Roosevelt the Reformer: Theodore Roosevelt as Civil Service Commissioner, 1889-1895

By Richard D. White Jr. | Go to book overview

Introduction

"AT TIMES I FEEL an almost Greek horror of extremes," Theodore Roosevelt once confessed to an English friend. Roosevelt could not decide whether he was a conservative radical or a radical conservative. 1 The twenty-sixth president of the United States was a complex, often contradictory, and almost always controversial man. Revealing stark contrasts, Roosevelt seemed at times altruistic, idealistic, and driven by a high-minded progressive desire to improve the fate of mankind. He demonstrated boundless energy, moral intensity, and in many ways perpetual adolescence. Often he could be quite childlike, a friend once remarking that one had to remember that Theodore's age was "about six." In the blink of an eye, however, Roosevelt could be politically ruthless, blindly ambitious, xenophobic, and to some, even racist. There are no lukewarm descriptions of Roosevelt. His supporters adored him as a champion of reform, while his enemies branded him either a traitor to progressivism or a traitor to conservatism. Henry Adams, one of the more discerning chroniclers of his time, quipped that Theodore possessed "the quality that medieval theology assigned to God—he was pure act."2

As the memory of Roosevelt fades over time, leaving mostly a toothsome and bespectacled caricature of the man, history has a more dif¤cult time grasping Roosevelt's life and career. Roosevelt's interests were many and varied. He held strong views on almost every conceivable subject, including international relations, national defense, immigration, conservation of the wilderness, bird collecting, marriage and chil

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Roosevelt the Reformer: Theodore Roosevelt as Civil Service Commissioner, 1889-1895
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Roosevelt the Reformer ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: 1889 Arriving in Washington 7
  • 2: 1890 Attacked from All Quarters 35
  • 3: 1891 Building Valuable Friendships 54
  • 4: 1892 Making Progress in Civil Service Reform 79
  • 5: 1893 Reappointment by the Democrats 97
  • 6: 1894 Building the Merit System 119
  • 7: 1895 Returning to New York 141
  • 8: 1901 Continuing Reform as President 160
  • Epilogue - 1916 Rapprochement 184
  • Appendix 189
  • Notes on Sources 203
  • Notes 207
  • Bibliography 241
  • Acknowledgments 253
  • Index 255
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