March 21, 2012
Letter from Theodore Roosevelt to Paul Moore, July 2, 1902. From the Library of Congress Manuscripts division.
As we continue to watch the Republican primaries and gear up for a summer and fall of campaigning, people often wonder why our candidates put themselves through the stress and scrutiny not just of a national campaign but also the position waiting for them when they win. Being president isn’t easy nor is holding any public office, and one man from Columbia, Missouri, turned to the president in 1902 and asked how to begin a life of politics.
I was unable to find Paul Moore’s letter to Theodore Roosevelt that prompted the president to write this response, nor was I able to find out anything more about Mr. Moore and whether his political career was a success or not. However, I found this letter fascinating for the insight it gives us to Roosevelt. He felt strongly that a person should enter political life only if he wishes to do good work. Power comes as a consequence, Roosevelt realizes, but one's motivation should first and foremost be that you wish to do good in your world. One wonders what Roosevelt would make of political life today.