Leaders and Liberals in 20th Century America

By Charles A. Madison | Go to book overview

Theodore Roosevelt
THE BULLY CRUSADER AT ARMAGEDDON

AT THE OPENING OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY the United States suddenly emerged as a mighty nation. Out of the brief, brash war with senescent Spain it came forth as a prime world power, bursting with dynamic force, bustling with selfconscious importance. For by that time, almost unnoticed, the seat of the world's greatest energy -- the concentration of dominant economic activity and human vigor -- had moved from Europe to the United States. American businessmen functioned with a zeal and zest incomprehensible to industrialists in other parts of the world.

American enterprise was assuming gigantic proportions. Billiondollar corporations were being established in steel, oil, and the railroads. Near-monopolies were functioning in beef, sugar, copper, and other basic commodities. The large banks, and particularly the private financial institutions, expedited industrial mergers that dwarfed similar economic groupings in England and on the Continent. Indeed, large-scale enterprise and great concentration of wealth began to be regarded as characteristically American.

Businessmen by the score were becoming multimillionaires and striding across their fields of activity with the egotism of unrestrained power. Essentially naive and homespun men, thrust into the industrial forefront by virtue of an excess of shrewdness and energy, tempted by the largess of an unexploited continent, and driven by the force of favorable circumstances ever deeper into

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