tv The Presidency Theodore Roosevelts Life Legacy CSPAN May 31, 2022 6:35pm-7:28pm EDT
william crowley -- talked about theodore reza votes life and legacy. this is about 50 minutes. >> i am pleased to announce a special mini-series of six lectures entitled great presidential lives. this series is particularly attractive for two main reasons. the first being its timeliness. as we face a presidential election
year and prepare for it it will be a insight that all of us can benefit from. the second is the speaker himself, our esteemed umw professor emeritus of history, william crowley, who has just completed 50 years on the faculty of the university of mary washington. during that half century, professor crawley has contributed in innumerable ways, significant ways, certainly not least of all the creation of our renowned historic preservation program and the creation of this amazing great lives series. but it's for his excellence in teaching that he is perhaps best known, and certainly to literally thousands of our students who have come though our halls. he has received our institutions highest honors in teaching, both from his colleagues and from his students, many of whom, through the years, have voted him as the faculty member who has made
the greatest impact upon their lives. doctor crawley, through these years, has become a true icon of this community. and so it's with great pleasure that i introduce professor william b. crawley, who, drawing upon his 50 years of teaching political history, has truly learned and shared so much of his knowledge and will be sharing it again with us today as he looks at the life of one of six highly interesting and sometimes controversial presidents. and like many modern-day presidents, none is so straightforward as the story may recall, or that history may have told us. doctor crawley, would you please share with us now? >> thank you, lisa. welcome every one to today's lecture on theodore roosevelt. a pivotal figure in american presidency. certainly one of the most
colorful and dynamic figures to ever occupy that office. to understand roosevelt's contribution as the first great presidential leader of reform, and to appreciate how transformative his actions were, we need first to examine briefly the social, economic and cultural environment in which he lived. born in new york in 1858, roosevelt grew up in an era of rapid and vast growth in america as the nation expanded dramatically in terms of population, and above all, wealth. the booming economy of that age was aided by the advent of inventions. it was after all the age of edison. and by the development of huge corporations, often growing to monopolistic proportions, and all underwritten philosophically by the prevailing popularity of social darwinism. adherence to that
philosophy, that is applying darwin's tenets of biological natural selection, that is survival of the fittest, to the world of economics, business, and society in general, supported a government philosophy of laissez-faire, whereby businesses were allowed to develop unfettered by government regulations. one consequence was the accumulation of enormous wealth by some, with nmes like morgan, rockefeller, carnegie, vanderbilt, and others, so called robber barons. at the same time, that wealth was unevenly distributed creating vast inequalities. the situation moved mark twain to term the era the gilded age, actually implying that society was bright and shining on the surface but increasingly built on a substratum of poverty. it was within this situation that in the late 19th century demands for reform began to arise, a he movement promoted by the revelations of a group of activists known, somewhat
derisively at the time, as the muckrakers. and it included such prominent writers as ida tarbell and her exposé of the standard oil trust, and the more widely known novelist upton sinclair whose book, the jungle, focused on the unsavory, literally unsavory practices of the meat packing industry. the first significant reform movement involved the populists led by william jennings bryan in the 1890's, but that mostly agrarian movement never gained sufficient support from middle and upper class, and urban voters. so it was superseded around the turn of the century by a broader based movement known as progressivism. the success of that movement bringing out reform, largely owing to the energetic efforts of theodore roosevelt, often simply referred to as tr or teddy. roosevelt, it should be
noted, was not a very likely candidate, originally, to become a reform leader. he was in fact born into one of the wealthiest and most aristocratic of old new york families. it did not seem likely that one born into such a status would emerge as a leader for reform. he might well have been expected to be a firm conservative. that was not the case. why was it? as a child, roosevelt had been weak, sickly, troubled by asthma, terribly troubled by asthma, and weak eyesight. so he set out to correct these shortcomings. worked hard to improve his health. he became a boxer. he became an ardent outdoorsmen. once spent a period of time working on a ranch in the west, and his zest for physical activity, particularly the belligerent
kind became legendary. it has become customary to explain roosevelt's personality as being the result of overcompensation for his early physical inferiority. but whatever case that maybe, teddy roosevelt certainly took great pleasure in the physical, the adventurous and the dangerous. surely, few men have ever been able to gratify their desire to such an extent. his life was indeed a full one, so let's just hit the highlights of it. at the beginning, he graduated from harvard in 1880, studied law at columbia afterwards though did not receive his degree. he served one term in the new york legislature. he served six years at the new york civil service commission. he served two years as new york commissioner, one year as assistant navy secretary. that
