Monday, March 26, 2007

Of course I should say a word about TR on the Bully Pulpit...

Theodore Roosevelt is the greatest president of the United States in the 20th century, because his interpretation of the powers and role of the president set a precedent that afforded all of his 20th century successors a platform on which to build.
A man of many contradictions, he was also perhaps the brightest man to hold the office. TR had a breadth of personal experience that gave him the ability to speak the language of the nation. A northerner, his mothers family was from the south. A northeasterner and Ivy Leaguer, he was also truly a Plainsman and Westerner. A naturalist, he was also a sportsman and hunter. He read a book or more each evening and boxed or wrestled, walked, rode or lifted weights daily - even as President. He drummed up a war when he thought America needed one, and then stopped another, winning the Noble Peace Prize. He advocated government regulation of business in the public interest, and was the first to truly implement the Sherman Anti-Trust Act to control monopolies he felt were acting against the public good. He encouraged organized labor and advocated the six-day workweek when the norm was seven. He championed and passed the Pure Food Act, the first of it's kind, seeking to improve public health. He advocated workman's' compensation and fought the party bosses. He insisted that the military be improved and strengthened, insisted on the enforcement of the Monroe doctrine. He created the vast majority of our nation's protected lands - National Parks, and when Congress acted to restrict his ability to create national park lands, through National Monuments and National Wildlife Refuges.

He embodied a boldness and self-confidence that motivated a nation to rise to greatness at the dawn of what is being called the American Century. He forged a strong Presidency and created a belief in America as a great power at home and abroad. He began policies that would later be expanded by Republicans (foreign policy, the Panama Canal, military preparedness) and by Democrats (social programs, government regulation in the public interest) - especially by the cousin who sought his blessing to run for his first public office: Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Theodore Roosevelt was a self-made man who was robust, but had painstakingly built his body from illness. He was a scholar, Sunday school teacher, policeman, author of over thirty books and many articles and reviews, naturalist, tireless campaigner, reformer, nationalist, explorer (the Theodoro river, a tributary of the Amazon), soldier, moralist and romantic. His comfort in the Presidency and his confidence inspired the fledgling nation. In his own words, he told us that no man ever enjoyed the office more.

The legacy of the twentieth century in America begins with the man and the accomplishments of the man as the twenty-sixth President, Theodore Roosevelt.

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Sunshine on Discovery Bay

Sunshine on Discovery Bay
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