Theodore Roosevelt (October 27, 1858- January 6, 1919) was the 26th president of America. He was the engineer of a modern era in American politics. On June 26th 2006 Roosevelt, adoringly called Teddy appeared in the cover of Time magazine with the lead story “The Making of Modern America-20th Century Express”: which says “at home and abroad Theodore Roosevelt was the locomotive President, the man who drew his flourishing nation into future.”
The Life Of The Mandarin
Theodore was the Assistant Secretary of the US Navy. In 1898 he organized the war with Spain and helped to command the first US Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, “The Rough Riders”. Upon Theodore’s return in New York, he was elected the Republican Governor in 1898.
Roosevelt was the first person to grasp the significance of Panama Canal. He bargained for the control of its construction for the US in 1904. The canal was completed in 1914 after Theodore left office.
Roosevelt, The Progressive Leader
Theodore was a progressive reformer who wanted to bring the Republican Party within the realm of Progressive Party. But his attack on Judiciary created a rift between him and his friend and successor William Taft. A new political party, The United States Progressive Party was formed out of the split in the Republican Party in 1912 Presidential Election. Theodore Roosevelt lost his Republican nomination to Taft and pulled out to form this new Progressive party nicknamed Bull Moose Party.
Majority of Republican Congressmen, Governors and leaders refused to join the new party even if a large percentage formerly supported Roosevelt. Though many independent reformers joined Bull Moose. The party backed many sympathetic Republican and Democratic candidates during federal and state elections from 1912 to 1916.
Out of the 15 most prominent progressive Republicans, 5 supported Theodore and 3 backed Woodrow Wilson. Many political supporters of Roosevelt endorsed Taft. Even Longworth, son in law of Roosevelt supported Taft. Many people deemed it safe and sound to be with Woodrow Wilson and some were suspicious about Theodore’s progressive ideas.
The rise of the Democratic Party posed new problems. The Bulls Moose had dreamt of victory of Theodore by pulling out progressive elements from the Republican and the Democratic. But the Democrats nominated their most efficient and outstanding leader Woodrow Wilson.
Scarcity of funds was another problem. The businesses that funded Republicans distrusted Roosevelt because with his ‘Trust Buster’ image he had broken large businesses. So, the Bull Mooser had to spend a lot on publicity.
Roosevelt defeated Taft in the Popular vote and by 88-8 margin in the Electoral vote. But Woodrow Wilson won due to the crack in the Republican. With this mishap the fantasy to win the White House was ripped apart.
After poor performances in 1912 and a pathetic showdown in 1914, The Bulls Moose disintegrated.
The Progressive Manifesto
The Progressive party voiced for easy amendment of the US Constitution, women suffrage, social welfare legislation of women and children, recall of Judicial decisions, compensation for workers, limited injunction in strikes, revival of banking to promote an elastic currency, farm relief, Health insurance in Industrial arena, new inheritance and income tax structure, improvisation of in-land waterways and limited naval armaments.
Roosevelt propounded ‘New Nationalism’, which speaks of a sturdy government to protect the interest of middle and worker classes as opposed to Woodrow Wilson’s individualistic ‘New Freedom’.
The Other Facet Of Roosevelt
Roosevelt believed in equality and in his ‘Square Deal’ he determined to protect the rights of middle classes and working classes. He promulgated the conservation of natural resources. As a professional historian his biography boasts of a bright academic career strewn with many books. He was the first American who was awarded the Noble Prize in 1906. He own the Peace Prize for his contribution in the peace process between Japan and Russia.
Thus, stands the tall figure of Theodore Roosevelt pointing towards a future nation he dreamed of. As historian Thomas Bailey says, “Roosevelt was a great personality, a great activist, a great preacher of moralities, a great controversialist, a great showman.”