
in description and adventure and also showing a marked literary quality.

In 1886 he ran as Republican candidate for mayor of New York and
might have been elected had his own party stood by him. But many
excellent men of Republican faith - the "timid good," as he called
them - panic-stricken by the formidable candidacy of Henry George,
flocked to the support of Mr. Abram Hewitt, the Democratic candidate,
as the man most certain to defeat the menacing champion of single
taxation. Roosevelt was beaten, but his campaign, which was entirely
his own and the precursor of many others, his speeches with their
striking quality then visible to the country for the first time, all
combined to fix the attention of the people upon the losing candidate.
Roosevelt was the one of the candidates who was most interesting, and
again he had touched the imagination of the people and cut a little
deeper into the popular consciousness and memory.

Two years more of private life, devoted to his home, where his greatest
happiness was always found, to his ranch, to reading and writing books,
and then came an active part in the campaign of 1888, resulting in the
election of President Harrison, who made him civil-service commissioner
in the spring of 1889. He was in his thirty-first year. Civil-service
reform as a practical question was then in its initial stages. The law
establishing it, limited in extent and forced through by a few leaders
of both parties in the Senate, was only six years old. The promoters
of the reform, strong in quality, but weak in numbers, had compelled
a reluctant acceptance of the law by exercising a balance-of-power
vote in certain States and districts. It had few earnest supporters
in Congress, some lukewarm friends, and many strong opponents. All
the active politicians were practically against it. Mr. Conkling had
said that when Dr. Johnson told Boswell "that patriotism was the last
refuge of a scoundrel" he was ignorant of the possibilities of the word
"reform," and this witticism met with a large response.

Civil-service reform, meaning the establishment of a classified service
and the removal of routine administrative offices from politics, had
not reached the masses of the people at all. The average voter knew
and cared nothing about it. When six years later Roosevelt resigned
from the commission the great body of the people knew well what
civil-service reform meant, large bodies of voters cared a great deal
about it, and it was established and spreading its control. We have
had many excellent men who have done good work in the Civil Service
Commission, although that work is neither adventurous nor exciting and
rarely attracts public attention, but no one has ever forgotten that
Theodore Roosevelt was once civil-service commissioner.

He found the law struggling for existence, laughed at, sneered at,
surrounded by enemies in Congress, and with but few fighting friends.
He threw himself into the fray. Congress investigated the commission
about once a year, which was exactly what Roosevelt desired. Annually,
too, the opponents of the reform would try to defeat the appropriation
for the commission, and this again was playing into Roosevelt's
hands, for it led to debates, and the newspapers as a rule sustained
the reform. Senator Gorman mourned in the Senate over the cruel
fate of a "bright young man" who was unable to tell on examination
the distance of Baltimore from China, and thus was deprived of his
inalienable right to serve his country in the post office. Roosevelt
proved that no such question had ever been asked and requested the
name of the "bright young man." The name was not forthcoming, and
the victim of a question never asked goes down nameless to posterity
in the Congressional Record as merely a "bright young man." Then
General Grosvenor, a leading Republican of the House, denounced the
commissioner for crediting his district with an appointee named Rufus
Putnam who was not a resident of the district, and Roosevelt produced
a letter from the general recommending Rufus Putnam as a resident of
his district and a constituent. All this was unusual. Hitherto it had
been a safe amusement to ridicule and jeer at civil-service reform,
and here was a commissioner who dared to reply vigorously to attacks,
and even to prove Senators and Congressmen to be wrong in their facts.
The amusement of baiting the Civil Service Commission seemed to be
less inviting than before, and, worse still, the entertaining features
seemed to have passed to the public, who enjoyed and approved the
commissioner who disregarded etiquette and fought hard for the law he
was appointed to enforce. The law suddenly took on new meaning and
became clearly visible in the public mind, a great service to the cause
of good government.

