Roosevelt's Opinions and Personal Philosophies
The Corollary is directly linked to the letters that Roosevelt wrote advocating policies and discussing events after his presidency. J. Lee Thompson, the author of Theodore Roosevelt Abroad, says, “After the Great War began in 1914, Roosevelt’s last years were marred by virulent outbursts aimed at what he considered Wilson’s foolhardy and cowardly policy which kept America out of the war until 1917 and in the bargain frustrated the Colonel’s long-stated hope to lead troops again as he had in Cuba.”1
The letter to Menkin, the founder of the National Security League, exemplifies Roosevelt’s want for preparedness found at the beginning of the Corollary. He also echoed the Corollary when he explained, “It is therefore not merely folly, but criminal and unpatriotic folly, to fail to prepare, or to preach the ignoble cult of the professional pacifist, the peace-at-any-price man.”2 That language is very similar to that of the Corollary. He said:
Many times peoples who were slothful or timid or shortsighted, who had been enervated by ease or by luxury, or misled by false teachings, have shrunk in unmanly fashion from doing duty that was stern and that needed self-sacrifice, and have sought to hide from their own minds their shortcomings, their ignoble motives, by calling them love of peace.3
This statement was directly aimed at Wilson. At the time, Wilson was not ramping up efforts to be prepared, but was rather advocating for peace in Europe and American neutrality, which Roosevelt felt was foolhardy.
Similar sentiment is found in the letter to Archie about the German bombing of the Lusitania. He claimed that the lack of preparedness and willingness to go to war caused by Wilson was what caused the ship to be sunk:
…Wilson's abject cowardice and weakness in failing to take energetic action when the Gulflight was sunk but a few days previously. He and Bryan are morally responsible for the loss of the lives of those American women and children- and for the lives lost in Mexico, no less than for the lives lost on the high seas.
As far as Roosevelt was concerned, if Wilson had acted according to his Corollary and heeded his call for preparedness, American lives would not have been lost when the Lusitania sunk.
The letter to Lodge not only exemplifies the same language and calls to action, but a level of influence not shown in the other letters. Lodge was a major figure in the Senate (he had the role of Senate majority leader), and as such he was not only able to influence the Congress, but was someone who Wilson had to contend with. Because Lodge agreed and worked the way he did, he was able to put a kind of pressure on Wilson he would not have otherwise.
1 Thompson, J. Lee. Theodore Roosevelt Abroad: Nature, Empire, and the Journey of an American President. (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), 172.
2 Harbaugh, William H., ed, The Writings of Theodore Roosevelt, (New York: the Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1967), 385.
3 Roosevelt Corollary (as found on previous page)