Theodore Roosevelt on Abraham Lincoln

Monday, June 12, AD 2017

 

Theodore Roosevelt had two heroes:  his father and Abraham Lincoln.  In 1905 he wrote this introduction to a collection of the writings of Lincoln:

 

Immediately after Lincoln’s re-election to the Presidency, in an off-hand speech, delivered in response to a serenade by some of his admirers on the evening of November 10, 1864, he spoke as follows:

“It has long been a grave question whether any government not too strong for the liberties of its people can be strong enough to maintain its existence in great emergencies. On this point, the present rebellion brought our republic to a severe test, and the Presidential election, occurring in regular course during the rebellion, added not a little to the strain…. The strife of the election is but human nature practically applied to the facts in the case. What has occurred in this case must ever occur in similar cases. Human nature will not change. In any future great national trial, compared with the men of this, we shall have as weak and as strong, as silly and as wise, as bad and as good. Let us therefore study the incidents in this as philosophy to learn wisdom from and none of them as wrongs to be avenged…. Now that the election is over, may not all having a common interest reunite in a common fort to save our common country? For my own part, I have striven and shall strive to avoid placing any obstacle in the way. So long as I have been here, I have not willingly planted a thorn in any man’s bosom. While I am deeply sensible to the high compliment of a re-election and duly grateful, as I trust, to Almighty God for having directed my countrymen to a right conclusion, as I think for their own good, it adds nothing to my satisfaction that any other man may be disappointed or pained by the result.”

This speech has not attracted much general attention, yet it is in a peculiar degree both illustrative and typical of the great statesman who made it, alike in its strong common-sense and in its lofty standard of morality. Lincoln’s life, Lincoln’s deeds and words, are not only of consuming interest to the historian, but should be intimately known to every man engaged in the hard practical work of American political life. It is difficult to overstate how much it means to a nation to have as the two foremost figures in its history men like Washington and Lincoln. It is good for every man in any way concerned in public life to feel that the highest ambition any American can possibly have will be gratified just in proportion as he raises himself toward the standards set by these two men.

It is a very poor thing, whether for nations or individuals, to advance the history of great deeds done in the past as an excuse for doing poorly in the present; but it is an excellent thing to study the history of the great deeds of the past, and of the great men who did them, with an earnest desire to profit thereby so as to render better service in the present. In their essentials, the men of the present day are much like the men of the past, and the live issues of the present can be faced to better advantage by men who have in good faith studied how the leaders of the nation faced the dead issues of the past. Such a study of Lincoln’s life will enable us to avoid the twin gulfs of immorality and inefficiency—the gulfs which always lie one on each side of the careers alike of man and of nation. It helps nothing to have avoided one if shipwreck is encountered in the other. The fanatic, the well-meaning moralist of unbalanced mind, the parlor critic who condemns others but has no power himself to do good and but little power to do ill—all these were as alien to Lincoln as the vicious and unpatriotic themselves. His life teaches our people that they must act with wisdom, because otherwise adherence to right will be mere sound and fury without substance; and that they must also act high-mindedly, or else what seems to be wisdom will in the end turn out to be the most destructive kind of folly.

Throughout his entire life, and especially after he rose to leadership in his party, Lincoln was stirred to his depths by the sense of fealty to a lofty ideal; but throughout his entire life, he also accepted human nature as it is, and worked with keen, practical good sense to achieve results with the instruments at hand. It is impossible to conceive of a man farther removed from baseness, farther removed from corruption, from mere self-seeking; but it is also impossible to conceive of a man of more sane and healthy mind—a man less under the influence of that fantastic and diseased morality (so fantastic and diseased as to be in reality profoundly immoral) which makes a man in this work-a-day world refuse to do what is possible because he cannot accomplish the impossible.

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Roosevelt’s Letter to His Volunteers

Monday, June 5, AD 2017

 

With the entry of the US into World War I, Theodore Roosevelt began organizing a volunteer force of four divisions.  The reaction around the nation was enthusiastic with over 100,000 men volunteering, and many professional officers in the Regular Army seeking to serve with the divisions.  Congress authorized the raising of the four volunteer divisions, at the discretion of the President, in the Selective Service Act of 1917.  Roosevelt was not named as the commander of the divisions, but everyone knew who this provision was intended for.  Wilson quickly decided that he would not authorize the divisions, fearing that Roosevelt would either get killed, in which case he might be blamed, or Roosevelt would return a national hero and be a formidable Republican candidate for the White House in 1920.  Wilson’s decision was perhaps the bitterest disappointment in Roosevelt’s life, a disappointment that echoes in his May 21, 1917 letter to his volunteers:

