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    Edited by Gordon Hutner
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Pages: 352 | ISBN: 978-0-345-80612-3
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Synopsis

Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919) was our most published president with an incredible output of writing including forty books, over a thousand articles, and countless speeches and letters.
 
Collected here in one volume are examples of Roosevelt’s voluminous writings over a dazzling array of topics. Organized by general categories, readers can sample writings on subjects as varied as the environment, the danger of professional sports; the famous charge of San Juan Hill, and Roosevelt’s passion for literary criticism. From addresses and presidential messages on public policy and national ideals, to biography, to travel writing, to ecological concerns, to writings on hunting, to international politics and history, Roosevelt’s talents and achievements as a writer went far beyond what we now expect of our public leaders.
 
Roosevelt’s legacy as one of the first progressive American politicians, his concerns about environmentalism, his internationalism, and his unflinching belief in the American character and destiny uncannily speak to the issues of our own day and can be found in the pages of this representative and judicious anthology of his work.

Excerpt

“The American Boy” (1900)

Theodore Roosevelt’s meditation on the qualities of the American boy typifies many of his social analyses. In this essay, first published in 1900 in St. Nicholas, a young people’s magazine, and later appearing in his collection The Strenuous Life, Roosevelt spells out a creed of masculine energy and discipline as the key features of what will help a boy to grow up to be the “kind of American man of whom America can be proud.” Here Roosevelt’s social views take the somewhat conventional perspective that a boy’s vigor, developed in his commitments to both work and play, will stand him in good stead on the road to manhood. More so than in times past do American boys have opportunities to express this commitment through athletics, though Roosevelt, as we will see elsewhere, cautions boys away from preoccupations with games in the belief that all fixations are ultimately unhealthy. Roosevelt’s American boy works diligently at his studies, not only for the sake of what he will learn, but also for the “effect upon his character”—of submitting to a discipline. The American men who develop out of such boys are the readily recognizable Rooseveltian figures, active and vigorous, who reject bullying and abhor any form of “cruelty or brutality.”

The American Boy

Of course, what we have a right to expect of the American boy is that he shall turn out to be a good American man. Now, the chances are strong that he won’t be much of a man unless he is a good deal of a boy. He must not be a coward or a weakling, a bully, a shirk, or a prig. He must work hard and play hard. He must be clean-minded and clean-lived, and able to hold his own under all circumstances and against all comers. It is only on these conditions that he will grow into the kind of American man of whom America can be really proud.

There are always in life countless tendencies for good and for evil, and each succeeding generation sees some of these tendencies strengthened and some weakened; nor is it by any means always, alas! that the tendencies for evil are weakened and those for good strengthened. But during the last few decades there certainly have been some notable changes for good in boy life. The great growth in the love of athletic sports, for instance, while fraught with danger if it becomes one-sided and unhealthy, has beyond all question had an excellent effect in in-reared manliness. Forty or fifty years ago the writer on American morals was sure to deplore the effeminacy and luxury of young Americans who were born of rich parents. The boy who was well-off then, especially in the big Eastern cities, lived too luxuriously, took to billiards as his chief innocent recreation, and felt small shame in his inability to take part in rough pastimes and field sports. Nowadays, whatever other faults the son of rich parents may tend to develop, he is at least forced by the opinion of all his associates of his own age to bear himself well in manly exercises and to develop his body—and therefore, to a certain extent, his character—in the rough sports which call for pluck, endurance, and physical address.

