Theodore Roosevelt Imperial President of the American People By Jack Lovett
A Roosevelt Anecdote • When Roosevelt was an assemblyman for NY, a drunken Democratic assemblyman once made fun of his clothes. • Roosevelt responded by teaching him a lesson with his fists: • ''When you're in the presence of gentlemen, conduct yourself like a gentleman.''
Background Information • Born on October 27, 1858 • Died January 6, 1919 • Born to a Northern Father and a Southern Belle • Came from extreme privilege and wealth—old money • Suffered from many disabilities: • Severely myopic • Asthma • Weak body • Very curious/intelligent child • Attended Harvard College • President, 1901-1909
The TR Philosophy • TR took after his father and lived by a very principled philosophy • He believed in • taking action and doing things (The Strenuous Life) • duty and honor • an obligation to the poor and the misfortunate • He saw life as a moralist: right vs. wrong • He believed he could use the Presidency as a “bully pulpit” to convince people to do good. • He was “the preacher militant”—David McCullough
Teddy in the Badlands—Turning Point • Feb 14, 1884—TR’s mother and first wife both die • TR retreats West to the Dakota Badlands to become a cowboy • Rebuilt his mind and his body • Without this experience, there would be no President TR
The Character of TR “Black care rarely sits behind a rider whose pace is fast enough.”--TR
The Road to the White House • State Assemblyman • Police Commissioner • Assistant Secretary to the Navy • Rough Rider • Governor of New York • Vice-President of the US
Vice-President TR • The Republicans decided to make Roosevelt Vice-President to get him out of the NY governorship. • At the convention, everyone voted to make him VP, except TR • In September President McKinley died and TR became the youngest President at 42 • “Now look, that damn cowboy is now President of the United States!”—Mark Hanna, Republican Boss
Roosevelt’s Vision of Federal Power • TR envisioned government as the ultimate mediator, and the President as its leader • No business could be an equal of the government • Roosevelt wasn’t against business interests: he wanted to stop their excesses and to avoid violent revolution. • Known as a Trustbuster, but in reality he preferred regulation. He thought corporations were important to economic growth. • Through legislation and investigation, he sought to curb corporate excess.
Roosevelt vs. JP Morgan • 1902, TR ordered the Attorney General to sue JP Morgan under the Sherman Antitrust Act to break up his Northern Securities Company--(RR) • TR wanted to make clear that gov’t>business • JP Morgan insisted that they could negotiate, rather than go to court. • In 1904, the Supreme Court ordered the Trust to be split up. • TR filed 40 additional antitrust suits. • Intended to send a message to business rather than a serious commitment to ending trusts
The Coal Strike of 1902 • Roosevelt hated lazy plutocrats, but was terrified by the prospect of social unrest and the wild mob. • In 1902, United Mine Workers went on strike. • TR brought labor and business together, but business refused to bend • TR threatened to use the army to run the mines instead. • The businessmen finally came to the table and worked out a deal with labor. • Results: • Won 10% wage hike • Won 9-hour workday • Did not win union recognition • Origin of the “Square Deal”
Big Stick Diplomacy • “Speak softly, and carry a big stick.”—African Proverb • Translates to: Use diplomacy, but maintain a strong military • 1905: TR arbitrates the end of the Russo-Japanese War • 1908-1909: “The Great White Fleet” travels the globe to remind the world of American power
The Roosevelt Corollary • TR expanded the Monroe Doctrine in 1904 • Before, the US simply declared that Europeans had no right to intervene in the Americas • Now, the US had the right to intervene in Latin American countries to restore stability and keep Europeans out. • Ex: In 1903, the Dominican Republic defaulted on its debt. Roosevelt sent in the military to restore order and begin collecting payments on the debt. • Example of American Imperialism • Led to increased tension between the US and LA
The Panama Canal • TR believed in the importance of a canal in LA to improve commerce. • TR set his eyes on Panama, where a French company had already begun work. • When Columbia refused TR’s terms to build a canal in Panama, TR discreetly supported a revolution. • TR quickly recognized the new state of Panama • TR paid $10 million to Panama and $40 million to the French company to begin work. • Canal finished in 1914
Election 1904 • Theodore Roosevelt became the first non-elected President to seek a second term in office • Received the Republican nomination (though big business and conservative Republicans only gave him reluctant support) • Democratic Opponent: the colorless Alton Parker • TR won the election in the biggest landslide since Lincoln • Stats: • Electoral Vote: 336-140 • Popular Vote: 56.4%-37.6%
Roosevelt’s Mistake • After the election of 1904, Roosevelt called a press conference and announced that under no circumstances he would seek a third term. • Roosevelt suddenly became a lame duck President. • Relinquished his most favorite role of his entire life • Once said he would cut off his right hand to take back his words. • He would spend the rest of his life, trying to become President again.
The Square Deal • Roosevelt became even more progressive in his second term. • Hepburn Railroad Regulation Act of 1906 • Improves upon Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 • Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 • Meat Inspection Act of 1906 • 1907, Roosevelt continues to propose a progressive legislative agenda. Knowing that he was a lame duck, conservatives in Congress stymie him.
Roosevelt and Conservation • Arguably TR’s greatest legacy • Pushed executive power to its limits by placing 230 Million Acres under protection • Created: • 5 National Parks • 18 National Monuments • 150 National Forests • Angered conservatives who wanted that land opened for business. • In 1907, Congress stripped TR of his ability to designate national forests. • Legacy: Made government a manager and protector of public land
The Panic of 1907 • Autumn of1907—Wall Street faces chaos • TR was never a master of economics and keeps out • Many businessmen (incorrectly) blame TR’s social legislation as a cause. • In the end JP Morgan intervenes and pools together enough assets from Wall Street to prop up the economy • Exposed that the government still did not have full control over the economy, and weakened TR
Roosevelt’s Post-Presidency • TR was succeeded by his chosen successor: William Taft • TR felt like he lost purpose in his life without the Presidency and spent the rest of his life trying to get it back. • Founded the Progressive (Bull Moose) Party • Election 1912—Three way race: Woodrow Wilson, William Taft, Theodore Roosevelt • Became the most vocal critic of Wilson’s Foreign Policy • Died in 1919, probably would have won nomination in 1920
Sources Used • American Experience: TR, The Story of Theodore Roosevelt • American History: A Survey by Alan Brinkley • C-SPAN Presidential Rankings • Edmund Morris’s Theodore Roosevelt Trilogy • Wikimedia and Google Images for pictures