Theodore Roosevelt (Wood)

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Theodore Roosevelt  (1920) 
by Leonard Wood
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When one is travelling in the foothills of a mountain range, it is difficult to appreciate the heights and grandeur of the peaks. It is only at a distance that we are able to judge clearly relative heights, and pick out the main peaks of the range. So it is with great men, their lives and work. We may appreciate in a way their greatness while living, but the true measure of it comes to us only with time.

Theodore Roosevelt was the most dominating and inspiring figure in American life since Abraham Lincoln. Dominating and inspiring because he stood for the square deal, because he simply was as broad as the world, limited neither by race nor creed. We appreciated his strength while he lived, but as time goes by, he looms up greater and greater, and now we know him to be one of America's greatest Presidents.

In time of peace, Roosevelt was a devoted public servant. In time of war, he offered his life freely in the service of his country. His life was characterized by the spirit of service and sacrifice. He stood for America, law abiding and prosperous at home, and respected abroad. He loved America. He believed in her institutions — saw in her the hope of countless millions yet unborn. He breathed the spirit of intense Americanism. In his opinion there was no room in America for those who were part American, and part something else. He was intolerant of shams, detested snobs, and hated insincerity.

America lost, indeed the world lost, its soundest and most effective advocate of peace when Theodore Roosevelt died. The soundest and most effective because while hating war, as do most normal men, he realized that the peace of righteousness is often maintained through preparedness to do our duty even through war, if necessary; and that arbitration is most effective when a nation is not only right, but also able to use force, if needed, to back up the right. He understood that a nation is most effective as a force for peace and for justice when it is of resolute faith, and understands that the strength of right must be organized against the day when it may be necessary to meet the forces of wrong. He understood, as few have, that it is not enough to be filled with the spirit of sacrifice — to have lofty ideas — but that if our sacrifice is to be effective, if our ideals are to be realized, we must have ready the necessary force and organization, moral and physical. To him, empty words and lofty sentiments, unsupported by a resolute and brave spirit, and a determination to do one's [clear] duty, were hateful things, contemptible, dangerous, and unworthy of an upstanding and right-thinking people.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923.

The author died in 1927, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.