4 pages, 4to, on personal stationery." />
12 June 2008
ROOSEVELT, Theodore. Typed letter signed ("Theodore Roosevelt") to Henry W. Wallace, 14 August 1914. 4 pages, 4to, on personal stationery.
TR BATTLES THE BOSSES, CITING LINCOLN AND THE EARLY GOP, VOWING TO END "THE DOMINATION OF THE OLD MACHINES"
A long, feisty letter in which T.R. defends his attacks on the party bosses William Barnes and Charles Murphy, and asserts his opposition to their proposed Primary law (Barnes would unsuccessfully sue Roosevelt for libel a few weeks after this letter): "You are entirely at liberty to go ahead with your proposal and censure me and the others. I shall certainly not alter my position in the matter. There is no man in this country who would be so pleased and so benefited by the action you suggest as Barnes. He and Murphy have for years been fighting every proposal for a fusion of decent citizens to secure good government in either the State or the City of New York. The present primary law was framed by the two machines with this end in view. The men like myself have for years in New York been endeavoring to make decent citizens understand that they ought not to be misled by machine talk of regularity into keeping the machine continually in power. Your proposal is to reinforce Messrs. Barnes and Murphy by having the Progressive Party in New York adopt the same attitude that the old parties have adopted, and ensure the domination of the old machines....I wish it understood that I regard the attempt to lay down universal rules to be followed by the party everywhere in local affairs as both absurd and mischevious....It is extraordinary how impossible it seems to be to make men learn the lessons of history." He then cites the example of the early GOP, which did not insist on a lock-step set of attitudes about the slavery question. "There were a very few extremists, Wendell Phillips, for instance, who took substantially the view that you now take and who frantically denounced Lincoln because he was not extreme enough and thorough-going enough for them. Of course, I am no more to be compared to Lincoln than the present crisis is to be compared to the Civil War; but the principles are the same in the two cases."
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