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122   My Brother Theodore Roosevelt

Citizens, what about Patriotism? " The audience rose to its feet; even "The 19th Century Club" could not but acknowledge that patriotism was a valuable attribute for American citizens to possess. That was the first time that Theodore Roosevelt, in public, asked of his fellow countrymen, "What about Patriotism?" but all his life long, from that time on, it was the question forever on his lips, the question which his own life most adequately answered.

In April of that same year, Theodore, an assemblyman not yet twenty-four, had already made himself so conspicuous a figure that mention of him and his attitudes was constantly in the New York press. In an envelope, put away long ago, I find an excerpt from the New York Times, April 5, 1882. It is yellow with age and brittle, but there was something ineffaceable and prophetic in the faded words; I quote:

"He called from the table his resolution directing an investigation by the Standing Judiciary Committee of the acts of Judge Westbrook and Ex-Attorney General Ward in connection with the gigantic stock jobbing scheme of the Manhattan Railroad Co. (Elevated). Ex-Governor Alvord tried to prevent resolution, but it was carried 48-22. As Mr. Roosevelt rose to speak, the House, for almost the only time during the Session, grew silent and listened to every word that he uttered."

In the midst of a body of men somewhat inclined to a certain kind of careless irreverence, it is of marked interest that "as Mr. Roosevelt rose to speak, the House, for almost the only time during the Session, grew silent and listened to every word that he uttered." To how few young men of twenty-three would "the House" accord such respect ! As I say, the attitude was prophetic, for the following forty years, no matter how fiercely he was criticised, no matter what fury of invective was launched against him, no matter how jealously and vindictively he was occasionally opposed, there was never a place where Theodore Roosevelt rose to speak that he was not listened to with great attention.

The Young Reformer   123

In the Sun of the same date the account of the incident runs as follows: "Mr. Roosevelt's speech was delivered with deliberation and measured emphasis, and his charges were made with a boldness that was almost startling." Those first two years of his career as an assemblyman showed, indeed, again, that the youth was father to the man. The characteristics which marked his whole public life never showed more dominantly than as a young assemblyman in Albany. Uncompromising courage was combined with common sense, and the power of practical though never unworthy compromise was as evident then as later in his life. Those years have been fully dwelt upon in his own autobiography.

The great tragedy of his young wife's death at the birth of her first child was an even greater tragedy because the death of our lovely mother occurred twenty-four hours before her son's wife passed away. Our mother's home at 57th Street had been the background of our young married life, as it had been the foreground of our youth, and the winter of 1884 had been spent by my husband and myself at 6 West 57th Street, and the consequence was that as Theodore also made his headquarters there, we had been much together, and that very fact made it even harder to break up the home which had been so long the centre of our family life.

The next two years were almost the saddest of our happy lives. My brother had, fortunately, already interested himself in a ranching enterprise in North Dakota, and although he returned to the assembly in February, 1884, and with his usual courage finished his year of duty there, he turned gladly to the new life of the West, and became, through his absolute comprehension of the pioneer type of the cowboy and the ranchman, not only one of them from a physical standpoint, but also one of them from the standpoint of understanding their mental outlook.

In June, 1884, however, before starting for Dakota, he was to meet one of the serious political decisions of his life. That

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