The Learned Presidency: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson

By David H. Burton | Go to book overview

1
THEODORE ROOSEVELT Learned Style

On 7 June 1910, in the Sheldonian Theatre of the University of Oxford, exPresident Theodore Roosevelt delivered the Romanes Lecture. He called it "The World Movement--Biological Analogies in History."1 The invitation by Lord Curzon, the chancellor of the university, to give the address was recognition accorded Roosevelt as a distinguished man of letters as well as a former American president. His reputation in each regard was understood and appreciated on both sides of the Atlantic. Roosevelt found the prospect of giving the Romanes Lecture greatly attractive. It would afford him the opportunity once more of expounding his view of modern history, the leading feature of which was the world movement of the European races across the backward areas of the world. This movement, which had been in process since 1500, he had first elaborated in writings done during the 1880s. Years later as a politician and statesman he had pursued policies that fit within this frame of historical reference. In "Biological Analogies in History" he proposed to relate his understanding of history to the scientific spirit of the day for the purpose of placing man in social perspective.

During the closing months of his presidency Roosevelt took time away from pressing political concerns to make a careful preparation of the text of his address. Early drafts were read and criticized by Henry Fairfield Osborn of the American Museum of Natural History in New York, while Lord Bryce, the British ambassador to Washington and sometime Regius Professor of Civil Law at Oxford, found himself at the White House, as the President put it, "to suffer the wholly unwarrantable torments which I design to inflict . . . by going over my Romanes Lecture with me."2 But the result was a summation of the ideas of Roosevelt himself, a major effort on his part to pronounce a view of man in history. The success of the lecture has been dimmed by the comment of Dr. Lang, the Archbishop of

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The Learned Presidency: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 5
  • Contents 9
  • Acknowledgments 10
  • Preface 11
  • Prologue 19
  • 1 - Theodore Roosevelt Learned Style 38
  • 2 - William Howard Taft Legal Mind 89
  • 3 - Woodrow Wilson Righteous Scholar 136
  • Epilogue 193
  • Notes 200
  • Select Bibliography 213
  • Index 218
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