June 22, 2017

Theodore Roosevelt: The early years

Theodore Roosevelt entered the White House due to the previous president’s assassination- in 1901, an anarchist assassinated William McKinley. Roosevelt soon became the youngest (age 43 at the time), and 26th president but most importantly one of the most prominent leaders of that era. He was a son of a wealthy New York family allowing him to pursue a career in Republican politics. Roles he had prior to his presidency were a New York legislator, U.S. civil service commissioner, and assistant secretary of the Navy. Then, he was elected governor of New York in 1898 and vice president in 1900.

Roosevelt became the first modern president in many more ways than one. He was involved in many activities and had both an active private and social life. He pursued the “strenuous life’ which included boxing, wrestling, hunting, rowing, and ranching and chasing rustlers all throughout Dakota territory. He was always showing off but ended up leading to a lot of publicity and positive attention from America. He dramatized the issues of progressivism and became the most popular politician of all time. Roosevelt had many accounts of big changes he made throughout his terms. Unlike past presidents, he seemed to poke his nose around just around everyone. For instance, he believed that the president could do anything to meet national needs that the Constitution did not specifically prohibit. He said, “Under this interpretation of executive power, I did and cause to be done many things not previously done… I did not usurp power.” Teddy, or TR as the public called him often times, encouraged the development of a personal presidency by exploiting the public’s interest in their exciting, young, and healthy president. Additionally, he began the first White House press room and also handled the mass media himself and addressing his audience accordingly. He became a huge celebrity to the public eye since he began sharing much of his private life, capturing their hearts, from him playing with his children in the White House to hiking, horseback riding, and hanging out with notable celebrities. The publicity from all of these events not only kept TR, or Teddy in the spotlight but also enabled him to mold public opinion.

Not only did Theodore Roosevelt gain the love and respect from all of America, he did many things for them also. He reorganized the executive branch. Since he believed in efficiency and expertise, he rearranged many ideas. He tried to promote rational policymaking and public management by staffing the expanding federal beauracy with able professionals. These people made better and more educated decisions for the whole of the U.S. By doing this, though, he provoked opposition from time to time.

During this time, the government was not known to interfere with workers and their employees until it came around to the possibility of a freezing winter due to lack of coal and workers in the coal plant. Roosevelt wasn’t supposed to interfere but ended up doing so even though his legal advisers told him otherwise. He invited both of the owners and the union leaders to the White House and declared that national interest made government action necessary. The union leaders agreed to meet but the owners refused to even speak to the miners and demanded that Roosevelt use the army to break the union, as Cleveland had done in previous years during the Pullman strike in 1894. Roosevelt, as president, strongly believed that his role was to mediate social conflict for the public good. He announced that he would use the army to seize and operate the mines, not to crush the union. Many weren’t sure he was going by the little rules of the constitution but he said “to hell with the Constitution when the people want coal”. The owners had no other option but to acres and accept the commission from before. The commission gave the miners a 10 percent wage increase and normal days of work, 9 hours, as opposed to the earlier strenuous amount of hours on the job. The owners were also allowed to raise coal prices by 10 percent. Not only was Roosevelt given credit for ending the United Mine Workers Union strike but he set important precedents for an active roles with labor disputes and showed how strong of a president he was to the general public.

