"Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground": First Edition of Theodore Roosevelt: The American; Inscribed by Theodore Roosevelt

  • Theodore Roosevelt: The American.

Theodore Roosevelt: The American.


Item Number: 58092

London and New York: F. Tennyson Neely, 1899.

First edition of this early biography of Theodore Roosevelt. Octavo, original cloth, gilt titles to the spine, front panel, frontispiece of Roosevelt. Inscribed by Theodore Roosevelt on the front free endpaper in a contemporary hand, “Jeffrey Englehart, with regards of his father’s friend, Theodore Roosevelt.” An ownership stamp of the recipient below. In very good condition. Rare, this is the first example we have seen signed and inscribed by Roosevelt.

Theodore Roosevelt: The American covers the future President of the United States' life through the inauguration as Governor of New York. After leaving Cuba in August 1898, the Rough Riders were transported to a camp at Montauk Point, Long Island, where Roosevelt and his men were briefly quarantined due to the War Department's fear of spreading yellow fever. Shortly after Roosevelt's return to the United States, Republican Congressman Lemuel E. Quigg, a lieutenant of party boss Tom Platt, asked Roosevelt to run in the 1898 gubernatorial election. Platt disliked Roosevelt personally, feared that he would oppose Platt's interests in office, and was reluctant to propel Roosevelt to the forefront of national politics. But Platt also needed a strong candidate due to the unpopularity of the incumbent Republican governor, Frank S. Black, and Roosevelt agreed to become the nominee and to try not to "make war" with the Republican establishment once in office. Roosevelt defeated Black in the Republican caucus by a vote of 753 to 218, and faced Democrat Augustus Van Wyck, a well-respected judge, in the general election.Roosevelt campaigned vigorously on his war record, winning the election by a margin of just one percent. As governor, Roosevelt learned much about ongoing economic issues and political techniques that later proved valuable in his presidency. He was exposed to the problems of trusts, monopolies, labor relations, and conservation. Chessman argues that Roosevelt's program "rested firmly upon the concept of the square deal by a neutral state". The rules for the Square Deal were "honesty in public affairs, an equitable sharing of privilege and responsibility, and subordination of party and local concerns to the interests of the state at large". By holding twice-daily press conferences—which was an innovation—Roosevelt remained connected with his middle-class political base. Roosevelt successfully pushed the Ford Franchise-Tax bill, which taxed public franchises granted by the state and controlled by corporations, declaring that "a corporation which derives its powers from the State, should pay to the State a just percentage of its earnings as a return for the privileges it enjoys". He rejected "boss" Thomas C. Platt's worries that this approached Bryanite Socialism, explaining that without it, New York voters might get angry and adopt public ownership of streetcar lines and other franchises. The New York state government affected many interests, and the power to make appointments to policy-making positions was a key role for the governor. Platt insisted that he be consulted on major appointments; Roosevelt appeared to comply, but then made his own decisions. Historians marvel that Roosevelt managed to appoint so many first-rate men with Platt's approval. He even enlisted Platt's help in securing reform, such as in the spring of 1899, when Platt pressured state senators to vote for a civil service bill that the secretary of the Civil Service Reform Association called "superior to any civil service statute heretofore secured in America" (Chessman p. 6). Chessman argues that as governor, Roosevelt developed the principles that shaped his presidency, especially insistence upon the public responsibility of large corporations, publicity as a first remedy for trusts, regulation of railroad rates, mediation of the conflict of capital and labor, conservation of natural resources and protection of the less fortunate members of society. Roosevelt sought to position himself against the excesses of large corporations on the one hand and radical movements on the other. As the chief executive of the most populous state in the union, Roosevelt was widely considered a potential future presidential candidate, and supporters such as William Allen White encouraged him to run for president. Roosevelt had no interest in challenging McKinley for the Republican nomination in 1900, and was denied his preferred post of Secretary of War. As his term progressed, Roosevelt pondered a 1904 presidential run, but was uncertain about whether he should seek re-election as governor in 1900.

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