THEODORE Roosevelt's public career which spanned the years 1881- 1918, occupies a midpoint in the two centuries of American political life. As he came to maturity he learned to value a rich inheritance, and with his death left a considerable legacy respecting many aspects of national politics. This study of Roosevelt in the American political tradition owes much to idea and to historical reality, to the concept of the tradition and to the people and events that gave it life. It proposes to distill from Roosevelt's mind and spirit, as well as from his words and actions, an understanding of why any account of that tradition would suffer grievously, perhaps fatally, from a failure to give TR his due.
A president who was larger than life, especially when compared to his post-Civil War predecessors, it is easy to overlook Roosevelt's preWhite House career. He had been a local politician, federal bureaucrat, subcabinet-level official, soldier in the field, and successful state governor before becoming vice president of the United States. With each step up the ladder he had honed his skills, learned the lessons of the world of politics and had, at the same time, strengthened his grasp of the ideas and ideals that were central to a worthwhile public service. All this before assuming the presidency. Not only do the great statesmen shape and reflect traditions, but those individuals in the ranks make a contribution as well. Their influence becomes more discernible only should they, as did Roosevelt, gain high office. This is not to contend that TR's experiences as he moved along a career path were unique; on the contrary they were typical; or that as president he overmatched other executives in building up the tradition. It remains true, nonetheless: What Roosevelt did and why he did it are essential ingredients in the mix.
In introducing this study it is appropriate to stress it is not a political biography of Theodore Roosevelt. It is rather an analysis of his political thought and ways. Nor does it seek to be comprehensive, but instead ratiocinative, assessing the importance of the purposes