Remarks at a Reception Given by the Hamilton Club in Chicago, Illinois

May 10, 1905

I doubt if any member of the Hamilton Club has longer and pleasanter associations with it than I have. I have been your guest again and again; I have spoken before you again and again, and long before I had risen to what we will call a position of notoriety. It was before the Hamilton Club that I made a speech with a title which I had no idea would attract any attention, but which did, "The Strenuous Life." And I mention it now because from that day to this I have never dared to use the phrase, "the strenuous life," at all.

It was a delegation from this club that came down to meet me at Montauk Point when I came back from Santiago. I remember that that delegation then with an enthusiasm which no human being out side of the club could have foreseen to be warranted by after events, nominated me for President in 1904; which, as it was six years in advance, I did not at that time look upon very seriously. And a delegation from your club came on to be present at my inauguration as governor (I have shaken hands with certain members of that delegation to-day), and the members of that delegation will doubtless re member that they gave me a bronze inkstand with Abraham Lincoln's head on it, and it is in my library, and is the inkstand I use now.

So that I have these personal associations with the Hamilton Club which have established a claim upon me. And, then, what is far more important, gentlemen, than any question affecting myself, I have had for the Hamilton Club a real and hearty respect that is due to any organization which tries to give expression to its belief through deeds as well as words, and which endeavors steadfastly to be thoroughly practical and yet to live up to high ideals. I have felt that you have done your part in establishing a standard of citizenship, of good citizen ship in this country.

You, by your name, commemorate a great statesman—Hamilton one of the most brilliant and one of the greatest constructive statesmen of the era of constructive statesmanship; a man to whom this republic owes a well nigh incalculable debt, and the man who took the chief part in writing that volume of essays which, collected under the name of the "Federalist," is still a guide to honest, efficient, and responsible government.

Hamilton lacked but one great quality; it was the quality which his great adversary, Jefferson, possessed in so peculiar a degree—trust and belief in the people; and with our good fortune, in the second great crisis of the republic's life we developed a son of Illinois, a man born in Kentucky, but by adoption and long life a citizen of Illinois—a man who combined the strength, the efficiency, the far-sightedness of Hamilton, with Jefferson's intense belief in the people; a man greater than either—Abraham Lincoln.

I feel that this club not only commemorates the name and the great service of Alexander Hamilton, but in all that it has done and is striving to do, is applying practically and efficiently the principles of Abraham Lincoln. So, gentlemen, for many different reasons, for reasons of old associations, of appreciation of what your attitude has been toward me, and of appreciation of what you are doing in the life of this great city, of this great State, and therefore of the nation, I am doubly and trebly pleased to be to-day once more the guest of the Hamilton Club.

Theodore Roosevelt, Remarks at a Reception Given by the Hamilton Club in Chicago, Illinois Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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