Teddy Roosevelt

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Roosevelt, Theodore (American President) (c. 1858-1919)

Roosevelt’s presidency began with the chaos of McKinley’s assassination in 1901, when Roosevelt was 43 years old, and ended after his second term, achieved by his election to President in 1904. Although Roosevelt’s selection as McKinley’s Vice-President was more of a political pay-off, and the New York political machine, fearing an independent Roosevelt, was more than ready to say good-bye to Roosevelt as Governor, Roosevelt is acknowledged by most historians as having waged a vigorous and winning campaign, while his presidential candidate seemed content to stay behind.

With McKinley’s assassination, the Republicans and the country had bought themselves an activist president who, in the span of seven years, turned an isolationist America into a world power which created American leadership and power in world affairs, dealt corporations a new set of rules, enacted a philosophy and policy of environmental conservation, set forth a progressive agenda which held Victorian values at its fulcrum, and dealt with the social and economic issues presented by the burst of immigrants. The issues of non-english speaking immigrants, large corporate trusts acting with greed, defining America’s role in the world politic, all faced Roosevelt, as they face Bush today. Moreover, Roosevelt fashioned policies, rationales, and enacted legislation to engage this challenge and pursued an even more aggressive presidential activism in his second term.

This activist president, currently the public icon invoked by members of both parties, was descended from a mixed cluster of immigrant lineage: Welsh, German, and French, to name a few. Influencing his political ambitions and policies were his wealthy background; he was the son of a wealthy and successful glassware merchant whose Dutch family of origin, the Knickerbockers, had been residents of Manhattan since the mid-1600’s. Born on October 27, 1858 in New York City, “Teedie” was known as a scrawny, weak child, sick from asthma, until his father’s comments regarding his physique as representative of his manhood, turned young Teddy around. Because of his father’s tremendous influence over the young boy, Teddy responded to his father’s encouragement and began to work out vigorously in a gym installed in the home by his father. Despite his efforts to improve his physical abili...

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...moral decline), the nation was in peril. Thus, these values formed the fulcrum of Roosevelt’s presidential actions: active mind, healthy body; corporations must do the “right” thing by society or government could compel them to do “good”; immigrants must be assimilated into American society with inter-marriage by the third generation; an only English spoken policy was necessary to promote assimilation. He had a natural ability to communicate with the American people. Roosevelt integrated the physicality and roughness of the frontiersmen with the values of a reformer. Roosevelt believed that politicians could make life better for the average citizen. Roosevelt created and implemented a reformist agenda: the Panama Canal despite Colombia’s protests, “dollar diplomacy” became a substitute for inter-countries’ debt, reserved thousands of acres of federal lands for the people and further, established an activism in the presidential office which has influenced its occupants for years to come. Although Roosevelt wished to serve again in 1912, he failed to halt Woodrow Wilson with his newly formed “Bull Moose Party” and lived the remainder of his life as a hunter and informal ambassador.
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