Is it a good thing to keep your promises especially solemn, official, public promises about very important things? Theodore Roosevelt, our 26th President, thought so. His example is a lesson for the politicians of today.
Before Franklin Roosevelt came along in 1932, all American presidents had followed George Washington’s lead to serve only two terms. After two terms as President, Washington believed it important to turn power over to another citizen. Teddy Roosevelt, in his autobiography, recalled that during the 1904 presidential campaign his opponents had criticized his, “supposed personal ambition and intention to use the office of President to perpetuate myself in power.” So once he was elected he made the following promise to help unite the country: “The wise custom which limits the President to two terms regards the substance and not the form, and under no circumstances will I be a candidate for or accept another nomination.”
Teddy enjoyed being President and came to regret his commitment to step down after one term. But as 1908 rolled around, he followed through and stepped down from office. Like the vast majority of today’s self-limiters, he kept his word. He demonstrated integrity. He proved the cynics wrong. Teddy wanted to stay president but, even more, he wanted to be a man of honor. That’s a lesson for all ages.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.