Popular Images of American Presidents

By William C. Spragens | Go to book overview

8 THEODORE ROOSEVELT

David C. Roller

Jacob Riis, the premier investigative reporter of nineteenth-century New York's press corps, used to occupy an office on the second floor of the Mulberry Street police reporters' building. Often, while in this office and working on an article about health or housing or perhaps on parks and playgrounds, he would hear the shrill yell used by cowboys to round up stray steers: "Hi Yi Yi." The yells came not from prankish messenger boys outside his office, nor did they come from neighborhood children playing in the street below. The yell always came from across the street, from the second floor window in the office of New York's president of the Board of Police Commissioners. The gleefully delivered "Hi Yi Yi" would echo down the length of the Mulberry Street ravine, and Riis would rise from his desk to cross the street and call upon the commissioner of police. For this yell was the not-so-secret boyish code used to signal Riis by Theodore Roosevelt. 1

"Jake" and TR enjoyed a special friendship. Both men approached life with apparently boundless energy. They shared a similar vision of what was unjust about contemporary society, a similar sense of duty to correct those injustices, and an unfaltering confidence in their abilities to bring about needed change. That two fast friends who worked together as pioneers of urban reform would share such playful banter as an innocent cowboy yell is not in itself remarkable. Yet this facet of their relationship is illustrative of several characteristics of one of this nation's more remarkable presidents.

Roosevelt's indifference to conventional amenities and formal protocol is legendary. Whether issuing cowboy yells, teaching the ambassador of France to perform cartwheels, or inventing his own spelling of the English language, TR always felt totally free to express the exuberant joy he found in life. If what was customary and expected could be amended or embellished, he would find a way to do that. But if what struck him as routine could not be altered, he would strike out to establish his own Rooseveltian mode of behavior.

The special relationship TR enjoyed with Riis also exemplifies the camaraderie he had with the press in general. Riis, Lincoln Steffens, and William Allen

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Popular Images of American Presidents
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • 1 - George Washington 1
  • Annotated Bibliography 21
  • 2 - Thomas Jefferson 27
  • Bibliographic Essay 43
  • 3 - Andrew Jackson 47
  • Annotated Bibliography 66
  • 4 - Abraham Lincoln 67
  • Annotated Bibliography 100
  • 5 - Rutherford B. Hayes 105
  • Bibliographic Essay 130
  • 6 - Grover Cleveland 131
  • Annotated Bibliography 146
  • 7 - William Mckinley 147
  • Introduction 147
  • Notes 177
  • Bibliographic Essay 180
  • 8 - Theodore Roosevelt 185
  • Annotated Bibliography 208
  • 9 - William Howard Taft 211
  • Annotated Bibliography 237
  • 10 - Woodrow Wilson 239
  • Annotated Bibliography 260
  • 11 - Warren Gamaliel Harding 267
  • Annotated Bibliography 295
  • 12 - Calvin Coolidge 297
  • Annotated Bibliography 323
  • 13 - Herbert Hoover 325
  • Bibliographic Essay 344
  • 14 - Franklin Delano Roosevelt 347
  • Notes 379
  • Annotated Bibliography 383
  • 15 - Harry Truman 387
  • Bibliographic Essay 408
  • 16 - Dwight D. Eisenhower 411
  • Annotated Bibliography 433
  • 17 - John F. Kennedy 437
  • Annotated Bibliography 472
  • 18 - Lyndon B. Johnson 477
  • Annotated Bibliography 496
  • 19 - Richard M. Nixon 499
  • Summary 515
  • Notes 516
  • Bibliographic Essay 519
  • 20 - Gerald R. Ford 523
  • Notes 537
  • 21 - Jimmy Carter 539
  • Bibliographic Essay 559
  • 22 - Ronald Reagan 563
  • Afterword 580
  • Notes 580
  • Notes 582
  • 23 - Cycles in the Public Perception of Presidents 587
  • Notes 606
  • Selected Bibliography 607
  • Index 611
  • Contributors 621
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