In the actual world a churchless community, a community where men have abandoned and scoffed at or ignored their religious needs, is a community on the rapid downgrade.
Theodore Roosevelt, 1917 interview Ladies Home Journal-Among his ten reasons to go to church every Sunday
Colonel Roosevelt, he hated being called Teddy and preferred being called Colonel, loved Christmas. Whenever he was at home he would always appear at the local school in his home town as Santa, to dispense gifts he bought to the local kids, a fact highlighted in his local paper after he died:
He was a village institution as the master of ceremonies over the Christmas tree in Christ Episcopal Church, and in the role of Santa Claus at the Cove Neck School, near Sagamore Hill, where all of his children learned the A B C’s. Last Christmas was the first time that Colonel Roosevelt had failed to take charge of these functions since he left the White House, with the exception of the Christmas of 1913, when he was on his way to South America. His son, Captain Archie, took his place last Christmas as the Santa Claus of the Cove Neck School.
Roosevelt was a religious man with a deep love of the Bible and a strong faith in Christ. It therefore comes as a surprise to learn that Roosevelt initially did not want a Christmas tree in the White House after he became President.
Matt Archbold at National Catholic Register brings us this story about President Roosevelt and the Christmas Tree:
President Theodore Roosevelt, an avowed environmentalist, banned Christmas trees from the White House during his presidency. The president was against real Christmas trees because he feared that Christmas trees would lead to deforestation. Mind you, at the time Christmas trees were very controversial with environmentalists. President William McKinley even reportedly received a letter in 1899 saying Christmas trees were “arboreal infanticide” and “un-American.”
Roosevelt’s action was intended to inspire Americans to just say no to Christmas trees. Clearly his bully pulpit didn’t have the effect he wanted, even on his own children.
In 1902, Roosevelt’s two youngest sons, Archie and Quentin, went outside and cut down a smallish tree right there on the White House grounds, snuck back into the White House, and hid it in a closet. The two boys decorated the tree in secret and even enlisted the help of an electrician on staff at the White House to help decorate it with lights. When Christmas morning came, Archie gathered his family outside the closet, turned on the switch, and opened the door to reveal the tree decorated with gifts for the entire family.
Roosevelt acknowledged the event in a letter in which he wrote:
Yesterday Archie got among his presents a small rifle from me and a pair of riding boots from his mother. He won’t be able to use the rifle until next summer, but he has gone off very happy in the riding boots for a ride on the calico pony Algonquin, the one you rode the other day. Yesterday morning at a quarter of seven all the children were up and dressed and began to hammer at the door of their mother’s and my room, in which their six stockings, all bulging out with queer angles and rotundities, were hanging from the fireplace. So their mother and I got up, shut the window, lit the fire (taking down the stockings of course), put on our wrappers and prepared to admit the children. But first there was a surprise for me, also for their good mother, for Archie had a little birthday tree of his own which he had rigged up with the help of one of the carpenters in a big closet; and we all had to look at the tree and each of us got a present off of it. There was also one present each for Jack the dog, Tom Quartz the kitten, and Algonquin the pony, whom Archie would no more think of neglecting that I would neglect his brothers and sisters. Then all the children came into our bed and there they opened their stockings.
According to the website White House Christmas Cards Teddy was “amused by his boys’ ingenuity” but took him to see his friend and environmental advisor, Gifford Pinchot, to explain to horrors of chopping down Christmas trees. But a funny thing happened.
To his surprise, Pinchot went into a lengthy explanation regarding how sometimes, cutting down some larger trees was in the best interests of forests, as it allowed a larger number of smaller young trees to receive the sunlight they need to flourish. While there is no public record of any other Christmas tree being displayed in the White House during Roosevelt’s presidency, a number of environmental acts and reforestation laws had been passed by the end of his term, and the public controversy over the use of live trees for decorative and traditional use had subsided for the time being.
Something for the weekend. 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 next 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.