 

The President has announced that he will decline to permit those divisions to be organized or to permit me to have a command in connection with such a force. After consultation yesterday, personally or by wire, with some of the men who have volunteered to raise units—regiments and battalions—for the divisions, including John C. Groome, of Pennsylvania; Seth Bullock, of South Dakota; John C. Greenway, of Arizona; John M. Parker, of Louisiana; Robert Carey, of Wyoming; J. P. Donnelly, of Nevada; Sloan Simpson, of Texas; D. C. Collier and F. R. Burnham, of California; I. L. Reeves, Frazer Metzger, and H. Nelson Jackson, of Vermont; Harry Stimson, W. J. Schieffelin, and William H. Donovan, of New York, and Messrs. James R. Garfield, Raymond Robbins, R. H. Channing, David M. Goodrich, W. E. Dame, George Roosevelt, Richard Derby and various others who were immediately accessible, it was decided unanimously that in view of the decision of the President the only course open to us is forthwith to disband and to abandon all further effort in connection with the divisions, thereby leaving each man free to get into the military service in some other way, if that is possible, and, if not, then to serve his country in civil life as he best can.

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3 Responses to Roosevelt’s Letter to His Volunteers

  • Don

    A little background on the proposal for Volunteer divisions in WWI.

    The Spaninsh American war convinced may people the18th century organization of the War department was not suitable for the late 19th century let alone the 20th.

    A number of reforms were mad. As part of this it was realized that the old practice of calling volunteer units was not suitable for modern war, and had been pretty much written out of the governing laws, regulations and plans. The proposal for 100,000 volunteers was out of synch with defense planning.

    Basically the onslaught of Regular and National guard officers to join would have caused serious harm to activating Regular and guard divisions which would have lost a major part of the cadre needed to make them ready for war.

    It was included as a sop to Mr. Roosevelt and allies, but it no chance of implementation unless President Wilson
    supported it.
    Of course, even if it had been approved it would have been a chilly

  • Continued — day in hell before Wilson nominated Roosevelt to anything.

  • Considering the size of the proposed volunteer force Hank, 100,000 out of five million mobilized men, I think its impact on overall mobilization would have been small. Of course Pershing and Roosevelt were good friends and I think they could have smoothed over any problems working together. It was an interesting concept and I wish it had been tried, although I agree that with Roosevelt at its head Wilson would never have consented. Now, if Hughes had been elected, as he almost was, the Rough Rider Corps would almost certainly have become a reality. One of the more tantalizing what ifs in American history.

May 18, 1917: Wilson Signs Selective Service Act of 1917

Thursday, May 18, AD 2017

 

The first draft imposed since the Civil War, the Selective Service Act of 1917, passed by overwhelming majorities in Congress, was signed by President Wilson a century ago.  The Act provided for the enlistment, at the discretion of the President, of the four volunteer divisions that Theodore Roosevelt planned to lead.  Go here to read about this provision.  Wilson, alarmed that Roosevelt would either be killed in France and he would be blamed, or that he would come back a national hero and be swept into the Presidency in 1920, would refuse to ever authorize the four volunteer divisions.  By the end of the War some 2 million Americans volunteered for service and some 2.8 million were drafted.

Individuals who belonged to religions or organizations opposed to War were exempted from combatant service but not from noncombatant service.  Members of the clergy were exempted from conscription as were seminarians.

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3 Responses to May 18, 1917: Wilson Signs Selective Service Act of 1917

  • In Europe, universal conscription was seen as the counterpart of universal suffrage and this concept was the reason that French women were denied the vote until 1945.

  • I remember when Jimmy Carter brought back draft registration way back in 1979. The USSR had invaded Afghanistan and Khomeini took over in Iran. The Army was short of its enlistment goals. I was more than a little scared of being drafted. After Reagan was elected, the Armed Forces began to exceed enlistment goals, if memory serves. I was quite a coward in my mid to late teens.

  • In Europe, universal conscription was seen as the counterpart of universal suffrage and this concept was the reason that French women were denied the vote until 1945.

    Women were not conscripted after 1945 and I’ll wager men disqualified for service were not ejected from the voter rolls prior to 1946. (In the United States, the cohorts wherein military service was most prevalent among men (born around 1922) still had a population of those disqualified and excused which accounted for 20% of the total). I seriously doubt that military service was the reason.

