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Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt Outline Thesis: Theodore Roosevelt’s political presence altered the course of the United States, transforming it into a superpower fully ready to handle the challenges of any opposition, and changed the role of the president and executive branch of US government, making it a force to be reckoned with. I. Introduction II. Before Roosevelt A. Post-Reconstructionist Views B. The Industrial Revolution C. The Gilded Age 1.

Railroads 2. Robber Barons 3. Immigration 4. Standard Question D. McKinley III. The Roosevelt Era A.

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Early Life 1. Influence of Parents 2. Invalidism B. Early Political Career 1. Ending Corruption/Enforcing Laws 2.

Political Bosses 3. Governorship C. Presidential Era 1. Vice Presidential Race 2. Manipulation of the Press 3. Federal Regulatory Laws 4. Foreign Policy 5.

Strong Executive Branch D. Post-Presidential Era 1. Taft 2. The Progressive Party IV. Post-Rooseveltian America A. Wilson 1.

Continued Progressivism 2. World War I a. Inactivity b. Activity B. Life After Wilson 1. Implementation of Roosevelt’s Reforms 2. Roosevelt’s Influence Today 3.

Influences in the Future V. Conclusion Theodore Roosevelt: The Founder of an Era The turn of the century has always been a big deal for modern civilizations. One hundred years of life is quite large compared with the average 70 or so given to most. Because of that, people tend to look in trends of decades, rather than centuries or millennia. When it does come time for a new century, when that second digit rotates, as it does so seldom, people tend to look for change. Events tend to fall before or after the century, not on top of it, and United States history, particularly, has had a tendency for sudden change at the century marks.

Columbus’ accidental discovery of the West Indies in 1492 brought on the exploration age in the 1500s. Jamestown colony, founded in 1607, was England’s first foothold on the New World. A massive population surge, brought on in part by the import of Africans, marks entry into the 18th century. Thomas Jefferson’s presidency, beginning in 1800, changed the face of American politics. 1900 was a ripe year for change, but needed someone to help the change arrive. That someone was Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt’s political presence altered the course of the United States, transforming it into a superpower fully ready to handle the challenges of any opposition, and changed the role of the president and executive branch of US government, making it a force with which to be reckoned.

As the first president with progressive views, Roosevelt enacted the first regulatory laws and prosecuted big businesses who had been violating them and others for years. Roosevelt also initiated the United States’ active interests in other countries, and began to spread the benefits of democracy throughout the world. Before Roosevelt, the United States was an inward-looking country, largely xenophobic to the calls of the rest of the world, and chiefly concerned with bettering itself. As one critic put it, “Roosevelt was the first modern president”(Knoll). After Roosevelt, the United States would remain a superpower, chiefly interested in all the world’s affairs for at least a century (Barck 1).

It would be foolish to assume that Roosevelt was a fantastically powerful individual who was able to change the course of the United States as easily as Superman might change the course of a river. It would be more accurate to say Roosevelt was the right person in the right place at the right time. It is necessary, though, to show how the United States was progressing, and how Roosevelt’s presence merely helped to catalyze the progression. It has been said that when John Wilkes Booth murdered Abraham Lincoln, he “extinguished the light of the republic” (Cashman 1). While this is a small hyperbole, it serves as an example of the general mood that pervaded the period from 1865 to 1901. The early dominating factor was, of course, Reconstruction. Reconstruction was a dirty game, and nobody liked it.

Johnson fought with congress and the end result proved very little had changed. The South was still largely agrarian, and the North was commercial. Most importantly, the Southerners and the Northerners still felt they had as little to do with each other as a fish does with a bicycle. To the young “Teedie” Roosevelt, this must have made itself apparent. He was born in a mixed household, where “Theodore Roosevelt (Sr.) was as profoundly..for the North as Martha Roosevelt was for the south” (Hagedorn 10). The fact that the family was able to live, from all accounts, very harmoniously, is quite astonishing and gives credit to the fine parents who raised young Theodore.

Reconstruction’s greatest (and perhaps only) accomplishment was the establishment of a basis for industrialization. The basic destruction of the southern agrarian process combined with the greater need for items in the North caused the economy of the post-war United States to shift toward the cities (Nash 576). The general aim of the Untied States had turned toward the big cities, but was still focused on building the nation’s power from within. And along with the improvement of industry in the United States came the spark of ingenuity that found itself in the minds of great inventors like Edison and Bell. Once again maintaining the goal of “hasten[ing] and secur[ing] settlement,” both men concentrated on improvements in communications, improving the transmission of light and sound (Cashman 14). The presence of these two, who are representative of so many others, shows the interest the citizens of the United States had at this time in improving their infrastructure.

