Last Of Four Installments A Michigan Boyhood

A FAMOUS HISTORIAN RECALLS THE COUNTRY WHERE HE GREW UP

We lived in Indian summer and mistook it for spring. Winter lay ahead just when we thought June was on the way. The school, the town, and the people connected with both were coming to an end that seemed to be a beginning. They had been created by an era that was closing, and nothing like them would ever exist again because what had brought them forth was gone; yet twilight at the end of the day looks much as it does at the dawn unless you watch the shadows move, and for a little while time stood still. The shadows were not coming down the slope.Read more »

Sculpting T.R.

In December, 1968, we printed “A Dakota Boyhood,” a warm, sensitive appreciation of childhood taken from an unpublished autobiography of the popular American sculptor James Earle Fraser. Fraser, the designer of our familiar buffalo nickel, died in 1953. His autobiography was discovered among his papers, subsequently presented to Syracuse University. Read more »

Our Brothers’ Keepers

In a society grown steadily more affluent over two centuries, the existence of the poor has raised some baffling questions and surprising answers

From the opening decades of the nineteenthcentury toourownday, Americans’ persistent efforts to understand the causes and conditions of poverty have fixed upon the word “paradox.” Writing in 1822, the managers of one early reform organization, the Society for the Prevention of Pauperism, puzzled over the existence of poverty in the new Republic.Read more »

Miss Eleanor Roosevelt

“She is such a funny child, so old-fashioned, that we always call her ‘Granny’ “her mother said. Cousin Franklin felt otherwise

By no strange quirk of fate, no unlikely chance or mysterious destiny, were Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt brought together in casual acquaintanceship. Even had they been wholly without ties of blood and family tradition, unsharing of the same family name and distant ancestry, the strangeness would have been in their not meeting as they pursued their highly mobile physical lives within that small social world, close-knit and rigidly exclusive, which both of them inhabited. Read more »

A Man, A Plan, A Canal, Panama!

The Big Ditch had so far been a colossal flop, and Teddy Roosevelt desperately needed an engineering genius who could take over the job and “make the dirt fly.” The answer was not the famous Goethals, but a man whom history has forgotten.

The Panama Canal was the biggest, most costly thing Americans had ever attempted beyond their borders, as was plain to everyone in the summer of 1905, and particularly to the man most responsible for the project, Theodore Roosevelt. But as Roosevelt also knew full well by then, and as the American people were beginning to suspect, the Canal was so far a colossal flop.Read more »

T.R.

on the Writing of History

Few of our thirty-seven Presidents have been highly gifted with literary talent; of those few, fewer had the time or the patience to sit down and deliberately write books. Theodore Roosevelt, who was among the most gifted, also crammed into his “strenuous” life more nonliterary activity than perhaps any other President. Yet somehow, in a career of nearly forty years, he managed to produce more than twenty published books—histories, biographies, collections of essays, accounts of hunting expeditions, an autobiography.Read more »

T.R. And The “Nature Fakers”

The Rough Rider rode roughshod over writers who took liberties with Mother Nature’s children

It was an early spring evening in 1907. Theodore Roosevelt and Edward B. Clark, the Washington correspondent for the Chicago Evening Post , were sitting in front of a log fire in the White House talking casually of their shared enthusiasm for the campfire and the outdoors. T.R. had a high regard for Clark, his frequent hiking companion, because he was “a good fellow” and had written a monograph on the prothonotary warbler. Read more »

Disarmament Conferences: Ballets At The Brink

“Almost every time a serious disarmament effort got under way, it barely managed to move forward an inch or two before a great world cataclysm intervened”

As spring moved northward over Europe in 1970, a familiar scene was enacted in Vienna, a city where diplomacy is as much a part of the civic tradition as steelmaking in Pittsburgh. In April, Soviet and American officials exchanged greetings, drank champagne, smiled at news cameras, and then settled down to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, known to headline writers as SALT . So, with the opening of the 1970’s mankind’s long dream of disarmament once more cast its spell. It is a compelling vision.Read more »

The Parlor

You entered it only rarely, and you weren’t meant to be comfortable there. But every house had to have one, no matter how high the cost

To most Americans the parlor, in its stiff and overstuffed heyday, was a gesture of culture and civilization in a nation that was still more than half wilderness. It was the counterpart of the British colonial’s dinner jacket in the jungle, and America was a very different sort of jungle then than now. When Sir Charles Lyell, the distinguished geologist, visited the United States in the 1840’s he was moved to write, “I had sometimes thought that the national motto should be ‘All work and no play.’” In some respects the parlor sought to deny this.

 
Read more »

The Millionaire Reformer

In the era of the Bull Moose, Progressivism became a party; the man behind Roosevelt was, of all things, a Morgan partner

It is the evening of June 20, 1912; the scene, a large room in the Congress Hotel in Chicago. About twenty men are present. Perhaps a dozen of them are seated around a large table. Others sprawl wearily in armchairs or lean against the walls. One, a solid, determined-looking fellow with thick glasses and a bristling mustache, paces grimly back and forth in silence, like a caged grizzly. He is Theodore Roosevelt, and these are his closest political advisers. All of them are very, very angry.

Read more »