The Logic of Power

Roosevelt's breathtaking victory stunned his opponents and gratified his supporters; an announcement he made on the evening of his triumph stunned his supporters and gratified his opponents. Declaring himself deeply honored by the great vote of confidence that even then was pouring in, the president said he would consider the three-and-a- half years between September 1901 and March 1905 as equivalent to a full first term, in the sense that George Washington had understood such things. "The wise custom which limits the President to two terms regards the substance and not the form," he continued. "Under no circumstances will I be a candidate for or accept another nomination."

Roosevelt's statement shocked even those closest to him. Quite evidently he had been thinking the matter over; several days later he wrote to W. Murray Crane: "You saw that I acted upon the conclusion we had reached, and made public what I had to say about the third term at the earliest possible moment." Lodge was also aware of Roosevelt's third-term thinking. "I know of course how you felt in regard to another term," Lodge wrote from Massachusetts. But he hadn't realized his friend was going to reveal that thinking so soon. "It had not occurred to me that you would say it at that precise moment."

Apparently it hadn't occurred to Edith, either. Roosevelt may have raised with her the general subject of serving only two terms, but he seems to have kept her in the dark that he was going to abjure a third term even before his second term began. Doubtless he did so for the same reason he declined to tell Lodge: that he feared she would try to change his mind--as indeed she would have tried, as she later admit


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T.R.: The Last Romantic
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