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244   My Brother Theodore Roosevelt

so much discussed as to what Theodore Roosevelt meant by his statement that he would not run for the presidency again. This letter, on White House paper, is dated Oyster Bay, June 26, 19o8:

"Darling Corinne-My letter must have crossed yours. It was just exactly as you and Alice said. Now there is nothing to explain. I have been much amused at the fact that my English friends are wholly incapable of understanding my reasons for the view I take, and think it due to weakness or some fantastic scruple on my part. My theory has been that the presidency should be a powerful office, and the President a powerful man, who will take every advantage of it; but, as a corollary, a man who can be held accountable to the people, after a term of four years, and who will not in any event occupy it for more than a stretch of eight years. . . ." Nothing is more conclusive of my brother's attitude than that sentence "who will not in any event occupy it for more than a stretch of eight years." He did not believe in a third term consecutively, but in no way did he pledge himself at that time, or at any other time, not to consider again the possible gift of the highest place in the nation, should an interval come between his occupancy of the White House and the renewed desire of the people that he should fill that place in the nation once more. I have given some time to his attitude on this question, as it has been much misunderstood.

In amusing contrast to the seriousness of his decision not to accept a renomination comes a characteristic incident in the President's career. The account of this I quote from a letter to me of Mr. Gustavus Town Kirby, a participator himself in the event. The letter runs as follows:

"In 1908 the Olympic Games had been held at London, England, and when the athletes returned to this country, most of them went, with some heads of the American Olympic Committee, including the late James E. Sullivan and myself, to visit and receive the congratulations of the then President of the United States at his summer home in Oyster Bay. [What com

mittee, on no matter what important business, did not receive the congratulations of that eclectic President at his summer home at Oyster Bay!] I shall never forget the enthusiasm of the gathering, nor how, no sooner had either Sullivan or I presented a member of the team to the President, than he would, by use of his wonderful memory and in his most inspiring manner, tell the special athlete all about his own performance,-how far he had put the shot to win his event, or how gamely he had run; by how much he had beaten his competitor; his new worldrecord time, and the like. At the time I marvelled, and I thought even one as great as he must have `brushed up' for the occasion, but `Billy' Loeb, his Secretary, told me afterwards that it was not so, and that all during the Games he was kept constantly informed of the result of the performances of our boys; and while he actually knew none of these boys by sight, he not only knew them by name, but their performances as well. Not only to me, but to all gathered at this reception was this feat of memory most astounding. Mr. Roosevelt's gracious cordiality, his fine speech of congratulation, and his magnetic personality had such an effect on all that it was with great difficulty that they could be literally driven from the grounds and onto the Long Island boat for their return to New York.

"Michael Murphy, the trainer, many years trainer at Yale, and thereafter at `Pennsylvania,' and also for the New York Athletic Club, whose team in 1895 was triumphant over the great team of the London Athletic Club, was also a member of the party. On the way back in the boat I happened to pass through the cabin, which was entirely empty except for Michael Murphy, who, like the all but wizened-up old man he was, having but about a quarter of a lung, and deaf except to those things which he could not hear, sat huddled in a corner. I went up to Mike and said, `What are you doing?' He answered, `I am

thinking !' I replied, `Yes, that is evident; but what are you

thinking about?' He then said: `Well, Mr. Kirby, I suppose

there is no doubt but that I am the greatest trainer of men in

Home Life in the White House


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