15. World Citizen

...O my fellow citizens, each one of you carries on your shoulders not only the burden of doing well for the sake of your own country, but the burden of doing well and of seeing that this nation does well for the sake of mankind. - Theodore Roosevelt, Osawatomie, Kansas August 31, 1910.

1908 Convention
During the 1908 Convention there was a record forty-nine minute demonstration for Roosevelt. Delegates paraded around with teddy bears and cried “four, four, four years more!” Roosevelt told Lodge and others “to see that no stampede was to gather headway for a moment.”1

Whatever my service has been, small or great and for however brief a period it may be remembered, its usefulness has been predicated upon the belief of the plain people that it was sincere and disinterested, as well as courageous, and that when I had given my word, my word was good....his final verdict was certain to be, “Well, he said he would not run, and he never goes back on his word, and that is all there is to it.”2

Theodore, now only fifty years old and already an ex-President, decided to go to Africa to collect specimens for the Smithsonian. After Africa he planned to go to Oxford to give some lectures. Then he would return to become a contributing editor for the Outlook magazine.3

When he finally left the White House, he was happy. “Coming home,” he said, “has been too lovely for anything; I am ashamed to say I do not miss the White House, or being President, one bit.”4

“Edith and I are enjoying every hour; the walks through the woods in the snow, the red sunsets across the Sound, the brilliant moon, the great log fires indoors; in a fortnight I shall have left her and be on my way to Africa.”5

“I am fifty, I have led a very sedentary life for ten years, and I feel that this is my last chance for something in the nature of a “great adventure,” he wrote.6

Before he went he gave Corinne a list of sixty books he wanted to read during his trip. She had the books trimmed to pocket size and bound in pigskin. He called it his Pigskin Library. It included the Bible, Shakespeare, Homer, Dante, Cooper, Scott, Dickens, Thackeray, Mark Twain, Keats, Shelley, Browning, Longfellow, Bacon, Lowell, Holmes, The Federalist Papers, The Pilgrim’s Progress, and Paradise Lost. He always carried a book or two in his pocket or saddle bag.7

“I will get the National Museum to send a couple of taxidermists with us. They will collect specimens under my direction. They will skin and cure the big game we shoot, and the Museum will pay for them, their equipment and attendants, and for the transport of trophies home. Everything I shoot will then go to the National Museum. I would a great deal rather have this scientific trip, which would give it a purpose and character, than simply a prolonged holiday of mine,” he told Lodge. 8

The taxidermist skinned the animals and packed the bones and the meat was eaten by the party.9

In Africa he wrote articles for Scribners that have a spontaneity and poetry about them. “I have worked very hard over these articles, but of course have no idea whether they will strike Scribner’s or the general public favorably,” he wrote.10 He had little time for polishing and revising before he sent them to Scribners via a runner.11

Like a child, he sprang from his cot every morning, anxious to begin the hunt and to behold the wonders of Africa. No longer was there the need to be the calm, organized and logical President of the United States. He no longer had to hold himself back so much. He could rely on his intuition, his sixth sense more. he could let his childlike wonder come out and no one would accuse him of being crazy, because they too, were held in the spell of the magical land.

It was almost as if Roosevelt had one foot in a spiritual world and one in the everyday world. But, he could at any time, switch to his logical self and give orders to the guides or categorize and count all the animals he had collected.

One can sense from his articles that life looked more real to him than it did to the others. Things were brighter, glowing almost. Natural life had a vibration, an atmosphere that Roosevelt could sense, but others could not. It is as if Roosevelt and the land were both on a spiritual plane. He described beautiful, mystical images. He exalted in the majesty of Africa.

