Theodore Roosevelt was never intended to be President. He was seen as a reckless cowboy by many in the Republican Party leadership. As his popularity soared, he became more and more of a threat


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Theodore Roosevelt was never intended to be President. He was seen as a reckless cowboy by many in the Republican Party leadership. As his popularity soared, he became more and more of a threat. His success with the Rough Riders in Cuba made him a war hero in the eyes of many Americans. Riding this wave, he was elected as governor of New York.

  • Theodore Roosevelt was never intended to be President. He was seen as a reckless cowboy by many in the Republican Party leadership. As his popularity soared, he became more and more of a threat. His success with the Rough Riders in Cuba made him a war hero in the eyes of many Americans. Riding this wave, he was elected as governor of New York.



During the campaign of 1900, it was decided that nominating Roosevelt for the Vice-Presidency would serve two purposes. First, his popularity would surely help President McKinley's reelection bid. Second, moving him to the Vice-Presidency might decrease his power.

  • During the campaign of 1900, it was decided that nominating Roosevelt for the Vice-Presidency would serve two purposes. First, his popularity would surely help President McKinley's reelection bid. Second, moving him to the Vice-Presidency might decrease his power.



Vice-Presidents had gone on to the White House only if the sitting President died in office. The last Vice-President elected in his own right had been Martin Van Buren in 1837. Many believed Roosevelt could do less harm as Vice-President than as governor of New York.

  • Vice-Presidents had gone on to the White House only if the sitting President died in office. The last Vice-President elected in his own right had been Martin Van Buren in 1837. Many believed Roosevelt could do less harm as Vice-President than as governor of New York.

  • McKinley and Roosevelt won the election, and all was proceeding according to plan until an assassin's bullet ended McKinley's life in September 1901.



Soon it was clear that a new type of President was in town. The Presidency had been dormant since Lincoln's time. Congress seemed to be running the government, and big business seemed to be running Congress.

  • Soon it was clear that a new type of President was in town. The Presidency had been dormant since Lincoln's time. Congress seemed to be running the government, and big business seemed to be running Congress.

  • Philosophically, Roosevelt was outraged by these realities. Although he himself hailed from the wealthy classes, he strongly believed that no individual, no matter how rich and powerful, should control the people's representatives.



Roosevelt did not wait long to act. Before long he lashed out against the trusts and sided with American labor. The Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act protected consumers. Steps were taken to protect America's wilderness lands that went beyond any previous President.

  • Roosevelt did not wait long to act. Before long he lashed out against the trusts and sided with American labor. The Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act protected consumers. Steps were taken to protect America's wilderness lands that went beyond any previous President.



Furthermore, Roosevelt was convinced that if abuse of workers continued to go unchecked, a violent revolution would sweep the nation. An outspoken foe of socialism, Roosevelt believed that capitalism would be preserved with a little restraint and common sense. Within months he began to wield his newfound power.

  • Furthermore, Roosevelt was convinced that if abuse of workers continued to go unchecked, a violent revolution would sweep the nation. An outspoken foe of socialism, Roosevelt believed that capitalism would be preserved with a little restraint and common sense. Within months he began to wield his newfound power.



The worst fears of conservatives were realized as Roosevelt used the White House as a "bully pulpit" to promote an active government that protected the interests of the people over big business. The Progressive movement finally had an ally in the White House.

  • The worst fears of conservatives were realized as Roosevelt used the White House as a "bully pulpit" to promote an active government that protected the interests of the people over big business. The Progressive movement finally had an ally in the White House.



  • Roosevelt changed the office in other important ways. He never went anywhere without his photographer. He wanted Americans to see a rough and tumble leader who was unafraid to get his hands dirty. He became the first President to travel out of the country while in office and the first to win the Nobel Prize.



Unlike his quieter predecessors, Roosevelt knew that if the Washington politicians resisted change, he would have to take his case to the people directly. He traveled often and spoke with confidence and enthusiasm. Americans received him warmly.

  • Unlike his quieter predecessors, Roosevelt knew that if the Washington politicians resisted change, he would have to take his case to the people directly. He traveled often and spoke with confidence and enthusiasm. Americans received him warmly.



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