August 27, 1915

by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent

Teddy has put his foot into it, according to the headline in the Oregon Statesman:

Criticism of President in the Colonel’s Speech Stirs Up Hornet’s Nest
Secretary Says T.R. Should Have Been Muffled
Being Informed of Rumpus, Roosevelt Issues Statement Saying That No One Was Compelled to Hear His Address, and That He will Take Responsibility

Washington, Aug. 26. – Secretary of the Army Garrison today telegraphed Major General Leonard Wood expressing his deprecation that opportunity was given at the citizens’ soldiery camp at Plattsburg, N.Y., for Colonel Roosevelt’s sensational speech of yesterday and directing nothing similar should be permitted at any of the other camps.

T.R. Has Comeback

New York, Aug. 26. – Upon being advised of Secretary Garrison’s telegram to Major General Wood late today,Colonel Roosevelt issued the following statement:

“Nearly three weeks ago it was announced in the public press, the statement being carried prominently in every big newspaper, that in addition to President Wilson and Secretary Garrison, some scores of private citizens had been asked to go to the Plattsburg camp, where it was expected they would speak to the men. Among the names mentioned in addition to my own, were those of former President Taft, Samuel Gompers and John Mitchell. It is of course impossible that Secretary Garrison can have been ignorant that we were asked, and if he desired General Wood to notify us in advance what we were expected so say or leave unsaid, it was clearly his duty to direct the general accordingly.

Roosevelt noted that inasmuch as no one sought to vet his speech beforehand, Secretary Garrison had no right to criticize General Wood. In his response, Roosevelt stated:

In the speech not only did I never mention the president, but I never mentioned the administration. I spoke purely of the nation; of the people of the United States.

Waffling in the second decade of the Twentieth Century is not unlike waffling a century later. Roosevelt’s waffling continues:

If the administration had displayed one-tenth the spirit and energy in holding Germany and Mexico to account for the murder of American men, women and children that it is now displaying in the endeavor to prevent our people from being taught the need of preparations to prevent the repetition of such murders in the future it would be rendering a service to the people of this country.

No one was required to listen to the former president. In closing the article, the paper quotes Dudley Field Malone, collector of the port of New York who referred to Mr. Roosevelt’s views as a “novel and treasonable doctrine.”


About whclarc

We are devoted to providing information fresh from the Archives, Library and Collections of the Willamette Heritage Center in Salem, Oregon. We specialize in the history of Marion County and the greater Salem area.
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