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Theodore Roosevelt served as president of the United States between 1901 and 1909.

He had the misfortune of succeeding William McKinley, who had been assassinated in 1901, by an anarchist, Leon Czolgosz in Buffalo, New York, on September 6 that year.

When Roosevelt, as the vice president, took presidential office upon that great tragedy, he said:

I will take the oath. And in this hour of deep and terrible national bereavement, I wish to state that it shall be my aim to continue, absolutely without variance, the policy of President McKinley, for the peace and honor of our beloved country.

He kept the succession as smooth as possible, so as to avoid any further unrest or disquiet.

He also accomplished many other things, besides being the man for whom the Teddy bear is so named. Theodore Roosevelt loved nature and was the first president to set aside land for national parks for the preservation of American flora and fauna.

He was considered so great a president that his image features on Mount Rushmore.

His presidency is a lesson to those who would espouse the Left and the Democratic Party. Although Theodore Roosevelt was a Republican, he pioneered the working man, the forgotten majority.

Trust busting

Almost as soon as he was sworn in, he began working against large corporate monopolies which operated under notional trusts, such as Standard Oil. They worked against the average American. Roosevelt targeted corporations with what he called ‘bad trusts’, including railroads, and sought to rid them of monopolistic practices.

Included in this were large meat packing firms, which he sought to regulate through his second term in office. Americans were outraged by what they had read in Upton Sinclair’s account of Chicago’s meat packing plants in The Jungle. If you haven’t read it, it’s well worth your time. Never mind that Sinclair was a Leftist. He spoke the truth.

He was also the first president who sought food safety regulations for the American consumer. Thanks to his efforts, Congress passed the Pure Food and Drug Act.

My late grandmother, who was born in the late 1890s, was very conscious of contamination in foodstuffs. Interestingly, although she was a Democrat through and through, she never spoke a bad word against the Republican who was president during her formative years when she learned to cook at home and at school.

Press corps room

He was also the first president to give the press corps their own location inside the White House, having had empathy for them standing outside on a rainy day. As such, he invented the presidential press briefing, providing the first American sound bites. It should be noted that he expelled those members of the media whose coverage he felt was adversarial.

Progressivism

The notion of progressivism came from Republican Theodore Roosevelt — NOT the Democratic Party.

This is something I also learned in US History class in secondary school.

I was most bemused when, many years ago, I heard the Democrats adopt the word ‘progressive’. It has nothing to do with them! Nor do the principles, if we can call them that, which they espouse.

Civil rights

Six weeks after his inauguration, Roosevelt invited one of my favourite Americans, Booker T Washington, to dinner at the White House. If he were alive today, Booker T Washington would give a tongue lashing to anyone in minority neighbourhoods who favoured gangs and celebrity culture over an educated life. He was the black leader of his day, and it would be useful to all Americans if the US education system spent more time on Booker T Washington than on radicals and identity culture, both of which he would have abhorred. Washington was a man of education who advocated pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps, something every American of every creed and colour would do well to heed.

Big stick diplomacy

President Trump has revived Theodore Roosevelt’s policy of ‘speak softly and carry a big stick’. The policy involved one of never bluffing, to strike hard when necessary and to allow the adversary to save face in defeat.

Too much to enumerate

There are too many of Theodore Roosevelt’s winning policies to include here. You can read more of them at Wikipedia.

Ancestry

Before we get to Theodore Roosevelt’s thoughts on the Bible, it should be known that his Dutch ancestor, Claes (Nicholas) Martenszen van Rosenvelt, arrived in New Amsterdam — the original name for New York City — between 1638 and 1649.

We cannot be certain whether Nicolas was of noble blood as his name would indicate or if he took the name of his local landlord in the Netherlands, as was common practice at the time.

In any event, Claes’s son — also named Nicholas — became a New York City alderman. He was the first to change the spelling of the family name to Roosevelt.

From there, the rest was history. His sons Johannes and Jacobus were the progenitors of the Hyde Park (Dutchess County) and Oyster Bay (Long Island) branches of the family.

The Hyde Park branch of the family were Democrat and those from Oyster Bay were Republican. Each branch married into other respected families of the early American period, including the Beekmans, the Latbrobes and the Schuylers.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was Theodore’s fifth cousin. Eleanor Roosevelt, FDR’s wife, was Theodore’s niece.

The gist of the matter

Despite his privileged upbringing, Theodore Roosevelt never forgot the supreme importance of the Bible, which comes to us courtesy of Brainy Quote:

This reminds me of Paul’s time in Athens, when the Apostle debated among the intellectually curious during his time in Athens (Acts 17, here and here). Some were entertained, some interested. Few absorbed his message.

May we never trifle with God’s Holy Scripture, nor with His Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.

We might have material knowledge today, but will such knowledge save us for eternity?

Theodore Roosevelt, a great president and a member of the Reformed Church in America, warned us to reconsider what we know and whether it will bring us to eternal life.

Even after he had a serious operation during the time of the Great War, he continued to walk three miles to church.

Roosevelt died in 1919.

In 1922, his biographer, Christian F Reisner, wrote:

Religion was as natural to Mr. Roosevelt as breathing.

Years earlier, the president’s sister attested to her brother’s affirmation of Christianity, saying that the Bible was the first of the books chosen for his Smithsonian-sponsored trip to Africa.

Roosevelt, a member of the Oyster Bay branch of the family, spoke to the Long Island Bible Society in 1901. He said (emphases mine):

Every thinking man, when he thinks, realizes what a very large number of people tend to forget, that the teachings of the Bible are so interwoven and entwined with our whole civic and social life that it would be literally—I do not mean figuratively, I mean literally—impossible for us to figure to ourselves what that life would be if these teachings were removed. We would lose almost all the standards by which we now judge both public and private morals; all the standards toward which we, with more or less of resolution, strive to raise ourselves. Almost every man who has by his lifework added to the sum of human achievement of which the race is proud, has based his lifework largely upon the teachings of the BibleAmong the greatest men a disproportionately large number have been diligent and close students of the Bible at first hand.[305]

Truer words have not been spoken for some time.

May we heed that lesson, which is 118 years old.

Times change. Divine lessons do not.

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