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The Life of President Theodore Roosevelt
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Known for his enthusiasm and variety of achievements and interests, Theodore Roosevelt held the presidency from 190-1909. He was the 26th President of the United States and was the leader of the Progressive Movement with his cowboy façade and tough masculinity. He was the frontrunner of the Republican Party as well as the founder of the Bull Moose or Progressive Party of 1912. He held several offices at the federal, state and city levels prior to becoming a president. He was famous not only as a politician but also as a soldier, hunter naturalist, explorer, and author.
Roosevelt was born into a well-off family. His mother Mittie Bulloch was a successor of Governor Bulloch who delivered the Declaration of Independence to the people of Georgia. As a child, Roosevelt was sickly. He had asthma and settled home learning natural history. He lived a vigorous and determined life to make up for his physical feebleness. He was a curious and keen student who always willing to learn more even if he was just home-schooled. He went to Harvard University where he learned how to box and acquired a curiosity in naval affairs Theodore became the youngest member of the New York State Assembly in 1881, a year after he left Harvard.
Theodore was married to Alice Hathaway Lee in 1880 whom he met when he was a sophomore at HarvardCollege. They separated 5 years after they got married when Alice died. His childhood friend, with whom he’s always had a special connection Edith, became his second wife. He had 5 children with Edith and 1 with Alice whom Edith raised like her own daughter.
Throughout his years with the Assembly, Roosevelt was a firm Republican activist. He wrote more bills than any other New York state official did. In 1895, he became head of
the board of the New York City Police Commissioners. He drastically reformed the department of the police during the two years that he stayed in the post. Before he held the presidency of the New York City Police, the department was said to be amongst the most corrupt force in the United States. Roosevelt with his authoritative nature and impeccable morality and honesty, the division was reformed eagerly in 1895. Roosevelt together with his associates founded new regulations and regulated the use of firearms by the officers to implement laws. Roosevelt carried out regular checks or inspections of pistols and yearly physical exams. He appointed officers based on their mental and physical capabilities and not on their political associations.
He always had a fascination when it comes to naval history. In 1897, Congressman Henry Lodge was a close friend of Roosevelt who urged President McKinley to appoint Roosevelt as Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Roosevelt had control on the department since the secretary then Navy John Long was inactive. When the battleship Maineblasted in Cuba, the secretary was not around hence Roosevelt stood as Acting Secretary for about 4 hours. Roosevelt ordered the Navy all around the world to get ready for war. He ordered for supplies and bullets, called on experts and went to the US Congress to ask for a right or power to recruit as many soldiers/sailors that he needed, making the nation ready for the war. Roosevelt was a big instrument in the preparation of the Navy for the Spanish-American warfare.
When Roosevelt left the Army in 1898, he became governor of New York still a Republican. He defeated William Bryan in a landslide election. Roosevelt’s assurance of fortune and success, increased tariffs, and the restitution of business confidence increased his margin of winning. Roosevelt was determined and dedicated to eliminate all corruption. Although Bryan was a big supporter of the battle against Spain, he and Roosevelt did not
agree about the takeover of the Philippines as Bryan believed that imperialism would give the United States a bad name. Roosevelt argued his point that it will benefit both the Philippines and the United States. According to him, with the annexation of the Philippines, the United States would have a prominent place in the world and the Filipinos on the other hand would acquire stability. Roosevelt’s six-month long term as a Vice President was dull. However in September 6, 1901, President Mckinley was killed in an assassination by an radical in New York and he died 8 days after on September 14. The Presidency was handed over to Roosevelt making him the youngest United States president in history at the age of 42. Roosevelt took over Mckinley’s cabinet and vowed to continue the policies started by Mckinley. As a president, his first distinguished act was when he delivered a 20,000-word speech to Congress on Deccember 2, 1901 requesting to control and restrict the power of huge corporations (also known as “trusts) within equitable and sound limits. He was dubbed as the trust-buster for his determined and assertive attacks on trusts over the two terms of his presidency. He did everything during his presidency; played with his children, boxed in one of the rooms in the White House, took his friends as well as cabinet member on hikes, read avidly, all these while still fulfilling his duties as a president. He became permanently blind in one eye in one of his boxing sessions.
