3. N.Y. Legislature

They looked on him as a man would a ball of dynamite with a fuse in the process of burning. - Carleton Putnam, Theodore Roosevelt - The Formative Years 1858-1886

Theodore was now faced with the decision of what to do with the rest of his life. Because of the income from his inheritance, he didn’t need a large salary. He quickly found that being a philanthropist was not to his liking and he had already rejected the idea of becoming a lawyer. He enjoyed writing and always turned to it to express his feelings and report on his adventures.

Sometimes he wrote biographies. On a quest to understand himself, he was delighted to find similarities between himself and the great men he was writing about. He liked to write about his trips West and tried hard to express the feeling of exhilaration that the wide open spaces gave him. In 1910, while hunting in Africa he wrote fresh and exciting magazine articles about his adventures there. His book, The Rough Riders, was well written and exciting. Through the Brazilian Wilderness, written in 1914, is rich in brilliant detail and a delight to read. A compulsive writer, he wrote thousands of letters only a fraction of which have ever been published. He did not want to depend on writing as a career, however, because it did not involve enough physical activity or interaction with other people.

He found himself interested in politics. His parents had encouraged him to do any and everything he found interesting and he was not about to change now. If something captured his interest, he immersed himself in it.
He did not want to rely completely upon politics for money. Luckily he had no need for a large salary. Instinctively he knew that depending upon politics for a living caused problems. He did not want to be in the position of having to get elected. That need drove many politicians to align themselves with big political contributors. Their votes were bought and paid for by the big corporations. Theodore wanted to be his own man in politics. He went into it to do good and he never changed his goal.
Roosevelt put it this way:

I have always steadfastly refused to regard politics as a career, for save under exceptional circumstances I do not believe that any American can afford to try to make this his definite career in life. With us politics are of a distinctly kaleidoscopic nature. Nobody can tell when he will be upset; and if a man is to be of real use he ought to be able at times philosophically to accept defeat and to go on about some other kind of useful work, either permanently or at least temporarily until the chances again permit him to turn to political affairs. Every office I have held I have quite sincerely believed would be the last I should hold, the only exception being that during my first term as President I gradually grew to think it probable that I should be reelected.1

He started at the bottom. He decided to join the Twenty-first District Republican Association in New York City.

The twenty-first Republican Association had meetings twice a month. The rest of the time it was treated as a “club-room.” The district leader was well aware of who Theodore’s father was and thought Roosevelt would be a good name to add to their membership.

Theodore, with his Harvard drawl, fashionable clothes and eyeglasses on a ribbon, did not fit in.2 He knew he seemed odd to the other members and took to dropping in on them so that they could all “begin to speak the same language and so that each could begin to live down in the other’s mind what Bret Harte has called ‘the defective moral quality of being a stranger.’” 3

His first priority was to learn to communicate with them, so that later they could work together on improving the government of New York City. He became friendly with Joe Murray, an Irishman who fought in the Civil War. At first the others were reserved with him, but this didn’t last long, not with Roosevelt’s outgoing, energetic and rather lovable personality. He developed a feeling of fellowship with them and they all pulled together to try to reform the government of New York City. He made friends with Irish Catholics and others of “inferior background.”
He said later:

I do not think that a man is fit to do good work in our American democracy unless he is able to have a genuine fellow-feeling for, understanding of, and sympathy with his fellow-Americans, whatever their creed or their birth place, the section in which they live, or the work which they do...4

Joe Murray wanted Roosevelt to run for the New York legislature. Theodore said he would think about it but he thought Joe was joking. He asked a friend why Joe would approach him this way. “Joe is not in the habit of making statements that he cannot make good...There is one thing I can tell you - you have fallen into very good hands,” the friend said. Theodore agreed to run for the Assembly and won by a large margin. He was only twenty-three years old.5 He arrived in Albany in seventeen-degree weather on January 2, 1882. Alice was to join him in another two weeks.

