Page images

Domestic issues faded into the background; the questions which had split the Republican party in 1912 were superseded by other questions at the moment more vital which served to reunite the opposing groups. In the national convention of the Progressive party he was nominated for President; in the Republican party the feeling was widespread that he should be the Republican candidate also. Justice Hughes was named. Roosevelt forthwith refused the Progressive nomination and gave his support to the Republican candidate.

War with Germany came as he had prophesied it must inevitably come if the United States were to keep a shred of self-respect.

"We wanted peace, and rightfully," said Calvin Coolidge speaking of him in after years, "but it was the voice of Roosevelt that roused the nation to the meaning and the menace of the war to America. In this he was never so disinterested, so patriotic, so eager for the right for its own sake. He appealed from the things that seemed to be to the soul of the things that are.

"This was his last great service. He roused the national conscience into righteous action. He spoke to the soul of his country and he saw her response. He saw her rise triumphant again above every sordid motive, resurgent to the everlasting realities. He saw

his fellow countrymen make their sacrifices, and he made his.”

He offered again to raise a division of troops. Men from all over the country volunteered their services until 250,000 men had recorded their desire to go under his leadership to France. Congress passed a bill authorizing the creation of two divisions of volunteers. The President refused his consent. Roosevelt, forbidden to fight in the field, grimly and in bitter disappointment, accepted the decision and flung himself whole-heartedly into the work that lay at hand. During the months that followed no good cause called to him in vain. Here and there over the country he spoke for the Liberty Loan Campaigns, for the Red Cross and other relief agencies; and in the pages of the Kansas City Star and the Metropolitan Magazine fought week after week for speed in military preparation, for an honest facing of facts, for wholehearted and unreserved participation in the war by the side of the Allies. He was well represented at the battle front. His son Archibald was wounded; Theodore was gassed and later wounded; Kermit fought valiantly, first in Mesopotamia, then in France; Quentin fell fighting in the air, high over the German lines. "Haven't I bully boys?" he exclaimed to a friend who approached him with words of condolence. "One dead and two in the hospital!".

The fever he had contracted in Brazil returned now and again. For weeks he traveled and made public addresses in spite of it. In February, 1918, however, he became dangerously ill; was operated upon; recovered; returned to his full activity and was again laid low. His illness scarcely abated his ceaseless activity and in no wise weakened the terrifying force of his fighting spirit. In the autumn he was again forced to take to the hospital. He returned to Sagamore Hill in time to spend Christmas with his family. The inflammatory rheumatism which had caused him much pain began to give way. He seemed on the road to recovery. He made plans for a hunt after devil-fish in the spring.

From his sick-bed he fought his battle for realism and candor and directed the policy of the Republican Party, of which he was once more the recognized and undisputed leader. At midnight on January 5th he wrote a memorandum for the Chairman of the Republican National Committee. Four hours later, quietly in his sleep, with no other word, the man of many battles and much tumult slipped out of the company of living men.

He was buried on a hillside in Oyster Bay; but with new potency his spirit cried to the hearts of his countrymen.

He was found faithful over a few things and he was made ruler over many; he cut his own trail clean and straight and millions followed him toward the light.

He was frail; he made himself a tower of strength. He was timid; he made himself a lion of courage. He was a dreamer; he became one of the great doers of all time.

Men put their trust in him; women found a champion in him; kings stood in awe of him, but children made him their playmate.

He broke a nation's slumber with his cry, and it rose up. He touched the eyes of blind men with a flame, and gave them vision. Souls became swords through him; swords became servants of God.

He was loyal to his country and he exacted loyalty ; he loved many lands, but he loved his own land best.

He was terrible in battle, but tender to the weak; joyous and tireless, being free from self-pity; clean with a cleanness that cleansed the air like a gale.

His courtesy knew no wealth, no class; his friendship no creed or color or race. His courage stood every onslaught of savage beast and ruthless man, of loneliness, of victory, of defeat.

His mind was eager, his heart was true, his body and spirit, defiant of obstacles, ready to meet what might come. He fought injustice and tyranny; bore sorrow gallantly; loved all nature, bleak spaces and

hardy companions, hazardous adventure and the zest of battle. Wherever he went he carried his own

pack; and in the uttermost parts of the earth he kept his conscience for his guide.

« PreviousContinue »