Mark Twain Excoriates Theodore Roosevelt as a Butcher, a Ruffian and a Bully

January 5, 1909

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Mark Twain Excoriates Theodore Roosevelt as a Butcher, a Ruffian and a Bully
Autograph Manuscript
4 pages | SMC 1706

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      An extraordinary unpublished manuscript, in which Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) bitterly indicts the conduct and character of President Theodore Roosevelt. A butcher, a dive-keeper, a ruffian and a bully, Clemens asserts that Roosevelt is “The Head of the Greatest Nation on Earth” only by circumstances over which he had no control. This denunciation flows from a report - rumored and treated with clumsy sarcasm in the press, but about which Clemens has heard a personal account - concerning an incident said to have occurred on Thanksgiving Day, 1908, when the President was horseback riding in Rock Creek, Maryland, and a fifteen year-old girl attempted to ride past him. At the last minute, however, the girl recognized the President and fell back – but Roosevelt was so affronted that he “charged rearward," harshly abusing her and ordering her off the path.
      Have we ever had a President before of whom such a story could be told & find believers? Certainly not. It would be recognized as a foolish & extravagant invention, a manifest lie; for we have never had a President before who was destitute of self-respect & of respect for his high office; we have had no President before who was not a gentleman; we have had no President before who was intended for a butcher, a dive-keeper or a bully, & missed his mission by compulsion of circumstances over which he had no control. Will the story be believed now? Yes, & justifiably. No one who knows Mr. Roosevelt will doubt that in its essence the tale is true.
      Clemens concludes by calling the President “the same ruffian” who rewarded a subordinate’s brutal treatment of a lady in the waiting-room of the White House with a promotion.

      Autograph Manuscript (unsigned), of an unpublished article; 4 pages, octavo, Stormfield, January 5, 1909.

      With photostat of article from The New York Sun, by-lined Washington and dated December 18, 1906, reporting the incident to which Clemens here refers; and a photostat of a piece from The New York Times attacking the Sun’s coverage of the incident.
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