Theodore Roosevelt Set a High Standard in Oval Office

Article excerpt

Byline: Diana Dretske

With the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901, Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) became the youngest president in the nation's history. He is considered to be the first truly modern president in both domestic and foreign policy.

Born in New York City, Roosevelt suffered from asthma as a child, but as a teenager taught himself to ride and box, developing a rugged physique. During the Spanish-American War, Roosevelt volunteered as commander of the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry, known as the Rough Riders. His daring charge on San Juan Hill, Cuba, made him a war hero and helped him to be elected governor of New York.

In 1900, Roosevelt ran as William McKinley's vice president, and in 1901, when McKinley was assassinated became president. One critic bemoaned "that damned cowboy" is now president. Roosevelt was reelected in 1904, and looked on himself as the "steward of the people."

As president, Roosevelt's "Square Deal" domestic program initiated welfare legislation, encouraged the growth of labor unions and enforced government regulation of industry. His bold stance on business prompted one newspaper of the day to note that, "Wall Street is paralyzed at the thought that a president ... would sink so low as to try to enforce the law."

Roosevelt was significant in getting the Panama Canal built to stimulate American commerce and the Nation's new position in the world. …