Theodore Roosevelt Essay Research Paper OutlineThesis Theodore (стр. 2 из 2)

position of Collector,

but failed to receive senate nomination due to Conkling’s ire (Miller

76-8). Theodore

Roosevelt, Junior, “inspired by his father’s humiliation at the hands of


politicians…was determined to become part of…the governing class”

(Miller 110). This

inspiration was coupled in Roosevelt with a strong desire for power.

Unlike many men who

had gotten into the political game, Roosevelt boldly admitted that he

desired power, and

his desire served him well, allowing him to become a genuine career

politician (Miller

111). The political game had not changed so much since Theodore, Senior

had tried to run

it, and Theodore, Junior had an uphill battle. He had to fight from the

beginning, but

fortunately was adequate in that respect. At first plagued by strict-line

party voting,

Roosevelt managed to finally secure political office, but it was there

that his true

troubles would begin. An important and revealing part of TR’s early

political career occurs

during his stint as a civil service commissioner in Washington. One

memorable incident

occurred in 1889 when Roosevelt faced some difficult political

maneuvering. In Milwaukee,

Postmaster George Paul was accused of making appointments to friends and

altering records

to hide it. Hamilton Shidy, a Post Office superintendent, provided most of

the damaging

evidence. The commission was to recommend Paul’s firing, when Paul

announced his term of

office was up regardless. The commission returned to Washington, where

they learned Paul

had lied about his length of service. Roosevelt immediately drafted a call

for Paul’s

removal to the White House and the Associated Press. This publicity irked


republicans who were no strangers to corruption themselves. Postmaster

General Wanamaker,

who was not particularly fond of Roosevelt to begin with, was quite angry.

He allowed Paul,

who had not been removed, to dismiss Shidy, who had been promised

protection by Roosevelt,

for insubordination. Now Roosevelt was stuck between a rock and a hard

place. He was bound

both to Shidy as a protector and to uphold his post, which would warrant

Shidy’s removal.

Wanamaker was trying to force Roosevelt to resign. Luckily, president

Harrison intervened

and agreed to find a place for Shidy, but the battle was not over. As he

waited for Paul’s

removal orders from the White House, which were not forthcoming, Frank

Hatton, the editor

of the Washington Post decided to launch an attack, lying blatantly about


misappropriation of funds or other egregious acts. The Post fired back

with more attacks,

causing Roosevelt to angrily point to Wanamaker’s misdeeds. Rather than

continue the

battle, Harrison managed to have Paul resign, and Roosevelt accepted half

of a victory. He

had successfully stopped the wheels of the political machine once. It was

not to be the

last time (Morris 403-8). Roosevelt spent several years as a commissioner

of police in New

York City, eventually rising to become president of the board of

commissioners. In these

years, the true signs of the presidency that was to come shone through.

Two of Roosevelt’s

closest acquaintances were Lincoln Steffens, and Jacob Riis (Morris 482),

both reporters of

New York newspapers. It was through them that Roosevelt communicated to

the people, and he

found it good practice to have the relayers of his messages be his

friends. Through Riis’

book How The Other Half Lives, Roosevelt had learned of the plight of the

poor. Roosevelt

saw the awful living conditions present in police lodging houses, and had

them done away

with (Cashman 123). He battled police corruption, trying hundreds of

officers and finding

corruption and graft in every corner of the department (Morris 491). When

McKinley’s first

vice-president, Hobart, died, Roosevelt found himself in the capacity of

Governor of New

York. He had already fought in a war and been Assistant Secretary of the

Navy, where he

helped to orchestrate the United States’ roles in Cuba and Panama.

Roosevelt’s expansionist

views were here seen. As governor, he continued to defy the old political


including bossism. Platt, the political boss of New York, had gotten

Roosevelt elected

governor, yet constantly ran up against Roosevelt, who would not follow

any of his orders.

Roosevelt spent a good time of his governorship attempting to outmaneuver

Platt and his

agents who were heavily present in the state legislature (Morris 708).

Hobart’s death, in

1899, forced the search for a new vice-presidential candidate, especially

due to the

upcoming election. Roosevelt emerged as the leading candidate, to the

dismay of the

Republican National Party’s boss, Senator Mark Hanna. Hanna considered

Roosevelt quite

dangerous; in the previous term Hanna had done a great deal of controlling

the president,

and he feared what would happen if Roosevelt became vice-president.

