Theodore Roosevelt: A Biography

By Henry F. Pringle | Go to book overview

Chapter VIII
GENTLEMAN COWHAND

UNDOUBTEDLY Isaac Hunt was right; Roosevelt "hiked away to the wilderness to get away from the world . . . went out there a broken-hearted man."1 Cattle-ranching had been no more than a potentially interesting avocation when, in 1883, he made arrangements to buy a herd. He intended, probably, to make visits once or twice a year, but there is nothing to indicate that he planned to live in the Dakota Bad Lands. Even after the tragedy of February, 1884, and the bitter disappointment of the Chicago convention, Roosevelt went West for only one reason; he had nothing else to do. A neighbor asked whether he intended to make ranching his business.

"No," he answered. "For the present I am out here because I cannot get up any enthusiasm for the Republican candidate, and it seems to me that punching cattle is the best way to avoid campaigning."2

He sought peace, and never quite found it, in the jagged prairies of the waste country. He told Bill Sewall, a Maine guide whom he had known for years and whom he attempted to transform into a Western cowhand, that his future was a matter of no concern. He might do a little writing; he made it plain that life stretched on as barren as the dusty prairie. Sewall disagreed. He pointed out that Roosevelt had an infant daughter "to live for."

"Her aunt can take care of her better than I can," was the answer. 3

There were, however, qualities in Roosevelt that halted introspection soon after it had started. He could surrender momentarily to depression, but it could not prevail against an innate robustness, against his adolescence. Again, I am conscious of the presumption that lies in charting the human mind. Let Roosevelt's contradictions speak for themselves. It must have been in the summer or fall of 1887, in one chapter of a book published the following year, that Roosevelt voiced his true philosophy: "Black care rarely sits behind a rider whose pace

____________________
1
RHP, Harvard Club Dinner.
2
Hagedorn, Hermann, Roosevelt in the Bad Lands, p. 165.

-92-

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Theodore Roosevelt: A Biography
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword vii
  • Contents ix
  • Illustrations xi
  • Book I 1
  • Chapter I - Teedie 3
  • Chapter II - Growth 16
  • Chapter III - Thou Goddess, Indifference! 26
  • Chapter IV - Alice Lee 40
  • Chapter V - Butter and Jam 54
  • Chapter VI - I Rose like a Rocket 65
  • Chapter VII - Practical Politician 79
  • Chapter VIII - Gentleman Cowhand 92
  • Chapter IX - The Years Between 106
  • Chapter X - A Job Once More 120
  • Chapter XI - Sword of Righteousness 132
  • Chapter XII - The Nation in Peril 152
  • Chapter XIII - Lord of the Navy 165
  • Chapter XIV - A Bully Fight 181
  • Chapter XV - Reward for a Hero 201
  • Chapter XVI - Yearnings and Consummation 216
  • Book II 235
  • Chapter I - Middle of the Road 237
  • Chapter II - The First Attack 251
  • Chapter III - The Rights of Labor 264
  • Chapter IV - The Big Stick 279
  • Chapter V - Setting for a Melodrama 301
  • Chapter VI - I Took Panama 315
  • Chapter VII - Trimming Sail 339
  • Chapter VIII - The Imperial Years Begin 359
  • Chapter IX - Imperial Years 372
  • Chapter X - The Japanese Menace 398
  • Chapter XI - Malefactors of Great Wealth 413
  • Chapter XII - The Wicked Speculators 432
  • Chaper XIII - Substantial Justice 446
  • Chapter XIV - Handing Down the Law 465
  • Chapter XV - End of the Reign 476
  • Book III 495
  • Chapter I - The First Error 497
  • Chapter II - Among the Kings 508
  • Chapter III - Return Triumphant 525
  • Chapter IV - True Democracy 540
  • Chapter V - Battling for the Lord 553
  • Chapter VI - Drums of War 572
  • Chapter VII - The Final Blow 589
  • Appendix 605
  • Bibliography 607
  • Index 613
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