Kevin P. Dincher Theodore Roosevelt: A Square Deal at Home - a Big Stick Abroad
Teddy Roosevelt, 26th president of the United States, is a paradox.
On the one hand, his popularity while in office may be unmatched by any U.S. President before or since. A leader of progressive reform, he promised the America people fair treatment—“a square deal” because they were “entitled to no more and should receive no less.” Among the first presidents to make conservation a national issue, one of Teddy’s most lasting legacies was the creation of 150 National Forests, five national parks, and 18 national monuments. Roosevelt was the first American to win a Nobel Prize—the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating the end of the Russo-Japanese War—establishing a place on the world stage for USA that set the country's future course as a world power. His stature in the American imagination earned him a place alongside Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln on Mount Rushmore.
On the other hand, some saw Roosevelt’s belligerent “big stick” imperialism as a threat to world peace and stability. Mark Twain called Roosevelt “insane.” Joseph G. Cannon, Speaker of the House (1903-1911) claimed that Roosevelt had “no more use for the Constitution than a tomcat has for a marriage license.” Many perceived a dark side of duplicity and betrayal—a philosophy of racial superiority and a believe that progress and civilization were best achieved through military intervention. Recent theories consider the possibility that Roosevelt not only violated the U.S. Constitution but created the conditions for World War II in the Pacific.
Let's explore the America of Teddy Roosevelt - and the America that he created!