… is from page 129 of Arthur Ekirch’s important (if flawed in some of its economics) 1974 volume, Progressivism in America:
An aristocrat who scorned the plutocracy of new-rich money grubbers, T.R. [Teddy Roosevelt] was also a bureaucrat who valued government or military service as opposed to a career in industry or banking. Thus he criticized mere wealth-getting and the material comforts of the middle class, while he gloried in army life and upper-class culture. Later, when he traveled in Europe, it was this side of his nature that made him popular with the monarchs and nobility of the Old World.
Regular readers of this blog know how greatly I admire and am influenced by the work of Deirdre McCloskey. Re-reading the above paragraph from Ekirch reminds me, though, of one very small remark that Deirdre makes on page 70 of her 2006 volume, The Bourgeois Virtues, that caused me to scratch my head: Deirdre there describes Teddy Roosevelt as “admirable.” I found when I read Virtues – and continue to find – her description of T.R. anomalous, especially in light of Deirdre’s thesis that our modern prosperity owes its existence to such an acceptance and celebration of the bourgeois virtues that the bourgeoisie, finally, came to enjoy in the popular mind the dignity that they so richly deserve. T. Roosevelt was anything but an admirer of the full range of bourgeois virtues; he regarded bourgeois pursuits and successes as being contemptible beside the likes of warrior-ing, aristocrat-ing, and bureaucrat-ing.