"Theodore Roosevelt made himself over during his college career and as a result may now be called the most self-made man of America," said Bradley Gilman '80 in a recent interview with a CRIMSON reporter. Mr. Gilman was a classmate and close friend of the great statesman and has often lectured on Roosevelt as well as having written a biography of him.
"Roosevelt was shy almost beyond belief while in college," Mr. Gilman continued. "Often groups of students of which he was one would get him to talk before them, for it was very amusing Indeed to hear him stammer and struggle through a short address, for he had no natural gift for speaking. He continued appearing before audiences, however, until he became certainly a persuasive speaker if not a great orator. He was easily confused and on one occasion appearing before President Eliot, said, 'Mr. Eliot, I'm President Roosevelt' and quickly corrected himself, "President Eliot, I'm Mr. Roosevelt.'
Reprimanded Lawyers at Reunion
"At the class reunion 25 years later he gave the address, speaking before an audience in which there were many legal men and lawyers. He showed the bravery and steadiness which he had struggled so hard to acquire when, reading his speech, he said. It is a lamentable fact, but a fact, nevertheless, that men go to law school for the purpose of learning how to steer corporations as near the edge as possible without going over. The audience showed its displeasure in his remarks and he with the sarcastic irony in which he delighted, said. 'The applause seems luke-warm--I repeat,'--and reiterated his former statement.
"I like to call Roosevelt 'The Happy Warrior' for he seemed to take his greatest pleasure in fighting the battles of his own mind and body, and most of them he conquered by intelligence and a strong will.
Picked Natural History as Vocation
"In his quest for health he became extremely engrossed in Natural History and for the earlier part of his college course he firmly intended to make his life work a study of that subject. During the summers of his college years, he and his brother made expeditions into the Maine woods and there learned the rudiments of out-door life which he put into practice later in Africa and his famous hunting expeditions in other countries. His observing faculties were always keenly alert in spite of his nearsightedness."