Fearless Freddie Dies

Tuesday, May 9, AD 2017

Frederick_Funston_001

All but forgotten today, Major General Frederick Funston would almost certainly would have led the American Expeditionary Force in World War I if he had not died at age 51 of a heart attack on February 19, 1917.  Nicknamed “Fearless Freddie” he was perhaps the most famous American soldier between the Civil War and World War I.  He had a very unique career.  Always in ill health, he was a physically small man, 5 foot, 5 inches, and throughout his life never weighed more than 120 pounds.  After failing an admissions test to West Point in 1884 he pursued a career in botany.  Tiring of the quiet life he enlisted in the Cuban Revolutionary Army fighting against Spain.  Contracting malaria his weight fell to an alarming 95 pounds and he was granted medical leave in the United States.

After the declaration of war against Spain he was commissioned colonel of the 20th Kansas Infantry.  Fighting against the Filipino Insurrection, he became a national hero by capturing the Filipino leader Emilio Aguinaldo.  A separate action earned him a Medal of Honor.  Playing a leading role in putting down the Insurrection, Funston came under attack by critics for the severe measures he took.  The pen of Mark Twain was enlisted against him:

If this Funstonian boom continues, Funstonism will presently affect the army. In fact, this has already happened. There are weak-headed and weak-principled officers in all armies, and these

are always ready to imitate successful notoriety-breeding methods, let them be good or bad. The fact that Funston has achieved notoriety by paralyzing the universe with a fresh and hideous

idea, is sufficient for this kind—they will call that hand if they can, and go it one better when the chance offers. Funston’s example has bred many imitators, and many ghastly additions to

our history: the torturing of Filipinos by the awful “watercure,” for instance, to make them confess—^what? Truth? Or lies ? How can one know which it is they are telling ? For under

unendurable pain a man confesses anything that is required of him, true or false, and his evidence is worthless. Yet upon such evidence American officers have actually—but you know about

those atrocities which the War Office has been hiding a year or two; and about General Smith’s now world-celebrated order of massacre—thus summarized by the press from Major Waller’s

testimony:

“Kill and burn—this is no time to take prisoners—the more you kill and burn, the better—Kill all above the age of ten—make Samar a howling

wilderness!

Funston was completely unrepentant:

I personally strung up thirty-five Filipinos without trial, so what was all the fuss over Waller’s ‘dispatching’ a few ‘treacherous savages’? If there had been more Smiths and Wallers, the war would have been over long ago. Impromptu domestic hanging might also hasten the end of the war. For starters, all Americans who had recently petitioned Congress to sue for peace in the Philippines should be dragged out of their homes and lynched.

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4 Responses to Fearless Freddie Dies

  • Sanity and actions of warriors…. rarely do they dance nicely together all the time. Depending, I suppose, on the amount of hand to hand in your face combat, one could easily become the savage he so desperately despises.
    The rarity are the likes of Desmond Doss. Heroism bordering the supernatural realm.

    As for Freddie? I wouldn’t want to be fighting against him. He would never run out of rope.

  • “As for Freddie? I wouldn’t want to be fighting against him. He would never run out of rope.”

    That is a very safe statement!

  • You want to really have some fun? Here in the Most Perfect and Highly Intellectual Society :roll:, San Francisco, Fort Funston is a park and part of the Golden Gate Natl Recreation Area:

    https://www.nps.gov/goga/planyourvisit/fortfunston.htm

    If they only knew they were desecrating their feet with a memorial to Funston, what would our dear safe-place friends do?

  • 👿 You know, this article, if forwarded to the City and County of the Most Perfect Society, would cause an uproar.

Theodore Roosevelt, the Rough Riders Corps and the Great War

Saturday, April 1, AD 2017

I make no pretense to accuracy. I shall be quite content if the sensibilities of no one are wounded by anything I may reduce to type.

Recollections of Thomas R. Marshall:  A Hoosier Salad (1925)

 

 

Something for the weekend:  Onward Christian Soldiers by Mahalia Jackson.  This stirring hymn was the campaign song of the Bull Moose Party in 1912 and was the unofficial anthem of the Rough Riders Corps that Major General Theodore Roosevelt led in the Great War.  We are almost a century away from the day when the US intervened in that War, and it is a good time to look at the controversial role that our 26th President played in that conflict.