I speak of “Africa and golden joys”; the joy of wandering through lonely lands; the joy of hunting the mighty and terrible lords of the wilderness, the cunning, the wary, and the grim.12

He writes of “a kind of forbidding beauty” of the mountains, of a rainbow that “stretched across” some “dark clouds”. Night fell, he wrote, “the darkness deepened, the tropic stars blazed overhead, and the light of the half moon drowned in silver the embers of the sunset.” The next morning they passed islands “beautiful in the bright sunshine,” but “empty with the emptiness of death.”13

He wrote of mornings when he saw “the heavens redden and the sun flame over the rim of the world.” And warm tropical nights with “stars blazing overhead and the silver moonlight flooding the reaches of dry grass; it was so bright that our shadows were almost as black and clear-cut as in the day.”14

“As the sun set behind us, the long lights changed the look of the country and gave it a beauty that had in it an element of the mysterious and the unreal.”15 “The sun went down under a frowning sky, behind shining sheets of rain; and it turned their radiance to an angry splendor of gold and murky crimson....”16

The land appeared other-worldly in the light of the moon. The moon shed “bright silver light” and made a pathway for the porters who “come swinging down the trail in the bright silver light, chanting in deep tones, over and over again, ...Zou-zou-boule ma ja guntai; zou-zou-boule ma ja guntai.”17

The animals had a strength and personality that only he could fully appreciate.

The hunter who wanders through these lands sees sights which ever afterward remain fixed in his mind. He sees the monstrous river-horse snorting and plunging beside the boat; the giraffe looking over the tree tops at the nearing horseman; the ostrich fleeing at a speed that none may rival; the snarling leopard and coiled python, with their lethal beauty; the zebras, barking in the moonlight, as the laden caravan passes on its night march through a thirsty land. In after years there shall come to him memories of the lion’s charge; of the gray bulk of the elephant, close at hand in the sombre woodland; of the buffalo, his sullen eyes lowering from under his helmet of horn; of the rhinoceros, truculent and stupid, standing in the bright sunlight on the empty plain...18

He was intensely interested in the animals and described them fully, for he was a naturalist at heart. He wanted to, as a naturalist, “[penetrate] to all the out-of-the-way nooks and corners of the earth.”19

The rhino “seemed what he was, a monster surviving over from the world’s past, from the days when the beasts of the prime ran riot in their strength, before man grew so cunning of brain and hand as to master them.”20

John Burroughs had especially asked him to check into the behavior of the honey bird which was supposed to lead people to honey. Sure enough, it did. “Once while I was tracking game, a honey bird made his appearance, chattering loudly and flying beside us; I let two of the porters follow it, and it led them to honey.”21

All the animals were marvelous to him. He admired the leopards’ “unflinching courage” its’ “spirit” and “fearless and resolute temper.” The elephants were “so intelligent” and looked “so odd with their great ears flapping and their trunks lifting and curling.”22 There were little tree hyraxes, adorable with thick bodies, short legs and a stubby tail. He described them as “squat, woolly, funny things.” The settlers called them, to his great amusement, “Teddy Bears”.23

He wrote of the excitement of hunting:

Crack! the Winchester spoke and as the soft-nosed bullet ploughed forward through his flank the lion swerved so that I missed him with the second shot; but my third bullet went through the spine and forward into his chest. Down he came, sixty yards off, his jaws open and lips drawn up in a prodigious snarl, as he endeavored to turn to face us. His back was broken; but of this we could not at the moment be sure, and if it had merely been grazed, he might have recovered, and then, even though dying, his charge might have done mischief. So Kermit, Sir Alfred, and I fired, almost together, into his chest. His head sank, and he died.24

While Roosevelt was in Africa, Taft dismissed Gifford Pinchot as chief of the US Forest Service. A runner brought Theodore the news.25 “I most earnestly hope it is not true,” he wrote Lodge.26 “I am very sorry about Pinchot,” he wrote a couple of months later. “He was one of our most valuable public servants. He loved to spend his whole strength, with lavish indifference to any effect on himself, in battling for a high ideal.”27

By April he was in Europe meeting royalty and being treated like a king himself. He felt his visits to the royals was “a relief to the tedium, the dull narrow routine of their lives.”28 He was observed giving advice to monarchs saying, “Oh, I would never have taken that step at all if I had been in your place, your Majesty.” To another he said, “That is just what I would have done; quite right.”29

The Sorbonne
In Paris he gave a speech at the Sorbonne and said the “speech has produced an effect that is really a little difficult for me to understand.”30 The speech, given on April 23, 1910, eloquently summed up his philosophy:

You and those like you have received special advantages; you have all of you had the opportunity for mental training; many of you have had leisure; most of you have had a chance for the enjoyment of life far greater than comes to the majority of your fellows. To you and your kind much has been given, and from you much should be expected.

