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Theodore Roosevelt and His Times   By: (1877-)

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THEODORE ROOSEVELT AND HIS TIMES,

A CHRONICLE OF THE PROGRESSIVE MOVEMENT

By Harold Howland

CONTENTS

I. THE YOUNG FIGHTER II. IN THE NEW YORK ASSEMBLY III. THE CHAMPION OF CIVIL SERVICE REFORM IV. HAROUN AL ROOSEVELT V. FIGHTING AND BREAKFASTING WITH PLATT VI. ROOSEVELT BECOMES PRESIDENT VII. THE SQUARE DEAL FOR BUSINESS VIII. THE SQUARE DEAL FOR LABOR IX. RECLAMATION AND CONSERVATION X. BEING WISE IN TIME XI. RIGHTS, DUTIES, AND REVOLUTIONS XII. THE TAFT ADMINISTRATION XIII. THE PROGRESSIVE PARTY XIV. THE GLORIOUS FAILURE XV. THE FIGHTING EDGE XVI. THE LAST FOUR YEARS

BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

THEODORE ROOSEVELT AND HIS TIMES

CHAPTER I. THE YOUNG FIGHTER

There is a line of Browning's that should stand as epitaph for Theodore Roosevelt: "I WAS EVER A FIGHTER." That was the essence of the man, that the keynote of his career. He met everything in life with a challenge. If it was righteous, he fought for it; if it was evil, he hurled the full weight of his finality against it. He never capitulated, never sidestepped, never fought foul. He carried the fight to the enemy.

His first fight was for health and bodily vigor. It began, at the age of nine. Physically he was a weakling, his thin and ill developed body racked with asthma. But it was only the physical power that was wanting, never the intellectual or the spiritual. He owed to his father, the first Theodore, the wise counsel that launched him on his determined contest against ill health. On the third floor of the house on East Twentieth Street in New York where he was born, October 27, 1858, his father had constructed an outdoor gymnasium, fitted with all the usual paraphernalia. It was an impressive moment, Roosevelt used to say in later years, when his father first led him into that gymnasium and said to him, "Theodore, you have the brains, but brains are of comparatively little use without the body; you have got to make your body, and it lies with you to make it. It's dull, hard work, but you can do it." The boy knew that his father was right; and he set those white, powerful teeth of his and took up the drudgery of daily, monotonous exercise with bars and rings and weights. "I can see him now," says his sister, "faithfully going through various exercises, at different times of the day, to broaden the chest narrowed by this terrible shortness of breath, to make the limbs and back strong, and able to bear the weight of what was coming to him later in life."

All through his boyhood the young Theodore Roosevelt kept up his fight for strength. He was too delicate to attend school, and was taught by private tutors. He spent many of his summers, and sometimes some of the winter months, in the woods of Maine. These outings he thoroughly enjoyed, but it is certain that the main motive which sent him into the rough life of the woods to hunt and tramp, to paddle and row and swing an axe, was the obstinate determination to make himself physically fit.

His fight for bodily power went on through his college course at Harvard and during the years that he spent in ranch life in the West. He was always intensely interested in boxing, although he was never of anything like championship caliber in the ring. His first impulse to learn to defend himself with his hands had a characteristic birth.

During one of his periodical attacks of asthma he was sent alone to Moosehead Lake in Maine. On the stagecoach that took him the last stage of the journey he met two boys of about his own age. They quickly found, he says, in his "Autobiography", that he was "a foreordained and predestined victim" for their rough teasing, and they "industriously proceeded to make life miserable" for their fellow traveler. At last young Roosevelt could endure their persecutions no loner, and tried to fight. Great was his discomfiture when he discovered that either of them alone could handle him "with easy contempt... Continue reading book >>




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