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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914). Theodore Roosevelt, the Citizen. 1904.

Page 39

  Before he had finished the course, Roosevelt had started upon his literary career. It came in the day’s work, without conscious purpose on his part to write a book. They had at his Club James’ history, an English work, and he found that it made detailed misstatements about the war of 1812. Upon looking up American authorities, it turned out that they gave no detailed contradictions of these statements. The reason was not wholly free from meanness: in nearly all the sea-fights of that war the American forces had outnumbered the British, often very materially; but the home historians, wishing not to emphasize this fact, had contented themselves with the mere statement that the “difference was triffling,” thus by their foolish vaunts opening the door to exaggeration in the beaten enemy’s camp. The facts which Roosevelt brought out from the official files with absolute impartiality grew into his first book, “The Naval War of 1812,” which took rank at once as an authority. The British paid the young author, then barely out of college, the high compliment of asking him to write the chapter on this war for their monumental work on “The