He made a theatrical “delayed entrance” to the assembly. He burst in on them late, pausing long enough for them to observe his fashionable appearance.
One member wrote:

His hair was parted in the center, and he had sideburns. He wore a single eye-glass with a gold chain over his ear. He had on a cutaway coat with one button at the top, and the ends of its tails almost reached the tops of his shoes. He carried a gold-headed cane in one hand, a silk hat in the other, and he walked in the bent-over fashion that was the style with the young men of the day. His trousers were as tight as a tailor could make them, and had a bell-shaped bottom to cover his shoes.
“Who’s the dude?” I asked another member, while the same question was being put in a dozen different parts of the hall. “That’s Theodore Roosevelt of New York,” he answered. 6

He made friends easily. The freshman Republicans, among them Isaac Hunt and Billy O’Neil, would take his side on almost every issue. He worked hard, was eager to learn and was described most often as “distinctly different.”

He was given wide coverage by newspaper journalists.

They wrote:

his step across the hotel corridor was quick and vigorous, his whole manner alert...He was a good hearted man to shake hands with and he had a good, honest laugh. You could hear him laugh for miles and it was not an affected laugh...His teeth seemed to be all over his face...an uncommon fellow, distinctly different.7

A fresh breeze blowing through the legislature, he made everyone feel happier who came in contact with him.

He would stand at his desk and stretching forward call, “Mr. Spee-kar! Mr. Spee-kar!” If he wasn’t acknowledged he’d, “push his way into the main aisle and step-by-step move determinedly down to the wall with his insistent ‘Mr.Speekar’ and his menacing forefinger.”

He looked odd to them with his gold-rimmed spectacles, gold watch fob, the part in his hair and the narrow cut of his clothes. Billy O’Neil would plead with him to sit still and be quiet and the leaders, biographer Carleton Putnam wrote, “looked on him as a man would a ball of dynamite with a fuse in the process of burning.”8

A liquor dealer from the Nineteenth New York, a man named McManus, decided to toss Roosevelt in a blanket. Roosevelt got wind of this and marched right up to McManus and declared:

By God! McManus, I hear you are going to toss me in a blanket. By God! If you try anything like that, I’ll kick you, I’ll bite you, I’ll kick you in the balls. I’ll do anything to you - you’d better leave me alone.9

He had made his point felt, as Carleton Putnam wrote, “through the glasses, the accent and the Fifth Avenue manner.”10
Described as impulsive:

he is a fluent and vigorous speaker and has the courage of his convictions, but he has little tact and says many things that a calmer judgement would disapprove.11

Isaac Hunt was asked by Roosevelt’s worshipful biographer, Hermann Hagedorn: He was cool was he?

Hunt: No, he was just like a Jack coming out of the box; there wasn’t anything cool about him. He yelled and pounded his desk, and when they attacked him, he would fire back with all the venom imaginary. In those days he had no discretion at all. He was the most indiscreet guy I ever met...Billy O’Neil and I used to sit on his coat-tails. Billy O’Neil would say to him, “What do you want to do that for, you damn fool, you will ruin yourself and everybody else!”

Hagedorn: He must have been an entertaining person to have around.

Hunt: He was a perfect nuisance in that House, sir!12

He was criticized for parting his hair in the middle and having a vacant expression, but, as Carleton Putnam wrote, was so “genial and honorable that his opinions were treated with great respect.”13
Isaac Hunt said:

He made me think of a growing child. You know you take a child and in a day or two their whole character will change. They will take on new strength and new ideas, and you can see them going right up the ladder. He would leave Albany Friday afternoon and he would come back Monday night and you could see changes that had taken place in somebody and he got a new perspective in regard to matters....He took on strength just like that....14 He grew right away from me. I knew he was born for some great emergency, but what he would do I could not tell...I never expected to see him go right up in the heavens.15

The New York legislature was under the control of Tammany. Corrupt assemblymen introduced bills that corporations would bribe them not to pass. Roosevelt and another legislator, Mike Costello, spent “a good deal of time in industrious research into the various bills introduced, so as to find out what their authors really had in mind; this research, by the way, being highly unappreciated and much resented by the authors.”16

