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Setting the Stage

As a New York State Assemblyman in the 1880s, Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) fought to reform the political and social system that kept many people out of work or in poverty. As Governor of New York (1898-1900), Roosevelt continued to reform state politics and pressure businesses to improve pay and conditions for workers. He alienated many members of his own party with his reforms.

At the 1900 Republican National Convention, New York State Republicans nominated Roosevelt for Vice President in an effort to remove him from the Governor's office. Republicans from other states tried to block the nomination because they feared what would happen if Roosevelt became President. Even presidential nominee William McKinley hesitated to have Roosevelt on the ticket at first. Nonetheless, McKinley and Roosevelt won the election and took office in March 1901.

On May 20, 1901, Vice President Roosevelt officially opened the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, a large fair that highlighted the technological advances of the day and celebrated the harmony among the nations of North, South, and Central America. While visiting the Expo in September, President William McKinley was shot by an assassin and died eight days later. Summoned to Buffalo from the Adirondack Mountains, Vice President Roosevelt arrived shortly after McKinley's death. Within hours, Roosevelt himself became the President of the United States. He took the oath of office in the home of his long-time friend, Ansley Wilcox.

 

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