During the Civil War, Theodore Roosevelt’s home was literally a house divided. His father was whole heartedly for the Union, while his mother backed the Confederacy with the same passion. Our of respect for his wife, Theodore Roosevelt, Sr, put aside his strong desire to enlist in the Union army and served in a civilian non-combatant capacity. Many of his mother’s relations fought for the Confederacy, and Roosevelt, Jr, was especially fond of two of his uncles who had served in the Confederate Navy:
“My mother’s two brothers, James Dunwoody Bulloch and Irvine Bulloch, came to visit us shortly after the close of the war. Both came under assumed names, as they were among the Confederates who were at that time exempted from the amnesty. “Uncle Jimmy” Bulloch was a dear old retired sea-captain, utterly unable to “get on” in the worldly sense of that phrase, as valiant and simple and upright a soul as ever lived, a veritable Colonel Newcome. He was a commander in the Confederate navy, and was the builder of the famous Confederate war vessel Alabama. My uncle Irvine Bulloch was a midshipman on the Alabama, and fired the last gun discharged from her batteries in the fight with the Kearsarge. Both of these uncles lived in Liverpool after the war. “
My uncle Jimmy Bulloch was forgiving and just in reference to the Union forces, and could discuss all phases of the Civil War with entire fairness and generosity. But in English politics he promptly became a Tory of the most ultra-conservative school. Lincoln and Grant he could admire, but he would not listen to anything in favor of Mr. Gladstone. The only occasions on which I ever shook his faith in me were when I would venture meekly to suggest that some of the manifestly preposterous falsehoods about Mr. Gladstone could not be true. My uncle was one of the best men I have ever known, and when I have sometimes been tempted to wonder how good people can believe of me the unjust and impossible things they do believe, I have consoled myself by thinking of Uncle Jimmy Bulloch’s perfectly sincere conviction that Gladstone was a man of quite exceptional and nameless infamy in both public and private life.” Continue reading
“[A] physician of wealth and high standing had seduced a girl and then induced her to commit abortion-I rather lost my temper, and wrote to the individuals who had asked for the pardon, saying that I extremely regretted that it was not in my power to increase the sentence.”
Theodore Roosevelt, from his Autobiography recalling his days as governor of New York (1913)
“Theodore Roosevelt” and “hero” tend to pop into my mind simultaneously when I recall him, and this is yet another reason for me to cherish his memory.
When home ties are loosened; when men and women cease to regard a worthy family life, with all its duties fully performed, and all its responsibilities lived up to, as the life best worth living; then evil days for the commonwealth are at hand. There are regions in our land, and classes of our population, where the birth rate has sunk below the death rate. Surely it should need no demonstration to show that wilful sterility is, from the standpoint of the nation, from the standpoint of the human race, the one sin for which the penalty is national death, race death; a sin for which there is no atonement; a sin which is the more dreadful exactly in proportion as the men and women guilty thereof are in other respects, in character, and bodily and mental powers, those whom for the sake of the state it would be well to see the fathers and mothers of many healthy children, well brought up in homes made happy by their presence. No man, no woman, can shirk the primary duties of life, whether for love of ease and pleasure, or for any other cause, and retain his or her self-respect.
Theodore Roosevelt, Sixth Annual Message (State of the Union) to Congress (1906)
A new series beginning on PBS tonight: The Roosevelts: An Intimate History. A seven part Ken Burns history marathon it will examine the lives of Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt. Burns is a fairly strident liberal Democrat so it will be interesting to see if FDR and Eleanor are treated as plaster saints, or if we will sight any meaningful analysis of those complex figures.
