Hyperbole is so often used when we discuss the impact that this President or that President had on America, but that just isn't the case for the 26th President of the United States. Theodore Roosevelt
was catapulted into the Executive Office after the assassination
of William McKinley in September of 1901. While Roosevelt was well known in New York and the West, he was relatively unknown to the rest of the country that he was suddenly and unexpectedly leading.
Teddy Roosevelt's youth was very trying and had a lasting impact on his life. He was constantly sick with a variety of conditions as a child and was picked on by fellow children so much that he eventually picked up the sport of boxing to learn to fight back against his tormentors. While he was not the oldest boy born to the elder Theodore Roosevelt, he was surely his favorite and his father made no qualms about it. He saw something special in Teddy and for a good reason.
Teddy's political career was not unlike many national politicians before him. He could have decided to walk away from politics after being defeated
in the New York City mayoral race, but he licked his wounds and got back to work. He became New York City police commissioner and was the U.S. Navy assistant secretary during the tenure of President McKinley. He became a national hero after he led his "Rough Rider" brigade to victory in the Spanish-American War
and was elected Governor of New York shortly thereafter.
His short tenure in New York was cut short when party bosses became nervous about his unabashedly progressive platform and basically forced President McKinley to add Roosevelt to the Republican ticket in the 1900 Presidential election
to quiet him down. They thought that they had effectively silenced him after McKinley won a resounding victory, but they had never envisioned that he would be assassinated less than a year into his second term. Now the individual that the party bosses were trying to silence was the President of the United States.
It did not take long for Teddy to settle into the role of the Presidency and he set out on one of the most ambitious agenda's that the country had ever seen before or possibly since. With the exception of his fifth cousin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Teddy made a mark on this nation that has lasted through the ages. His long list of accomplishments are astounding when you sit back and think about how so many of them resonate to this day.
In his less than eight years as chief executive, Roosevelt oversaw the building of the Panama Canal
, helped create the cabinet level position of United States Department of Commerce and Labor
that was the first cabinet level position meant to give the working man a say in the Federal Government, broke up the business monopolies by prosecuting them under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act
, established the National Forest Service
that created and gave the people ownership of our nations vast National Park system that we enjoy today, signed the Antiquities Act
that gives the President executive authority to designate areas as national treasures, and signed the Meat Inspection Act
that gave the Federal Government authority to inspect meat plants to ensure they aren't breaking public safety codes.
These are just a few of the countless accomplishments this progressive Republican accomplished in his tenure as President of the United States. The term progressive Republican is an anathema today and has been for quite some time, but there was a time in this nations history when there were progressive Republicans who did care about the working man.
For these reasons, and countless more, Teddy Roosevelt will go down as one of our nations finest Presidents. His legacy has lasted far longer than the man himself and will last well into the future.