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Courageous and Trustworthy

September 28, 2016

Colonel Wood and Lt. Colonel Roosevelt began their recruiting in the Southwest.  When the prospective size of the regiment was increased, they enlisted men from other parts of the country as well.  Among these was Benjamin Franklin Daniels, who had been Marshall of Dodge City; Dudley Dean, who had quarterbacked Harvard’s football team; and Woodbury Kane, who had disliked Roosevelt when they were in college together, but who felt it was his duty to fight.

In The Rough Riders, published in 1899, Roosevelt wrote: “Woodbury Kane had been a close friend of mine at Harvard.”  This was a generous statement on Roosevelt’s part.  The novelist Owen Wister, who was truly an old Harvard friend, confirmed this in 1902.  Wister said to Kane: “When we were in college, you didn’t used to like him much.  How do you feel now?”  Kane answered: “If he and I were crossing Brooklyn Bridge and he ordered me to jump over, I’d do it without asking why.”

In his memoir of Roosevelt, published in 1930, Wister characterized Kane’s change of heart:   “…this sweeping phrase about the Brooklyn Bridge, so utterly uncharacteristic of him, meant a revolution in him regarding Theodore Roosevelt.  No association with Roosevelt in time of peace, nothing short of war, no experience milder than sweat, blood, grime, discipline, and gun powder, could have so revoked Kane’s college distaste for Roosevelt.”

Apparently, Theodore Roosevelt was no mere dandy in a uniform, but a courageous and trustworthy military commander.  He would eventually receive the Congressional Medal of Honor, but only after it had been denied by someone else who disliked him.


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