Roosevelt figured that roughly a third of his fellow legislators were corrupt and “sold their votes to the highest bidder.”17

Roosevelt’s friends tried to imitate his manner and were gleefully caricatured by the press. They were called “dudes” and their dress suits, canes, hair parted in the center and tight trousers were ridiculed in a very nasty way. Roosevelt’s obvious saintliness was derided also.18

Elevated Railways Tax Bill
A bill was amended to decrease the taxes of certain elevated railways in New York City. The members waited until Roosevelt and Costello were out of the room to bring the bill to the floor. Mike Costello happened to be in the next room and heard what was going on. He quickly sent a messenger to get Roosevelt and then he himself began a filibuster. Costello was being ordered to shut up when Roosevelt bolted in to continue the filibuster. He was not able to block passage, but, as Putnam wrote, “so clearly was the finger pointed at the elevated-railroad clique that the governor refused to sign the bill.” This resulted in a savings of half a million dollars to the taxpayers of New York.19

Cigar Manufacture in the Tenements
Typical member of the upper class, Roosevelt expected the poor to lift themselves up out of their misery with no help from the government.

Cigar manufacturers expected work to be done in the tenements so that they wouldn’t have to rent factory space. When a bill was introduced banning tenement manufacture of cigars, the Cigar Manufacturers fully expected Roosevelt and others to defeat it. Roosevelt was appointed member of a special committee to investigate Cigar Manufacturing conditions. The head of the Cigar Makers Union, who later founded the American Federation of Labor, took him on a tour that shocked and saddened him. Of that tour he wrote:

I have always remembered one room in which two families were living...There were several children, three men and two women in this room. The tobacco was stowed about everywhere, alongside foul bedding, and in a corner where there were scraps of food. These men, women and children in this room worked by day and far into the evening, and they slept and ate there...as a matter of practical common sense I could not conscientiously vote for the continuance of the conditions which I saw.20

Roosevelt argued for the bill before the Governor, who signed it. Unfortunately, the Court of Appeals later declared the law unconstitutional.21

Tenement conditions were so horrible at the time that for the rest of his life Roosevelt supported measures to improve the condition of the working class.

Westbrook Impeachment
Judge Westbrook had declared the Manhattan Elevated insolvent so that its stock would drop and his friend Jay Gould could take over a majority of the stock. Once the stock rebounded, Westbrook declared the company solvent. Theodore Roosevelt wanted the judge investigated to see if this and other offenses were impeachable.22
Roosevelt bravely called for an investigation and later wrote:

I am aware that it ought to have been done by a man of more experience, and, possibly, an abler source than myself, but as nobody else chose to demand it [the investigation], I certainly would in the interest of the Commonwealth of New York.

Late in the afternoon of April 5, Theodore declared he wanted his resolution debated. He clearly and slowly went step by step over Westbrook’s conduct. A murmur of excitement rose in the Legislature. Tom Alvord, an older man, got up and talked until the clock ran out and nothing was done. But the press reacted strongly to what Theodore had said and aroused public indignation. Later a vote was passed for an investigation by a margin of 104 to 6. Then it was put in the hands of the Judiciary Committee, whose members had been bribed by Gould with $2500 each. The committee reached a decision that the Judge had done nothing impeachable.23

As his biographer Carleton Putnam wrote, “He had aroused public opinion and had focused attention on himself as a champion who would do what he could to stop great wealth from holding itself above the law.”24

He ran again in 1882 for the legislature and became the Republican nominee for Speaker. At twenty-four he was at the head of his party in the New York State Assembly. It was said that success had gone to his head.

