Manuscript draft, written in a secretarial hand, signed on the last page, “Theodore Roosevelt,” with numerous deletions and over 325 words added by Roosevelt, mostly in ink and a few in pencil, 50 lightly-lined pages, 8 x 12.5, 1885, for a 10,000-word article for Century Magazine. Article contains recollections, observations, and anecdotes on topics including the Czar’s treatment of Russian Jews, the Catholic vote, women’s suffrage, temperance, the Masons, the treatment of the Irish, legislative corruption, and his Albany colleagues (quoting them in dialect).
Excerpts include: “The only way to teach Paddy how to govern himself and the only way to teach Sambo how to save himself from oppression is to give each the full rights possessed by other American citizens; and it is not to be wondered at if they at first show themselves unskillful in the exercise of these rights.”
“Every year some one who is desirous of bidding for the Catholic vote introduces this bill, which appropriates a sum of carrying dimensions for the support of the Catholic Protectors, an excellent institution but one which has no right whatever to come to the State for support.”
“There is the Protestant fool who thinks that our liberties are menaced by the machinations of the Church of Rome; and his companion idiot who wants legislation against all secret societies, especially the masons. Then there are the believers in ‘isms’ of whom the women suffragists stand in the first rank. Now, to the horror of my relatives, I have always been a believer in woman rights, but I must confess I have never seen such a hopelessly impracticable set of persons as the woman suffragists who came up to Albany to get legislation…The ultra-temperance people—not the moderate and sensible ones—are quite as imperious to common sense.”
ORIGINALLY: “I received shoals of letters of advice, congratulation, entreaty and abuse half of the time anonymous. Most of these were stupid, but one broke the monotony by the charming frankness with which it began—‘Mr Roosevelt; Sir; Oh you google-eyed Liar’ [next 24 words in TR’s hand] a sentence which thus combined a graphic estimate of my moral worth together with a delicate allusion to the fact that I wore eyeglasses.”
CORRECTED TO: “A member receives shoals of letters of advice, congratulation, entreaty and abuse half of the time anonymous. Most of these are stupid, but one received by a friend broke the monotony by the charming frankness with which it began—Mr So-and-so; Sir; Oh you google-eyed Liar!—[next 25 words in TR’s hand] a sentence which thus combined a graphic estimate of my friend’s moral worth together with a delicate allusion to the fact that he wore eyeglasses.”
“During my term of service in the Legislature, resolutions were introduced…assailing the Czar for his conduct towards the Russian Jews, sympathizing with the Land League and the Dutch Boers &c &c; the passage of each of which we strenuously and usually successfully opposed, on the ground that, while we would warmly welcome any foreigners who came here and in good faith assumed the duties of American citizenship, we had a right to demand in return that he should not bring any of his race or national antipathies into American political life.”
“The Aldermen [of Philadelphia] passed a resolution ‘condemning’ the Czar of Russia for his conduct towards his fellow citizens of Hebrew faith, and demanded that he should forthwith treat them better.”
In its published form, the article included headings such as “Dark Side of the Legislative Picture,” “Difficulties of Preventing and Punishing Corruption,” “The Constituents Are Largely to Blame,” and “Allies of Vicious Legislators”; these headings are written in the margins of the manuscript in pencil in another hand. In very good to fine condition, with four pages having been cut to remove text, scattered light soiling, and some edge chipping.
With his high-pitched Harvard voice, ‘dandyish’ appearance, and a penchant for moralistic diatribes—which also happened to capture the beliefs of many Americans at the time—young Theodore Roosevelt became an instant media sensation during his first term on the New York State Assembly in 1881. On the edge of their seats to hear what the volatile politician may say next, the public devoured his speeches, interviews, and publications, making him one of the most frequently printed politicians of his day. This draft, published in The Century Magazine as ‘Phases of State Legislation’ in April of 1885, contains a fantastic selection of his famously impassioned, humorous, and often scathing rants on the State Legislature, focusing on corruption within the system, the mediocrity of many representatives, and the major limitations of the political process. This is one of the earliest, lengthiest, and most captivating Roosevelt manuscripts ever to appear at auction—a remarkable example of the characteristic style that would carry him to the White House two decades later. Pre-certified John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA and RR Auction COA.