In March of 1917 Congress passed a bill allowing Roosevelt to raise four divisions of volunteers, similar in nature to the Rough Rider regiment he raised and led in the Spanish American War.  It is said that President Wilson opposed this move.  There was certainly no love lost between Wilson and Roosevelt, Roosevelt having been the harshest critic of Wilson.  However, the stroke that killed President Wilson on April 1, 1917 rendered any such opposition moot, except to historians or writers of alternate history.  Vice President Thomas R. Marshall who now became President had no personal animosity towards Roosevelt, rather the reverse, and after his call for a declaration of war on Germany appeared at the White House with Roosevelt and former President Taft, the three men urging that now there were no Republicans and no Democrats, but only Americans united for victory.  After this there was no way that Marshall could probably have kept Roosevelt out of the War if he had wanted to, and he did not attempt to do so.

One other man could have stopped Roosevelt, however, if he had wished to, the commander appointed by President Marshall to lead the American Expeditionary Forces in France.  General John J.Pershing was a friend of Theodore Roosevelt who he had served with at the battle of San Juan Hill when Pershing was a thirty-eight year old First Lieutenant, and whose career Roosevelt had jump started when he was President by promoting him from Captain to Brigadier General, over the heads of 835 officers more senior to Pershing.  Pershing had every reason to be grateful to Roosevelt, and he was, but he was also concerned with a military amateur commanding a corps in the American Expeditionary Forces that he was to lead onto the deadly battlefields of France.  Going to visit Roosevelt at Oyster Bay, he was quickly relieved by their talk, which he discussed in his Pulitzer Prize winning memoir, My Experiences in the World War:  

“President  Roosevelt demonstrated that he had been keeping up with military developments in the Great War and was intrigued with the coordination of artillery and infantry with the newfangled air power and tanks.  He told me that he was willing to serve as a private in the force he was raising, and that as far as he was concerned no man would have a commission for any officer rank in the Rough Riders without my permission.  Touched by his self-less patriotism, I suggested that he serve as second in command of the Rough Riders with General Adelbert Cronkhite, currently in command of artillery in the Canal Zone, appointed as commander.  A worried frown passed over his face:  “The Rough Riders are not going to spend the War guarding the Canal Zone are they?”  I laughed.  “No Mr. President, I will need the best troops available with me on the Western Front, and, as was the case in Cuba, I suspect the Rough Riders in this War will be second to none.”  We shook hands and parted, still friends.”

Roosevelt made it known that he was seeking men for the Rough Riders with this advertisement he placed in all major newspapers.

Rough Riders are being recruited by Theodore Roosevelt for service in France.  Roosevelt expects that he and his Rough Riders will be constantly in the forefront of the fighting and their casualties will likely be extreme.  Only fighters with courage need apply.   Regional recruiting offices are being established at the following locations:

Roosevelt’s recruiters were quickly besieged by endless lines of volunteers.  Estimates are that some three million men filled out applications for the 100,000 slots in the four divisions of the Rough Rdiers.  Roosevelt, as with his original Rough Riders, favored men from dangerous out door occupations, men with prior military experience, athletes, and those from unusual backgrounds, like the troupe of circus clowns he allowed to enlist as a group.  Cowboys with nothing in this world except the shirts on their backs, as in the original Rough Riders, rubbed shoulders with the scions of families of great wealth.  Roosevelt made it clear that no man without prior military experience would be commissioned in the Rough Riders, and all other commissions would be earned in battle in France.  Regular Army officers looked askance at all this and referred to the Rough Riders as Teddy’s Wild West Show and by less printable terms.  Pershing assigned a number of junior officers to the Rough Riders to help bring order out of chaos, giving them the temporary rank of full Colonel.  Among them were Douglas MacArthur, George Patton, George Marshall and Dwight Eisenhower.

As in the original Rough Riders, Latinos and Indians from the West served.  A group of black regular officers, headed by Colonel Charles Young, wrote a letter to Roosevelt requesting to serve in the Rough Riders.  Although not wholly free from the racial prejudice of his day, Roosevelt got the approval of Pershing for these officers to serve on detached status with the Rough Riders, and enlisted two black regiments to serve in one of his divisions.  When a group of white Rough Rider officers protested this decision, Roosevelt had the complaining officers immediately cashiered from the Rough Riders.

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Theodore Roosevelt and His Four Divisions

Monday, March 27, AD 2017

 

 

In 1917 a century ago Theodore Roosevelt was 58 years old.  He was not in the best of health and he had put on a fair amount of weight since his “crowded hour” leading the charge up Kettle Hill in the Spanish American War.  Nonetheless, he was eager once again to fight for the Stars and Stripes.  An advocate of preparedness, he had assembled a staff and plans to recreate his Rough Riders on a corps level to fight in France, and over a 100,000 men had indicated their willingness to join this force.  Congress in March of 1917 authorized him to raise such a force of volunteers of up to four divisions.  In May of 1917 President Wilson indicated that no such force of volunteers would be accepted by the Army, Wilson not wanting to be held responsible if the beloved ex-President died fighting.  Roosevelt was crushed and never forgave Wilson, who he despised in any case.  He kept busy making speeches in support of the War and selling war bonds, but it was not the same as fighting himself.  On April 1 we will explore the “what if” had Wilson allowed Roosevelt to take his new Rough Riders into battle.

