In His Own Words: Politics

Jul 24, 2013

In a letter to his son Kermit, Theodore Roosevelt reminisces about his career in politics. This letter was written on January 27, 1915, and sent to Kermit while he was working in Buenos Aires.

"From the time I was elected to the Legislature in 1881 until 1911, when it became evident that I would have to part company with the Republican organization, I steadily strove to be loyal to my ideals and yet to strive to realize them in practical fashion. I always tried to administer each office well. I never did one thing personally that was not as straight as a string; and, where I had to work with other men, I tried my best to get the common result of as high a quality as possible, without insisting upon so much that it would mean a break-up with my associates. On a big scale I handled things just as I tried to handle them on a smaller scale as regards Father Zahm and Sigg and Fiala and our Brazilian friends on our trip.

"I was on the whole successful. When, after the Spanish War, I got to a position of such importance that a good deal of consideration had to be paid me, I was very successful; and, as President, I was able to do a great deal that I wished to do. This was done merely because I utilized the reformers without letting them grow perfectly wild-eyed; and I yet kept in some kind of relation with the machine men, so as to be on a living basis with them, although I had to thwart them at every turn. But, when I got back from Africa, I found that everything had split. Taft had thrown in his lot with the sordid machine crowd, as had most of my former efficient political supporters. On the other hand, the reformers of the type of good Gifford Pinchot had begun to run wild and to associate with a set of so-called reformers, who came dangerously near the mark of lunacy. I spent eighteen months in the vain effort to get them together on some kind of a basis that would permit of efficient joint action. It proved impossible; and, when the break had to come, I had to stand by the reformers as against the sordid apostles of self-interest. But the reformers showed enough that was mean and base in addition to enough that was foolish themselves! What happened afterwards you know."

Posted by Keri Youngstrand on Jul 24, 2013 in History  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)  |  Share this post

Harry Butcher said,

Dear TR folks. I'm a huge TR fan. Our family has so many touch points and we admire so many of his achievements. I would love a good copy of that letter to add to my historical collection that will go to my grand sons. Please advise & we'll go to work on it. H.

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