Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Roosevelt, Theodore (1858-1919) to Timothy L. Woodruff

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also order a pdf of the image from us here.

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02372 Author/Creator: Roosevelt, Theodore (1858-1919) Place Written: New York, New York Type: Typed letter signed Date: 2 November 1912 Pagination: 3 p. ; 20 x 18 cm.

Writes to Lieutenant Governor Woodruff of New York regarding political reform and democracy. As a candidate for president, he stresses the right of people to rule themselves. In the 1912 presidential election Roosevelt ran and lost under the progressive Bull Moose party. One word has been added in Roosevelt's hand on page two. Written on The Outlook letterhead.

Oyster Bay- November second, 1912.
My dear Governor Woodruff:
During the last three days I have received many scores of urgent requests to speak in the various cities where it had been announced that I was to speak during the closing fortnight of the campaign-messages from Philadelphia, from Buffalo, from Rochester, from Syracuse and Albany, from Hartford and New Haven, and from many other cities. It was with the most genuine regret that I was obliged to answer that it was a physical impossibility for me to do as I would so like to have done and speak in these cities. Through no fault of mine I was obliged to abandon the engagements I had made and to ask my friends and fellow-citizens to accept a written message from me in lieu of the words I had hoped to speak face to face with them.
I particularly regret my inability to come to Brooklyn. I feel under peculiar obligations to the good people of Brooklyn. In this fight Brooklyn took the lead and set the pace for the [2] people of the rest of the State to follow. There has always been a high civic standard in Brooklyn, and I have always felt that I could appeal to the men and women of Brooklyn with the certainty that I was making an appeal to those whose belief in good citizenship was something very real [inserted: and] very genuine. Through you I desire to ask them to be patient with me at this time and to accept the will for the deed. It is not physically possible for me to address them as I so earnestly desired to do. I there fore send them this message of greeting and I ask them to stand with us in this great contest for the right of American People to rule themselves. We are warring for the overthrow of bossism and special privilege both in public and private life. We are endeavoring to make this a genuine democracy, not merely a political democracy but an industrial democracy, to eliminate special privilege in business and politics alike, to equalize opportunity and to try to get for every man and [3] every woman in this broad land the chance to live their lives usefully and honorably, under conditions which will secure happiness and self-respect for them and for their children.
Very sincerely yours,
Theodore Roosevelt
Hon. Timothy L. Woodruff,

Order a CopyCitation Guidelines for Online Resources