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Trump and Teddy?

Tuesday, March 21, AD 2017

Matter! Matter! Why, everybody’s gone crazy! What is the matter with all of you? Here’s this convention going headlong for Roosevelt for Vice President. Don’t any of you realize that there’s only one life between that madman and the Presidency? Platt and Quay are no better than idiots! What harm can he do as Governor of New York compared to the damage he will do as President if McKinley should die?

Ohio Senator Mark Hanna at the Republican Convention of 1900

I have been rolling around in my brain the thought that as President Donald Trump reminds me of Theodore Roosevelt.  At first glance the two New Yorkers seem entirely dissimilar with Roosevelt the scholar turned politician who led the charge up San Juan Hill having little in common with the blue collar billionaire.  However, in their shared endless energy, their desire to attack intractable problems, their appeal to restoring America greatness, their willingness to make enemies of the powers that be, etc. they do strike me as quite similar and unlike most other Presidents. Stephen Beale at The American Conservative makes the case for Trump being in the same mold as The Colonel:

Roosevelt—a career politician who sought military service, an avid outdoorsman who hunted elephants and explored the Amazon, and an intellectually curious historian who dabbled in anthropology and zoology—might seem an unlikely model for Trump.

But in terms of policy, the parallels are legion.  

On trade, Roosevelt was—like most Republicans then and Trump now—a proud protectionist. “Thank God I am not a free-trader. In this country pernicious indulgence in the doctrine of free trade seems inevitably to produce a fatty degeneration of the moral fibre,” Roosevelt wrote in an 1895 letter to his friend Senator Henry Cabot Lodge.

Roosevelt was also a committed immigration restrictionist. In 1903, after radical socialists had bombed Haymarket Square in Chicago and assassinated his predecessor, Roosevelt signed into law a ban on anarchists—including those who professed radical political views, even if they didn’t have any actual terrorist affiliation. Four years later, another law excluded “idiots, imbeciles, feeble-minded persons,” prostitutes, those with certain medical conditions, such as epileptics, and polygamists, or even those who believed in polygamy. Notably this last provision was wielded against Muslim immigrants.  

Roosevelt famously railed against “hyphenated Americanism” and declared that America was not a “mosaic of nationalities.” In language that rings as distinctly Trumpian today, Roosevelt demanded total allegiance and nothing else from American citizens, native and naturalized alike: “A square deal for all Americans means relentless attack on all men in this country who are not straight-out Americans and nothing else.”

Roosevelt built up the military, specifically the Navy, which he showed off to the world as the “Great White Fleet.” Both presidents have a defining public works project. For Trump, it’s the border wall. For Roosevelt, it was the Panama Canal. As with Trump, Roosevelt ruffled international feathers with his proposal, even sparking the secession of Panama from Columbia.

As an undergraduate student at Harvard, Roosevelt had fallen under the influence of Hegelian philosophy, which holds to an evolutionary view of history. He came to believe that the old view of a limited government entrusted with the protection of natural rights was outmoded. Instead, Roosevelt championed an exalted view of executive power that was limited only by what the Constitution explicitly said it could not do. As he put it in his autobiography:

I declined to adopt the view that what was imperatively necessary for the Nation could not be done by the President unless he could find some specific authorization to do it. My belief was that it was not only his right but his duty to do anything that the needs of the Nation demanded unless such action was forbidden by the Constitution or by the laws. Under this interpretation of executive power I did and caused to be done many things not previously done by the President and the heads of departments.

More than anyone since Lincoln, Roosevelt expanded executive power, laying the foundations for the modern presidency. He sought to govern by executive order as much as possible, issuing a whopping 1,081 orders—nearly six times as many as his predecessor and still the fourth highest overall in the history of the U.S. presidency. (His cousin FDR holds the record at 3,721. Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge rank second and third at 1,803, and 1,203, respectively.)

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One Response to Trump and Teddy?

  • TR was until 1905 restrained by his need to get elected in hi shown right, and even afterwards by the power of the Republican party. Not until 1912 did he let ‘er rip.The victor in that election enlarged the role of the Presidency far beyond what TR had. Trump is 70 years old and all he needs to win re-election is to hold on to his base.

