TR’s Last War:
Theodore Roosevelt, The Great War,
and a Journey of Triumph and Tragedy
From David Pietrusza,
the award-winning
author of
The Year of the
Six Presidents
David Pietrusza
From Lyons Press,
an imprint of Globe Pequot

Request a Review Copy
Publicity Contact:
Jessica Plaskett 203.458.4511

This is the year of decision for the nation's future. As we now decide, so we shall go
forward in righteousness and power or backward in degradation and weakness.
Of necessity, we deal with the foundations of our national life.
We are facing elemental facts of force, of right and wrong, of extreme national
peril. Our present choice of path will be irrevocable. The tradition of isolation has
been ended. The United States is now part of a world's system of civilization. We
stand or fall as we prepare now to take our part in peace or war and hold our own
As members of an international community, we are subject to certain basic duties:
To secure the rights and equal treatment of our citizens, native or naturalized, on
land and sea, without regard to race, creed or nativity.
To guard the honor and uphold the just influence of our nation. To maintain the
integrity of international law.
These are the corner-stones of civilization. We must be strong to defend them.
The present war shows that it is the supreme duty of civilization to create
conditions which will make for permanent peace. We earnestly desire to keep the
peace, but there are higher things which we must keep if we would keep the faith
as Washington and Lincoln kept it. Peace at the price of submission and cowardice
is not desirable, nor is it the peace of justice which alone would make it
permanent. Supine submission to the invasion of our rights or indifference to the
wrongs of weaker nations will not long maintain peace, nor will mere threat of
action enforce our rights under international law. There must be an unfaltering
determination and a prepared ability to defend our rights and to fulfill our
international obligations. In such a readiness lies the surest safeguard of both
national honor and continued peace. Failure to deal firmly and promptly with the
menace of Mexican disorders and threatened violations of the rights of our citizens
on the high seas have resulted in the wanton murder of our citizens and in the
tragic weakening of our national self-respect.
Whatever our country can legitimately do to attain peace for war-stricken Europe,
and to aid in the procurement of equal rights without discrimination because of
race or creed to all men in all lands, should be done. We should not conclude a
treaty with any country that will not expressly secure to American citizens such
absolute rights.
Adequate provision for the common defense has become the task of foremost
national concern. We must be ready, in spirit, arms and industry.
Beneath the structure of military and economic strength there must be a unified
spirit of this cosmopolitan people, a deep loyalty and undivided allegiance to
America, the land which has welcomed us and our immigrant forefathers. Back of
any adequate national preparedness in arms or industry, must remain the
democratic soul of an undivided people, determined to keep America's great
heritage and traditions unfalteringly in first place. American problems must be
faced and solved solely in the light of American ideals. American political action
must be taken in the service of American ends. Unwavering patriotism and
unfaltering fidelity to America is the only spirit which should animate our citizens.
If in this melting-pot of a hundred nations, the children of any fail to find our
common destiny worthy of common devotion and defense, we shall suffer
irreparably in the loss of national character.
In this spirit of Americanism, action must be taken for the common defense.
Preparation in arms requires:

    A navy restored to at least second rank in battle efficiency.
    A regular army of 250,000 men, fully armed and trained, as a first line of land
    A system of military training adequate to organize with promptness, behind
    that first line of the army and navy, a citizen soldiery, supplied, armed and
    controlled by the National Government.

In our, democracy, every citizen is charged with the duty of defending our country.
This duty is not new. It has existed from the foundation of the government. Under
modern conditions it cannot be performed without military training; service
without training means slaughter and disaster. As the nation has always recognized
and exercised the right to enforce compulsory military service in time of war, so
should there be universal military training for that service during times of peace.
We believe in preparedness for defense, but never for aggression. We must not
sacrifice the lives of men for the glory or gain of military conquest. And we believe
that the women of the country, who share with men the burdens of government in
time of peace and make equal sacrifice in time of war, should be given full political
right of suffrage, both by Federal and State action.
Arms alone cannot maintain a nation. Of far greater permanent importance must
stand a national industry efficient for the general welfare, a prosperity justly
distributed, a national life organized in all points for national ends. Four years ago
this party was born of a nation's awakened sense of these fundamental truths. In
the platform then adopted we set forth our position on public questions. We here
reaffirm the declarations there made on national issues.
A nation to survive must stand for the principles of social and industrial justice. We
have no right to expect continued loyalty from an oppressed class. We must remove
the artificial causes of the high cost of living, prevent the exploitation of men,
women and children in industry, by the extension of the Workmen's Compensation
Law to the full limit permitted under the Constitution, and by a thorough-going
child-labor law; protect the wage earner; and by a properly regulated system of
rural credits encourage the farmer and give to the landless man opportunity to
acquire land. A country must be worth living in to be worth fighting for.
To make possible social justice, to maintain our position in peace and war, we must
insure business and industrial prosperity. This can be done:
By a regulation of industry aimed at promoting its growth and prosperity, a just
distribution of its returns; and a healthy expansion of foreign trade.
By a conservation and development of our national re¬sources for the good of all.
By the re-establishment of our merchant marine.
By the development of a system of interstate national high¬ways.
By making a new standard of governmental efficiency through a complete civil
service system, a national budget, and the destruction of "pork barrel" legislation.
By the creation of a permanent, expert tariff commission with a view to
intelligently and scientifically adjusting the tariff so as to build up rather than
destroy American industry

The protective system is essential to our national prosperity. Tremendous new
pressures will be thrown upon our industries after the war by the highly mobilized
production of Europe. At all times conditions of competition must be equalized
between our own and foreign countries. We can only get the protection we need
through the use of exact and complete knowledge, unaffected by prejudice or
politics. We can secure that knowledge, at all times and when needed, only through
such a commission.
The industrial issues are chiefly national. The present and certain future make it
imperative that the regulation and promotion of industry, and especially of
transportation and foreign trade, be national, not local. Only Federal power can
work justice to capital and labor throughout the nation. Only national authority can
mobilize industry for defense as the nation's need demands it.
We have set forth in this platform plain essentials of national existence. They are
not new in principle. Most men agree with them. Any man may propose them. The
urgent and immediate need is for their performance. We have had ample
experience with the promiser; with words and the bitter taste of words retracted.
We must choose a man, who, not alone by words but by past deeds, gives guarantee
that he can and will make these things good. The issue is one of men. In the midst
of world changes unparalleled in history, we cannot forecast the problems which
will confront our government during the war and at its end. We therefore need as
President a leader who knows the nations—a man who acts. If we continue longer to
stand for words as above deeds, for fancies as above facts, we shall receive and
merit the fate that surely awaits the man or people who do not face the truth.
We will meet and work with any man or party who sees the nation's need, and puts
forward a leader fit to meet it. We will accept no less, in plan or in the man, and
we solemnly charge upon any who place partisan politics above country the
responsibility for a nation's future, sacrificed to self-interest and spoils.