A Final Roar: In One of His Last Letters, Theodore Roosevelt Blasts Woodrow Wilson

January 3, 1919

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A Final Roar: In One of His Last Letters, Theodore Roosevelt Blasts Woodrow Wilson
Typed Letter Signed
1 page | SMC 1256

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      Background

      Even dying, the old lion could roar – and here he does, shaking the branches with his contempt for Woodrow Wilson:
       
      I have frequently erred in judgment and have said so; that unlike Mr. Wilson, I have never erred in intellectual honesty and moral straight-forwardness… as regards Mr. Wilson I never erred but once and that was on the occasion in question, when for the first sixty days after the outbreak of the World War I heartily supported him.  This was a mistake, but it was a generous mistake from proper motives. I have never erred when I opposed him
       
      From Wilson to the Kaiser is just a skip and a jump for Roosevelt, as he answers how he could praise the German military machine in the face of the horrors it inflicted:
       
      Now, as to your own question, when you say you can’t understand my admiring the military efficiency of the German nation. Personally, I cannot understand any human being failing both to admire the military efficiency and to view with horror and indignation the use to which that efficiency was put. Efficiency in any line from war to business, is a curse if it is not guided by moral sense.
       
      Roosevelt dictated this blast from a sofa, which he could not even rise from to take his meals at the table. Still, he was working, contending, busy beating back death – which managed to take him asleep, in the early morning hours of the 6th.

      Death had to take him sleeping, Vice President Marshall remarked, for if he had been awake, TR might have won the fight.


      Typed Letter Signed (“T. Roosevelt”), 1 page, quarto, on the letterhead of The Kansas City Star, New York Office, but written from Sagamore Hill, Oyster Bay, New York, January 3, 1919.  With typed transmittal envelope To Mr. Carroll E. Armstrong in Clinton, Iowa.
       
      Also present is Armstrong’s 2 page TLS to Roosevelt, dated December 28, 1918, which elicited the response cited above.
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      Page 1 transcript
      THE KANSAS CITY STAR

      OFFICE OF
      THEODORE ROOSEVELT

      NEW YORK OFFICE
      347 MADISON AVENUE

      January 3rd, 1919

      My dear Mr. Armstrong:

      That's a very courteous letter of yours.  It can properly be answered by the enclosed. 

      As for your friend, the banker; tell him from me that I have frequently erred in judgment and have said so; that unlike Mr. Wilson, I have never erred in intellectual honesty and moral straight-forwardness, and tell him also that as regards Mr. Wilson I never erred but once and that was on the occasion in question, when for the first sixty days after the outbreak of the World War I heartily supported him. This was a mistake, but it was a generous mistake from proper motives. I have never erred when I opposed him.  Now, as to your own question, when you say you can't understand my admiring the military efficiency of the German nation. Personally, I cannot understand any human being failing both to admire the German military efficiency and to view with horror and indignation the use to which that efficiency was put. Efficiency in any line from war to business, is a curse if it is not guided by moral sense.

      Faithfully yours, 

      T. ROOSEVELT

      Mr. Carrol E. Armstrong,
      238 Fifth Avenue,
      Clinton, Iowa.

      Page 2/4

      Page 2 transcript
      THE KANSAS CITY STAR
      NEW YORK OFFICE
      347 MADISON AVENUE

      [Rosevelt's [sic] letters]


      Mr. Carroll E. Armstrong, 
      238 Fifth Avenue,
      Clinton, Iowa.

      Page 3/4

      Page 3 transcript
      R. W. ARMSTRONG
      CARROLL E. ARMSTRONG

      C. E. ARMSTRONG & SONS
      WHOLESALE AND RETAIL HARDWARE
      238-240 FIFTH AVENUE

      PAINTS AND OILS
      SPORTING GOODS AND PHONOGRAPHS
      PLUMBING AND STEAM HEATING
      FURNACES

      CLINTON, IOWA. December 28, 1918


      Hon. Thedore [sic] Roosevelt, 
      Oyster Bay, N.Y.

      My Dear Sir:

      The enclosed newspaper clipping was taken from a recent edition of the Duluth Herald.It [sic] was sent to me by one of Duluth's bankers and a former president of the state bankers association. It has been my pleasure, in recent months, to join with him in his noon day lunch.At [sic] such times we have had many friendly arguments about public affairs, public men and quite frequently about yourself.

      Our entire family have been great admirers of Theodore Roosevelt and I was fortunate enough to enjoy your company on a boat trip from Vancouver to Seattle about three years ago, at which time you were kind enough to give me your autograph, which we treasure very highly. 

      In a letter recently received from my Duluth banker friend this newspaper clipping and enclosed note were among the contents. 

      Page 4/4

      Page 4 transcript
      R. W. ARMSTRONG
      CARROLL E. ARMSTRONG

      C. E. ARMSTRONG & SONS
      WHOLESALE AND RETAIL HARDWARE
      238-240 FIFTH AVENUE

      PAINTS AND OILS
      SPORTING GOODS AND PHONOGRAPHS
      PLUMBING AND STEAM HEATING
      FURNACES

      CLINTON, IOWA. 


      -2-

      Although we have been subscribers to the Outlook for some years, we are unable to locate the issue of September 1914 in which the enclosed article is said to have appeared.

      Knowing that you advocated the intervention of the United States at the time of the German invasion of Belgium and knowing that you were very outspoken at the time of the sinking of the Lusitania, we absolutely can't understand why you should praise the military efficiency of Germany after the four years of horrors the world has suffered at her hands.To [sic] the ordinary layman this article is unanswerable.

      I wish to answer this letter to my banker friend and asking your pardon for interrupting your busy daily life, I submit this clipping and note to learn if you are correctly quoted.

      I remain

      Your admirer,

      CARROLL E. ARMSTRONG.