On cynicism and criticism:

Let the man of learning, the man of lettered leisure, beware of that queer and cheap temptation to pose to himself and to others as the cynic, as the man who has outgrown emotions and beliefs, the man to whom good and evil are as one. The poorest way to face life is to face it with a sneer...There are many who confine themselves to criticism of the way others do what they themselves dare not even attempt.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotion; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

On character:

There is need of a sound body, and even more need of a sound mind. But above mind and above body stands character--the sum of those qualities which we mean when we speak of a man’s force and courage, of his good faith and sense of honor...We must ever remember that no keenness and subtleness of intellect, no polish, no cleverness, in any way make up for the lack of the great solid qualities. Self-restraint, self-mastery, common sense, the power of accepting individual responsibility and yet of acting in conjunction with others, courage and resolution--these are the qualities which mark a masterful people...I pay all homage to intellect, and to elaborate and specialized training of the intellect; and yet I know I shall have the assent of all of you present when I add that more important still are the commonplace, every-day qualities and virtues. Such ordinary, every-day qualities include the will and the power to work, to fight at need, and to have plenty of healthy children...In the next place, the good man should be both a strong and a brave man; that is, he should be able to fight, he should be able to serve his country as a soldier, if the need arises.

On war

Every honorable effort should always be made to avoid war, just as every honorable effort should always be made by the individual in private life to keep out of a brawl, to keep out of trouble; but no self-respecting individual, no self-respecting nation, can or ought to submit to wrong.

On materialism

The truth is that, after a certain measure of tangible material success or reward has been achieved, the question of increasing it becomes of constantly less importance compared to other things that can be done in life. It is a bad thing for a nation to raise and to admire a false standard of success; and there can be no falser standard than that set by the deification of material well-being in and for itself.

On speech making

The phrase-maker, the phrase-monger, the ready talker, however great his power, whose speech does not make for courage, sobriety, and right understanding, is simply a noxious element in the body politic, and it speaks ill for the public if he has influence over them. To admire the gift of oratory without regard to the moral quality behind the gift is to do wrong to the republic.

On journalists

He can do, and he often does, great good. He can do, and he often does, infinite mischief...Offenses against taste and morals, which are bad enough in a private citizen, are infinitely worse if made into instruments for debauching the community through a newspaper...The excuse advanced for vicious writing, that the public demands it and that the demand must be supplied, can no more be admitted than if it were advanced by the purveyors of food who sell poisonous adulterations.

On the good citizen

In short, the good citizen in a republic must realize that he ought to possess two sets of qualities and that neither avails without the other. He must have those qualities which make for efficiency; and he must also have those qualities which direct the efficiency into channels for the public good.

But if a man’s efficiency is not guided and regulated by a moral sense, then the more efficient he is the worse he is, the more dangerous to the body politic. Courage, intellect, all the masterful qualities, serve but to make a man more evil if they are used merely for that man’s own advancement, with brutal indifference to the rights of others.

The citizen must have high ideals, and yet he must be able to achieve them in practical fashion. No permanent good comes from aspirations so lofty that they have grown fantastic and have become impossible and indeed undesirable to realize. The impracticable visionary is far less often the guide and precursor than he is the imbittered foe of the real reformer, of the man who, with stumblings and shortcomings, yet does in some shape, in practical fashion, give effect to the hopes and desires of those who strive for better things. Woe to the empty phrase-maker, to the empty idealist, who, instead of making ready the ground for the man of action, turns against him when he appears and hampers him as he does the work!

On Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln, a man of the plain people, blood of their blood and bone of their bone, who all his life toiled and wrought and suffered for them, and at the end died for them, who always strove to represent them, who would never tell an untruth to or for them, spoke of the doctrine of equality with his usual mixture of idealism and sound common sense. He said, “I think the authors of the Declaration of Independence intended to include all men, but that they did not mean to declare all men equal in all respects...They defined with tolerable distinctness in what they did consider all men created equal--equal in certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This they said, and this they meant...They meant to set up a standard maxim for free society which should be familiar to all--constantly looked to, constantly labored for, and even though never perfectly attained, constantly approximated, and thereby constantly spreading and deepening its influence, and augmenting the happiness and value of life to all people., everywhere.”

On freedom

The good citizen will demand liberty for himself, and as a matter of pride he will see to it that others receive the liberty which he thus claims as his own. Probably the best test of true love of liberty in any country is the way in which minorities are treated in that country. Not only should there be complete liberty in matters of religion and opinion, but complete liberty for each man to lead his life as he desires, provided only that in so doing he does not wrong his neighbor.

On being citizens of the world

I believe that a man must be a good patriot before he can be, and as the only possible way of being, a good citizen of the world...In the dim future all moral needs and moral standards may change; but at present, if a man can view his own country and all other countries from the same level with tepid indifference, it is wise to distrust him, just as it is wise to distrust the man who can take the same dispassionate view of his wife and his mother. However broad and deep a man’s sympathies, however intense his activities, he need have no fear that they will be cramped by love of his native land...I hold that the true patriot, who is as jealous of the national honor as a gentleman is of his own honor, will be careful to see that the nation neither inflicts nor suffers wrong, just as a gentleman scorns equally to wrong others or to suffer others to wrong him.

On international law

International law will, I believe, as the generations pass, grow stronger and stronger until in some way or other there develops the power to make it respected. But as yet it is only in the first formative period...It is the duty of wise statesmen, gifted with the power of looking ahead, to try to encourage and build up every movement which will substitute or tend to substitute some other agency for force in the settlement of international disputes. It is the duty of every honest statesman to try to guide the nation so that it shall not wrong any other nation. But as yet the great civilized peoples, if they are to be true to themselves and to the cause of humanity and civilization, must keep ever in mind that in the last resort they must possess both the will and the power to resent wrong-doing from others.

On France

You and I belong to the only two republics among the great powers of the world. The ancient friendship between France and the United States has been, on the whole, a sincere and disinterested friendship. A calamity to you would be a sorrow to us. But it would be more than that. In the seething turmoil of the history of humanity certain nations stand out as possessing a peculiar power or charm, some special gift of beauty or wisdom or strength, which puts them among the immortals, which makes them rank forever with the leaders of mankind. France is one of these nations. For her to sink would be a loss to all the world. There are certain lessons of brilliance and of generous gallantry that she can teach better than any of her sister nations...You have had a great past. I believe that you will have a great future. Long may you carry yourselves proudly as citizens of a nation which bears a leading part in the teaching and uplifting of mankind.

“Your reception abroad has certainly been extraordinary but I do not think it surprises me very much; I expected it,” wrote Lodge. “In that respect I estimate you better than you esteem yourself and I am very glad that you make this particular mistake. It is one of your strong points and an immense safeguard.”32
“But really,” Theodore wrote back, “I have been treated as if I combined the functions of visiting sovereign, of distinguished stranger with a wide range of intellectual interests, and of popular orator--the combination has been almost too much.”33
He continued:

The various sovereigns have vied with one another in entertaining us...The popular reception, however, has been even more remarkable. I drive through dense throngs of people cheering and calling, exactly as if I were President and visiting cities at home where there was great enthusiasm for me...I have been much puzzled by it.

