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President Theodore Roosevelt Praises Secretary of State Root’s Speech Condemning Hearst in New York
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What a corker Root is, isn’t he?

THEODORE ROOSEVELT. Typed Letter Signed, to Elbert Henry Gary, November 5, 1906, Washington, D.C. On “The White House” letterhead. 1 p., 7 1/8 x 8-7/8 in.

Inventory #26174.04       Price: $1,250

Complete Transcript

The White House.

                                                                        November 5, 1906.

My dear Judge Gary:

            Many thanks for your letter. Of course Root and I went over his speech word by word, and where he said he was authorized to speak he meant just exactly that – just exactly that he was authorized to use the very words he did. What a corker Root is, isn’t he?

                                                                        Sincerely yours,
                                                            Theodore Roosevelt

Hon. E. H. Gary,
71 Broadway, / New York.

Historical Background

On November 1, 1906, Secretary of State Elihu Root delivered a speech at a mass meeting in Utica, New York, in which he denounced Democratic candidate for Governor of New York, William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951). “I say to you with President Roosevelt’s authority,” Root said, “that he regards Mr. Hearst as wholly unfit to be governor, as an insincere, self-seeking demagogue, who is trying to deceive the workingmen of New York by false statements and false promises; and I say to you, with his authority, that he considers that Mr. Hearst’s election would be an injury and a discredit alike to honest labor and to honest capital, and a serious injury to the work in which he is engaged of enforcing just and equal laws against corporate wrong-doing.” Root went on to declare that Hearst incited people like President McKinley’s assassin to hatred and violent acts. In contrast, Root praised Republican candidate Charles Evans Hughes (1862-1948), describing him as “the most conspicuous and fit representative” of Roosevelt’s agenda “in this state.”

The following day, E. H. Gary, the President and Chairman of the Board of U.S. Steel, wrote to President Roosevelt from New York, “You have a habit of rising to occasions at the right time and in the right way; and points in the address of Secretary Root last evening...will have a marked and deciding influence on the political situation here.” He continued by praising as “splendid” the addresses that Roosevelt had delivered since they last corresponded. “I do not think,” Gary wrote, “any one can reasonably disapprove of anything you have ever said or done against the wrongs that have been connected with capital or corporations, because it has been evidence that it was the wrong and not the individual you attacked, and because also you have been just as pronounced in your words and actions against wrongful practices by the poor man or the laboring man. Your entire fairness to all classes has won my respect and admiration and confidence.”

President Roosevelt responded to Gary’s praise with this letter, acknowledging that Root spoke for him because they went over Root’s speech “word by word.” Hughes went on to win the election on November 6, with 50.5 percent of the vote to Hearst’s 46.6 percent. Roosevelt had played a direct role in gaining the Republican nomination for Hughes, and his support was critical to Hughes’ victory.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) was born in New York City, graduated from Harvard University in 1880, and attended Columbia Law School. He served in the New York State Assembly from 1882 to 1884, and as president of the New York City Police Commissioners in 1895 and 1896, then as Assistant Secretary of the Navy from 1897 to 1898. After service in Cuba during the Spanish-American War, he won election as Governor of New York and served from 1899 to 1900. He ran as Vice President to William McKinley in 1900 and became President in September 1901, when McKinley was assassinated. Reelected in 1904, Roosevelt was President until 1909. A prolific author and naturalist, Roosevelt was instrumental in the Progressive movement of the early twentieth century, helped preserve the nation’s natural resources, and extended American power throughout the world with a focus on a modern navy. In 1912, he again sought the Republican nomination for President, but when the convention chose incumbent William Howard Taft, Roosevelt formed the Progressive Party and outpolled Taft in the general election. The Republican division allowed Democrat Woodrow Wilson to win the presidency.

Elbert Henry Gary (1846-1927) was born in Illinois and graduated first in his class from the Union College of Law (Northwestern University School of Law) in 1868. He began to practice law in Chicago in 1871 and also co-founded a bank with his uncle. He served as a county judge from 1882 to 1890, and as mayor of Wheaton, Illinois, in the 1890s. He served as president of the Chicago Bar Association in 1893-94. In 1898, he became president of the Federal Steel Corporation in Chicago and retired from the practice of law. Two years later, Gary moved to New York City, where he and J. P. Morgan collaborated to found the U.S. Steel Corporation. Gary served as chairman of the board of America’s first billion-dollar corporation from 1901 until his death and as president from 1903 to 1911. In 1904, Gary offered President Theodore Roosevelt a deal. U.S. Steel would open its books to the Bureau of Corporations, but if the Bureau found evidence of wrongdoing, it would warn the corporation privately and give it an opportunity to remedy the situation. Roosevelt accepted the “gentlemen’s agreement.”

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