Roosevelt, Taft provide one of greatest disputes

Published 9:26pm Thursday, March 13, 2014

It was one of the greatest disputes in American history when Teddy Roosevelt and William Taft had a falling out.

Roosevelt became president after the assassination of President McKinley in 1901. Since the team had been inaugurated in March, the fall assassination meant Roosevelt had nearly a full term as president. He announced he’d only serve two terms and lived to regret his decision. He seemed to thoroughly enjoy being president.

Roosevelt’s chosen successor in 1908 was Secretary of War William H.Taft. But Roosevelt disagreed with Taft and didn’t feel the nation was well-served by his administration. Roosevelt decided to seek the GOP nomination again in 1912. However, the Republicans stood with the president and renominated Taft. Roosevelt bolted and formed the Progressive Party, popularly known as the Bull Moose Party. The Republican split ticket assured a Democrat victory, so New Jersey governor Woodrow Wilson won the election.

Taft wasn’t aggrieved as much as Roosevelt and attempted reconciliation with his former mentor. But it was only six years later that reconciliation occurred at the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago.

Doris Kearns Goodwin tells the story in her latest book, “The Bully Pulpit.”Taft took the elevator to his room and was informed that “the Colonel” was in the dining room. He instructed the elevator operator to take him back down.

Rushing across the room, Taft exclaimed, “Theodore! I am glad to see you.” The men embraced and the 100 or so diners erupted into applause. A “New York Tribune” reporter in another area heard the noise and asked what happened. “TR and Taft’s got together,” a bystander said.

Brokenness is a reality in our fallen world. It’s only fairy tales that declare, “And they lived happily ever after.” Because of this the Bible speaks much about forgiveness. Apparently God wishes us to take seriously the matter of reconciliation.

The apostle Paul wrote, “Be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).

The wonder of scripture is that the God we offended with our rebellion took the initiative and provided a remedy. The death of Jesus on the cross was a sacrifice for our sin “once and for all” (Hebrews 10:10).

Now the people of Christ are exhorted to follow the Father’s example and forgive one another.

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