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

By Joseph Bucklin Bishop | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IX
ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE NAVY

SOON after the election of McKinley to the Presidency in 1896, friends of Roosevelt began to urge upon the new President the desirability of appointing him to some position in his administration, preferably in the Navy Department, because of his well-known interest in naval matters. Chief among these friends was Senator H. C. Lodge, who was as earnest an advocate of the building of an efficient navy as Roosevelt himself. Senator Lodge made a visit to McKinley, at the latter's home in Canton, Ohio, in December, 1896, and had an intimate conversation with the President-elect which he set forth in a confidential letter to Roosevelt under date of December 2. This letter is of historical interest as revealing McKinley's attitude of mind not only toward Roosevelt, but toward the most pressing question that was to confront the new President on taking office--the situation in Cuba.

"He asked me about Cuba," wrote Senator Lodge," and we went over the whole of that very perplexing question. It is very much on his mind and I found he had given it a great deal of thought. He very naturally does not want to be obliged to go to war as soon as he comes in, for, of course, his great ambition is to restore business and bring back good times, and he dislikes the idea of such interruption. He would like the crisis to come this winter and be settled one way or the other before he takes up the reins, but I was greatly pleased to see how thoroughly he appreciates the momentous character of the question."

Striking evidence of the reputation for "driving force" which Roosevelt had earned for himself by his conduct in

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