Quotes Suitable for Framing: Philander Knox

Tuesday, March 14, AD 2017

“I think, it would be better to keep your action free from any taint of legality.”

Attorney General Philander Knox’ response when President Theodore Roosevelt asked him to craft a legal defense for American actions which led to the independence of Panama and the treaty between Panama and the United States for the construction of the Panama Canal.  Hurrah for Theodore Roosevelt, the father of Panamanian independence and the Panama Canal!

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Quotes Suitable for Framing: Henry Adams

Friday, February 17, AD 2017

 

 

 

Power when wielded by abnormal energy is the most serious of facts, and all Roosevelt’s friends know that his restless and combative energy was more than abnormal. Roosevelt, more than any other man living within the range of notoriety, showed the singular primitive quality that belongs to ultimate matter,—the quality that mediæval theology assigned to God,—he was pure act.

Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams (1918)

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Theodore Roosevelt and The Curse of Meroz

Monday, January 23, AD 2017

 

 

Theodore Roosevelt had long been a harsh critic of the neutrality policy of the Wilson administration.  On January 29, 1917 he gave a memorable response to the January 22, 1917 speech to the Senate of President Wilson in which Wilson called for Peace Without Victory:

“President Wilson has announced himself in favor of peace without victory, and now he has declared himself against universal service-that is against all efficient preparedness by the United States.

Peace without victory is the natural ideal of the man too proud to fight.

When fear of the German submarine next moves President Wilson to declare for “peace without victory” between the tortured Belgians and their cruel oppressors and task masters;  when such fear next moves him to utter the shameful untruth that each side is fighting for the same things, and to declare for neutrality between wrong and right;  let him think of the prophetess Deborah who, when Sisera mightily oppressed the children of Israel with his chariots of iron, and when the people of Meroz stood neutral between the oppressed and their oppressors, sang of them:

“Curse ye Meroz, sang the angel of the  Lord, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof, because they came not to the help of the Lord against the wrongdoings of the mighty.”” 

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7 Responses to Theodore Roosevelt and The Curse of Meroz

  • Were not the alleged atrocities the Germans perpetuated on the Belgians in WWI part of a propaganda campaign. Were they ficticious, or at least exaggerated? And what was the object of WW I, anyway? WW II I can understand; Hitler wanted to take over the world. But WW I, I can see what happened, but not why. It seems everyone involved used it as an excuse for some strategic advantage of their own.

  • “Were they ficticious, or at least exaggerated?”

    They were real enough, as the corpses of some six thousand Belgian civilians, men, women and children, slaughtered in reprisals by the German Army at the beginning of the War could attest.

    http://ww1centenary.oucs.ox.ac.uk/memoryofwar/the-rape-of-belgium-revisited/

  • Thanks for the clarification. What about the purpose of the war, or goal? never could figure it out.

  • Much ink and cyberspace has been spent on WWI.
    Granted that the Germans did not assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand, I still blame Germany. The German nation was ruled by Lutheran Prussians and wanted an empire. Kulturkampf and their treatment of Poles were both rotten.

  • The purposes of the War varied among the belligerents:

    Great Britain-Free Belgium. Prevent Germany from dominating Europe.

    France-Get back Alsace-Lorraine. Prevent Germany from dominating Europe.

    Italy-Prevent Germany from dominating Europe. Get Tyrolia from Austria-Hungary.

    Serbia-Survival.

    Russia-Protect Serbia. Stop Germany and Austria Hungary from dominating Europe.

    Austria Hungary-Destroy Serbia. Dominate the Balkans.

    Germany-Hold onto territorial conquests. Become dominant power in Europe.

    USA-Defeat Germany. Build new international order to make another World War impossible.

  • To mr. McClary. The best way for Serbia to survive was NOT to provoke Austria-Hungary to go to war. But Serbia was a very aggressive state, with a large and active irredentist faction that wanted just that and who expected Russia too come to their aid. Their war aim was the establishment of a south slave state dominated by Serbia. In other words, they wanted to become in the Balkans what Prussia had become in the German-speaking lands.

  • “The best way for Serbia to survive was NOT to provoke Austria-Hungary to go to war. But Serbia was a very aggressive state, with a large and active irredentist faction that wanted just that and who expected Russia too come to their aid.”

    Correct, and elements in Austria had long pined for the destruction of Serbia and the domination of the Balkans by Austria. The Chief of Staff of the Austrian Army had recommended a pre-emptive war against Serbia some 13 times prior to 1914. The first lesson of history in the Balkans is that no one has clean hands.