It is interesting to note here that Roosevelt, as the first president to make use of the popular press to his advantage, grew up at the same time as these men, eleven years their junior. The period of the United States directly before Roosevelt’s was known as the Gilded Age, due to a book of the same name by Mark Twain that made use of references to “gild[ing] refined gold,” and “guilt” from Shakespeare combined with the “guilty, gilden guilds” that had sprung up in the forms of interest groups, labor unions, and monopolies (Cashman 3-4). Indeed, the most dominant figures in this age (for the presidents were certainly beneath mention) were the robber barons. These individuals came to power in two generations. The first, peppered by those such as Jay Gould, Jim Fisk, and Daniel Drew, rose to the top quickly by acquiring the nation’s railroads through not always legitimate means (Cashman 34).

The railroads were power, as can be seen by the significant rise in miles of rail, nearly a 500% increase from 1865 to 1900. Those who controlled the railroads controlled the country, and were able to maintain a lock on the industry. Later robber barons, such as Rockefeller, Carnegie, and, of course, J. P. Morgan, operated much the same way, eliminating the competition by one way or another until they could control their industry (Cashman 38).

As the three or four thousand tycoons made their fortunes, defying government, and basically creating a plutocracy of businessmen, another large group was entering the American melting pot in larger numbers than before. Ten million people came to the United States between 1860 and 1890, and the great majority of them had little more worth to their name save the clothes on their back and the boat ticket that had brought them to America (Cashman 86). Having nowhere to turn, the large majority settled in the port cities into which they came. These immigrations were largely unrestricted; the United States not yet having installed a quota system. The Chinese-Exclusion act and the subsequent “gentlemen’s agreement” with Japan slowed the influx of Asian immigration after 1880, but these did not impact the numbers of immigrants as much as one would think. Americans could not flee, as there was no frontier left to speak of, and assimilation increasingly failed to be effective.

The result was nativism, “a defensive type of nationalism” (Cashman 106). The need to impose the will of the American civilization onto other nations can be seen here, in its early stages. The main difference between this era and the next, in that respect, is that the jingoism had not yet left the country. The Gilded Age’s strongest presidential race would end up to be its last, and the resulting president, McKinley, can not be classified as a Gilded Age president. However, the issue of the Gold and Silver standards shows the United States for the last time as a totally inward-looking nation. Although a metal standard would not disappear from United States currency until well into the mid-twentieth century, and the question of the purchase of silver would again be raised by President Franklin Roosevelt, the Free Silver campaign of William Jennings Bryan versus the Gold Standard enforced by McKinley shows the last internal economic agitation until the great depression.

The National Grange died upon McKinley’s election, and “after the excitement of Bryan’s Free Silver campaign died down, the agrarian ferment largely subsided” (Barck 21). The end of the old era could now begin. It is ironic that McKinley’s presidency ended in assassination, for without the sudden change of leadership in the White House in 1901, the transformation undergone by the United States may have appeared as gradual as it was intended to be. McKinley was president over the “closing years of the nineteenth century, mark[ing] the end of comparative isolation and the beginning of an epoch during which the United States emerged as a world power” (Barck 77). Indeed, McKinley fits this description of the end of the nineteenth century well.

He was a very transitionary character; not as bland or powerless as the three who had come before him, yet still figurehead enough to be led by Mark Hanna, the national republican boss. McKinley’s stare typifies his character: “His stare was intimidating in its blackness and steadiness..Only very perceptive observers were aware that there was no real power behind the gaze: McKinley stared in order to concentrate a sluggish, wandering mind” (Morris 586). McKinley was president when the United States’ first modern military interventions began. However it is clear McKinley was not an expansionist at heart. He declared in his inaugural address, “We want no wars of conquest; we must avoid the temptation of territorial aggression”(Cashman 315). However, much of America did want war with Spain, and after the American ship Maine blew up in Havana, killing 266 soldiers, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt called for war with Spain to free Cuba. The subsequent defeat of the Spanish in 100 days and the capture of the Philippines demonstrates the expansionist nature of the United States increasing.