“There is great sense in a lot of what he says,” Governor Cleveland said, “but there is such a cocksuredness about him that he stirs up doubt in me all the time....Then he seems to be so very young.”25
Years later Roosevelt wrote:

Immediately after leaving college I went to the Legislature. I was the youngest man there, and I rose like a rocket. I was reelected next year by an enormous majority in a time when the Republican party as a whole met with great disaster; and the Republican minority in the Assembly, although I was the youngest member, nominated me for Speaker, that is, made me the leader of the minority. I immediately proceeded to lose my perspective, and the result was that I came an awful cropper and had to pick myself up after learning by bitter experience the lesson that I was not all-important and that I had to take account of many different elements in life. It took me fully a year before I got back the position I had lost, but I hung steadily at it and achieved my purpose.26

He was now minority leader and chief of a reformist faction known as the “Roosevelt Republicans.” He was named chairman of the important Cities Committee. It was their duty to probe corruption in the city government. 27

He had a tendency to see all issues in black and white, good and evil, and often sounded insufferably pious. One correspondent said, “Mr. Roosevelt keeps a pulpit concealed on his person.” Roosevelt exclaimed at this time, “There is good and bad in each party, but while the bad largely predominates in yours, it is the good which predominates in ours!”28

Then too, he had such an independent personality that he tended to act without considering the feelings of the other assemblymen. One of the big lessons he learned at the time was that it is necessary to work with other people in politics in order to get things done. He wrote later:

At one period I became so impressed with the virtue of complete independence that I proceeded to act on each case purely as I personally viewed it, without paying any heed to the principles and prejudices of others. The result was that I speedily and deservedly lost all power of accomplishing anything at all; and I thereby learned the invaluable lesson that in the practical activities of life no man can render the highest service unless he can act in combination with his fellows, which means a certain amount of give-and-take between him and them. 29

He also found himself setting his goals too far ahead, always thinking about how an action taken today would move him along a path towards a higher office. For it had become obvious to him that he was destined to hold a very high office someday. This thought so distracted him that he decided that:

I would try not to think of the future at all, but would proceed on the assumption that each office I held would be the last I ever should hold, and that I would confine myself to trying to do my work as well as possible while I held that office. I found that for me personally this was the only way in which I could either enjoy myself or render good service to the country, and I never afterwards deviated from this
plan. 30

He learned to work hand in hand with fellow legislators and even used newspapermen to further his goals.31 Developing very lofty ideals, he was at the same time struggling to remain in touch with the practical side of life. His push was to put his ideals into practice.

Civil Service Reform Bill
The Democratic Governor, Grover Cleveland, asked Roosevelt and other Republican Reformers to move the Civil Service Reform Bill to the floor. If they could do this for him, he would guarantee enough “Cleveland Democrat” votes to pass the bill.32

Civil Service Reform aimed at reforming the system which gave out jobs in exchange for favors or cash. Cleveland may have had the Presidency on his mind. There was a spirit of reform in the air, locally and nationally. President Arthur had appointed a commission to study tariff reform. Governor Cleveland separated himself at this time, in spirit, from the Tammany organization in a speech given at a banquet.33

Because of the efforts of the governor and the “Roosevelt Republicans,” only three democrats objected to the Civil Service Reform bill. The bill was passed on May 4, the last day of the session.

“And do you know,” said Isaac Hunt long afterward, “that bill had much to do with the election of Grover Cleveland. When he came to run for President, the non-partisan liberal-minded citizens, who were not affiliated very strongly with either party, voted for Cleveland.” Hunt added, “Mr. Roosevelt was as much responsible for that law as any human being.”34

Periodicals of the time said of Theodore:

Whatever boldness the minority has exhibited in the Assembly is due to his influence, and whatever weakness and cowardice it has displayed is attributable to its unwillingness to follow where he led.