After six years' service in the Civil Service Commission Roosevelt
left Washington to accept the position of president of the Board of
Police Commissioners of the city of New York, which had been offered
to him by Mayor Strong. It is speaking within bounds to say that
the history of the police force of New York has been a checkered
one in which the black squares have tended to predominate. The task
which Roosevelt confronted was then, as always, difficult, and the
machinery of four commissioners and a practically irremovable chief
made action extremely slow and uncertain. Roosevelt set himself to
expel politics and favoritism in appointments and promotions and to
crush corruption everywhere. In some way he drove through the obstacles
and effected great improvements, although permanent betterment was
perhaps impossible. Good men were appointed and meritorious men
promoted as never before, while the corrupt and dangerous officers were
punished in a number of instances sufficient, at least, to check and
discourage evildoers. Discipline was improved, and the force became
very loyal to the chief commissioner, because they learned to realize
that he was fighting for right and justice without fear or favor. The
results were also shown in the marked decrease of crime, which judges
pointed out from the bench. Then, too, it was to be observed that
a New York police commissioner suddenly attracted the attention of
the country. The work which was being done by Roosevelt in New York,
his midnight walks through the worst quarters of the great city, to
see whether the guardians of the peace did their duty, which made
the newspapers compare him to Haroun Al Raschid, all appealed to the
popular imagination. A purely local office became national in his
hands, and his picture appeared in the shops of European cities. There
was something more than vigor and picturesqueness necessary to explain
these phenomena. The truth is that Roosevelt was really laboring
through a welter of details to carry out certain general principles
which went to the very roots of society and government. He wished the
municipal administration to be something far greater than a business
man's administration, which was the demand that had triumphed at the
polls. He wanted to make it an administration of the workingmen, of
the dwellers in the tenements, of the poverty and suffering which
haunted the back streets and hidden purlieus of the huge city. The
people did not formulate these purposes as they watched what he was
doing, but they felt them and understood them by that instinct which
is often so keen in vast bodies of men. The man who was toiling in the
seeming obscurity of the New York police commission again became very
distinct to his fellow countrymen and deepened their consciousness of
his existence and their comprehension of his purposes and aspirations.

Striking as was the effect of this police work, it only lasted for
two years. In 1897 he was offered by President McKinley, whom he had
energetically supported in the preceding campaign, the position of
Assistant Secretary of the Navy. He accepted at once, for the place and
the work both appealed to him most strongly. The opportunity did not
come without resistance. The President, an old friend, liked him and
believed in him, but the Secretary of the Navy had doubts, and also
fears that Roosevelt might be a disturbing and restless assistant.
There were many politicians, too, especially in his own State, whom his
activities as civil-service and police commissioner did not delight,
and these men opposed him. But his friends were powerful and devoted,
and the President appointed him.

His new place had to him a peculiar attraction. He loved the Navy. He
had written its brilliant history in the War of 1812. He had done all
in his power in stimulating public opinion to support the "new Navy"
we were just then beginning to build. That war was coming with Spain
he had no doubt. We were unprepared, of course, even for such a war
as this, but Roosevelt set himself to do what could be done. The best
and most farseeing officers rallied round him, but the opportunities
were limited. There was much in detail accomplished which can not be
described here, but two acts of his which had very distinct effect upon
the fortunes of the war must be noted. He saw very plainly - although
most people never perceived it at all - that the Philippines would be
a vital point in any war with Spain. For this reason it was highly
important to have the right man in command of the Asiatic Squadron.
Roosevelt was satisfied that Dewey was the right man, and that his
rival was not. He set to work to secure the place for Dewey. Through
the aid of the Senators from Dewey's native State and others, he
succeeded. Dewey was ordered to the Asiatic Squadron. Our relations
with Spain grew worse and worse. On February 25, 1898, war was drawing
very near, and that Saturday after-noon Roosevelt happened to be Acting
Secretary, and sent out the following cablegram:

Dewey - Hongkong.

Order the squadron, except the _Monocacy_, to Hongkong. Keep full of
coal. In the event of declaration of war, Spain, your duty will be to
see that the Spanish Squadron does not leave the Asiatic coast, and
then offensive operations in the Philippine Islands. Keep _Olympia_
until further orders.


I believe he was never again permitted to be Acting Secretary. But the
deed was done. The wise word of readiness had been spoken and was not

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Online LibraryHenry Cabot LodgeAddress of Senator Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts in honor of Theodore Roosevelt (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 3)