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wrongdoers attempted to discredit them for doing their duty. Within six months he had put new spirit into the force and brought the law once more into repute. But in so doing he had stirred the anger of the politicians of both parties and of all the sinister forces which depended for their livelihood on vice and crime. His motives were misrepresented, his methods were ridiculed, until even the orderly elements, whose battle he was fighting, turned upon him. The newspapers attacked him savagely; even his colleagues on the Police Board thwarted him where they could.

"It is a grimy struggle, but a vital one," he wrote at the time in a letter to one of his sisters. "The battle for decent government must be won by just such interminable, grimy drudgery."


Into the tumult of his work on the Police Board came the rumors of impending war. Theodore Roosevelt believed with all his heart that Cuba should be freed from the intolerable yoke of Spain. He believed that only through the intervention of the United States could Cuba be thus freed. He had, ever since leaving college, preached national preparedness for war, demanding in particular the creation of an effective navy. When William McKinley, therefore, was elected Presi

dent in the autumn of 1896, and offered Roosevelt the position of Assistant Secretary of the Navy, he accepted it with frank delight. He became in the Navy Department what he had been on the Civil Service Commission and the Police Board, the moving spirit of the organization. His superior, Secretary Long, was by inclination a pacifist who looked with distrust and some terror on Roosevelt's efforts to make the navy into a vigorous fighting force. Roosevelt utilized the brief periods when he was Acting Secretary during his chief's absence to carry forward the policy which he deemed essential to the national safety. It was by such almost surreptitious action that Dewey was provided with the coal and ships which ultimately enabled him to destroy the Spanish fleet at Manila. When the war came in April, 1898, he immediately resigned his position and offered his services to the President in raising the cavalry regiments which Congress authorized. General Alger, Secretary of War, offered him the colonelcy of one of these regiments. He refused, asking that the regiment be given to his friend Leonard Wood, a veteran of the Indian wars and at that time a surgeon in the army, with himself as lieutenant-colonel. The offer was accepted. Early in May the Rough Riders, as they were nicknamed, began to gather from all parts of the country, at San Antonio, Texas. The training was brief but

thorough. Six weeks after the regiment was organized, it stood trained and equipped on the firing line outside of Santiago de Cuba.

The Rough Riders came under fire for the first time late in June, at Las Guasimas, where Roosevelt commanded first the center and later also the left wing. He revealed himself there as a brave soldier and an officer of calm judgment and qualities of leadership altogether unusual.

The battle of San Juan Hill was fought a week after the engagement at Las Guasimas. It was a small but most sanguinary battle in which, owing to the inefficiency and blundering of the commanding general, the American casualties were altogether out of proportion to the numbers engaged. The day before the battle Colonel Wood had been promoted to Brigadier General and Roosevelt had been given command of the regiment. All day, waiting for orders that did not come, he lay with his men under the galling fire of Spanish guns. One messenger after another whom he sent for orders was killed. At last, late in the afternoon, the command came to advance. He dashed forward, conspicuous on his white horse, plunged through the line of regulars who were obstructing his path, and led his men through the tall grass up the long hill. To right and to left of him men fell, and the Mauser bullets sang with the sound of ripping

silk past his ears. He remained untouched. At a barbed wire fence he sprang off his horse and plunged on, his men close at his heels. He gained the first crest, pushing the Spaniards back; then another, and a third. Inspired by his cool courage the American line advanced along the whole San Juan range. At dusk the Spaniards were in full retreat on the city.

Roosevelt returned home a popular hero. The Republicans of New York State, facing defeat, recognized that in Roosevelt lay their only hope. He was nominated for Governor that autumn, and after a hot and close campaign was elected.

At Albany Roosevelt revealed himself almost at once as an able executive, a clear-sighted judge of men and a politician of tact, skill and unswerving integrity. His own party machine was distrustful of him as a reformer who had said many hard things about party machines in the past and who had handled neither the Democratic nor the Republican organization with gloves during his battles as Police Commissioner. Roosevelt recognized that though the Republican machine under its leader, Senator Platt, might not be the ideal instrument through which he would choose to work if he could make a choice, it was a force with which he must deal if he wished to put on the statute books any progressive legislation at all. The machine dominated the Legislature and

had the power completely to block the Governor if it so desired. Roosevelt, realizing that the Republican organization, however imperfect in itself, might be made the instrument of good if rightly handled, managed by tact and cajolery and sundry breakfasts with Senator Platt whenever affairs became stormy, to gain the support of the Assembly and Senate for appointments and legislative measures which the Republican members of that body would never have dreamed of passing if Roosevelt had endeavored to swing the "big stick." More than once the issues were sharply drawn and there was a clash that threatened to disrupt the Republican Party. But in every case Roosevelt's willingness to make concessions on inessentials and his evident determination to stand firm as a rock on principles, averted what seemed inevitable disaster.


Roosevelt had meanwhile become the acknowledged leader of the progressive elements in American politics. His second annual message as Governor, delivered in January, 1900, strikingly revealed his imaginative grasp of the problems confronting the nation. movement to make him candidate for Vice-President on the Republican ticket was started simultaneously among his political enemies in the East, who wished to shelve him, and his devoted followers in the West who sought his promotion, and gained swift headway even against his most frantic protests. He looked

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