During the election of 1900, Bryan ran against McKinley again. This time, both men campaigned on the same side of the same issue, advocating annexation of overseas territories (Cashman 329). This confused Democrats and allowed McKinley’s re-election for the last year of the nineteenth century. The progress of the United States from the death of Lincoln to the Assassination of McKinley has shown the trend away from Jeffersonian views of a loose government, allowing the people to be independent, and into one more pro-government, like that of Hamilton. Coupled to this was a tendency to look outside United States borders into the global community. The pendulum of history had passed its middle mark and was sweeping upward. It needed, however, an individual to carry it to its apex.

Theodore Roosevelt was in the right place at the right time. Whether he was the right person for the job remains a matter that must be dealt with. His foundations and his career demonstrate that he was the perfect person to succeed McKinley and take the United States into its modern era. Roosevelt was born on October 27, 1858, one week before Buchanan was elected president, and two and a half years before the outbreak of the Civil war. Not having much in the way of genuine learning skills at such an early age, Roosevelt, in a sense, “slept through [the war]” (Hagedorn 11).

In another sense, he did not. Theodore Roosevelt was born into a house of strikingly opposite leaders. His father was a large, cheerful, powerful man, who tended to be joyful and move quickly. It is safe to say Theodore Roosevelt, junior, received his stature from the man bearing his name (Morris 34). If Roosevelt’s father was a “northern burgher,” his mother was an archetypal Southern belle, refined and elegant. By all accounts she was absolutely lovely, and had a wonderful taste for the beautiful things in life (Morris 36).

From her, young Theodore inherited his love of the natural, his sense of decorum, and his strong wit. The even balance that existed in the Roosevelt home fell into a disarray of sorts as war broke out. TR, Senior was a Lincoln Republican and desired strongly a chance to fight, however his wife, her sister, and her mother, all staunch confederates, resided in the same house. To compromise, TR, Senior hired someone to fight for him and served the army in a civilian sense. TR, Junior has always been known as a staunch militaristic man. Although his father was, in his own words, “the best man I ever knew” (Miller 32), in his failure to fight for his government, Roosevelt felt ashamed, and never mentioned this blemish on his father’s great reputation in his Autobiography.

It is speculated that it was this lack of military display that encouraged Roosevelt to be so military and almost hysterically desire warfare (Morris 40). Theodore Roosevelt, Senior, was always a strong individual in body and soul. Consequently, he felt sympathy towards those about him, and strove to help them by teaching mission schools, providing care for poor children, and finding jobs out west for those upon whom hard times had fallen. He was even known to take in invalid kittens, placing them in his coat-pockets (Morris 34). The powerful mind and will of Theodore Roosevelt, Junior, however, was born into a sickly body. Teedie suffered from bronchial asthma, and incurred, along with it, a host of associated diseases such as frequent colds, nervous diarrhea, and other problems (Miller 31). He was left very weak as a young child, and was often subject to taunting.

His father spoke to him, saying: Theodore, you have the mind but not the body, and without the help of the body the mind cannot go as far as it should. You must make your body. It is hard drudgery to make one’s body, but I know you will do it (Miller 46). Accordingly, Teedie replied with fervor, “I’ll make my body!” Indeed he did. The young Roosevelt spent hours in the gym, working on weights to make himself better. It was this indomitable spirit that pushed Roosevelt forward, and urged him into his form of powerful politics.

Theodore Roosevelt, Senior, had always hated politics. He had received a particularly nasty dose when caught up in the Rutherford B. Hayes campaign. Roosevelt, a Hayes supporter, had drawn the particular ire of Hayes’ opponent for the Republican nomination, Roscoe Conkling. Hayes attempted to put Roosevelt in as position of Collecto …

Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt “The life of Theodore Roosevelt (18581919) was one of
constant activity, immense energy, and enduring accomplishments. As the
twenty-sixth President of the United States, Roosevelt was the wielder of the
Big Stick, the builder of the Panama Canal, an avid conservationist, and the
nemesis of the corporate trusts that threatened to monopolize American business
at the start of the century. His exploits as a Rough Rider in the
Spanish-American War and as a cowboy in the Dakota Territory were indicative of
his spirit of adventure and love of the outdoors. Reading and hunting were
lifelong passions of his; writing was a lifelong compulsion.” After graduating
magna cum laude, from the Harvard University, Theodore began to lay the building
blocks for his public career. He began one of the most historic political
careers ever. Roosevelt put his early political years in these words, “I rose
like a rocket”. After being a New York Assemblyman, United States Civil
Commissioner, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Roosevelt played a significant
role in the Spanish-American War. The Spanish, who once thrived in the new
world, really only controlled Cuba now. But the Cubans attempted several times
to receive their independence. The Cubans were mistreated, so the United States
stepped in. War was declared against Spain by the United States. As the war went
on Roosevelt began a group called the Rough Riders. This group consisted of
largely cowboys, Indians, and college athletes. The group was led by Teddy and
Colonel Leonard Wood. On June 30, the Rough Riders marched to Santiago. Then On
July 1, the Rough Riders played a huge role in the American victory at San Juan
Hill. Now with the Hills, Teddy the Rough Riders and the rest of the American
troops, were ready to attack Santiago. Later, because Spain could not fight
anymore, Spain asked for a peace agreement. Now Teddy was a war hero, this is
nothing but help his chances for the U.S. President spot. After holding the
governor spot over New York, Theodore ran as Vice President with William
McKinley. On September 6, 1901 President McKinley was assassinated by, a
anarchist named Leon Czolgosz. And the Rough Rider, cowboy, was now the
President of the United States. “Although only 42, by far the youngest
president in the nations history up to that time, Roosevelt brought solid
qualifications to the office.” ” No event had a more profound effect on
Theodore Roosevelts political career.” As the President, Roosevelt look out
for the best interest of the United States. In dealing with business, President
Roosevelt was determined to see that no “Big Business” had a monopoly. As a
result in early 1902, the attorney-general was ordered by Teddy to file a suit
against The Northern Securities Company, which was a railroad investment
company. The company controlled 3 major railroads in the Northwest. The
Northwest Securities Company was charged with being a monopoly, under the
Sherman Antitrust Act. The Supreme Court later ruled on the case a said the
Northern Securities Company must be broken up because they were “combination
in restraint of trade.” Because of the success that Roosevelt won in this
case, he brought charges on over 40 more Big Businesses. The most important
businesses broken up by the Supreme Court, as a result of Roosevelts actions
were the Standard Oil Company and the American Tobacco Company. Because the
antitrust cases were took so long to get to the Supreme Court, Roosevelt asked
Congress to pass the Expedition Act, which sped the process. Roosevelt did not
discriminate big businesses simply because they were big, he looked for the
businesses that posed a threat to the public. “Roosevelts action against
big businesses won him the title trust buster. One of the biggest
challenge Roosevelt took on was getting the Panama Canal built. The United
States and Great Britain signed a treaty which gave the U.S. exclusive rights to
build, and operate a canal in Central America. There was some disagreement where
the canal would be built, but the final decision was Panama, where a French
company had been digging but went bankrupt. In June of 1902 congress passed the
Isthmian Canal Act, which authorized the purchase of the French land for $40
million. But the United States also had to get control of the canal zone from
what was then Colombia. Secretary of State made an agreement with Thomas Herran
to purchase, the right to control the land, for $10 million plus $250,000
yearly. The U.S. Senate accepted it but, the Colombian senate rejected the
offer, hoping to get more money. At this point Roosevelt considered taking the
land by force. He called them(Colombian senate) corrupted, and he said they were
trying to black-mail the United States. But the people who lived in Panama were
resentful to Colombia government, and a revolt was inevitable. The revolt was
funded by the French Company. Roosevelt ordered the U.S. Navel forces to keep
Colombian troops from getting into Panama, to end the revolt. Panama succeeded,
mainly due to the help of the U.S. Navy. An agreement was made and the U.S.

began to build the Panama Canal. Roosevelt was an outdoorsman, he enjoyed
everything about the outdoors. He was determined to conserve nature. He made
huge steps to conserve nature. He called National Conservation Conference at the
White House. Which resulted in many states creating a conservative commission.

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He also added 150 million acres to the national forest reserve. And passed
several acts to conserve and benefit the United States natural resources.


Conserving nature is just a part of his great legacy. Teddy Roosevelt led a
highly successful life, until his last day. He will be forever remembered as one
of the United States greatest Presidents.

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