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Theodore Roosevelt

Presidential Accomplishments

In 1904, Theodore Roosevelt won the Presidency by a landslide. He summed up his victory by stating, "I am no longer a political accident." (Theodore Roosevelt National Park summary document.) TR brought new excitement and power to the Presidency. He vigorously led Congress and the American public toward new reforms and a strong foreign policy. As President, he considered himself a "steward of the people." He felt it was his duty to take whatever actions necessary for the public good — unless expressly forbidden by law or the Constitution. "I did not usurp power," he wrote. "But I did greatly broaden the use of executive power." (Theodore Roosevelt Association Web site.)

By the end of his first term, Roosevelt had solved many international problems. He had a firm hand on domestic affairs and became known for his famous "walk softly and carry a big stick" attitude of running the country. He was also very popular with the public.

While in office, Roosevelt became a "trust buster" by forcing the great railroad combination in the Northwest to break apart. As President, Roosevelt saw himself a representative of all the people, including farmers, laborers, white collar workers, and businessmen. Roosevelt therefore was focused on bringing big business under stronger regulation so that he could effectively serve all the people he represented. He sought to regulate, rather than dissolve, most trusts. Efforts continued over the next several years, to reduce the control of "big business" over the U.S. economy and workers. Earlier Congress passed the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890 to maintain economic liberty, and to eliminate restraints on trade and competition. This act came into play during Roosevelt's trust busting activities.

During his time as President, Roosevelt steered the United States more actively into world politics. He was aware of the need for a shortcut between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans as a means of connecting the world. As a result, in 1903, construction of the Panama Canal began.

The 26th President was also known for his skill in foreign policy. Roosevelt helped solve disputes over Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, and Morocco. He won the adoption of the Drago Doctrine, which prevented the use of force in collecting foreign debts, an issue increasingly important as the U.S. became more involved with other countries.

During his time as a cowboy and rancher in North Dakota, TR was very physically active. This attitude continued during his time in the White House While. Roosevelt considered "the life of strenuous endeavor" a must for those around him. He romped with his children and led ambassadors on hikes through Rock Creek Park in Washington D.C. He showed the same kind of energy at political gatherings. He crusaded endlessly on matters big and small, and excited his audiences with his high-pitched voice, jutting jaw, and pounding fist.

Learn more about Theodore Roosevelt:

Life Before the Presidency
Roosevelt: Rancher, Historian, and Author
Presidential Accomplishments
Did You Know?
The Father of Conservation
Life After the Presidency