Theodore Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States, as well as a writer, conservationist, outdoor enthusiast, and soldier.
Among his numerous accomplishments was the expansion of the presidency's and the federal government's powers in support of the public interest during disputes between big business and labor. He guided the country toward a more prominent position in global politics, notably in Europe and Asia. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906 for his role in mediating the end of the Russo-Japanese War, and he secured the route and initiated construction of the Panama Canal.
Following the death of William McKinley in 1901, Roosevelt radically transformed the public perception of the presidency. He renamed the executive mansion the "White House." Roosevelt delivered speeches from what he called the presidency's "bully pulpit." His goal was to enhance public awareness of the country's position in global politics, the need to regulate large monopolies that dominated the economy, and the impact of political corruption. Roosevelt utilized the presidency's power to expand the office and the federal government.
As the American economy began to rapidly grow in the early 1900s, competing firms began to join together to build massive organizations capable of controlling an entire industry. These large organizations were known as trusts. Through his "trust-busting" program, Roosevelt attempted to break up these businesses. In 1902, he used the Sherman Antitrust Act to bring a lawsuit that resulted in the dissolution of a massive railroad firm. During the next seven years, Roosevelt filed lawsuits against 43 other major corporations. Roosevelt described his initiatives as pushing for a "Square Deal" between business and labor interests. After winning the election in 1904, he resumed his Square Deal plans. He lobbied Congress to give the Interstate Commerce Commission regulatory authority over railroad rates.
Roosevelt believed that the United States should play a vital role in global power politics and that it was the nation's responsibility to contribute to the maintenance of peace and order. He famously said that his approach to foreign policy was to "speak softly and carry a big stick." In response to the possibility of European countries acting in Latin America, Roosevelt issued the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine in 1904. It declared that the US would be in charge of policing Latin America and would not tolerate any outside involvement in the region.
The Panama Canal
Roosevelt aided Panama's independence from Colombia in 1903. Roosevelt's support for Panama paved the stage for the construction of a canal across the Panama Isthmus. This waterway provided the United States with the ability to sail more freely and rapidly between the east and west coasts. Construction on the Panama Canal began immediately and was finished in 1914. Roosevelt regarded the canal's construction as his most significant accomplishment as president.
Roosevelt's years spent on his North Dakota ranch instilled in him a love of the outdoors and an appreciation for the land and wildlife. A major focus of his presidency was the preservation of forests and wildlife. In 1905, Roosevelt convinced Congress to establish the U.S. Forest Service to oversee government-owned forest reserves. Roosevelt exercised his authority to designate public areas as national forests, making them unavailable to commercial use or development. He set aside about five times as much land as all previous presidents combined (194 million acres). In 1908, he summoned state leaders and scientists to the White House for a conference on natural resource conservation. As a result, conservation commissions were established in 41 states, and the National Conservation Commission was formed.
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