Published on October 22, 2007
Theodore Roosevelt : Theodore Roosevelt 26th President of the United States In office September 14, 1901-March 4, 1909 Leader of the Republican party Background: Background Theodore Roosevelt With the assassination of President McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, not quite 43, became the youngest President in the Nation's history. He brought new excitement and power to the Presidency, as he vigorously led Congress and the American public toward progressive reforms and a strong foreign policy. Domestic Affairs: Domestic Affairs Conservation. Roosevelt seized on the 1891 Forest Reserves Act, which empowered the president to set aside public lands as national forests, and used it to increase federal land reserves from approximately 40 million acres when he took office to nearly 200 million acres by the end of his second term. In 1905, Roosevelt gave Pinchot responsibility for administering this vast domain, as head of the newly organized U.S. Forest Service, and ushered in the modern era of western land management, which aims at sustained efficient use of natural resources rather than exploitation and development. Under Pinchot and his successors, much of the West came under bureaucratic control, with local communities and business interests subject to federal regulation in their use of the resources surrounding them. Square Deal: Square Deal When the country faced an anthracite coal shortage in the fall of 1902 because of a strike in Pennsylvania, the President thought he should intervene. As winter approached and heating shortages. Roosevelt called both the mine owners and the representatives of labor together at the White House. By threatening to use troops to seize the mines and run them as a federal operation. Faced with Roosevelt’s plan, the owners and labor unions agreed to submit their cases to a commission and abide by its recommendations. Roosevelt called the settlement of the coal strike a "square deal," inferring that everyone gained fairly from the agreement. That term soon became synonymous with Roosevelt's domestic program. The Square Deal worked to balance competing interests to create a fair deal for all sides. Roosevelt and the Muckrakers: Roosevelt and the Muckrakers The emergence of a mass-circulation independent press at around the turn of the century changed the nature of print media in the United States. Instead of partisan publications that touted a party line, the national media was becoming more independent and more likely to expose scandals and abuses. This era marked the beginning of investigative journalism, and the reporters who led the effort were known as “muckrakers.” One of the best examples of Roosevelt’s relationship with the muckrakers came after he read Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, which described in lurid detail the filthy conditions in the meat packing industry -- where rats, putrid meat, and poisoned rat bait were routinely ground up into sausages. Roosevelt responded by pushing for the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. Both pieces of legislation endeared him to the public and to those corporations that favored government regulation as a means of achieving national consumer standards. Foreign Affairs: Foreign Affairs Panama Canal. construction of the Panama Canal shortened the route of freighters between San Francisco, California and New York City by 8,000 miles. In 1901, the United States negotiated with Britain for the support of an American-controlled canal that would be constructed either in Nicaragua or through a strip of land, Panama, owned by Colombia. In a flourish of closed-door maneuvers, the Senate approved a route through Panama, contingent upon Colombian approval. When Colombia balked at the terms of the agreement, the United States supported a Panamanian revolution with money and a naval blockade, the latter of which prevented Colombian troops from landing in Panama. In 1903, the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty with Panama gave the United States perpetual control of the canal for a price of $10 million and an annual payment of $250,000. Presidential firsts: Presidential firsts In the sphere of race relations, Booker T. Washington became the first black man to dine as a guest at the White House in 1901. Oscar S. Straus became the first Jew appointed as a Cabinet Secretary, under Roosevelt. In 1902, in response to the assassination of President William McKinley on September 6, 1901, Theodore Roosevelt became the first president to be under constant Secret Service protection. Roosevelt in 1904, became the first former Vice-President who had succeeded to the presidency on the death of the incumbent, to be elected President in his own right or even win his party’s nomination for election. In 1906, Roosevelt became the first American to be awarded a Nobel Prize. In 1906, he made the first trip, by a President, outside the United States, visiting Panama to inspect the construction progress of the Panama Canal on November 9. He was the first and to date only president from Long Island New York. He was the first President to refer to the White House as such on his official stationery. Until then the mansion had been referred to simply as 'The President's House'