might not seem a great job but he made exciting. it admiral duey to the philippines, in the spanish american war, cataclysmic andd, well, most important about it, the battle at manila bay, took place as a result of the marines being ordered to the philippines. he also served one term as governor of new york. now in addition to all of this, he was a well-known author. he wrote a four volume study of the war of 1812, winning the west. he wrote a couple of popular biographies. he also worked out in the dakota territories as a rancher. and as pretty well known, he served in the spanish war, where he gloried in his role as the colonel who was the
head of the rough riders. much is known about that, those exports, because he wrote about it. so many people were affected by roosevelt activities. one wit at the time said that the book was so self centered he should've titled it alone in cuba. he was a genuine scholar, he was an ornithologist, he was a genuine intellectual. it was -- there he is. colonel roosevelt. rough rider. his life was certainly not without sorrow. he suffered one of the most grievous tragedies, i think, of any public figure i'm aware of, and that is his wife, to whom he was absolutely devoted died
shortly after giving birth to their first child, alice, and within 24 hours of that his mother died. so, both his wife and mother were buried on the same day. theodore roosevelt was far from dull. people called him a lot of names, they attacked him. but nobody ever confused him with being dull. that he was not. and, fact it was his robust lifestyle, his enthusiastic approach to life that makes it surprising that he ever became president because to get there, he took the office of vice president. he was not all that excited about it. the reason that he got the nomination to run with mckinley as his vice presidential running mate is that his previous running mate died in office. the reason that he got the job was because there were people within the republican party who wanted to
get him out of new york, he was making a nuisance of himself in the eyes of conservatives, and so, how can we get rid of him in new york? someone had the great idea of kicking him upstairs, so to speak. and after all, the vice presidency was harmless. most people in the republican party were not bothered by. that one who was bothered was mark hannah, the man behind mckinley, a strong, firm conservative. discussing roosevelt's nomination, he said, don't you realize that there will only be one life between this mad man and the white house? well, apparently nobody cared. as i, said he was not enthusiastic about. it for a young man, he was young, there's not much to do. anyway, the vice president, mckinley was elected. so he became vice
president of the united states. and soon, there was very much for this young man to do because in september 6th, 1901, william mckinley was assassinated and theodore roosevelt, at the age of 42, became the youngest president in american history, and still is. i know that some will say, what about jackie kennedy? watch this one, it could be a trick question if you are ever taking a test. i would never tried to trick students, but it's a bit tricky. could be a jeopardy question, i guess. but if you ask who the youngest person ever to be president? it's still theodore roosevelt. and the question -- the youngest person ever elected to president? that's jack kennedy. so, i thought you might want to keep that distinction in mind. in any case, when he came to the aforementioned mark hannah, he was furious. i told william mckinley it was an accident to nominate him.
i asked him if he would realize what would happen which should he die, look at that, a cowboy is the president of the united states? -- as one historian wrote, americans in the early 1900s did not easily overlook an agitator, who bore one of the nation's most chris aquatic names, who could charm a sunday school class, or lead a -- turnout hysterical rests less orlando's fear, and who in addition, happened to be president of the united states. americans probably expected some excitement, and they were not to be disappointed. as bob twain said, teddy roosevelt was, in his words, the tom sawyer of the political world, always hunting for a chance to show off. one of his cabinet members put it this way, he sent a message to roosevelt. on roosevelt's 46th birthday. and the message read as follows. you have made a very good start in life. and your friends have great hopes for you when you grow up. he was 46.
well, surely he sought attention and always wanted to be the center of attention. it's been said that roosevelt was a kind of person that always wanted to be the bride at every wedding, the corpse at every funeral. my favorite story to illustrate this is, maybe a pocket full, but here's the story anyway. the story is that on one occasion, roosevelt came up to the front of his and said, i had the most wonderful dream last night. i dreamed that i died and went to heaven. and on the first night, a celestial choir sang. it was magnificent. there were 1000 sopranos, 1000 all those, 1000 bases. and the friend said, what about the tenners? to which roosevelt replied, i sang tenor. so you get the idea.
