As trying as Roosevelt's dealings with the Japanese and especially the Russians were, they seemed delightfully simple and straightforward compared to his struggles with Congress. "Congress does from a third to a half of what I think is the minimum it ought to do, and I am profoundly grateful that I get as much," he grumbled to Leonard Wood. In a letter to Spring Rice he was more emphatic: "There are several eminent statesmen at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue whom I would gladly lend to the Russian Government, if they cared to expend them as bodyguards for grand dukes whenever there was a likelihood of dynamite being exploded!"
But there was no avoiding grappling with those eminent statesmen. As much as Roosevelt relished the freedom of foreign affairs, where the scope of his power was comparatively unconstrained by constitutional checks and balances, he understood that a president earned his keep--or didn't--at home. "Our internal problems are of course much more important than our relations with foreign powers," he wrote British historian George Trevelyan in the midst of his Russo- Japanese diplomacy. Summarizing what he saw those problems to be, he explained, "Somehow or other we shall have to work out methods of controlling the big corporations without paralyzing the energies of the business community and of preventing any tyranny on the part of the labor unions while cordially assisting in every proper effort made by the wageworkers to better themselves by combinations."
This letter was revealing of the philosophy that underlay Roosevelt's "square deal" and that later emerged as his "new nation-