Of course, boys who live under such fortunate conditions that they have to do either a good deal of outdoor work or a good deal of what might be called natural outdoor play, do not need this athletic development. In the Civil War the soldiers who came from the prairie and the backwoods and the rugged farms where stumps still dotted the clearings, and who had learned to ride in their infancy, to shoot as soon as they could handle a rifle, and to camp out whenever they got the chance, were better fitted for military work than any set of mere school or college athletes could possibly be. Moreover, to mis-estimate athletics is equally bad whether their importance is magnified or minimized. The Greeks were famous athletes, and as long as their athletic training had a normal place in their lives, it was a good thing. But it was a very bad thing when they kept up their athletic games while letting the stern qualities of soldiership and statesmanship sink into disuse. Some of the boys who read this paper will certainly sometime read the famous letters of the younger Pliny, a Roman who wrote, with what seems to us a curiously modern touch, in the first century of the present era. His correspondence with the Emperor Trajan is particularly interesting; and not the least noteworthy thing in it is the tone of contempt with which he speaks of the Greek athletic sports, treating them as the diversions of an unwarlike people which it was safe to encourage in order to keep the Greeks from turning into anything formidable. So at one time the Persian kings had to forbid polo, because soldiers neglected their proper duties for the fascinations of the game. Today, some good critics have asserted that the reverses suffered by the British at the hands of the Boers in South Africa are in part due to the fact that the English officers and soldiers have carried to an unhealthy extreme the sports and pastimes which would be healthy if indulged in with moderation, and have neglected to learn as they should the business of their profession. A soldier needs to know how to shoot and take cover and shift for himself—not to box or play football. There is, of course, always the risk of thus mistaking means for ends. English fox-hunting is a first-class sport; but one of the most absurd things in real life is to note the bated breath with which certain excellent Englishmen, otherwise of quite healthy minds, speak of this admirable but not over-important pastime. They tend to make it almost as much of a fetish as, in the last century, the French and German nobles made the chase of the stag, when they carried hunting and game-preserving to a point which was ruinous to the national life. Fox-hunting is very good as a pastime, but it is about as poor a business as can be followed by any man of intelligence. Certain writers about it are fond of quoting the anecdote of a fox-hunter who, in the days of the English Civil War, was discovered pursuing his favorite sport just before a great battle between the Cavaliers and the Puritans, and right between their lines as they came together. These writers apparently consider it a merit in this man that when his country was in a death-grapple, instead of taking arms and hurrying to the defense of the cause he believed right, he should placidly have gone about his usual sports. Of course, in reality the chief serious use of fox-hunting is to encourage manliness and vigor, and keep a man so that in time of need he can show himself fit to take part in work or strife for his native land. When a man so far confuses ends and means as to think that fox-hunting, or polo, or football, or whatever else the sport may be, is to be itself taken as the end, instead of as the mere means of preparation to do work that counts when the time arises, when the occasion calls—why, that man had better abandon sport altogether.

No boy can afford to neglect his work, and with a boy, work as a rule means study. Of course, there are occasionally brilliant successes in life where the man has been worthless as a student when a boy. To take these exceptions as examples would be as unsafe as it would be to advocate blindness because some blind men have won undying honor by triumphing over their physical infirmity and accomplishing great results in the world. I am no advocate of senseless and excessive cramming in studies, but a boy should work, and should work hard, at his lessons—in the first place, for the sake of what he will learn, and in the next place, for the sake of the effect upon his own character of resolutely settling down to learn it. Shiftlessness, slackness, indifference in studying, are almost certain to mean inability to get on in other walks of life. Of course, as a boy grows older it is a good thing if he can shape his studies in the direction toward which he has a natural bent; but whether he can do this or not, he must put his whole heart into them. I do not believe in mischief-doing in school hours, or in the kind of animal spirits that results in making bad scholars; and I believe that those boys who take part in rough, hard play outside of school will not find any need for horse-play in school. While they study they should study just as hard as they play football in a match game. It is wise to obey the homely old adage, “Work while you work; play while you play.”

A boy needs both physical and moral courage. Neither can take the place of the other. When boys become men they will find out that there are some soldiers very brave in the field who have proved timid and worthless as politicians, and some politicians who show an entire readiness to take chances and assume responsibilities in civil affairs, but who lack the fighting edge when opposed to physical danger. In each case, with soldiers and politicians alike, there is but half a virtue. The possession of the courage of the soldier does not excuse the lack of courage in the statesman, and even less does the possession of the courage of the statesman excuse shrinking on the field of battle. Now, this is all just as true of boys. A coward who will take a blow without returning it is a contemptible creature; but, after all, he is hardly as contemptible as the boy who dares not stand up for what he deems right against the sneers of his companions who are themselves wrong. Ridicule is one of the favorite weapons of wickedness, and it is sometimes incomprehensible how good and brave boys will be influenced for evil by the jeers of associates who have no one quality that calls for respect, but who affect to laugh at the very traits which ought to be peculiarly the cause for pride.

