FIVE years or more before his death Theodore Roosevelt said he wished me to write the history of the period which covered his public career. His reason was that I had been in his close confidence during the greater part of that period and knew the inside of every movement nearly as well as he knew it himself. We talked often on the subject and in the early spring of 1918 the project took definite form. He turned over to me for exclusive use all his personal and official correspondence together with other material relating to his public career from the time he was elected to the New York Legislature in November, 1881, till his life ended.
I began work at once, and at the time of his death I had completed the first draft of the story of his public life down to the year 1905, and had received his approval of it. At different stages of the work I went over with him what I had written and had the inestimable advantage of his suggestions, obtaining from him incidents and anecdotes which added immeasurably to the interest and historical value of the narrative, making it virtually his own. Between us we evolved a general plan for the history, which was to let the story of his career be told, as far as possible, in his own letters, utterances and acts.
This was an arduous but not a difficult task to perform. It was arduous because the material was virtually inexhaustible, but it was not difficult because of the quality of Roosevelt's letters. One of his private secretaries has estimated that during his public career he wrote 150,000 letters. Copies of these have been preserved. With them