Roosevelt ran for presidency in 1904 this time under his own will and right. He won in a convincing landslide victory. He tried to encourage the Republican Party towards progressivism including increased supervision of corporations and trust bursting. He labeled his national program as “Square Deal” stressing that the average citizen would acquire and equal share under his rules.
Trusts were becoming a huge issue in politics, with the people dreading that large businesses could levy monopolistic prices to deceive the consumer and destroy small independent businesses. 318 trusts were in control of about 2/5 of the United States’ manufacturing production by 1904. Roosevelt thrived to expand the controlling authority of the federal government. The Elkins Act of 1903 strengthened the regulation and control over railroads while the Hepburn Act in 1906 had an effect that favored the merchants over the railroads. The Hepburn Act provided the ICC or Interstate Commerce Commission the authority to set utmost rates for railroads and it gave the ICC power to prohibit the free passes passed on to friends of the railroad. It also allowed the ICC to view the financial reports of the railroads. The ICC authority also extended to include terminals, bridges, sleeping cars, ferries, oil pipelines, and express companies. Together with the Elkins Act in 1903, the Hepburn Act achieved on of Roosevelt’s primary objective, to regulate the railroads. The main recipients were the dealers and traders who got lower shipping fees or rates. In 1906 Roosevelt had to respond to the public appeal and urged the Congress to approve the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act. These policies required putting labels on drugs and food, assessment of livestock and instructed sanitary stipulations at meatpacking yards.
Roosevelt convinced the coalitions of involved in the Russo-Japanese war to meet in a peace discussion in 1905 at New Hampshire. It was Roosevelt’s insistent and successful negotiation that led to the adoption of the Treaty of Portsmouth the signaled the end of the war. For his persistent efforts and endeavors, Roosevelt was given the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906 being the first American to get such recognition in any field.
During his last two years as a president, Roosevelt was gradually becoming more skeptical on big corporations in spite of its close connections to the Republican Party in all the large states. The opinions of the public had been unstable after several scandals transpired and big corporations were in a bad place. Roosevelt called on to the Congress and sought for a national incorporation policy, limitations on the court injuction use during strikes and labor unions, 8 hour regulation for state employees, and campaign reform policies.
By 1908, Roosevelt refused to run for re-election. He left the presidency and went on a safari to Africa and a European tour. When he came back to the United States, an unpleasant conflict grew between him and his successor as president, William Taft. Roosevelt in 1912 tried to gain and seize the Republican Party from William Taft but failed. He then commenced the Bull Moose Party.
In October 14, 1912 while Roosevelt was on a campaign in Wisconsin, John Schrank, a saloonkeeper shot him. The bullet penetrated his chest only after passing through Roosevelt’s steel eyeglass casing and a thick single-folded text of his speech that was 50 pages long which was in his jacket. Roosevelt refused to be brought to the hospital instantly because as a knowledgeable anatomist and hunter he established that the bullet has not totally entered the chest to his lungs since he was not coughing any blood yet. He went on to deliver his speech with blood leaking into his shirt. His speech went on for 90 minutes. The bullet eventually caused him long-lasting rheumatoid arthritis which he endured from for many years. This condition soon prohibited him from doing his daily exercises and contributed to him becoming obese. In spite of the rapid failure of Roosevelt’s health, he remained vigorous throughout his life. He was a passionate advocate of the Scouting movement.
Roosevelt died while sleeping on January 6, 1919 of a heart attack or coronary thrombosis led by the inflammatory rheumatism that he suffered from for almost 3 months prior to his death. He died at Oyster Bay and was buried in YoungsMemorialCemetery.
Historians praise Roosevelt for revolutionizing the United States’ political organization by constantly putting the presidency at the center showing the people the important issues at hand and presenting them his transparent character in resolving these matters. Many historians have ranked Roosevelt to be among the top 5 greatest presidents of the United States. His legacy is exhibited in many things such as two US Navy ships; a submarine in 1961 to 1982 named USS Theodore Roosevelt and an aircraft carrier named USS Theodore Roosevelt CVN-71 who’s been on operation since 1986. The US Postal Service released a postage stamp on November 18, 1956 in honor of Theodore Roosevelt. In 1920, the Roosevelt Memorial Association now popularly known as the Theodore Roosevelt Association was founded to honor the legacy President Roosevelt left.
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