He was known for his honesty, plain way of talking and progressiveness.35

Married Life
Theodore and Alice were happily content in their small house in New York City. Their friend, Fanny Smith, was a frequent visitor. She described the house as small and pleasant “where friends were often asked to stay over with all the fun and talk that implied.”36

He and Alice planned a home to be built at Oyster Bay.
He wrote about it later:

I wished a big piazza, very broad at the North West corner where we could sit in rocking chairs and look at the sunset; a library with a shallow bay window opening south, the parlor or drawing-room occupying all the western end of the lower floor; as broad a hall as our space would permit; big fireplaces for logs; on the top floor the gun room occupying the western end so that north and west it look[ed] over the Sound and Bay.37

The house would be enormous and have ten bedrooms not counting servants quarters.38

In the fall of ‘83 he went to Dakota. Before he went he bought ninety-five acres of land on Cove Neck of Oyster Bay.

In September he wrote Mittie he was “feeling like a fighting cock” again. He wanted to hunt buffalo. Joe Ferris was suggested as a guide.39

The Badlands were strangely beautiful.
Lincoln Lang, a friend of Roosevelt’s, wrote of them:

Color was everywhere in impressively beautiful contrast, which with the turning of the foliage in the fall, had a way of taking on the proportions of a riot. And there were some nine or ten thousand square miles of this splendor in the Little Missouri country alone.40

Theodore and his guide, Joe Ferris, tracked buffalo through the rough country and eventually ran out of food. Soaked by freezing rain, teeth chattering, Roosevelt exclaimed, “Isn’t this bully!” and shouted, “By Godfrey, but this is fun!” When Joe Ferris shot a deer, his frustrated client exclaimed, “By Godfrey! I’d give anything in the world if I could shoot like that!”

When he got his buffalo he did a war dance around it and gave Ferris a hundred dollar bill.41

Unlike most local inhabitants Roosevelt delighted in hunting in the rain. As a result, he would return at night covered with gumbo mud which stuck like glue to everything. Day after rainy day he’d return with nothing except the mud, “the grin...[which was] apparently built in and ineradicable”, “twinkling eyes and big white teeth.”42

Roosevelt was delighted to have met Gregor Lang, an intelligent man who felt the same way as he did on many points. “Heart and soul they were together on the main issues,” Gregor’s son, Lincoln, remembered. Into the night they would talk. Ever eager to learn, Roosevelt would ask the older man philosophical and practical questions.
When Roosevelt arrived at a small log cabin located in a wide valley he met Ferris’s brother Sylvane and his partner Bill Merriford. He entered into an agreement to buy 400 head of cattle thus starting his career as a ranchman. The ranch was called the Maltese Cross.43

He loved his new ranch. Here he could climb up a butte and look in any direction at the panoramic view. Here he could be free. Here he could be himself. No cost was too great for such freedom. The little cabin and 400 head of cattle were his.44 This place would restore his soul and was worth every penny he paid for it.

As he said farewell to the Langs, Gregor Lang said to his son, “There goes the most remarkable man I have ever met. Unless I am badly mistaken the world is due to hear from him one of these days.”45

When Roosevelt returned to Albany to serve a third term, he was now in a position to push forward much legislation. “He would go at a thing as if the world was coming to an end,” said Isaac Hunt.46

“I feel now as though I had the reins in my hand,” he wrote Alice from Albany. And then hastened to add, “How I long to get back to my own sweetest little wife!”47

Alice was pregnant and lonely. She only saw him on weekends and even then, too much time was spent entertaining political friends. She moved in with her mother-in-law and was soon joined by Corinne who had recently had a baby. Bamie lived there too. Still, Alice felt lonely and abandoned.48

The Five-Cent Fare
Roosevelt supported a bill to reduce the fare on the elevated railway to five cents. Grover Cleveland vetoed the bill since it violated a commitment by the state to keep the fare at ten cents.49

Governor Cleveland said this of his veto of the five cents bill:

