Editorial Note: This article, written by Sharlot M. Hall and edited by Parker Anderson, was published as a Daily Courier Days Past article in 2012. It, in turn, was originally reprinted from the Prescott Courier of October 27, 1932. That day was Sharlot’s birthday and a presidential election was less than two weeks away, so she used the occasion to expound on the importance of voting.
Things are waking up – some fine young men who are voters now but may, in all probability, hold some of the county or state offices in the future, ask me to tell them just where I stand in politics. “Because,” said one of them, “it seems wonderful to know there is anyone left who dares to fight for what they think is right. I thought that was only in books. I want to know what makes you think it’s worth while.”
Well – lots of things make me think it is worth while – but I expect some of it is that this is my birthday, the twenty-seventh day of October, and us folks born on this day seem to be just naturally scrappy.
Today is the birthday of Theodore Roosevelt – a greater man than even the best of the name today – and he was a natural born fighter. He was my friend and yet we could fight each other. When he blundered on the idea of uniting Arizona with New Mexico and admitting them to the Union as one state, I campaigned the whole of Arizona fighting him.
I wrote a poem called “Arizona” in a few hours one night when my blazing anger cured me of threatened pneumonia. The next day the poem was telegraphed from Phoenix to Washington and fine old Mark Smith (Ed. note: Arizona’s Territorial Delegate to Congress at that time) declaimed it from the floor of Congress and was asked to come and give it from the floor of the Senate.
Two Arizonans of the days when we had “Giants in the land” – a governor and a secretary of state – saw that thousands of copies, printed on fancy paper like an old political “broadside” reached all the leading periodicals in the United States. It was republished in thousands of papers and it helped a little to keep Arizona a separate state with all her own boundaries and traditions. And that was mighty well worth fighting for.
It’s good to remember what a fighter Theodore Roosevelt was – how he challenged the schemes of evil interests that did not dare to come out into the light. Good to remember his pride in the Rough Riders – good to recall his love of all us common folk – even my scrappy self with whom he soon made a truce. I can still see him turning his back on all the officials and city folks at the dedication of Roosevelt Dam to swing off the platform down among a bunch of country people, ranchers and cattle men, from Payson and the region beyond. For an hour he visited with them while ceremonies waited.
I like my birthday because it was also the birthday of a man so truly American and so humanly great. I always keep a birthday party in my soul with Theodore Roosevelt when the twenty-seventh of October comes round. Editorial note: Roosevelt died in his sleep in 1919 and it was said by the U.S. Vice President, Thomas R Marshall, that “Death had to take Roosevelt sleeping, for if he had been awake, there would have been a fight.”
I expect that the reason that “Teddy” and I sailed, and I still sail, joyfully into a fight was that we really cared, and care, about things – we care about things we feel are good more than about personal gain. You have got to care to be a good fighter – or to be a good citizen – you’ve got to really love Arizona, not just want to make a living out of her, if you are ready to fight for her at the drop of a hat.
And now about my politics for these young voters. My soldier father and the mother who nursed with famous “Mother Bickerdike” were Republicans – and so have I been when that party held to principles and persons whom I could accept.
When it didn’t, I voted for the best in sight – and I always wanted to start a third party as Roosevelt started the “bull Moose.” I still would like to start a new party. I think that both the old ones have slipped too far from the front line of our present-day battle as to be of little use.
So I shall vote for the best in sight so far as my judgment goes – and put in two years of hard work for still better on the next ticket. I shall go on collecting old relics and early history but, like the great sharer of my birthday, I shall hope to collect a few scalps too.
Doubtless I have not so many more birthdays to celebrate with Theodore Roosevelt, but when I ‘Go West’ (die) he will not be able to say to me: “You sure got too peaceful in your old days.” Instead I want to hear him say: “Comrade, you sure put up a good lone fight for the things you thought worth while.”
Editorial note: Sharlot died in April 1943, just ten years after this article appeared in the Prescott Courier.