Essay on Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt was a very accomplished man, and made many contributions to American Politics and to the American way. Most of his contributions came when he became president, N. Y., when he took the oath of office on Sept. 14, 1901.

Help with Essay on Theodore Roosevelt
Help with Essay on Theodore Roosevelt

Before taking office, Roosevelt’s charisma got him the national reputation of being a shrewd but honest man, and the newly elected president William McKinley noticed this and proceeded to appoint Roosevelt as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy in 1897. Shortly after his appointment, the U.S.S. Maine, which was anchored off the coast of Havana, Cuba (which was under Spanish control then) and killed some 234 United States sailors. Theo was smart and knew that the way to win this coming war with Spain was to control the seas, and it just so happened that TR’s Boss, Secretary Long, unexpectedly went out of town, and TR lost no time in contacting Admiral Dewey. Dewey, who was stationed in Hong Kong, received orders from TR to load coal, and sail for the Philippines immediately. He said that war be declared and that Dewey must not let the old but large Spanish fleet leave Manila Harbor. On April 20, 1898, the US declared war on Spain, and Admiral Dewey followed Roosevelt’s instructions and sank the entire Spanish fleet in less than 4 hours.

This event is important because it showed the initiative that Theodore had and how outspoken he was. Roosevelt was the type of president, and one of the first modern presidents, who used the full extent of power of his office. He wasn’t the type of president to sit by thought his 4-year term in office; he was a reformer and believed strongly in change for the better and intended to use his power to do so. He also wanted to restore the dignity and prestige lost after the corrupt administrations of Grant and Hayes. He also wanted to get rid of the do-nothing presidencies of Garfield, Harrison, Arthur, and Cleveland.

As President, Roosevelt sought to turn the presidency into a “bullying tool” where he could proactively influence national policy. He demonstrated this in many situations in his presidency many times. One of the most notable was his way of actively breaking up “Monopoly’s”, where he instructed Philander Knox to invoke the Sherman Anti-Trust Act against the Northern Securities Company, a railroad trust illegally offering freight rebates to “special” customers. TR also used his power to invoke other acts and policies, such as the Forest, Land, and River Reclamation Policy – which called for national parks and wildlife preserves as he saw fit. So, because there was no law against it, he had the perfect right to designate an area a national park, and so he did. He also instituted the Bureau of Corporations and the Department of Commerce to take care of such matters as monopolies and commerce disputes.

This has become the stereotyped an of the Big Stick” image of Theodore Roosevelt–the bellise, aggressive character ever ready to initiate a conflict. But his famous axiom “Speak softly and carry a big stick, and you will go far,” which he constantly advised all who would listen, showed him to be a man who put persuasion before force. The availability of raw power–preparedness–not the use of it made for effective diplomacy. George Washington, incidentally, would have agreed with this view. After all, he once declared, “There is nothing which will so soon produce a speedy and honorable peace as a state of preparation for war.” And yes, he wrote: “The man who fears death more than dishonor, more than failure to perform duty, is a poor citizen; and the nation that regards war as the worst of all evils and the avoidance of war as the highest good is a wretched and contemptible nation, and it is well that it should vanish from the earth.” And yes again, he said: “No triumph of peace is quite as great as the supreme triumph of war.” He also declared: “An ignoble peace is even worse than an unsuccessful war.”
While his effervescence and extroverted political style caught the spirit of the nation, behind the flashing teeth and flailing arms lay a keen-edged intelligence and hearty ambition. In truth, he was a genuine intellectual. Some feel this magna cum laude graduate of Harvard was the most learned of all modern presidents. Historian William Harbaugh has noted, “No American President was so widely, and in certain areas, so deeply read as he. No President enjoyed literature more, wrote history as well, or understood nature better.”
Significantly, perhaps ironically, Roosevelt was the first American as well as one of only two U.S. presidents to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. This was in 1906 for his mediation in the Russo-Japanese conflict, a mediation that ended war and led to peace. He then donated the entire $40,000 he received to a foundation for the promotion of industrial peace.

Roosevelt was the first vice president to fill an unexpired term (in his case, it was nearly a full term, three and one-half years) and then to be elected in his own right. When he won a resounding victory in 1904, he promised not to run in 1908. He held to his promise, even though he loved being president, and even though it was apparent that he could have won easily. When he attempted a comeback in 1912, the increasingly progressive TR won the bulk of the presidential primaries, but could not unseat the incumbent, William Howard Taft, who had the support of the conservative political machinery that controlled most state Republican parties.

Whether Roosevelt will be remembered as the first great president-reformer of the modern industrial era, or as the first to understand the conservation problem in its multiple facets, or for the acquisition and construction of the Panama Canal, or for his mediation in the Russo-Japanese War, his greatest contribution to his country and his time may well have been his personality, which included the qualities of caution, courage, a sense of humor, and gentleness. In a nation searching for heroes it is no wonder that Theodore Roosevelt stands tall as one of America’s most revered figures.

Bibliography:
1. Cornwell Elmer The American Presidency: Vital Center. Chicago: Scott, Fores-
man, 1966.
2. David H. Burton The Learned Presidency : Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson . Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1988;
3. Edward J. Renehan Jr. The Lion’s Pride : Theodore Roosevelt and His Family in Peace and War.Oxford University Press, 1998
4. Francis E. Leupp The Man Roosevelt: A Portrait Sketch. D. Appleton & Company. New York. 1904;
5. Herbert Ronald Ferleger, Albert Bushnell Hart Theodore Roosevelt Cyclopedia. Roosevelt Memorial Association, New York. 1941.

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