I was convinced that the bill was wrong, that it was unjust and might lead to practical confiscation. I had no choice but to veto it, but I had not a doubt in the world that by so doing I was ruining my political career. As I got into bed that night after writing and signing my veto message I said to myself, “Grover Cleveland, you’ve done the business for yourself to-night.” The next morning I went down to the Executive Office feeling pretty blue but putting a smiling face on it. I didn’t look at the morning papers, didn’t think they had anything to say that I cared to see. I went through my morning mail with my secretary, Dan Lamont, pretending all the time I didn’t care about the papers but thinking of them all the time just the same. When we had finished I said, as indifferently as I could, ”Seen the morning papers, Dan?” He said “yes.” “What have they got to say about me, anything? “ “Why, yes, they are all praising you.” “They are! Well, here, let me see them!” I tell you I grabbed them pretty quickly and felt a good deal better.50

When Cleveland explained his reasoning to Theodore, he dropped his support of the bill saying:

We have heard a great deal about the people demanding the passage of this bill. Now, anything that the people demand that is right, it is most clearly and most emphatically the duty of this Legislature to do; but we should never yield to what they demand if it is wrong.
I would rather go out of politics feeling that I had done what was right than stay in with the approval of all men knowing in my heart that I had acted as I ought not to.

He was opposing a popular law and newspapers were saying:

His strong point is his bank account,
His weak point is his head.

Theodore’s friend and biographer Joseph Bishop said:

Throughout his career, at every stage of its progress, politicians, statesmen, editors, clergymen, educators and others bestowed upon him like advice, begged him to go their way instead of his own, cease to be himself, and become the sort of man they thought he should be.52

Theodore was still, as David McCullough put it, “a gentleman doing his part in the public interest.” He didn’t yet have a clear vision of his life’s work. Indifferent to his political future, it was difficult to buy him.53

He had learned that a politician’s character had to be unassailable. Then, as now, a politician could not act with independence if “he is himself vulnerable in his private character.” He and others were followed by detectives, hired by other politicians, hoping to catch them in some immoral act.54

Death of Alice
On February 12th he got a telegram announcing the birth of his baby. A few hours later he got another one. He paled and ran for the door.

Elliott met him at the door of their mother’s house with the dreadful news: “Mother is dying and Alice is dying too.” He rushed to Alice’s bedside. She was barely conscious. He held her hand until someone told him that if he wanted to see his mother alive he’d better go to her room quickly.

Mittie died of typhoid on Valentine’s day at 3:00 a.m. Alice died at about 2:00 p.m. that same day. She was only twenty-two. His mother was forty-eight.

The House of Assembly voted to adjourn in sympathy.
Two thousand people attended the funeral service. The two rosewood coffins standing side by side were a heart-rending sight. Sobs were heard throughout the church. Dr. John Hall wept openly as he talked.55

Theodore was “in a dazed, stunned state.” “He does not know what he says or does,” said a friend. His diary entry for February 14, 1884, contains a large X and beneath it only these words:

The light has gone out of my life.

The baby, named Alice, was christened February 17. Two days later Theodore returned to Albany.56
He wrote:

I shall come back to my work at once; there is nothing left for me except to try to so live as not to dishonor the memory of those I loved who have gone before me.

Later in a reply to a sympathy note he wrote, “you can see I have taken up my work again; indeed I think I should go mad if I were not employed...”57

He never again spoke of his sorrow. He seemed to be wiping out the memory of Alice and all she had ever meant to him. He couldn’t bear to call his child Alice, calling her “Baby Lee” instead. He never spoke to her of her mother and he gave her to his sister Bamie, the ever indomitable Bamie, to raise. Isaac Hunt said, “From that time on there was a sadness about his face that he never had before...He did not want anybody to talk to him about it, and did not want anybody to sympathize with him. It was a grief that he had in his soul.”58

When he returned to the legislature he got a lot of legislation passed, wrote three reports for his investigating committee and he learned to compromise:

I looked the ground over and made up my mind that there were several other excellent people there [in the Assembly], with honest opinions of the right, even though they differed from me. I turned in to help them, and they turned to and gave me a hand. And so we were able to get things done. We did not agree in all things, but we did in some, and those we pulled at together. That was my first lesson in real politics. It is just this: if you are cast on a desert island with only a screwdriver, a hatchet, and a chisel to make a boat with, why, go make the best one you can. It would be better if you had a saw, but you haven’t. So with men.59