There is no need to be a prig. There is no need for a boy to preach about his own good conduct and virtue. If he does he will make himself offensive and ridiculous. But there is urgent need that he should practise decency; that he should be clean and straight, honest and truthful, gentle and tender, as well as brave. If he can once get to a proper understanding of things, he will have a far more hearty contempt for the boy who has begun a course of feeble dissipation, or who is untruthful, or mean, or dishonest, or cruel, than this boy and his fellows can possibly, in return, feel for him. The very fact that the boy should be manly and able to hold his own, that he should be ashamed to submit to bullying without instant retaliation, should, in return, make him abhor any form of bullying, cruelty, or brutality.

There are two delightful books, Thomas Hughes’s “Tom Brown at Rugby,” and Aldrich’s “Story of a Bad Boy,” which I hope every boy still reads; and I think American boys will always feel more in sympathy with Aldrich’s story, because there is in it none of the fagging, and the bullying which goes with fagging, the account of which, and the acceptance of which, always puzzle an American admirer of Tom Brown.

There is the same contrast between two stories of Kipling’s. One, called “Captains Courageous,” describes in the liveliest way just what a boy should be and do. The hero is painted in the beginning as the spoiled, overindulged child of wealthy parents, of a type which we do sometimes unfortunately see, and than which there exist few things more objectionable on the face of the broad earth. This boy is afterward thrown on his own resources, amid wholesome surroundings, and is forced to work hard among boys and men who are real boys and real men doing real work. The effect is invaluable. On the other hand, if one wishes to find types of boys to be avoided with utter dislike, one will find them in another story by Kipling, called “Stalky & Co.,” a story which ought never to have been written, for there is hardly a single form of meanness which it does not seem to extol, or of school mismanagement which it does not seem to applaud. Bullies do not make brave men; and boys or men of foul life cannot become good citizens, good Americans, until they change; and even after the change scars will be left on their souls.

The boy can best become a good man by being a good boy—not a goody-goody boy, but just a plain good boy. I do not mean that he must love only the negative virtues; I mean he must love the positive virtues also. “Good,” in the largest sense, should include whatever is fine, straightforward, clean, brave, and manly. The best boys I know—the best men I know—are good at their studies or their business, fearless and stalwart, hated and feared by all that is wicked and depraved, incapable of submitting to wrong-doing, and equally incapable of being aught but tender to the weak and helpless. A healthy-minded boy should feel hearty contempt for the coward, and even more hearty indignation for the boy who bullies girls or small boys, or tortures animals. One prime reason for abhorring cowards is because every good boy should have it in him to thrash the objectionable boy as the need arises.

Of course, the effect that a thoroughly manly, thoroughly straight and upright boy can have upon the companions of his own age, and upon those who are younger, is incalculable. If he is not thoroughly manly, then they will not respect him, and his good qualities will count for but little; while, of course, if he is mean, cruel, or wicked, then his physical strength and force of mind merely make him so much the more objectionable a member of society. He cannot do good work if he is not strong, and does not try with his whole heart and soul to count in any contest; and his strength will be a curse to himself and to everyone else if he does not have thorough command over himself and over his own evil passions, and if he does not use his strength on the side of decency, justice, and fair dealing.

In short, in life, as in a football game, the principle to follow is:

Hit the line hard; don’t foul and don’t shirk, but hit the line hard!

