Political parties exist to
secure responsible government and to execute the will
of the people. From these great tasks both of the
old parties have turned aside. Instead of instruments
to promote the general welfare they have become the
tools of corrupt interests, which use them impartially
to serve their selfish purposes. Behind the ostensible
government sits enthroned an invisible government
owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility
to the people. To destroy this invisible government,
to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business
and corrupt politics, is the first task of the statesmanship
of the day. Unhampered by tradition, uncorrupted by
power, undismayed by the magnitude of the task, the
new party offers itself as the instrument of the people,
to sweep away old abuses, to build a new and nobler
government. This declaration is our convenant with
the people and we hereby bind the party and its candidates,
in state and nation, to the pledges made herein. With
all my heart and soul, with every particle of high
purpose that is within me, I pledge you my word to
do everything I can to put every particle of courage,
of common sense, and of strength that I have at your
disposal, and to endeavor so far as strength has given
me to live up to the obligations you have put upon
me, and to endeavor to carry out in the interest of
our whole people the policies to which you have today
solemnly dedicated yourselves in the name of the millions
of men and women for whom you speak.
Surely there never was a fight
better worth making than the one in which we are engaged.
It little matters what befalls any one of us who for
the time being stand in the forefront of the battle.
I hope we shall win, and I believe that if we can
wake the people to what the fight really means, we
shall win. But win or lose, we shall not falter. Whatever
fate may at the moment overtake any of us, the movement
itself will not stop. Our cause is based on the eternal
principles of righteousness; even though we who now
lead may for the time fail, in the end the cause itself
shall triumph. Six weeks ago, here in Chicago, I spoke
to the honest representatives of a convention which
was not dominated by honest men. A convention wherein
sat, alas, a majority of men who, with sneering indifference
to every principle of right, so acted as to bring
to a shameful end a party which had been founded over
half a century ago by men in whose souls burned the
fire of lofty endeavor. Now to you men, who, in your
turn, have come together to spend and be spent in
the endless crusade against wrong, to you who face
the future resolute and confident, to you who strive
in a spirit of brotherhood for the betterment of our
nation, to you who gird yourselves for this great
new fight in the never-ending warfare for the good
of human- kind, I say in closing what in that speech
I said in closing: we stand at Armageddon, and we
battle for the Lord.
With the assassination of President
McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, not quite 43, became
the youngest President in the Nation's history. He
brought new excitement and power to the Presidency,
as he vigorously led Congress and the American public
toward progressive reforms and a strong foreign policy.
He took the view that the President
as a "steward of the people" should take
whatever action necessary for the public good unless
expressly forbidden by law or the Constitution."
I did not usurp power," he wrote, "but I
did greatly broaden the use of executive power."
Roosevelt's youth differed
sharply from that of the log cabin Presidents. He
was born in New York City in 1858 into a wealthy family,
but he too struggled--against ill health--and in his
triumph became an advocate of the strenuous life.
In 1884 his first wife, Alice
Lee Roosevelt, and his mother died on the same day.
Roosevelt spent much of the next two years on his
ranch in the Badlands of Dakota Territory. There he
mastered his sorrow as he lived in the saddle, driving
cattle, hunting big game--he even captured an outlaw.
On a visit to London, he married Edith Carow in December
During the Spanish-American
War, Roosevelt was lieutenant colonel of the Rough
Rider Regiment, which he led on a charge at the battle
of San Juan. He was one of the most conspicuous heroes
of the war.
Boss Tom Platt, needing a hero
to draw attention away from scandals in New York State,
accepted Roosevelt as the Republican candidate for
Governor in 1898. Roosevelt won and served with distinction.
As President, Roosevelt held
the ideal that the Government should be the great
arbiter of the conflicting economic forces in the
Nation, especially between capital and labor, guaranteeing
justice to each and dispensing favors to none.
Roosevelt emerged spectacularly
as a "trust buster" by forcing the dissolution
of a great railroad combination in the Northwest.
Other antitrust suits under the Sherman Act followed.
Roosevelt steered the United
States more actively into world politics. He liked
to quote a favorite proverb, "Speak softly and
carry a big stick. . . . "
Aware of the strategic need
for a shortcut between the Atlantic and Pacific, Roosevelt
ensured the construction of the Panama Canal. His
corollary to the Monroe Doctrine prevented the establishment
of foreign bases in the Caribbean and arrogated the
sole right of intervention in Latin America to the
He won the Nobel Peace Prize
for mediating the Russo-Japanese War, reached a Gentleman's
Agreement on immigration with Japan, and sent the
Great White Fleet on a goodwill tour of the world.
Some of Theodore Roosevelt's
most effective achievements were in conservation.
He added enormously to the national forests in the
West, reserved lands for public use, and fostered
great irrigation projects.
He crusaded endlessly on matters
big and small, exciting audiences with his high-pitched
voice, jutting jaw, and pounding fist. "The life
of strenuous endeavor" was a must for those around
him, as he romped with his five younger children and
led ambassadors on hikes through Rock Creek Park in
Leaving the Presidency in 1909,
Roosevelt went on an African safari, then jumped back
into politics. In 1912 he ran for President on a Progressive
ticket. To reporters he once remarked that he felt
as fit as a bull moose, the name of his new party.
While campaigning in Milwaukee,
he was shot in the chest by a fanatic. Roosevelt soon
recovered, but his words at that time would have been
applicable at the time of his death in 1919: "No
man has had a happier life than I have led; a happier
life in every way."