Theodore Roosevelt, American Politician: An Assessment

By David H. Burton | Go to book overview

5
Legacies

T HEODORE Roosevelt's influence on the America of his day and in the years thereafter registers itself simultaneously at two levels. The popular image of TR has been rendered in numerous ways, from the Teddy Bear to Mount Rushmore. His name, his antics, his memory surface in some very odd places, his picture on store products and on the cover of Time, the weekly news magazine. He continues to be invoked and joked about to the extent that TR has become a fixture in the national memory.1 There is a second, more significant level on which he is to be remembered. His great passion was service in public life, largely through political offices he held, as a result of which his impact on twentieth-century American history has been extraordinary. In matters of policy alone Big Stick diplomacy remains a matter of fact, whatever variations time and changing conditions have imposed on it. And this is but one instance. The nature of presidential office and power, the role of government in the socioeconomic order, the place of the United States in world affairs identify the principal categories where Roosevelt made an enormous difference in national life and its history. Initial notice of this is often based on his gift of phrase: "the strenuous life," "making the dirt fly in Panama," "busting the trusts," all of which put a light touch to an appreciation of the legacies of a very serious man. So large of presence and reputation was he that in assessing his legacies it becomes difficult to determine where to begin and, perhaps, where to end. Whatever the case, in the present context it is appropriate to stress Roosevelt's political influence which itself is multidimensional.

Toward the close of the nineteenth century, the office of president, occupied by a series of well-intentioned individuals, remained a lessthan-equal partner in the formula of separate branches making up the national government. Roosevelt brought a dramatic change: his ac-

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Theodore Roosevelt, American Politician: An Assessment
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 7
  • Preface 9
  • Introduction 11
  • 1 - Parties 17
  • 2 - Persons 45
  • 3 - Decisions 81
  • 4 - Mistakes 116
  • 5 - Legacies 145
  • Notes 159
  • Index 170
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