Theodore Roosevelt and His Time Shown in His Own Letters - Vol. 1

By Joseph Bucklin Bishop | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
LITERARY LABORS--TILT WITH JEFFERSON DAVIS-- CANDIDATE FOR MAYOR

DURING his first term in the Legislature Roosevelt published, in May, 1882, "The Naval War of 1812," the opening chapters of which he had written while a student in Harvard. He had finished it while engaged in his tussle with machine politics in the Legislature, demonstrating thus early in his career his ability to turn aside from public and political duties and concentrate his mind upon literary work. This was merely the first of many instances of the kind which occurred quite regularly in his subsequent career. The publication of the Naval History came at the moment when his efforts to secure the impeachment of a judge were nearing their climax and when the fight over his other reform measures was absorbing public attention. The book was everywhere well received and the complimentary reviews of it in the press appeared side by side with comments, favorable and unfavorable, upon his legislative achievements. The book is notable as containing a warning to the nation of the need of thorough preparedness for war as the surest guaranty of peace--a warning which he repeated at every opportunity during the succeeding thirty-five years, the wisdom of which was amply justified when the folly of persistent disregard of it was demonstrated with such disastrous consequence at the entry of the United States into the European War in 1917. In his preface, written in 1882, he said:

"The operations of this war on land teach nothing new; it is the old, old lesson that miserly economy in preparation may in the end involve a lavish outlay of men and money which, after all, comes too late to more than partially off

-39-

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