Theodore Roosevelt (the man tucked into the corner of Mount Rushmore) lived from October 27, 1858 to January 6, 1919 (Brown, 2019). He was born in the eastern United States, but the tough, bold leader that the American people adored was formed during his adventures in the West (Brown, 2019).
He was largely shaped by his ability to overcome trials (Brown, 2019). For example, his first wife and his mother passed away “within eleven hours of each other in the same house on St. Valentine’s Day, 1884,” (Brown, 2019, p. 3). Being an overcomer propelled him to become one of America’s boldest leaders (Brown, 2019).
He was the youngest assemblyman in New York history, the police commissioner of New York, the governor of NY, and the vice president of the United States before becoming president of the United States (Brown, 2019). He was reform-minded, and he judged all his decisions through this filter (Brown, 2019).
Roosevelt was unstoppable, working and playing hard. He had a magical, adventurous, infectious personality (“Personality”, 2014). His son compared the size of his coffee cup to that of a bathtub (“Personality”, 2014). He chugged coffee all day, every day (“Personality”, 2014). He wrote 150,000 letters during his life, making him the record-holding president for the most writing (“Personality”, 2014).
Roosevelt was dedicated to personal growth, reading a book per day, up to three books a day if he had some free time (“Personality”, 2014). He had unconventional White House conduct, wrestling with diplomats, play-fighting with friends, and regularly boxing with one of his aides – until a punch knocked out the sight in his left eye (“Personality”, 2014). Not to be deterred, Roosevelt gave up boxing only to pick up ju-jitsu (“Personality”, 2014).
While the Industrial Revolution brought incredible transformation and progress to America, it also had consequences (Wilson, 2019). Everyday people lost autonomy over their lives as they worked for mass industries and factories (Wilson, 2019). While many of the lower to middle class suffered, the business moguls grew wealthier, dominating the market by developing monopolies (Wilson, 2019). Some notable monopoly owners were people like J.P. Morgan, John Rockefeller, and Cornelius Vanderbilt (Wilson, 2019). The monopolies were a problem because their strategy for survival and growth was to squelch out all competition through brute power and strength (Hawley, 2008).
Roosevelt was appreciative of the advances these monopolies brought, making America a more powerful international player, but did not believe they should succeed by taking advantage of the average citizen (Wilson, 2019). He was steadfast in his beliefs throughout his career, “Roosevelt held a consistent position: there was a power larger than the power of even the biggest, wealthiest business organization. That superior power was the power of the people, and of the public interest, as represented in the presidency in particular and the executive branch of the federal government in general,” (“Roosevelt and the Trusts”, n.d.). Part of his plan to deal with the monopolies was his “Square Deal”, which was Roosevelt’s commitment to breaking up consolidations of industries, which were dangerous because they endangered the free flow of trade (“Theodore Roosevelt”, 2019).
In an era decades before the Civil Rights movement, Roosevelt consistently reached out to black citizens, a notable example being his speeches (“The Square Deal”, n.d.). He acknowledged that African Americans were just as much citizens of the United States as anyone else and that they deserved to be treated fairly and given equal opportunity (“The Square Deal”, n.d.). He proudly spoke of his experiences fighting alongside black soldiers in the US military, grateful for the opportunity to work with such brave men (“The Square Deal”, n.d.). His actions as president were revolutionary, “Early in his presidency, Theodore Roosevelt sparked a scandal when he invited the African-American educator Booker T. Washington to dine with him and his family; he was the first president ever to entertain a black man in the White House,” (“Theodore Roosevelt”, 2019).
Brown, C. L. (2019). “Teedie” to Teddy to TR: Theodore Roosevelt, 1858-1919–A Centenary Commemorative Essay. CHOICE: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, (6), 703. Retrieved from https://search-ebscohost-com.lopes.idm.oclc.org/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsgao&AN=edsgcl.574176872&site=eds-live&scope=site
Hawley, J. (2008). Theodore Roosevelt : Preacher of righteousness. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.lopes.idm.oclc.org
Roosevelt and the Trusts. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://ehistory.osu.edu/exhibitions/1912/trusts/roosevel
The Square Deal. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.theodorerooseveltcenter.org/Learn-About-TR/TR-Encyclopedia/Politics%20and%20Government/The%20Square%20Deal
Theodore Roosevelt. (May 16, 2019). Retrieved from https://www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/theodore-roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt’s Personality. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/the-roosevelts/
Wilson, E. (2019). Theodore Roosevelt and the Trusts. Retrieved from https://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-now/lesson-plan/theodore-roosevelt-and-trusts