Table of Contents

Introduction:
Theodore Roosevelt: The Man in the Arena as Man of Letters

CULTURE AND SOCIETY
The American Boy
The Strenuous Life
“Professionalism” in Sports
At the Dedication Ceremonies of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, St. Louis
National Unity versus Class Cleavage
The Parasite Woman; the Only Indispensable Citizen
The American Negro and the War

NATIONAL POLITICS
The Control of Corporations
“The Colonial Policy of the United States” from African and European Addresses
The New Nationalism
National Preparedness—Military—Industrial—Social
League of Nations

CAMPAIGNS AND CONTROVERSIES
The Enforcement of the Law
At Laying of Cornerstone of Gateway to Yellowstone National Park, Gardiner, Montana
Natural Resources—Their Wise Use or Their Waste
How I Became a Progressive
The Case Against the Reactionaries
The Leader and the Cause

OBSERVATIONS AND TRAVEL
Hunting the Grisly
“A Chilean Rondeo” from A Book-Lover’s Holiday in the Open

BIOGRAPHY
“The Struggle with the Nullifi ers” from Thomas Hart Benton
“Minister to France” from Gouverneur Morris

HISTORY
“Champlain” from The Naval War of 1812
“The Spread of the English-Speaking Peoples” from The Winning of the West
“The Cavalry at Santiago” (The Battle of San Juan Hill) from The Rough Riders

ARTS AND LETTERS
History as Literature
An Introduction to American Literature
Nationalism in Literature and Art

Notes
Bibliography
Index
Theodore Roosevelt|Gordon Hutner

About Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt - Selected Speeches and Writings of Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt—the naturalist, writer, historian, soldier, and politician who became twenty-sixth president of the United States—was born in New York City on October 27, 1858, into a distinguished family. He was the second of four children of Theodore Roosevelt, Sr., a wealthy philanthropist of Dutch descent, and the former Martha (“Mittie”) Bulloch, an aristocratic Southern belle. An endlessly inquisitive young man, he was especially interested in natural history, which became the focus of his first published works, Summer Birds of the Adirondacks (1877) and Notes on Some of the Birds of Oyster Bay (1879). Upon graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard in 1880 Roosevelt briefly studied law. The next year he was elected to the New York State Assembly on the Republican ticket and soon made a name for himself as a historian with The Naval War of 1812 (1882).

Following the death of his wife, Alice, in childbirth in 1884, Roosevelt sought change and headed west to ranch lands he had acquired in the Dakota Territory. The young outdoorsman chronicled his years in the Bad Lands in Hunting Trips of a Ranchman (1885), the first volume in the nature trilogy that eventually included Ranch Life and the Hunting-Trail (1888) and The Wilderness Hunter (1893). After failing to win the New York City mayoral election in 1886 as a self-styled “Cowboy Candidate,” Roosevelt married childhood sweetheart Edith Kermit Carow and retired for a time to Sagamore Hill, his estate at Oyster Bay, Long Island. He wrote Gouveneur Morris (1888), a biography of the revolutionary-era statesman intended as a companion to the political memoir Life of Thomas Hart Benton (1887) and conceived the masterful four-volume history The Winning of the West (1889–1896).

Roosevelt returned to public life in 1889. Appointed Civil Service Commissioner he spent the next six years in Washington energetically pushing for reform of the government system, all the while propelling himself into the national spotlight. In 1895 he accepted a position as member, and later president, of the Board of Police Commissioners of New York City. Known as “a man you can’t cajole, can’t frighten, can’t buy,” Roosevelt continued to enjoy growing prestige nationwide, and within two years he was named assistant secretary of the navy under President William McKinley. Resigning this office in May 1898 at the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, Roosevelt helped organize and train the “Rough Riders,” a regiment of the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry whose legendary exploits he recorded in The Rough Riders (1899). A popular hero upon returning from Cuba, Roosevelt was elected governor of New York in November 1898, and two years later he became vice president of the United States in the second administration of William McKinley.

The assassination of President McKinley in September 1901 placed Roosevelt in the White House, and he was elected president in 1904. For the remainder of the decade he embodied the boundless confidence of the nation as it entered the American Century. He promised a square deal for the workingman, brought about trust-busting reforms aimed at regulating big business, and instituted modern-day environmental measures. The first American leader to play an important role in world affairs, Roosevelt guided construction of the Panama Canal, advocated a “big stick” policy to enforce the Monroe Doctrine, and sought to keep the Open Door course in China. In 1906 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for resolving the Russo-Japanese War.

