ROOSEVELT, THEODORE, President. Typed letter signed ("Theodore Roosevelt") as President, to Benjamin Ide Wheeler, President of the University of California at Berkeley, Washington, D.C., 3 July 1906.
2 pages, 4to, White House stationery, written on pages one and four of a four-page sheet, with a few corrections in TR's hand, marked "Private."
TR EVOKES ABRAHAM LINCOLN IN DEFENSE OF HIS ANTITRUST POLICIES
Roosevelt shrugs off criticism from big business and explains his choice of Taft for the next Republican candidate. The Hepburn Act, regulating railroad rates, had recently been enacted: "...[Y]ou are... right as to the foolishness of the business people. There was just one way in which rebates could be effectively reached, and that was by rate legislation. It was simply one side of the question. I 'raised the issue arbitrarily' in just the same sense that [Abraham] Lincoln 'raised' the slavery issue arbitrarily, when the real issue was the preservation of the Union...Yes, it has been a great session; but I have precisely your feeling of anxiety as to who is to take the leadership. Taft can. My own belief is that [Secretary of State Elihu] Root, if elected President, would carry on the contest very much as Taft and and I would; but I do not believe we can persuade people that this would be the case. I hate to have Taft go on the bench, great though I think his usefulness would be..." But there are no other suitable candidates, and "under no circumstances" will Roosevelt seek another term, even though "we are going to need to put our best foot forward to beat [William Jennings] Bryan..."
Taft had served as Secretary of War and Secretary of State in the Roosevelt cabinet, but aspired to become a Supreme Court Justice. With Roosevelt's energetic advocacy, Taft was the party's certain nominee by the time of the 1908 convention and won the election later that year. In 1912, though, Roosevelt turned against his hand-picked successor and ran against him on the Progressive ticket, preventing Taft's re-election and enabling Democrat Woodrow Wilson to win the presidency.