CLEMENS, Samuel Langhorne. Autograph manuscript of an apparently unpublished article excoriating President Theodore Roosevelt for his boorishness. Stormfield, Conn., 5 January 1909. 4 pages, 8vo, in ink on the rectos of four sheets, slight marginal soiling on first page; red cloth folding case. Pasted inside case are photostat copies of two pertinent contemporary newsclippings.
"WE HAVE NEVER HAD A PRESIDENT BEFORE WHO WAS DESTITUTE OF SELF-RESPECT & OF RESPECT FOR HIS HIGH OFFICE"
Twain's piece relates to an incident which was said to have occurred on Thanksgiving Day, 1908, when President Roosevelt was reported to have affronted a girl who attempted to ride past him on a bridle path in Rock Creek Park, Maryland. Clemens lambasts a New York Times editorial on the incident as reported in the Sun (photostat copies of the newsclippings are present) and offers his own version (getting the facts from a visitor who "got them from a friend of the girl's father"): "...The President, with three friends was out in the country taking a horseback ride. Presently a girl of fifteen appeared in the rear -- on horseback. She closed the interval, & was intending to ride by, when she recognized the President by his shoulders, or perhaps his ears, & slackened her pace & fell back a few paces. After a little, the Head of the Greatest Nation on Earth whirled about & charged rearward & exclaimed to the child -- 'Don't you know who I am? You have followed me long enough. Where are your manners?' The frightened girl explained, 'I was in a hurry, & was going to ride by, but when I saw it was the President, I--' 'Never mind about that! Yonder's a side-road -- take it. Go!' The girl burst into sobbing & said -- 'It is the road to my father's house, sir. I was going to take it as soon as --' 'Go -- will you!' Which she did. The father wrote a note to the President complaining, but got no reply."
"Have we ever had a President before of whom such a story could be told & believed? Certainly not...we have never had a President before who was destitute of self-respect & of respect for his high office; we have had no President before who was not a gentleman; we have had no President before who was intended for a butcher...or a bully...Will the story be believed now? Yes, & justifiably. No one who knows Mr. Roosevelt will doubt that in its essence the tale is true. This is the same ruffian whose subordinate ruffian brutally treated a lady in the waiting-room of the White House three years ago, & was rewarded for it by being appointed postmaster of Washington."
Provenance: Sale, American Art Association, January 1937, lot 102.