McKinley did not show

any special preference. Hanna chose his own candidate, John D. Long, but

was convinced

through some slightly shady political maneuvering to vote for Roosevelt

against his own

better judgment (Morris 727). Hanna’s personal dislike of Roosevelt did

not diminish in the

slightest, however. Shortly after the 1900 elections, Hanna sent McKinley

a note saying

“Your duty to the Country is to live for four years from next March

(Miller 342). McKinley

was re-nominated unanimously, receiving all 926 votes. Roosevelt received

925, the single

vote against him cast by himself (Morris 729). Roosevelt served four days

as Vice President

before Congress adjourned until December. And when the news of McKinley’s

sudden death on

September 14 came to him he said, in a very un-Roosevelt-like manner, that

he would

“continue, absolutely unbroken, the policy of President McKinley for the

peace, the

prosperity, and the honor of our beloved country” (Barck 45). This was

tradition for

replacement presidents, although it certainly seemed odd coming from such

a strong-willed

man as Roosevelt. Roosevelt had already made himself extremely well known

in the public

eye, so his transition to president was not as awkward as it might have

been. Roosevelt

campaigned furiously during 1900, traveling a total of 21,209 miles and

making 673 speeches

in 567 towns in 24 states (Morris 730). Only Bryan had campaigned more in

the 19th century.

For this reason, Roosevelt was able to manipulate, to a certain degree,

the popular press.

Although he disliked those “Muckrakers,” as he called them, who looked for


everywhere and served mostly to stir sensationalistic ideas, Roosevelt had

a certain

penchant for those like Steffens and Riis, who wrote copiously on the need

for social

reform. To do his part, Roosevelt attempted reforms that would benefit the

working class.

Unlike previous presidents, Roosevelt refused to use national force to

break strikes. He

also instituted the Interstate Commerce Act, which, with the Hepburn Act,


government regulation of transportation systems, preventing the railroad

monopolies from

instituting unfairly high prices (Barck 52). Taking a cue from Upton

Sinclair’s The Jungle,

which detailed in vivid description the atrocious handling of meat at

sausage factories,

Roosevelt had the Pure Foods and Drugs Act and the Meat Inspection Act

passed, preventing

the manufacture of harmful foods and requiring inspection of meat

facilities. A unique

aspect of Roosevelt’s presidency was his foreign policy. Although McKinley

had been

involved in Cuba and the Philippines, he had never expressed a wish to

dominate as a world

power. Roosevelt had, indeed, operated a large part of the United States’

aggressive role

towards Cuba, and in his presidency went even further to secure the United

States as a

dominating power. In 1904 he declared what would become the Roosevelt

Corollary to the

Monroe Doctrine in a letter to Secretary of War Elihu Root (Miller 394).

Roosevelt argued

that it was a civilized nation’s right to intervene if its neighbors are

engaged in

wrongdoing. To that end, Roosevelt began to use force to preserve peace

and order in the

Western Hemisphere. The Dominican Republic needed Roosevelt’s help first,

as it was being

harassed by Italy and France, to whom it owed large sums of money. To

alleviate the

problem, a loan was set up from the United States. Although the Dominicans


settled on the loan, anti-imperialists felt the United States was

preparing to annex the

Dominican Republic. It has been said that “The Roosevelt

Corollary['s]…promulgation was

proof that the United States realized its position as a world power”

(Barck 100). Of

course, this was all contingent on Roosevelt’s enforcement of his

doctrine. Roosevelt

confirmed the role of the U. S. further by providing a strong military

presence to wrest

the boundary line of Alaska from Canada in 1902 and most importantly, by

determination and

perhaps a little impropriety in the annexation of the Panama Canal zone.

Colombia had been

a friendly country to the U. S., and when Panama revolted it seemed

suspect that the United

States should allow such an operation. But, as tends to be the case,

Roosevelt wanted

Panama free for other means. In his words, he wanted to “take Panama,” for

a canal and he

did, demanding independence from a contract with England and grumbling

when the deal ended

up to be a 100 year lease of the canal zone, rather than an outright

purchase. The Panama

canal was, in Roosevelt’s mind, to be as great a feat as the Louisiana

purchase or Texas

annexation. It was a controversial measure, and showed Roosevelt’s beliefs

in the

superiority and rights of civilization (Miller 399). In 1907 Roosevelt

finally decided he

had had enough and, rather than run for a third term, which he could have

easily done,

virtually appointed William Howard Taft as his successor and went off to

enjoy retirement.

Taft was a good friend of Roosevelt and shared many of his views. Under

Taft, Congress

expanded the Conservation Laws, keeping alive TR’s national parks service.