Theodore Roosevelt was a cousin of Franklin and an uncle to Eleanor. He loomed large over their lives, Theodore acting as conservator of the drunken, suicidal Elliott, his beloved black sheep brother, the father of Eleanor, and Franklin seeking to model himself and his career after his famous fifth cousin. Ironically, the contrasts between Theodore and Franklin are stark. Theodore’s brand of progressive Republicanism was rejected by his party, while Franklin was successful in remodeling the Democrat party into the embodiment of the progressive nostrums of his time. Theodore was an extremely moral man who exercised absolute fidelity to his two wives, his first wife having died on the same day as his mother. Franklin Roosevelt was a precursor of such bounders as JFK, LBJ and Bill Clinton who exercised the moral probity of low rent Casanovas. Theodore Roosevelt, a man made to be a war president, was president in a time of profound peace for the nation; FDR achieved his lasting fame as commander in chief during World War II. Theodore’s political career ended in defeat in 1912, the Grim Reaper preventing a possible resurgence in 1920, Roosevelt having mended political fences with the Republican Party by his constant criticism of Wilson during World War I. FDR knew unprecedented political success as President, setting the dangerous precedent of being elected four times to the office, and only the Grim Reaper ending his grip on the White House. Continue reading
Christianity is not the creed of Asia and Africa at this moment solely because the seventh century Christians of Asia and Africa had trained themselves not to fight, whereas the Moslems were trained to fight. Christianity was saved in Europe solely because the peoples of Europe fought. If the peoples of Europe in the seventh and eighth centuries, on up to and including the seventeenth century, had not possessed a military equality with, and gradually a growing superiority over the Mohammedans who invaded Europe, Europe would at this moment be Mohammedan and the Christian religion would be exterminated.
May the soul of journalist James Foley, a Catholic, beheaded by the terrorists of ISIS, rest in peace. May he now be enjoying the Beatific Vision. May those responsible for his foul murder receive justice to the full for this deed in this world and the next.
Death had to take him in his sleep, for if he was awake there’d have been a fight.
Remark of Charles Marshall, Vice President of the United States, upon hearing of the death of Theodore Roosevelt
On October 12, 1915, Columbus Day, that force of nature Theodore Roosevelt gave a speech to the Knights of Columbus in New York City. Roosevelt packed so many lives into his 60 years: historian, reformer, rancher, politician, Undersecretary of the Navy, soldier, Governor of New York, President, explorer, naturalist, etc. In 1915 his crusade was to rouse America into readiness if it should become necessary to fight Germany and to instill in the American people a sense of unity and patriotism. He wanted this nation of immigrants to understand that they were Americans and he wanted no talk of hyphenated Americans. Many of the important issues of his day translate poorly to our time, and Roosevelt took positions which would inspire, and offend, virtually every segment of the contemporary American political spectrum. This speech however does have a contemporary ring to it, and if I had been present I suspect that I would have come close to wearing out my hands madly applauding most of it. Here is the text of the speech:
FOUR centuries and a quarter have gone by since Columbus by discovering America opened the greatest era in world history. Four centuries have passed since the Spaniards began that colonization on the main land which has resulted in the growth of the nations of Latin-America. Three centuries have passed since, with the settlements on the coasts of Virginia and Massachusetts, the real history of what is now the United States began. All this we ultimately owe to the action of an Italian seaman in the service of a Spanish King and a Spanish Queen. It is eminently fitting that one of the largest and most influential social organizations of this great Republic, a Republic in which the tongue is English, and the blood derived from many sources, should, in its name, commemorate the great Italian. It is eminently fitting to make an address on Americanism before this society.
We of the United States need above all things to remember that, while we are by blood and culture kin to each of the nations of Europe, we are also separate from each of them. We are a new and -distinct nationality. We are developing our own distinctive culture and civilization, and the worth of this civilization will largely depend upon our determination to keep it distinctively our own. Our sons and daughters should be educated here and not abroad. We should freely take from every other nation whatever we can make of use, but we should adopt and develop to our own peculiar needs what we thus take, and never be content merely to copy.