well, what's, then, was this progressive movement about under roosevelt? let's look first at the domestic accomplishments and we will go through these rather briefly. and the thing to remember, as i talk about these different elements of his domestic program, the important thing to bear in mind is that they were path breaking. breaking. they constituted such a, in many cases, dramatic break with the american past, particularly in terms of government regulation. i really used to ask my students, at this point, how big a role did the united states government play in the lives, daily lives
of americans at that time? what did the federal government do? they used to be stumped by it. the most frequent answer was and this is true, the federal government was responsible for national security, military. that is true. but that didn't affect people on an everyday basis, most people. how did the american government come into contact with the average american? for this era, before roosevelt? well, i think the answer is, government delivered the mail. postal service. but aside from that there was not much interference from the federal government and the daily lives. but this began to change and that is why roosevelt and his presidency marked such an interesting and pivotal break in terms of increased government regulation, increased role of the federal government so we will talk about specifics but that's the overarching point of all this. well, there were several areas in which roosevelt was active,
and one was business regulation. you know, the dictates of social darwinism, laissez-faire theories, government didn't get involved with how any company ran its business. but there were calls for change to try to correct some of the inequality is and a bunch of it helped with railroads. again i asked my students why ask about railroads? think about it. if you had to ship something how are you going to send it? unless you lived on the bank of a railroad you had to ship it by boat. one had to use railroads. so there was no focus on trying to -- first major thing that did that was the elkins act, passed in 1903.
no need to get into the specifics with this one but suffice it to say that this particular act prohibits from giving rebates to large shippers, which made large shippers have kickbacks. some people had to pay large amounts for free. so it was a different concept to try to have the government step in say that business could be regulated that way. and that sort of thing. in the realm of conservation, here too this is one of tr's main interests. he reserved the passage of the -- lands act, which provided the proceeds from the sale of government land should be used for federal irrigation projects. but overall pictures that the government was involved for the first time in conservation. most people up to that time had believed the
country was so big and wealthy there was no need to have conservation on anybody's mind. this was on roosevelt's mind and this was one thing that he supported and again the path breaking -- also there was a problem of regulating trusts, these giant monopolies that you don't need to think too much to figure out why the existence of monopolies could be detrimental to the consumer, allowing prices to rise and so forth. that was one of the big progressive movements which was kind of restrict some of the trusts. indeed one of the pictures i remember from a high school textbook, this was a good whille ago, i remember a
cartoon showing roosevelt carrying a big stick. that was one of his models speaking softly and carrying a big stick, showing roosevelt carrying a big stick. his idea was not so much to break up the trusts, but his idea was to regulate them. to do something to restrict some of the more damaging, monopolistic practices. and so, but what could he do? it was unlikely that he could get the kind of law passed that he wanted. so what he did was to use what was available at the time which was the sherman antitrust act. that had been passed in 1890, but had rarely been used, because big business generally controlled the government during those years. the republican era of big business and so on, and so the act had not really been used very effectively if at all during
that time. well, in one case, but by and large it had not been used very much in the 1890s. well, roosevelt instructed his attorney general to bring a suit against one of the biggest railroad trusts, maybe the biggest railroad trust, which was the northern securities company. the northern securities corporation, which controlled all the rail traffic in the west, particularly the northwest. and so it brought a suit against the northern securities, calling for its breakup on account of its monopolistic practices. and sure enough, the courts agreed and northern security was indeed broken up, setting, as i said, that precedent. and subsequently other monopolies were broken up as well. standard oil trust, american tobacco company and others. well, as a result of these activities, his vigorous
pursuit of trusts and his conservation work and so on, roosevelt was acquiring a very large following and great popularity. so that is not to say that everybody, the capitalists or the monopolists themselves were not on his side, but the american public really was entranced by roosevelt. so in 1904 he was ready to seek the presidency in his own right. which he did, but he did one thing he probably wished he hadn't done, probably, and that is, he promised that if elected he would not seek another term, which he could have done then -- there was no prohibition against it. franklin d. roosevelt did approve it. he was elected four times. but roosevelt promised he would not