In addition, 80

suits were initiated by Taft’s attorney general on companies violating the


Anti-Trust act. Unfortunately, Taft’s presidency was not nearly as

successful as

Roosevelt’s, for while the country became more and more progressive, Taft

stood pat,

remaining mostly conservative (Barck 68). In response to Taft’s

conservative stance,

progressives united to form the National Progressive League. Meanwhile,

Roosevelt returned

to politics. Bored with the quiet life, he desired the presidency once

again, and naturally

went for the Republican ticket. However, Taft decided to give Roosevelt a

little taste of

his own medicine, and refused to accede to Roosevelt, who was now playing

the political

boss. The friendship that had existed between these two was splintered,

and Roosevelt, in a

rage, formed the Progressive party and ran as a third candidate. Although

he feared he

would be defeated if the Democrats nominated a progressive candidate

(which they found in

Wilson), Roosevelt ran with his soul, as he did everything in life. At the


party convention, Roosevelt read aloud his “Confession of Faith,” a

sweeping charter for

reform that outlined the agenda for the twentieth century (Miller 528).

The confession

advocated direct senate elections, preferential primaries, women’s

suffrage, corruption

laws, referendum and recall, a federal securities commission, trust

regulation, reduced

tariffs, unemployment insurance, old-age pensions, anti-child-labor laws,

and food purity

laws (Miller 528). Roosevelt lost the 1912 election, but he certainly did

not lose power.

Over the next century, he would have every single part of his agenda made

national law. The

turn towards progressivism was only beginning, and continued with Wilson.

Although a

democrat, his views were remarkably progressive. They were also remarkably


Like Roosevelt, Wilson had a strong will and did not take kindly to

dissent, as can be seen

by his appointment of Louis Brandeis to the supreme court over the

objections of at least

six former presidents of the American Bar Association (Barck 110). Wilson

also formally

reinvented the role of a strong executive demonstrated so heartily by

Roosevelt by

delivering speeches directly before Congress, rather than having them read

by a clerk.

Wilson kept alive Roosevelt’s ideals with tariff reductions, the Federal

Reserve System.

Wilson even advocated the democratization of the Philippines, even though

he was strongly

anti-imperialist (Barck 121). Until the war in Europe distracted America

long enough to

lead it eventually back into a post-war depression, Wilson carried on the

traditions of his

political opponent, in the redefined presidency of the newly powerful

United States.

Although the United States was moving ever forward in its effort to

“policing the world” it

was not as progressive as all that in 1914. Even TR himself did not

advocate joining in on

World War I, seeing no reason to take part in an affair that did not

concern the United

States in the slightest. However, once German U-boats began sinking ships

carrying American

passengers, Roosevelt changed his tune, along with a percentage of the

American people.

Eventually, enough popular sentiment urged Congress to declare war, and it

was done. It

seems here as if Wilson was dragging his feet, but in another generation,

the mere

consideration of war in Europe would have been ludicrous. Having gotten

its feet wet, the

United States became a first-class country with first-class

responsibilities. The United

States advocated by TR continued after the war and beyond. After a brief

interlude in which

everything seemed to revert back to the old ways and Americans looked

again toward the

individual, another Roosevelt, Franklin Delano, used the ideas of his

cousin to

reinvigorate the economy and rebuild the nation. Today, the reforms

advocated by TR exist

and are in full use, while other more progressive reforms, like national

health care, are

being considered. Although our civilization may not end abruptly in 1999,

as predicted by

numerous psychics and fortune-tellers, it is probable that some large

revolutionary act

will change the way our country works in four years or so, just as it has

before. While our

Roosevelt may not have the immense popularity or wonderful charm as the

original, it is not

doubtful that whoever it is will have to have will, strength, brains, and

fortitude equal

to or above that of the original.

Barack, Oscar Theodore Jr., and Nelson Manfred Blake. Since 1900: A History

of the United

States in Our Times. New York: MacMillan, 1974.

Cashman, Sean Dennis. America In the Gilded Age: From the Death of Lincoln

to the Rise of

Theodore Roosevelt. New York: New York University Press, 1984.

Hagedorn, Hermann. The Boys’ Life of Theodore Roosevelt. New York: Harper

and Brothers,


Knoll, Erwin. Review of Theodore Roosevelt: A Life, by Nathan Miller. New

York Times Book

Review, February 28, 1993. p.14. CD-ROM: Resource One.

Miller, Nathan. Theodore Roosevelt: A Life. New Yor: William Morrow, & Co.,


Morris, Edward. The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt. New York: Goward, McCann,

& Geoghegan,


Nash, Gary, et. al. The American People: Creating a Nation and a Society.

New York: Harper

Collins, 1990.

page 15 of 14