Theodore Rossevelt was known to be a big fan of the “wild west” and of wilderness in general. One of his many famous quotes declared, “I have always said I would not have been President had it not been for my experience in North Dakota.” Roosevelt’s love for the outdoors caused him to do many things to conserve certain beautiful parts of our nation. According to Wikipedia, “Roosevelt established the United States Forest Service, signed into law the creation of five National Parks, and signed the 1906 Antiquities Act, under which he proclaimed 18 new U.S. National Monuments. He also established the first 51 bird reserves, four game preserves, and 150 National Forests, including Shoshone National Forest, the nation’s first. The area of the United States that he placed under public protection totals approximately 230,000,000 acres (930,000 km2).” There is even a national park located in North Dakota named “Theodore Roosevelt National Park.” Perhaps as a result of Teddy’s passion for nature, he was known to have taken several trips to Colorado back in the gold boom days of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
On one trip to the state of Colorado, he was quoted as saying, “The trip bankrupts the human language.” According to the book, Railroads Of The Pikes Peak Region, 1900-1930 written by Allan C. Lewis, “In August 1901 while serving as the Vice President Of The United States, Theodore Roosevelt paid a visit to both Colorado Springs and Cripple Creek. When asked for a comment on his experience on the short line (now Gold Camp Road), it was reported by the press that Teddy’s reply was ‘A trip that bankrupts the human language.’ Whether this was an actual quote or some creative marketing is unknown. Regardless the advertising department of the CS&CCD jumped at the opportunity and the phrase became the railroads slogan.” Since then there have been several accounts that say he said that quote while on a train trip west of Denver in the Glenwood Springs area.
Despite Teddy’s love for Colorado, it was not always a mutual feeling.  During the 1900 election, Vice Presidential nominee “Teddy” Roosevelt came to the area to discuss how silver coin production could help boost the economy. Seeing as how the Cripple Creek District made its wealth mining gold Mr. Roosevelt’s opinion was not a popular one. After taking the trip on the Short Line from Colorado Springs, CO to the district Mr. Roosevelt arrived in Victor, CO to give his first speech. His speech was given at the Gold Coin Club in Victor and was said to be “brief” and “unplanned.” His speech was as follows, “Fellow citizens, men and women of this giant city: We are all good westerners and good Americans, for all good westerners are good Americans. I cannot thank you heartily for this reception. You have a great state of mines, so great that we forget our agricultural resources. What we need in the westsern states is irrigation. Irrigation must and shall be. I was told that I would not be called on for a speech, so I will not continue. If you have enjoyed my visit one tenth part as much as I have enjoyed coming to your camp, I am delighted. It is a privelege to come to your district, but it is even a greater privelege to see your women and men. Thank you.”   He barely finished his speech when he was rushed by the angry mob. They were prepared and had the Vice-Presidential nominee surrounded by bodyguards. The bodyguards were just able to fight of the mob and get “Teddy” back on the train. He then traveled on to Cripple Creek, CO where he was treated better. Local Attorney J. Maurice Finn offered to put him up and built a large mansion just for Mr. Roosevelt. Unfortunately, after touring an underground mine and giving another unpopular speech Mr. Roosevelt ran out of time and only made it onto the front porch of his custom built mansion called “The Towers”.
   Another interesting story about President Theodore Roosevelt is how the famous stuffed toy bears were named after his nickname “Teddy.” The story goes that Teddy went out into the wilderness on a hunting trip with a bunch of other hunters. According to TheodoreRoosevelt.org, the name “teddy bear” all started with a hunting trip in Mississippi. “It all started with a hunting trip President Roosevelt took in 1902 in Mississippi at the invitation of Mississippi Governor, Andrew H. Longino. After three days of hunting, other members of the party had spotted bears, but not Roosevelt.

Now what? The President’s bear hunt would be a failure! The next day, the hunt guides tracked down an old black bear that the dogs had trailed quite a distance and attacked. The guides tied the bear to a willow tree and called for the President. Here was a bear for him to shoot!

But Roosevelt took one look at the old bear and refused to shoot it. He felt doing so would be unsportsmanlike. However, since it was injured and suffering, Roosevelt ordered that the bear be put down to end its pain. Word of this hit newspapers across the country, and political cartoonist Clifford Berryman picked up on the story, drawing a cartoon showing how President Roosevelt refused to shoot the bear while hunting in Mississippi.

The original cartoon, which ran in the Washington Post on November 16, 1902, shows Roosevelt standing in front. The guide and bear are in the background, and they’re about the same size. Later, similar cartoons appeared, but the bear was smaller and shaking with fear. This bear cub then appeared in other cartoons Clifford Berryman drew throughout Roosevelt’s career. That connected bears with President Roosevelt.

The Teddy Bear tie came when a Brooklyn, NY candy shop owner, Morris Michtom, saw Clifford Berryman’s original cartoon of Roosevelt and the bear and had an idea. He put in his shop window two stuffed toy bears his wife had made. Michtom asked permission from President Roosevelt to call these toy bears ‘Teddy’s bears’. The rapid popularity of these bears led Michtom to mass-produce them, eventually forming the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company.”

In conclusion, not only was Teddy a well-liked president of his time, he made many changes throughout the White House. He was one of the first extremely publicized presidents, similarly to how the presidents are now in this current day and age. Roosevelt acted on impulses of what he thought his people in America would want and also what he would want and is best.
By Alyssa Baker and Trevor Phipps
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