TO THEODORE ROOSEVELT
Washington, December 10, 1911
My dear Colonel,—I have been thinking over what I said yesterday, and I am going to presume upon my friendship and, I may say, my affection for you to make a suggestion:
Even though the call comes from a united party and under circumstances the most flattering, do not accept it unless you are convinced of two things: (1) that you are needed from a national standpoint and not merely from a party standpoint; (2) that you are certain of election.
Sacrifice for one’s country is splendid, but sacrifice for one’s party is foolish. You must feel assured before acceding to the call, which I believe will certainly come, that it is more than party-wide, and that it is sufficiently strong to overcome the trend toward Democratic success. If I were asked I would say that I think both of these conditions are present—that the desire to have you again is much broader than any party, and so large that it would insure your victory;—but no man is as wise a judge of these things as the man himself whose fortunes are at stake.
Thanking you again for the pleasure of a luncheon, believe me, as always, faithfully yours,
Roosevelt in a letter marked private and confidential replied:— ... “That is a really kind and friendly letter from you, and I appreciate it. Now I agree absolutely with you that I have no business under any circumstances to accept any such call, even in the greatly improbable event of its coming, unless I am convinced that the need is National, a need of the people and not merely a need of the Party. But as for considering my own chances in any such event, my dear fellow, I simply would not know how to go about it. I am always credited with far more political sagacity than I really possess. I act purely on public grounds and then this proves often to be good policy too. I assure you with all possible sincerity that I have not thought and am not thinking of the nomination, and that under no circumstances would I in the remotest degree plan to bring about my nomination. I do not want to be President again, I am not a candidate, I have not the slightest idea of becoming a candidate, and I do not for one moment believe that any such condition of affairs will arise that would make it necessary to consider me accepting the nomination. But as for the effect upon my own personal fortunes, I would not know how to consider it, because I would not have the vaguest idea what the effect would be, except that according to my own view it could not but be bad and unpleasant for me personally. From the personal standpoint I should view the nomination to the Presidency as a real and serious misfortune. Nothing would persuade me to take it, unless it appeared that the people really wished me to do a given job, which I could not honorably shirk. ...”