Home  »  Theodore Roosevelt, the Citizen  »  Page 96

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

Page 96

Hard and dangerous though his existence is, it has yet a wild attraction that strongly draws to it his bold, free spirit. He lives in the lonely land where mighty rivers twist in long reaches between the barren bluffs; where the prairies stretch out into billowy plains of waving grass, girt only by the blue horizon—plains across whose endless breadth he can steer his course for days and weeks, and see neither man to speak to nor hill to break the level; where the glory and the burning splendor of the sunsets kindle the blue vault of heaven and the level brown earth till they merge together in an ocean of flaming fire.”
  Working there, resting there, growing there, in that wonderland under the spell of which these words of his were written, there came to him, unheralded, the trumpet call to another life, to duty. Over the camp-fire he read in a newspaper sent on from New York that by a convention of independent citizens he had been chosen as their standard-bearer in the fight for the mayoralty, then impending. They needed a leader. And that night he hung up the rifle, packed his trunk, and, bidding his life on the plains good-by, started for the East.