If you’ve been watching Ken Burns’s The Roosevelts: An Intimate History on PBS this week, this Theodore Roosevelt letter from the Michael Wynne Collection will ring bullishly true—no “feather-brained enthusiasts” need apply!
In the letter to Uriah Milton Rose, a nationally prominent attorney who practiced in Little Rock, Arkansas, TR describes the qualities he is looking for in U.S. ambassadors to the Second Hague Peace Conference. Initiated by Roosevelt and held from June 15 to October 18, 1907, the meeting was a forerunner of the Geneva Conventions and addressed disarmament, the laws of war, and war crimes. Roosevelt ultimately selected Rose as one of the representatives.
February 8, 1906
My dear Mr. Rose:
I have your letter of the 5th instant. There are some men whom one meets as to whom one feels that they will probably on further acquaintance turn out first-rate men; there are a very few about whom it is possible immediately to say that in point of judgment and ability they can be trusted to do any work. After I had seen you and listened to you it was perfectly evident that you came in the latter very small class. I have felt that at the conference we should be represented by our very best and strongest men, and I think you, Porter and Choate come in that category. I want men who are of men of affairs; men of experience in practical life; men who in practical fashion and with entire sincerity will work for peace; but who are not feather-brained enthusiasts of excellent intentions and no sense, who are sure to forget that at present in this world the only nations fit to have peace are those who are ready to fight if the need arises.
I look forward to seeing you here.
Hon. U.M. Rose
Little Rock, Arkansas