seek another term if he was elected and he was elected. he was elected by a landslide. i'll bet very few people in this audience could tell me who he ran against. i have to scarcely remember it myself every time i talk about this. his name was alton b. parker. as i said to my students, he was not a household name, save in his own household. he was overwhelmingly defeated when roosevelt that the presidency 1904 and was elected by acclamation. it was an overwhelming victory. when he was president in his own right he promised a square deal for the american people. one of the things he did to get the square deal was to address, again, the railroad problem. this may seem to my students as kind of a petty sort of thing, but it
certainly was not, not a terribly important thing, but it was. it turned out that the elkin's act was not being effectively enforced, because what happened was that in order to get change and in order to address and redress some of these grievances under the elkins act, was to go through the court system. and the courts were notoriously conservative and often decided in favor of businesses as opposed to the consumer. and so, what's roosevelt wanted was the ability, for the government have the ability to set the rates that the railroads could charge, which was a tremendous departure in practice from previous practices. that was what was embodied in the
hepburn act. ad this was a far cry from the laissez-faire policies of the government. harry had the government with the right -- which had been established earlier. the right to actually fix the rates that railroads could charge without going through the court system. by any occasion, president was there that the government might be able to control, control is maybe too strong a word, but to affect other businesses by setting regulations and so forth without going first through the court system, bringing us to another of roosevelts major contributions. did i say this? i don't know if i said this. anyway, i should have said it. that this was embodied in the hepburn bill. in any case, the hepburn bill. but the other -- another significant roosevelt achievement was the passage of what today we would call consumer protection laws. i'm
not sure they were called that that. but a couple of these in particular, one was the federal meat inspection act. as you might assume, if you know with the jungle is about, you might assume correctly that this was probably influenced by the popularity of that novel. but what it did was provide for federal inspection of all meat products involved in interstate commerce. in a second similar act which was the pure drug food and drug act, which prohibited the selling of products particularly canned and bottled goods under false or misleading nibbles. this was important, because a lot of patent medicines then were widely used and very popular, and they did oftentimes, the bottled ones did relieve pain and did help, but the problem was it did not say on the label that in regards to alcohol, i think sometimes almost 100 proof. so you know, people that drank it did indeed feel better, but only briefly, and it was certainly not a curative or anything. so with this said,
you have to bottle things and label things truthfully as to what is in the product. and these were very important consumer protection laws. now, with regard to the major social issues of the day, roosevelt's performance was, i think we have to say, mixed. concerning women's suffrage, for example, he was an early advocate, going all the way back to 1880 and his senior thesis at harvard, he had written quote, i think there can be no question that women should have equal rights with men, end quote. that is a pretty direct statement, is it not? and while president he continued to support women's suffrage and even included it in his 1912 platform, we'll get to that briefly in one minute. but his public support was, shall we say, less than fervent. he once said quote, personally i believe that women's suffrage, but i'm not enthusiastic advocate of it, because i do not regard it as a very important matter. on
another occasion, he was even more condescending, saying, quote, we hear much about women's rights. decent men should be thinking about women's rights all the time. and while the men are doing that the women should be attending to the amenities. in any case he did not live to see the passage of the 19th amendment, the women's suffrage amendment, dying six months before it was passed by congress in june of 1919. now his views on racial matters were even more problematic. on the one hand, he earned the praise of progressives and the hatred of southern segregationists when inviting workers to washington to the white house for dinner. and this was regarded as a audacious act at the time. but on the other hand, his record brownsville affair, in which he on very flimsy evidence issued was besmirched by his role in dishonourable discharges to an
entire company black soldiers, segregated, course, who are brownsville affair, in which he summarily alleged to have been involved in a disturbance in texas. they were exonerated decades later. not that it did those individual any good at the time. they were exonerated in the 1970s. his record was mixed. to a large extent, tr's domestic actions were overshadowed by more dramatic events. -- in the long run, the in the area of foreign affairs. noted his aggressiveness, if it's impetuous, his bullying, and least love him all, his arrogant attitude toward latin american countries. a classic example is the
