ROOSEVELT, Theodore. Autograph letter signed ("Theodore Roosevelt") to E.A. Van Valkenburg, Editor of the North American, Sagamore Hill, NY, 10 July 1916. 4 pages, 8vo, with autograph envelope, minor browning, smearing to ink on last page affects signature. [With:] copies of two typed letters of Valkenburg to Roosevelt.
ROOSEVELT ANALYZES THE DEMISE OF THE PROGESSIVE PARTY: "I DIDN'T LEAVE THE PROGRESSIVES, THEY LEFT ME"
A superb, outspoken political letter, defending Roosevelt's suggestion that the Progressive and Republican parties should be merged and commenting on his lack of success as the Progressive Party nominee. In 1912 Roosevelt tried unsuccessfully to win the Republican nomination from his hand-chosen successor, Howard Taft, whose administration had failed to carry out many of his initiatives. Here, four years later, he looks back on the Bull Moose cause and stresses the importance of sticking with the GOP in 1916 to unseat Wilson: "Your editorials on 'Mr. Wilson's Fatal Fluency' and 'They Did More Than Declare' are two of the best things that have ever appeared even in the North American." With regard to Parker and the "southern Progressives," he comments "I am very sorry for them individually. But collectively they were negligible. John Parker [Louisiana governor] had a great personal following. It was not a Progressive following. He did not run as a Progressive for Governor; on the contrary, he ran as a non-partisan, and the Progressives were carefully kept in the background...and the most influential supporters of Parker carefully explaining that they were straight Democrats on national issues." Roosevelt explains that Southern Progressive support would not have been enough: "In the south the Progressives were weaker than in any other part of the Union...Our vote was utterly insignificant...In many states we fell below the socialists and prohibitionists--and you know how small these parties are in the south. I received a smaller percentage of the Presidential southern vote as Progressive than McKinley had received in '96 as a Republican."
Roosevelt concludes with an assessment of the importance of the Election: "I am devoted to John Parker; but to sacrifice the country in order to save his feelings would have been precisely akin to the conduct of amiable, well-meaning Lord North in dismembering the British Empire in order to avoid being unpleasant to George III--who was an excellent man in private life. The south more than any other section, utterly repudiated the Progressive party. I didn't leave the Progressives, they left me...More than any other section, it should have supported us; and, more than any other section, it...let its chance go by."
Despite Roosevelt's efforts at party consolidation, Woodrow Wilson won a second term in the Fall election.
Provenance: A Roosevelt family member (sale, Sotheby's, 22 May 1990, lot 118). (4)