Charles g. Washburn houghton mifflin company boston and new york



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Letter from Roosevelt to Quigg

camp wickopf,

montauk point, L.I.,

Sept. 12, 1898.

I hope that Saturday will do with the mustering-out. It is a simple impossibility for me to get in before. As I telegraphed, your representation of what I said was substantially right; that is, it gave just the spirit. But I don't like the wording of some of your sentences. At first, on account of this, I hesitated how to reply; but finally came to the conclusion that the last sentence of your "report" covered the whole matter sufficiently. I shan't try to go over your dif­ferent sentences in detail; but for instance, instead of saying that I would not "wish" to be a figurehead you should have used the word "consent," and there are various other similar verbal changes to which I think you would agree. Then I wish you could have brought out the fact that these statements were not in the nature of bids for the nomination, or of pledges by me, and that you made no effort to exact any pledges, but that they were statements which I freely made when you asked me what my position would be if nominated and elected (you having already stated that you wished me nominated and elected). However, I need not go into the matter more in de­tail, and I am not sure that it is necessary for me to write this at all, for I know that you did not in any way wish to represent me as willing to consent to act otherwise than in accordance with my conscience; indeed, you said you knew that I would be incapable of acting save with good faith to the people at large, to the Republicans of the United States, and to the New York Republican organizations; and this seems to about cover it.

P.S. In short, I want to make clear that there was no question of pledges or promises, least of all a ques­tion of bargaining for the nomination; but that I promptly told you the position I would take if I was elected Governor and suggested what I thought it would be best for both Senator Platt and myself to do so as to prevent the chance of any smash-up, which would be disastrous to the welfare of the party and equally disastrous from the standpoint of good government. I was not making any agreement as to what I would do on consideration that I received the nomination; I was stating the course which I thought it would be best to follow, for the sake of the party, and for the sake of the State — both considerations outweighing infinitely the question of my own nomi­nation.



During his term as Governor, he published" "The Rough Riders," "The Strenuous Life," and the "Life of Oliver Cromwell." Roosevelt had the confidence of the people in larger meas­ure than any other Governor of New York for years. He promised to pursue Republican with even greater avidity than Democratic rascals, and kept his promise by making a Democratic lawyer the prosecutor of those involved in the Canal frauds. Roosevelt carried out the prin­ciple which he expressed in his inaugural ad­dress, that in the long run, he serves his party best who most helps to make it instantly responsive to every need of the people, and to the highest demands of that spirit which tends to drive us onward and upward.

He demanded the repeal of the law enacted in the administration of his predecessor, Governor Black, for the purpose of taking the "starch" out of the Civil Service law and showed little regard for the spoilsmen. A paper constantly critical of him said: "Roosevelt is probably the only Republican in the State capable of an act so contrary to party amenities as this."
He was strong for the enforcement of the state law regulating the employment of women and children in factories and to prevent exces­sive hours of labor on surface railroads. The Civil Service and Labor portions of his first mes­sage were the most prominent. He favored the equipment of the National Guards with mod­ern arms, the substitution of biennial for annual sessions of the Legislature, and the extension of the area within which suffrage could be exer­cised by women, particularly in reference to the schools.1 He searched the State for the best men he could find, urged legislation in the best interests of the people and put every stumbling-block possible in the way of bad legislation. He defied both machines.
(1 Some years later (1908), Roosevelt said, "Personally I believe in Woman's Suffrage, but I am not an enthusiastic advocate of it because I do not regard it as a very important matter.")

His message in January, 1900, dealt largely with the subject of taxation. He suggested that trusts should be subject to the law of publicity, and that where a trust becomes a monopoly, the State has an immediate right to interfere. Care should be taken not to stifle enterprise or disclose any facts of a business that are essentially private, but the State, for the protection of the public, should exercise the right to inspect, to examine thoroughly all the work­ings of great corporations, just as is now done with banks; and wherever the interests of the public demand it, it should publish the results of its exami­nation. Then, if there are inordinate profits, com­petition or public sentiment will give the public the benefit in lowered prices; and if not, the power of tax­ation remains.

The principle of government regulation and not the disintegration of large corporations is one that he has always adhered to.
Much was made by his critics of the fact that Roosevelt occasionally "had breakfast with Platt," as evidence that he was under the domi­nation of the latter, then the "boss" of the Re­publican party in New York, and also United States Senator. The fact is that while Roose­velt was a reformer, he was not one of those unpractical persons who railed at the shortcomings of others and refused to take a hand him­self in the remedy of abuses. The role of critic is a pretty contemptible one unless accompan­ied by the desire and ability for effective per­formance. Roosevelt would always work with such tools as he had at his command, but never refused to work because the tools were not per­fect or to his liking. He has often been bitterly condemned by well-meaning people who stood on the side lines with folded hands, because he was working with "corrupt politicians." Well, he did work with them when they served his pur­pose for the very simple reason that he had to work with them or not work at all. He would have been delighted if the people had given him tools more to his liking, but as they failed to do this, and still demanded that the work should be done, Roosevelt went ahead and did it.
In his article on "Latitude and Longitude among Reformers" he said: —

The cloistered virtue which timidly shrinks from all contact with the rough world of actual life, and the uneasy, self-conscious vanity which misnames itself virtue, and which declines to cooperate with what­ever does not adopt its own fantastic standard, are rather worse than valueless, because they tend to rob the forces of good of elements on which they ought to be able to count in the ceaseless contest with the forces of evil.

This determination to do the best he could under existing conditions, whatever they might be, was always characteristic of him.
Meantime, Governor Roosevelt attracted the attention of the country by his direct and fear­less manner of dealing with public affairs. In 1899, Mr. James Bryce said of him, "Theodore Roosevelt is the hope of American politics."
As his term drew to a close, his desire was for reelection to carry to full completion some of his plans, but in this he was thwarted, and, much against his will, was elected Vice-President of the United States for the term beginning March 4, 1901. "Shelved," as many of his political enemies said, with keen satisfaction that the New York "boss" had kicked him upstairs in fulfillment of his vow that Roosevelt should not be Governor again. Roosevelt's relations with Platt at this time, both as regards the Vice-Presidency and as to his successor in the Governorship, are disclosed in the following let­ters dated February i, August 13, and August 20, 1900, respectively: —


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