ROOSEVELT, Theodore. Typed letter signed ("Theodore Roosevelt") to Oscar King Davis, with several autograph corrections and interlinear additions by Roosevelt, Oyster Bay, N.Y., 23 June 1915. 2 1/3 pages, 4to (9½ x 7¾ in.), pale stain in upper margin of each page, otherwise in fine condition.
AFTER THE LUSITANIA SINKING, ROOSEVELT IS "PRETTY WELL DISGUSTED WITH OUR GOVERNMENT AND WITH THE WAY OUR PEOPLE ACQUIESCE IN AND SUPPORT IT"
An outspoken letter, written in the wake of the sinking of the Lusitania, attacking President Wilson, expressing general disgust with the government and predicting "future danger from Japan." Roosevelt declines an invitation to lecture in China: "The trouble with my coming is... that misapprehension is inevitably caused by my going abroad to speak, when I not only do not represent the wishes of the government at home, but when, as a matter of fact, that government is delighted to take some action to thwart my proposals and to make them seem inconsistent with the facts..." Roosevelt then unleashes his feelings about the recent actions of the Wilson administration: "... I am pretty well disgusted with our government and with the way our people acquiesce in and support it. I suppose, however, in a democracy like ours the people will always do well or ill largely in proportion to their leadership. If Lincoln had acted after the firing on Sumter in the way that Wilson did about the sinking of the Lusitania, in one month the North would have been saying they were so glad he kept them out of war and that they were too proud to fight and that at all hazards fratricidal war must be averted." Roosevelt mentions that he is going to quote from one of Davis's letters "because of the admirable lesson it contains for our pacificists. I agree absolutely with you as to the future danger from Japan. Probably if this war results in a deadlock abroad... we shall have to pay tribute to Germany first; but we will have to pay tribute to Japan in the end, as sure as fate; and by tribute I mean the loss of Hawaii, the Panama Canal, and probably Alaska, unless we are willing to forswear Wilson and Bryan, Taft, Carnegie, Jane Addams, David Starr Jordan, Nicholas Murray Butler and all their works and act as men amongst men. England is in a death struggle with Germany; and it is idle to suppose that she will try to save her own interests in the Far East at the cost of sacrificing her life at home... Like you, our attitude over the Lusitania horror made me heartsick. I hope you saw my own statements in the matter. They were very unpopular. Most of the Progressives approve of Wilson's infamous policy. As for you, you are a man and naturally take the view that you do."
Roosevelt's public reaction to the Lusitania disaster was swift and the disaster itself proved to be the catalyst for a shift in his political philosophy." Roosevelt wrote an article for Metropolitan magazine calling for Wilson to make a strong statement in retaliation, and while not calling for war, he noted that "it is well to remember there are things worse than war." Wilson, however, felt the American public was not ready for war. His "infamous policy" declared that "There is such a thing as a man being too proud to fight. There is such a thing as a nation being so right that it does not need to convince others by force that it is right." Roosevelt was enraged, and the Lusitania affair "transformed Roosevelt into an all-out interventionist." Since it was a Presidential election year, Roosevelt entertained the idea of a return to the White House: "Don't imagine that I wouldn't like to be at the White House this minute," he declared that winter. Roosevelt finally decided against running, and chose to campaign for Charles Evans Hughes once he had pledged himself to preparedness and progressivism. Although exagerrated, Roosevelt's fears about the direction in which Wilson's policies were taking the United States have a certain prescience when viewed against the stipulations of the Versailles Treaty which ended the first World War and proved a catalyst for the second.