Our nation was founded to perpetuate democratic principles. These principles are that each man is to be treated on his worth as a man without regard to the land from which his forefathers came and without regard to the creed which he professes. If the United States proves false to these principles of civil and religious liberty, it will have inflicted the greatest blow on the system of free popular government that has ever been inflicted. Here we have had a virgin continent on which to try the experiment of making out of divers race stocks a new nation and of treating all the citizens of that nation in such a fashion as to preserve them equality of opportunity in industrial, civil, and/ political life. Our duty is to secure each man against any injustice by his fellows. Continue reading
An audio recording of Woodrow Wilson in 1912 taking advantage of the division in Republican ranks that would lead Theodore Roosevelt to bolt the party and run as the standard bearer of the Bull Moose party that he created. Wilson’s matter of fact, dry delivery, so in keeping with his profession of professor, reminds me of how in so many ways he was the anti-Roosevelt in style, although the similarities in domestic policy between him and Roosevelt were closer that either of them, both of whom cordially detested the other, were comfortable with.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at 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 or defeat.
Born to a family of wealth, Theodore Roosevelt could have led a quiet life of indulgence and plenty. Instead he devoted himself to service to the country, one of the few elected officials who actually deserved the title public servant. He combined this with a belief that life is an adventure, sometimes a hard and dangerous one, but always an adventure. Roosevelt always heard the trumpets of life and he led his life at a joyous charge. As a country and a civilization we desperately need his energy, his optimism and his sheer joy. May we know his like again at the head of our nation. Continue reading
Hattip to Matt Archbold at Creative Minority Report. Veep and Beloved National Clown Joe Biden excuses his refusal to kiss the ring of the pope by making up a fable about his Mom:
Theodore Roosevelt throughout his life eagerly embraced new technology, and so it was no surprise that during the 1912 election he recorded some of his speeches. Go here for links to the sound recordings of these speeches. I wish there was a sound recording made of many of the nuggets of wisdom dispensed by Roosevelt. I especially have always been fond of these two: Continue reading
From the Deadliest Warrior television series. I have always enjoyed absurd alternate history speculations a la “What if Napoleon had a B-52 at Waterloo?”
By the time Lawrence of Arabia arrived on the scene TR was getting fairly long in the tooth and was in ill health, however, I would not have bet against him. He used knives for killing fairly frequently. This letter to his kids in 1901 is typical:
Keystone Ranch, Colo., Jan. 14th, 1901 –
Soon we saw the lion in a treetop, with two of the dogs so high up among the branches that he was striking at them. He was more afraid of us than of the dogs, and as soon as he saw us he took a great flying leap and was off, the pack close behind. In a few hundred yards they had him up another tree. This time, after a couple of hundred yards, the dogs caught him, and a great fight followed. They could have killed him by themselves, but he bit or clawed four of them, and for fear he might kill one I ran in and stabbed him behind the shoulder, thrusting the knife right into his heart. I have always wished to kill a cougar as I did this one, with dogs and the knife. Continue reading
Death had to take him in his sleep, for if he was awake there’d have been a fight.
Thomas R. Marshall, Vice President of the United States, on hearing of the death of Theodore Roosevelt
One of his worst enemies once said about Theodore Roosevelt that a man would have to hate him a lot not to like him a little. It was hard not to admire Roosevelt for his courage, his enthusiasm and his obvious good will. That last aspect of his character is illustrated by the fact that for many years he would go to Cove School at Oyster Bay dressed as Santa Claus, talk to the kids, and give them presents he had purchased out of his own pocket. When he did it in 1898, after achieving renown leading his Rough Riders in Cuba, the little boys at the school mobbed their Santa hero! Continue reading
(I couldn’t resist reposting this on the hundredth anniversary. If Theodore Roosevelt were a fictional character, this passage would be rejected by an editor as being impossible!)
