President Abraham Lincoln was a friend with Theodore Roosevelt’s parents. As a youngster at his grandfather’s house, young six-year-old “Teedie” (as he was called), witnessed Lincoln’s coffin procession along New York City’s Broadway.
Lincoln was TR’s presidential hero. Fittingly, these two venerated chief executives earned their destiny to be memorialized in stone, side by side on Mount Rushmore, representing two presidents unified in character and moral leadership.
Lincoln’s February birth month is a fitting occasion for the reflection and admiration TR had for the first president felled by an assassin.
“Greatly though we now regard Abraham Lincoln, the future will put him on an even higher pinnacle than we have put him. In all history I do not believe that there is to be found an orator whose speeches will last as enduringly as certain speeches of Lincoln; and in all history, with the sole exception of the man who founded this republic, I do not think there will be found another statesman at once so great and so single-hearted in his devotion to the weal of his people.
We cannot too highly honor him; and the highest way in which we can honor him is to see that our homage is not only homage of words; that to lip loyalty we join the loyalty of the heart.
He grew to know greatness, but never ease. Success came to him but never happiness, save that which springs from doing well a painful but vital task.
His great and tender heart shrank from giving pain and the task allotted to him was to pour out like water the lifeblood of the young men and to feel in his every fiber the sorrow of the women.
Disaster saddened but never dismayed him.
Power was his – but no pleasure. The furrows deepened on his brow, but his eyes were undimmed by either hate or fear. His gaunt shoulders were bowed, but his steel thews never faltered as he bore for a burden the destinies of his people.
His devotion to the cause was so great that he neither could nor would – have any feeling against any individual.”
Dakota Datebook written and performed by Steve Stark. Funding provided by the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation.