“Cattle Rustling and the Republic” by Theodore Roosevelt

With an old cowboy story of North Dakota, Roosevelt illustrates a moral truth about representative democracy and the line it threads between brutal revolution and authoritarian plutocracy.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Cattle Rustling and the Republic”

from Realizable Ideals (The Earl Lectures), “The Public Servant and the Eighth Commandment,” address delivered extemporaneously to the Pacific Theological Seminary, Berkeley, California, 1911 spring

Theodore Roosevelt

edited by The Voice before the Void

In the old days, I used to have a cow-ranch in the short-grass country. At that time, there were no fences within a thousand miles of it. If a calf was passed by on the round-up, so that next year when it was a yearling and was not following any cow, it was still unbranded, it was called a maverick. It was range custom or range law that if a maverick were found on any range, the man finding it would put on the brand of that range. I had hired a new cow-puncher, and one day when he and I were riding, we struck a maverick. It was on a neighbor’s range, the Thistle Range. The puncher roped and threw the maverick; we built a little fire of sage-brush, and took out the cinch iron, heated it, and started to run on the brand. I said to him: “The Thistle brand.” He answered: “That’s all right, boss, I know my business.” In a minute, I said, “Hold on, you’re putting on my brand”; to which he answered: “Yes, I always put on the boss’s brand.” I said: “Oh, well, you go back to the house and get your time.” He rose Continue reading

“Lincoln’s ghost” from Wikipedia

Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday Special:
The spirit of Lincoln haunts the halls and paths of the United States, even if it doesn’t.
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“Lincoln’s ghost”

Wikipedia

There have been several stories about ghosts of former Presidents revisiting the White House. However, the most common and popular is that of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln’s ghost, otherwise known as the White House Ghost, is said to have haunted the White House since his death.

Lincoln’s premonitions

It is believed that Lincoln anticipated his assassination. According to Ward Hill Lamon, Lincoln’s friend and biographer, three days before his assassination Lincoln discussed with Lamon and others a dream he had, Continue reading

“A Goblin Story” by Theodore Roosevelt

An astonishingly creepy story by one of the most popular of U.S. Presidents.
Any contemporary listener has a ready name for the “goblin” of this story.
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“A Goblin Story”

from The Wilderness Hunter

Theodore Roosevelt

Frontiersmen are not, as a rule, apt to be very superstitious. They lead lives too hard and practical, and have too little imagination in things spiritual and supernatural. I have heard but few ghost stories while living on the frontier, and these few were of a perfectly commonplace and conventional type.

But I once listened to a goblin story which rather impressed me. It was told by a grisled, weather-beaten old mountain hunter, named Bauman, who was born and had passed all his life on the frontier. Continue reading

“Death of Two Cheyenne Braves” by Theodore Roosevelt

An eerie scene of extraordinary courage and honor and self-sacrifice.
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“Death of Two Cheyenne Braves”

from The Wilderness Hunter

Theodore Roosevelt

The incident, related by Lieutenant Pitcher, took place in 1890, near Tongue River, in northern Wyoming. The command with which he was serving was camped near the Cheyenne Reservation. One day two young Cheyenne bucks, met one of the government herders, and promptly killed him–in a sudden fit, half of ungovernable blood lust, half of mere ferocious lightheartedness. They then dragged his body into the brush and left it. The disappearance of the herder of course attracted attention, and a search was organized by the cavalry. Continue reading

“Trapped by a War Party” by Theodore Roosevelt

Regrettable and complex, Roosevelt’s attitude toward Native Americans is reflective of his entire nation’s attitude toward Native Americans.
Here, Roosevelt goads his reluctant friend into relating one of the most desperate struggles of his friend’s life, because the event also happened to be one of the most famous gunfights of the American West.
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“Trapped by a War Party”

from The Wilderness Hunter

Theodore Roosevelt

Accidents are common. Men break their collar-bones, arms, or legs by falling when riding at speed over dangerous ground, when cutting cattle or trying to control a stampeded herd, or by being thrown or rolled on by bucking or rearing horses; or their horses, and on rare occasion even they themselves, are gored by fighting steers. Death by storm or in flood, death in striving to master a wild and vicious horse, or in handling maddened cattle, and too often death in brutal conflict with one of his own fellows–any one of these is the not unnatural end of the life of the dweller on the plains or in the mountains.

But a few years ago other risks had to be run from savage beasts, and from the Indians. Continue reading

“How Cowboys Die in North Dakota” by Theodore Roosevelt

“How Cowboys Die in North Dakota”

from The Wilderness Hunter

Theodore Roosevelt

Last spring one of the Three-Seven riders, a magnificent horseman, was killed on the round-up near Belfield, his horse bucking and falling on him. “It was accounted a plumb gentle horse too,” said my informant, “only it sometimes sulked and acted a little mean when it was cinched up behind.” The unfortunate rider did not know of this failing of the “plumb gentle horse,” and as soon as he was in the saddle it threw itself over sideways with a great bound, and he fell on his head, and never spoke again.

Such accidents are too common in the wild country to attract very much attention; the men accept them with grim quiet, as inevitable in such lives as theirs–lives that are harsh and narrow in their toil and their pleasure Continue reading

“Light-hearted Way of Regarding ‘Broke Horses'” by Theodore Roosevelt

Insight into cowboy culture.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Light-hearted Way of Regarding ‘Broke Horses'”

from The Wilderness Hunter

Theodore Roosevelt

In the cow-country there is nothing more refreshing than the light-hearted belief entertained by the average man to the effect that any animal which by main force has been saddled and ridden, or harnessed and driven a couple of times, is a “broke horse.” My present foreman is firmly wedded to this idea, as well as to its complement, the belief that any animal with hoofs, before any vehicle with wheels, can be driven across any country. One summer on reaching the ranch I was entertained with the usual accounts of the adventures and misadventures which had befallen my own men and my neighbors since I had been out last. In the course of the conversation my foreman remarked: “We had a great time out here about six weeks ago. There was a professor from Ann Arbor come out with his wife to see the Bad Lands, Continue reading

“The Ending of a Desperado” by Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt recounts the story of one of his friends telling him the story of one of his scars.
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“The Ending of a Desperado”

from The Wilderness Hunter

Theodore Roosevelt

One of my valued friends in the mountains, and one of the best hunters with whom I ever travelled, was a man who had a peculiarly light-hearted way of looking at conventional social obligations. Continue reading

“Buildings Made of Canvas” by Theodore Roosevelt

Disaster overwhelms a frontier town.
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“Buildings Made of Canvas”

from The Wilderness Hunter

Theodore Roosevelt

Squalid, pretentiously named little clusters of make-shift dwellings on the edge of the wild country spring up with the rapid growth of mushrooms, and are often no longer lived. In their earlier stages these towns are frequently built entirely of canvas, and are subject to grotesque calamities. When the territory purchased from the Sioux, in the Dakotas, a couple of years ago was thrown open to settlement, there was a furious inrush of men on horseback and in wagons, and various ambitious cities sprang up overnight. The new settlers were all under the influence of that curious craze which causes every true westerner to put unlimited faith in the unknown Continue reading

“Hunting a Horse-thief” by Theodore Roosevelt

An ethical dilemma on the wild frontier.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Hunting a Horse-thief”

from The Wilderness Hunter

Theodore Roosevelt

Early one spring, now nearly ten years ago, I was out hunting some lost horses. They had strayed from the range three months before, and we had in a roundabout way heard that they were ranging near some broken country, where a man named Brophy had a ranch, nearly fifty miles from my own. When I started thither the weather was warm, but the second day out it grew colder and a heavy snowstorm came on. Fortunately I was able to reach the ranch all right, finding there one of the sons of a Little Beaver ranchman, and a young cowpuncher belonging to a Texas outfit, whom I knew very well. After putting my horse into the corral and throwing him down some hay I strode into the low hut, made partly of turf and partly of cottonwood logs, and speedily warmed myself before the fire. We had a good warm supper, of bread, potatoes, fried venison, and tea. My two companions grew very sociable and began to talk freely over their pipes. There were two bunks one above the other. I climbed into the upper, leaving my friends, who occupied the lower, sitting together on a bench recounting different incidents in the careers of themselves and their cronies during the winter that had just passed. Soon one of them asked the other what had become of a certain horse, Continue reading