After leaving office in 1909 he took an almost yearlong hunting trip to Africa and described his adventures in African Game Trails (1910). In 1912 he made a bid for reelection on the progressive Bull Moose ticket but lost to Woodrow Wilson, who became a bitter enemy. Afterward he completed Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography (1913) and Through the Brazilian Wilderness (1914), an account of his explorations in South America. With the outbreak of World War I, Roosevelt became an outspoken advocate of United States military preparedness in books such as America and the World War (1915). His last work, The Great Adventure, appeared in 1918. Still entertaining the idea of running again for office, Theodore Roosevelt died in his sleep at Sagamore Hill on January 6, 1919.

About Gordon Hutner

Gordon Hutner - Selected Speeches and Writings of Theodore Roosevelt
Gordon Hutner, editor, is professor of English at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He founded in 1989 and is the editor of the journal American Literary History, and is considered “one of the most influential editors of his generation.” He is the author of What America Read: Taste, Class, and the Novel, 1920–1960. He also edited the volume Immigrant Voices: Twenty-Four Narratives on Becoming an American and American Literature, American Culture.
Praise

Praise

“They don’t make them like TR anymore. This is just as well; one was plenty. But such a one he was! Even today he leaps off the page, grabs the reader by the shoulders and makes him want to mount a horse, climb a peak, or battle the enemies of the public weal. Bully indeed!”  —H. W. Brands, author of The Man Who Saved the Union: Ulysses Grant in War and Peace
 
“An eclectic collection from the highly literate and scholarly president of the United States. Editor Hutner had a difficult task: selecting representative samples from among the mountains of Roosevelt’s publications. Some selections are unsurprising . . . but there are also some welcome surprises. . . . Intriguing pieces, unobtrusively and skillfully edited, that form both a time and a timeless capsule.”  —Kirkus Review
 
“Although Theodore Roosevelt is most often remembered as a man of action—whether in the White House, on the African savannah or through the Amazon rainforest—what he was first and foremost, and throughout his life, was a man of letters. Roosevelt was not only astonishingly prolific, he was thoughtful, thorough and incredibly eloquent. For this book, Gordon Hutner has carefully chosen not just Roosevelt’s best known work, but his most powerful and stirring writings. It is a striking glimpse into an extraordinary mind, and an absolutely fascinating, endlessly entertaining read.” —Candice Millard, author of The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey
 
 
“See Theodore Roosevelt afresh by reading this fascinating collection of newly uncovered essays combined with his historic political and literary preachments. TR defends the reason why nationalism stands behind his brand of conservation of nature and his defense of the welfare state, and he breathes literary fire against the Fourteen Points as well as political reactionaries. A bully read!” —Kathleen Dalton, author of Theodore Roosevelt: A Strenuous Life

“Drawing on his expertise in the politics and culture of the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era and his legendary editorial skills, Gordon Hutner has managed to capture the complexity, creativity, contrariness and combativeness of Theodore Roosevelt, one of our nation's most important politicians and men of letters.”  —Glenn Altschuler, Thomas and Dorothy Litwin Professor of American Studies, Cornell University
 
“TR is back and timely. Many of his early twentieth century issues are, in new dress, those of our own early twenty-first century. This collection captures the intellectually omnivorous Roosevelt’s always readable major public writings, making them available to students and the general public.”  —Thomas Bender, University Professor of the Humanities and Professor of History, New York University
 
“Headstrong and articulate, Theodore Roosevelt rarely wandered into the gray areas of indecision and self-doubt, let alone pacificsm.  His own uncle said TR would rather bang his head against a stone wall than change direction. TR’s prose, in these aptly-selected passages, reflects the man: blunt despite a Harvard vocabulary, and brimful of a broadly inclusive vision of American optimism despite growing up so wealthy. Throughout his life, Roosevelt carried a soapbox in his back pocket.”  —Richard Zacks, author of Island of Vice: Theodore Roosevelt Doomed Quest to Clean Up Sin-Loving New York

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