One Response to Quotes Suitable for Framing: Theodore Roosevelt

Johnny Cash: Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 23, AD 2016

A reminder from the late, great Johnny Cash that we all have so much to thank God for when we sit down with our families this Thursday.  Perhaps we should also recall these words from Theodore Roosevelt in his final Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1908:

 

For the very reason that in material well-being we have thus abounded, we owe it to the Almighty to show equal progress in moral and spiritual things. With a nation, as with the individuals who make up a nation, material well-being is an indispensable foundation. But the foundation avails nothing by itself. That life is wasted, and worse than wasted, which is spent in piling, heap upon heap, those things which minister merely to the pleasure of the body and to the power that rests only on wealth. Upon material well-being as a foundation must be raised the structure of the lofty life of the spirit, if this Nation is properly to fulfil its great mission and to accomplish all that we so ardently hope and desire. The things of the body are good; the things of the intellect better; the best of all are the things of the soul; for, in the nation as in the individual, in the long run it is character that counts. Let us, therefore, as a people set our faces resolutely against evil, and with broad charity, with kindliness and good-will toward all men, but with unflinching determination to smite down wrong, strive with all the strength that is given us for righteousness in public and in private life.

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One Response to Johnny Cash: Thanksgiving

  • I’m thankful for a load: Number Two son to be wed 3 December; Number Three son to be wed 29 July 2017; Number One son has another child coming April 2017; we have our health; most importantly we have our Savior, Jesus Christ. I’m thankful for the God-given grace to be not afflicted by whomever occupies the White House. “Put not your trust in princes.”
    .
    “Who’s got it better than us? Nobody!”
    .
    When (now rarely) I hear a Johnny Cash sing what comes to mind is Sunday mornings strolling in pain through a hot southern town after a long drinking bout. Ouch.

Theodore Roosevelt Official Portrait

Thursday, October 27, AD 2016

The official portrait in the White House by John Singer Sargent is actually the second official portrait.  The first portrait was done by French painter Theobald Chartran.  Roosevelt despised it and hid it in a dark recess of the White House.  When his kids began to call the portrait “Mewing Cat” because their father appeared so harmless in it, he had the portrait destroyed.  John Singer Sargent had difficulty in getting Roosevelt to stay still long enough to pose.  Sargent discussed the portrait when Roosevelt was going up a staircase.  Irritated Roosevelt immediately struck a pose.  Sargent saw the potential immediately, and was able to get the peripatetic president to stand still for half an hour a day in the same pose, although the half hour was often interrupted by aides and secretaries.

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Quotes Suitable for Framing: Theodore Roosevelt

Thursday, October 20, AD 2016

 

Americanism means the virtues of courage, honor, justice, truth, sincerity, and hardihood—the virtues that made America. The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty-first, the love of soft living and the get-rich-quick theory of life.

Theodore Roosevelt, January 10, 1917

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3 Responses to Quotes Suitable for Framing: Theodore Roosevelt

  • Hillary

    Courage………………..nope
    Honor…………………… fail
    Sincerity……………….. below average
    Justice and Truth…… missing
    Hardihood………………YES.
    Any two faced liar who has mislead the public and “boldly” stand in front of that same public to paint a self portrait of integrity has crawled to a level of hardihood.

    What is sickening is that Trump scores slightly higher… slightly.

    In trying to do my due diligence as a citizen of these United States I tremble at the thought of voting for Trump. Hillary never of course, but to vote for Donald is a version of the Hail Mary pass in football.

    If he follows up on his Supreme Court appointments and de-funding PP, then the pass was received in the end zone.

    For that possibility I will cast my vote.
    I still feel that not casting a vote is a vote for madame baby slayer.

    God help us.

  • Philip: You mean Madame Ben Ghazi , betrayer of the American people, sovereign citizen of a godless world government and Judas herself.

  • Yes Mary De Voe…. that’s the one.

    Her nervous faux smile can only mask the underbelly of a woman which is corruption itself. Her hubris is as offensive as her statement that she was left horrified by the image of the toddler on the sidewalk, blood running down into his face. Yet she is baffled by the Deplorables who stand in defense of the unborn who are ripped apart in the wombs of frightened mother’s. That blood is just as red. That blood is just as real….but no sympathy for the “not protected by the Constitution” unborn.

    Hell will rejoice when Hillary makes it home.
    She is an ambassador, par excellence, for the inhabitants of the Lake of Fire.

    Pray for her conversion?
    Yes……I will.