Throwing himself into his work, he took up right where he had left off. He reported seven to fourteen bills a day from his City Affairs Committee. The words he spoke were well thought out. He was clear and logical. One day he reported fifteen bills out of committee and six more at a night session and then wrote a new version of one of his investigative reports. Ike Hunt said:

He started in at night and he wrote all night long and he got his breakfast and still continued to write. The House opened and he came up to the House and he wrote that report, and as soon as he got a sheet of foolscap written in long hand the page was right there to take it down to the printer because the committee had got to report that morning. But Teddy would get up and say, “Mr. Speaker, that bill so-and-so with reference to so-and-so is all right,” and then he would sit down and commence to write again. Finally, he said, “There it is, I am finished.” I sat right in front of him. I said, “There won’t be any continuity to that report, I don’t believe.” He said, “Don’t you worry.” In a little while the printer came up with the report all printed and Teddy went out and read it to the committee and they signed it and that was the report that was handed in.60

He felt worn out by all the work, too tired to go on, and felt paranoid about the enemies he had made in the legislature, forgetting that he had many supporters there too. He longed to go to Dakota to rest and to write and hunt. He wasn’t sleeping. His sister wrote that “he walks a great deal in the night, and his eyes have that strained red look.”61 He decided at this time to go ahead with the building of the house at Oyster Bay.

He decided to go to Dakota and spend time there hunting and writing. Before he went to Dakota, though, he worked on the presidential campaign of 1884 to prevent James G. Blaine from winning the Republican nomination. Blaine had been too close to Jay Gould and the wealthy criminal class. Roosevelt supported the moral but bland candidate from Vermont, Senator George F. Edmunds. He worked at organizing the Edmunds delegates at the convention.62

Reporters loved the 25-year-old Theodore. In his short, overdressed way he had presence. There was a feeling of delight at having discovered him. He was fearless and direct and most of all, interesting. “He will be a figure, not a figurehead,” one said.63

Blaine was nominated on the fourth ballot. Many of Theodore’s friends left the Republican party to support the Democratic candidate Grover Cleveland. The fact that Roosevelt later decided to stay with the Republican party angered the reformers. He didn’t pay any attention to what they were saying about him.
Thirty-three-year-old Henry Cabot Lodge decided to cultivate the young man. Cabot Lodge was described by Nicholas Roosevelt, Theodore’s cousin, as a short, “highly intelligent, cultivated gentleman.”64 He was gracious to his friends but stubborn, self-centered, narrow and unyielding to anyone else. From 1884 on, he gave Roosevelt advice on his political career. As early as 1885, the “narrow, unyielding” Lodge wrote, “Theodore is one of the most lovable souls as well as one of the cleverest and most daring men I have ever known. ‘The more I see him’, as the fellow says in the play, ‘the more and more I love him!’”65

A strong bond between them was formed at this time. They were kindred spirits. Roosevelt looked up to Lodge who, he felt, was more able than he in both writing and politics. He assured him at a low time in Lodge’s life, “Your book has permanent value; your work in Congress for the country has permanent value; your children’s children will feel honored to bear your name.”66 This was Roosevelt’s first lasting adult male friendship.

After the convention he was asked what his plans were.

I am going cattle-ranching in Dakota for the remainder of the summer and a part of the fall. What I shall do after that I cannot tell you.

When asked if he would support his party’s choice for President, he said, “That question I decline to answer. It is a subject that I do not care to talk about.” He must have thought it over on his way out West, because when asked the same question at a train station, he answered:

I am by inheritance and education a Republican; whatever good I have been able to accomplish in public life has been accomplished through the Republican party; I have acted with it in the past, and wish to act with it in the future...I intend to abide by the outcome of that convention. I am going back in a day or two to my Western ranches, as I do not expect to take any part in the campaign this fall.67