involves a building of the panama canal, which was, perhaps, one of the most noteworthy -- in the roosevelt presidency. well, to examine the complex machinations of the panama -- it would take more time than we have for this whole lecture, so i must drastically summarize this convoluted story of politics, diplomacy, and international intrigue. which included mainly the u.s. and columbia, of which panama was apart at the time. the gist of it is that after much negotiation, a treaty was written by the u.s. and columbia, by terms of which the u.s. would be permitted to build a canal across panama in exchange for $10 million and the annual rental of $250,000. but before it could be finalized by respective governments, columbia bulked and refused to ratify the agreement, claiming it would be a violation of their sovereignty, which was true. well, even though that country
had every right to reject the treaty, roosevelt was furious. appalled that they would impede, what he believed to be one of the greatest projects in the history of civilization. the truth is, that roosevelt was generally contemptuous of latin americans anyway, referring to the colombian government as the, quote, contemptible little creatures in bogota. and as foolish and homicidal corruption is. he asserted that, quote, we may have to give a lesson to these jackrabbits. politically correct, he was not. if anyone dared to mention that columbia had every legal right to do what their country should please, roosevelt would become furious, the law, he said, i want that canal built. raging at one point that, get this, quote, to talk of columbia has irresponsible power to be dealt with as we would deal with holland, or belgium, or switzerland, or denmark is absurd. the analogy is more with a
group of sicilian bandits. you cannot make an agreement with a columbian -- any more that you can nail jelly to the wall. i did my best to get their backs straight, then i determined i would do what ought to be done without regard to them. what's that turned out to be was, in essence, a devious involvement in arranging for panama to declare its independence for columbia, which it succeeded in doing with what appears to have been roosevelt's surreptitious support. in details of this whole episode remain murky, but the consensus is that roosevelt did have a hand in conniving for in the achievement of panamanian independence. but in any case, one panama declared its independence, the u.s. moved immediately to recognize the newly independent nation and, moreover, sign a treaty that gave the u.s. the right to a ten mile wide canal zone across that new country. and work soon began on this enormous project and was
completed in 1914, just on the eve of world war i. one residue of the whole affair was a lingering colombian resentment toward the u.s., understandable. not surprisingly, roosevelt defended his actions regarding panama as confirming in every respect so what he called the highest, finest, and nicest standards of public and governmental ethics. but on another occasion later on, 1911, he came perhaps more closer to the truth when he boldly declared, quote, i took the canal zone and let congress debate. and while the debate goes on, the canal does also. in any event, this was not roosevelt's finest hour, certainly not his most admirable one. and then there was the matter, another problematic one, that the so-called roosevelt corollary to that monroe doctrine, a source of further
contention with latin america. now, the original monroe doctrine, as you know, had proclaimed in 1824 that the latin america was no longer open to european colonization, a unilateral proclamation that had largely gone unchallenged in the intervening decades. however, near the end of the century, when some european nations, notably england and germany, threatened to intervene in certain latin american countries to collect debts, roosevelt became law to the point of issuing the so-called corollary to the effect that, if latin american nations, for natural trouble, with overseas relatives, the u.s. would intervene, take over the customs houses, and pay off the debts. thereby keeping european nations out of the western hemisphere and accordance with the monroe doctrine. well, despite latin american opposition to such actions, the u.s. did actually intervene in several instances, notably in the dominican republic. cuba was especially resistant to american intervention and
attitude which predictably sent the volatile tr into a tirade, saying this. i just at this moment, i am so angry with that infernal little cuban republic, he battled, that i would like to wipe its people off of the face of the earth. all that we had wanted from them is that they would behave themselves, be prosperous and happy so that they would not have to intervene. and now, lo and behold, they have started and utterly and justifiably pointless revolution that may get things into such a sorrow that we have no alternative except to intervene. well, latin american nations tended to be skeptical and downright opposed to such intervention, regarding it as an infringement to their sovereignty, and particularly fearful that the u.s. would use it as an opportunity for at outright annexation. the motive that roosevelt vehemently denied. in actual operation, the corollary did not result in
prolonged american -- and certainly not an annexation. but it did, more than anything else, lead to distrust and hatred with many south american republics had toured the united states for many years, until the corollary was officially reversed by franklin d. roosevelt's good neighbor policy. now, a more positive example of roosevelt's expensive outlook at foreign policy concern his efforts to bring an end to the long running russell japanese war. in 1905, he invited delegates from both those countries to meet in portsmouth, new hampshire, which resulted in a treaty to bring the war to an end. and it was for those efforts that roosevelt was awarded the nobel peace prize. i can say to that he was undoubtedly the most unlikely recipient ever to receive a peace prize, given his naturally -- nature and his aggressive tendencies. it was, however, an early example of americas increasing international involvement and it was during roosevelt's presidency that the u.s. began to establish itself as a world
power. roosevelt attempted to illustrate that emergence through a symbolic and somewhat controversial episode known as the voyage of the great white fleet. his idea was to send the entire u.s. naval fleet on a world tour. when congress indicated its refusal to fund such a venture, roosevelt came up with a typically audacious strategy. he let it be known that he already had enough money in his current budget to send the fleet halfway around the world, which he fully intended to do. and if congress wished their return, they would have to appropriate the necessary funds to do it. well, the ploy worked. off went the ships, all painted white over their usual gun metal gray. the critics feared the worst, particularly when the fleet visited japan, that was considerable hostility at that time. the fleet was warmly welcomed
upon his voyage even in japan. and while it was of no particular strategic importance, the voyage was significant in illustrating americas increasing world prominence, which would soon be even more evident in world war i. as his term neared its and, it was clear that roosevelt could have easily reelected to a third term in 1908. but true to his word given in 1904, a mistake i think he probably realized, he did not run. instead, he opted for an african safari, which prompted one of his opponents to say that he hoped every lion would do its duty. before he left, roosevelt was careful to hand pick his successor, a man who he thought would continue to carry on his progressive programs. the man he chose was his friend, william howard taft. it was a choice he would live to regret.
shortly before leaving office, they are provided insight into his future plans in a rather poignant letter to his daughter, in which he wrote, every now and then, people come to me and tell me that our country has faced the problem of what it would do with its ex presidents. and i always answer them that there will be one ex president about whom they need not give themselves the slightest concern. for he will do for himself without any outside assistance. and i add that they need waste no sympathy on me, that i've had the best time of any man of my age in all the world and i have enjoyed my stay at the white house, more than i have ever known any president to enjoy himself. i am going to enjoy myself thoroughly when i leave the white house. and what is more, continue just as long as i possibly can to do some kind of work that will count. as it turned out, roosevelt
didn't accomplish any particularly great achievements after all, though not for lack of effort. it soon became apparent that tr was restless in retirement. after all, there were only so many elephants to kill and he was becoming increasingly disappointed in what he perceived as a lack of progressive commitment by his successor and soon to be former friend, president taft. his pent up zeal was evident in what was probably the best known speech of his entire career, the off quoted, man in the arena speech that he delivered in paris in 1910, two years after leaving the white house. now, you've probably heard it before, parts of it, but let me quote part of it because i think it so eloquently reveals roosevelt basic character.
and i think you will agree that it is a powerful speech and that it is eloquently expressed. it is not the critic who counts, he said, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or whether the doer of deeds could have done them better. the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs, who comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming, but who does actually strive to do the deeds, who knows great enthusiasms, great devotions, who spends himself on a worthy cause, who at the best knows at the end
the trump of high a treatment and who at their worst, if he fails at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. fearing that progressivism was withering under taft, and no doubt missing the excitement of the presidency and its opportunities for using its bully pulpit, roosevelt decided to run again as 1912 as the candidate of the progressive party which he established, popularly known as the bull moose party, after roosevelt himself declared himself to be, quote, strong as a bull moose. in that election a split of republican votes between him and the incumbent taft permitted the election of the democrat woodrow wilson. it was during this campaign that tr
was the victim of an attempted assassination, in which during giving a speech he was hit by and assassins bullet. it resulted in a superficial wound and typical of roosevelt's bravado, he continued the speech. i think most people having been shot, however superficially, would probably called it a day. but not the inimitable tr. when after 1914 as the great war in your waged, roosevelt was an ardent advocate of american intervention, no surprise there, and in fact petitioned then president wilson to let him raise a volunteer regiment or alii the rough riders to fight in europe. -- and incidentally, roosevelt's son quinton was