2 Responses to Quotes Suitable for Framing: Theodore Roosevelt

  • Racist!
    .
    Misogynistic!
    .
    Xenophobic!
    .
    Homophobic!
    .
    Irredeemable!
    .
    Deplorable!
    .
    Keep deplorable my friends.

  • Milius mentions a second person “the Bear”….
    If you want to know who this guy is rent “Big Wednesday”. This is the only acceptable Hollywood Surfing movie, from a surfers perspective.
    Yes, Milius directed that movie, and now you know why Charlie don’t surf in “Apocalypse Now”.

2 Responses to Quotes Suitable for Framing: William Shakespeare

  • I am re-reading the new, Mark Lee Gardner, Rough Rides book because (I am a retired, useless drain on society) I wanted info to “judge” whether TR did his heroics (and he was very heroic in Cuba – he led from the front and was on horseback, “Little Texas,” or moving along the lines upright at all times in heavy small arms/arty fire while ordering his troops to not take unnecessary risks) because of political ambition or his drive to be a “man” as he saw it.
    .
    He and a great soldier, Leonard Wood (an MD who was awarded the MoH for actions in the Geronimo Campaign) recruited, organized, trained and equipped the 1st US Volunteer Cavalry Regiment. His “volunteers” (cowboys, miners, lumberjacks, Ivy League football players, lawyers, et al) were at the forefront of the victorious fights around Santiago with the Army regulars.
    .
    I am convinced TR did it out of his life-long drive to be a “man.” I think his political ambition was a derivative of his drive to be a “man” as he defined the term.
    .
    IMO TR earned an MoH for Cuba, but was denied – political and Army jealousy(?). He finally, posthumously received it late in the 20th century.
    .
    TR chapter heading quote: “I put myself in the way of things happening, and they happened.”
    .
    “He was a man, take him for all in all, I shall not look upon his like again. … ” Hamlet, I, ii. Not to worry. America is in process of banning manhood from the public sphere.

  • You are now what I hope to be some day T.Shaw! My motto will them be: “I’m retired. Don’t ask me to do anything! And get off my lawn!”

Weasel Words and Theodore Roosevelt

Wednesday, August 24, AD 2016

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The more I study Theodore Roosevelt, the more I appreciate the impact he had on this nation, both in large and small ways.  He brought several phrases, for example, into common usage in this country.  One of these is “weasel words”.  Roosevelt did not invent the phrase, he noted that he first heard it used in conversation in 1879, but when he used it the phrase quickly entered American popular usage.  Roosevelt’s most famous use of the phrase was on May 31, 1916 in a speech entitled Mr. Wilson’s Weasel Words in which he attacked Wilson’s call for “voluntary universal military training”, Roosevelt viewing such a plan as inadequate and calling for a draft.

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4 Responses to Weasel Words and Theodore Roosevelt

  • I like weasel words. Not euphemisms like “voluntary universal military training”, but words that temper the impact of a statement. On the internet we’re supposed to say “you’re wrong”. I’d rather say “I think you’re wrong”, or “you could be right, but I think you’re overlooking something…”. It’s about not being a jerk.

    I just had a chat with my brother-in-law about “The Democrat Party”. I was saying to him that there’s no point in antagonizing the listener before you even get to your point. Anyway, the virtue is in the middle, somewhere between cowardice and obnoxiousness.

  • Fair point, Pinky. The Internet could use more weasel words in your sense of the term.

    Don, have you read Morris’s trilogy? While I would take issue with a fair number of TR’s policies, there is no denying that he was an admirable “man in full.”

  • I have listened to the first two volumes as audio books Mike and I have the third volume in my library although I haven’t gotten around to it yet. The trilogy is a fine effort, but as we near the centennial of TR’s death he still lacks the magisterial bio his career demands.

    The various positions Roosevelt adopted during his life give something to inspire, or outrage, every part of the American political spectrum of today. One must keep in mind that his positions were often far more nuanced than the truncated versions floating around the internet.

    Roosevelt led life at the charge and I will always be an admirer of his. This quote by Democrat Thomas Marshall at the time of his death is a good summing up of the bold spirit and force of nature that was Roosevelt.

    “Death had to take Roosevelt sleeping, for if he had been awake, there would have been a fight.”
    —Vice President Thomas Marshall

  • Teddy Roosevelt is inspiration personified a manly man and a presidential paradigm. It will be noted that he was considered a “progressive” but I think only in an incipient manner that never developed into the distorted view of reality that currently goes by that appellation. If asked for my favorite quote of his, I will offer his rather humble assertion that “It is not having been in the dark house that matters but having come out”.