A recording of a speech by that force of nature otherwise known as Theodore, he hated being called Teddy, Roosevelt during his “Bull Moose” campaign for president in 1912. Note the clear delivery and diction. Note also his references to French history: politicians did not assume that they had to talk down to the average voter in those days. By splitting the Republican vote, Roosevelt getting the larger share, Roosevelt’s third party campaign ensured the election of Woodrow Wilson. Although he failed to win, during the campaign Roosevelt established beyond doubt that he was one of the toughest men ever to be president.
On October 14, 1912, Roosevelt was giving a speech in Milwaukee. A deranged saloonkeeper, John Schrank, shot him in the chest. Roosevelt refused to cancel a scheduled speech. His opening is perhaps one of the most memorable for any speech:
Friends, I shall ask you to be as quiet as possible. I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose. But fortunately I had my manuscript, so you see I was going to make a long speech, and there is a bullet – there is where the bullet went through – and it probably saved me from it going into my heart. The bullet is in me now, so that I cannot make a very long speech, but I will try my best.
Only after he completed his speech, he spoke for 90 minutes with blood running down his shirt, did he consent to go to a hospital. The bullet could not be removed from his chest and he carried it in him for the rest of his life. He was off the campaign trail for a scant one week, a week in which his opponents, sportsmanlike, also left the campaign trail out of respect for him. What a man! No matter one’s political views, and Roosevelt held a diverse group of views certain to both offend and inspire virtually all portions of the American political spectrum today, it is hard not to admire him. As one of his enemies once said about him, “A man would have to hate him a lot, not to like him a little!”
Of course, after his heroics in the Spanish-American War, such behavior was only to be expected. In 2001 Roosevelt was finally awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at the battle of San Juan Hill. Here is the citation: Continue reading
Two Presidents have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Barack Obama in 2009, for no reason I can discern other than a slap at his predecessor George Bush by the left-leaning award committee, and Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 for being the driving force behind the negotiations that led to the end of the Russo-Japanese War in 1905. Due to his duties as President, Roosevelt was unable to give his acceptance speech until May 5, 1910. It is an interesting address. Peace, he stated, was not the highest good unless it was wedded to righteousness. Peace is evil if it is merely a mask for sloth and cowardice. Tyrants have often prattled about peace in order to silence opposition to their schemes. Individuals, and nations, must ever be ready to defend themselves. He then offered some practical suggestions for a more peaceful world. Arbitration of disputes between nations. The establishment of a tribunal at the Hague. A League of Peace by the great powers to attempt to keep the peace of the world. The irony of course is that it was the European Great Powers that would lead the world into War just four years after Roosevelt’s speech, but of course the future was for him an unknown country, just as our future is to us. The text of the speech of Theodore Roosevelt: Continue reading
The death-knell of the Republic had rung as soon as the active power became lodged in the hands of those who sought, not to do justice to all citizens, rich and poor alike, but to stand for one special class and for its interests as opposed to the interests of others.
Well, I see that President Obama is seeking to emulate Theodore Roosevelt. I have been thinking about it, and Obama is exactly the same as Roosevelt. Let us count the ways:
1. Theodore Roosevelt raised the Rough Riders regiment and was awarded the medal of honor for his extreme heroism in leading the charges of the Rough Riders up Kettle Hill and San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War. He was the only man mounted in that fight and it is a miracle he survived. All accounts testify to his complete contempt for death that day. Obama was a community organizer in Chicago, a town noted for inclement weather.
2. Theodore Roosevelt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for taking the lead in the negotiations which led to the treaty ending the Russo-Japanese War. Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for not being George Bush.
3. Theodore Roosevelt wrote 43 books, his favorite topic being America, the land that he loved. Obama has thus far written two books on the subject that he loves above all else, himself.
4. Theodore Roosevelt was a highly religious man who regularly attended church. Obama engages in regular morning worship when he looks in the mirror to shave.
5. Theodore Roosevelt engaged in a never-ending battle against political corruption throughout his career. Obama and his associates have helped provide work for prosecutors investigating political corruption. Continue reading