President Taft said, “It illustrates how his personality has swept over the world...It is the force of his personality that has passed beyond his own country and the capitals of the world and seeped into the small crevices of the universe.”34

He gave his Nobel Prize speech in Oslo which called for a League of Peace. He lunched with the Kaiser who then took off with Edith to show her some paintings. Theodore watched them run off and when they returned found it hard to conceal his jealously. Later he said if he met one more monarch, “I should bite him.”35

When King Edward died, Theodore was asked to represent the United States at the funeral. The King’s cousin, Kaiser Wilhelm, attended as well. “With Roosevelt and the Kaiser at King Edward’s funeral, it will be a wonder if the poor corpse gets a passing thought,” one man said. Everyone wanted to meet him. “Confound these kings,” he said. “Will they never leave me alone!” 36

He watched birds with Viscount Grey, an expert bird watcher. Theodore recognized the British birds appearance,Viscount Grey noticed, but not their songs. “Colonel Roosevelt not only knew more about American birds than I did about British birds, but he knew about British birds also. What he had lacked was an opportunity of hearing their songs, and you cannot get a knowledge of the songs of birds in any other way than by listening to them.”37 They spent all day listening to birds and identifying their songs.38

He gave the Romanes lecture at Oxford, which was offered annually to great naturalists. The Archbishop of York “agreed to mark the lecture ‘Beta Minus,’ but the lecturer ‘Alpha Plus.’ While we felt that the lecture was not a very great contribution to science, we were sure that the lecturer was a very great man.”39

On June 18, 1910, he returned to the United States looking brown, healthy and fit.40 His boat was met by a flotilla of destroyers, a big battleship and multitudes of pleasure craft.41 Five hundred Rough Riders came to escort him in a parade.42

But he was being forced to work very hard (“an enormous proportion of it is utterly futile work,” he said). He had received 2,000 requests to speak which came at the rate of 25 a day. “The pressure of callers is very great and I have, of course, almost no protection against it,” he said.43

He was asked to travel around the country and speak. He took a 5500-mile-tour of 14 states in 19 days. He would not have been able to manage it without the private railroad car the Outlook lent him. He spoke on many subjects.44

He wrote Bamie:

It is really curious to see how impossible it is for good people to have any understanding, even the slightest, of what they ask other people to do. Without any reference to me personally, it would be very much worse than non-sensical conduct for an ex-President of the United States to keep traveling around giving lectures, or making opening addresses for all kinds of worthy objects, each of which was of concern only to a small community, unless he had some special and intimate relation with the case which would justify his conduct...From now on I am going to do my best never to speak excepting on a day or an occasion or for a cause which will render the speech one not really to the audience addressed, but to a National audience.45

In October he wrote, “My throat is in bad shape and I do not know whether I shall be able to get through.” He was still facing a number of speaking engagements.46
Airplane Ride
After one of his speeches he went up in an airplane. Airplanes of the day didn’t surround you with a nice cocoon of aluminum and upholstery. They were open, and when you looked down you could see right past your feet to the ground. It was a scary feeling. But T.R.’s eyes sparkled as he got into the craft. “Let her go!” he shouted. They circled the field. Everyone on the ground grew quiet. Their beloved Teddy was in the air. “It was great!” he said after they landed. “I only wish I could have stayed up an hour!” “Wasn’t it a bit scary?” someone asked. “Not a bit. I enjoyed every minute. By George, it was great!” he exclaimed.47

He became an editor of the Outlook, a magazine which reflected his beliefs. He got $12,000 a year for writing one article a month.

He bought an automobile for Edith and Ethel but became so attached to it that he used it for every trip into the city.48

Once when he went to Scribner’s to discuss the publication of African Game Trails, he was recognized leaving the building and a crowd started to follow him. He broke into a run and so did the crowd. He barely made it to the offices of the Outlook. He felt that the crowd’s admiration of him had a touch of madness to it.49

Taft was methodical, honest and lazy. He was described as “a large amiable island surrounded entirely by persons who know exactly what they want.”50 He became dependent on the Old Guard Republicans. The Presidency so upset him that he spent nights wandering around the White House. To add to his troubles, his wife had a stroke which affected her speech.

Republicans were speaking of Roosevelt for the Republican nomination in 1912. When Taft replaced James Garfield as secretary of the interior with Ballinger, Gifford Pinchot fought back. He found out that Ballinger was conspiring to turn over valuable coal lands in Alaska to a Morgan-Guggenheim syndicate. Pinchot leaked information that Ballinger had represented Morgan Guggenheim as their attorney. Taft fired Pinchot for his insubordination towards Ballinger. Roosevelt never felt the same about Taft after that.51