killed in the war, which some believed diminished roosevelts belligerent attitude. in any case, by the time he died in early 1919, not an old man. he was in his late fifties, i believe. in any case, roosevelt had already done enough by that time to secure his legacy as one of america's greatest presidents. and so, what was that legacy? theodore roosevelt made many contributions to the progressive movement. it's quite likely that it would never had flourish without his energetic leadership. the laws that passed. some of which we discussed, illustrate his ability to bring about reform through the legislative process, but certainly, roosevelt's greatest service to the progressive movement was not to be seen in any one law or set of laws which were passed, but relatively seen in the impetus that he gave to reform in
general. he served most effectively as a popularizer, as a spark plug or as -- put it, as a mature leader for reform. roosevelt was the greatest publicity man progressivism has ever had. i would suggest that roosevelt service to the nation included a whole new concept to the office of the presidency should be. in tr's view, the president should be a true leader, not just a passive a follower of the american people. in that sense i think that roosevelt may be considered the first truly modern president. in carrying out his conception of the active presidency, roosevelt was uniquely well equipped by his personality. his flamboyant, robust and spirited attitude won for him and admiration seldom granted any national
political -- before or. since he was not sure the men knew the american public could identify. in a popular poem at that time describing the national feeling following -- tr's chasing a bear. busting a trust and drying it from its layer. they are calling tr a lot of things. the men in the private car, but the day coach likes exiting things, the day coach likes tr. as one observer put it quote, he was just a great big boy. charmed by his personality. you cannot resist the man. historians have generally agreed that the popular feeling of his contemporaries, that teddy roosevelt was unique in moderna make american history. as one would put it, if the rough rider was not the greatest of presidents, he was undoubtedly the noisiest. he carried a big stick all right. his soft stick resembled the writ the billowing of a bull moose during mating season. he became an iconic figure partly as a result of the teddy bear, the
eponymous teddy bear. that story began with an alabama bear hunt. he had, great hunter that he was, great outdoorsman that he was, he had for some reason expressed a desire to go on a beer hunt in alabama. apparently in the mountains of alabama, there were bears to be had and shot. so he went. to his disappointment, i guess he found no bears. so his host, not wanting him to be disappointed, believe it or not, found a bear somehow and tethered the bear, apparently tethered the bear to a tree. so when roosevelt came back he saw that he could shoot the bear. he did come back and saw that
bear. but as you can imagine in his sense of sportsmanship he did not shoot it, but ordered the bear to be released. it was heard by, among others, a brooklyn candy store owner who also sold toys handmade by him and his wife. and so they were inspired to make a brown plush bear with button eyes to put in his store window, and he labeled it teddy's bear. and now, to read you a description of the unfolding legend, from a prominent roosevelt historian who wrote, that modest start the most beloved and famous toy in the country was launched. no nursery could be without one. it became a security blanket for literally millions of children including of course the ones whose fathers that inspired it. the republicans took the symbol of teddy bear
to their hearts and it became the symbol for all of their rallies. at the dinner in the white house were all of tr's friends were gathered to bid him farewell as he prepared to leave the presidency. the teddy bears were arranged. that's how it a little poem appeared, called teddies weep. beneath the fading christmas tree, their long vigil keeping, they heard the little teddy bears in the stillness softly weeping. we joined them in their soft lament. in the traditions. keeping, they meant so much to us, their patron saint is sleeping. in his book, presidential greatness, noted historian thomas a. bailey summed it up this way. he wrote roosevelt was a great personality, a great teacher of the duality,'s a great showman
who dominated the around just as he dominated the centuries. sometimes people wondered if they had any administration or circus. he was a great egoist, a great self glorifier, a great exhibitionist and a great headline catcher, so much that some critics felt that he degraded the dignity of his high office. the masses loved it. he proved to be a great popular idol and vote getter, a politician whose also is great opportunist at the same time a great mayor. so i would say in conclusion, that theodore roosevelt would had been better balanced had he been the perpetual adolescence that some called him, he would have been perhaps a greater, man perhaps a greater president, then he would not have been president roosevelt. one of his friends summed up best the feeling of the american people when he said of roosevelt shortly after the rough riders death, you have to hate the colonel a lot not to lobby him.
photographs, she re-creates mister hoover's final trip to his west branch, iowa, childhood home. >> today's presentation is called hoover's last trip home. our speaker, lynn smith, the audiovisual archivist at the hoover presidential library and museum since november of 2000 whose previous work experience includes serving as department supervisor at the