*In 1901, President
William McKinley—the last Civil War veteran to be president, a
conservative, gold-standard Republican—was assassinated by an
anarchist. His Vice-President was Theodore Roosevelt.
*Theodore Roosevelt (known as Teddy--although he did not like
nickname, Thee to his friends, and TR for short) was the
ever to become president (aged 42). He was a progressive:
been police commissioner of New York City, where he had cleaned
corruption and encouraged efficiency by walking all the beats
to check on cops on the job.
*In his youth he had been a cattle rancher in South Dakota until
blizzards and droughts destroyed his herd, so he understood the
of farmers and ranchers, and he had also developed a love of the
wilderness—once, on a hunting trip, he refused to shoot a caged
a photo opportunity, saying it was unsporting (although he
loved to hunt), and stuffed bears have been called Teddy Bears
*He had been assistant to the Secretary of the Navy, and when
Spanish-American War broke out, he raised a volunteer company of
easterners and wild western cowboys (called the Rough Riders)
part of the invasion of Cuba.
*He then went home and was elected Governor of New York, where
to clean up the entire state until the Republican Party leaders
him vice-president, hoping that he would vanish in that
*He was full of energy—a foreign diplomat once told another
that he must understand that the President of the United States
years old—but a genius—he used to have two secretaries while he
Governor of New York, so he could dictate state business to one
dictate books he was writing to the other at the same time.
*Roosevelt expanded the power of the presidency, as he used it
bully pulpit (a splendid position from which to present his
reform the nation. He called his plan the Square Deal,
said, on giving everyone a fair chance. He said a man
speak softly, but carry a big stick, although he himself rarely
softly. Read the Witness History section on page 233.
*TR took on both the trusts and the unions. When
miners went on strike in 1902, TR knew people needed coal to
in the winter, and factories always needed it, so the strike had
quickly. Whereas in the past, the government had always
with the mine owners, TR first tried to get them to listen to
miners’ complaints. When they wouldn’t, he threatened to
the army to take over the mines and run them himself. To
this, the mine owners gave the miners a small pay raise and a
working day. Within a year, TR created a new cabinet
Commerce and Labor (later split into two cabinet posts), to deal
labour and business issues in the future.
*Railroads had been an issue for years, particularly in the
farmers had no other way to ship produce to market. Many
railroads gave special rates to customers they liked, either
or as rebates, and often worked together to set prices rather
compete to offer the best price.
*The government had made some effort to regulate this, but not
much. Roosevelt changed this with the Elkins Act and the
Act, which let the government limit prices on shipping costs for
railroads, ferries, toll bridges, and oil pipelines.
even took on a railroad trust, the Northern Securities Company
(in which J P
Morgan was an investor), which the Supreme Court declared was
an illegal trust,
and he forced to split up into smaller companies.TR got a reputation
as a trust-buster, but he
made a distinction between ‘good trusts’ and ‘bad trusts.’A trust that
operated fairly and did not
cheat customers was left alone, but those that did not were
*For example, during the Panic of 1907, the
Tennessee Coal, Iron, and Railroad Company was about to go
failure of this large company would only
make the depression worse.However, J P
Morgan was prepared to save much of the company by absorbing
it into US
that this would be an
example of a good trust that served the public's interest, and
merger, to the surprise of some people.
*What book had pointed out the disgusting conditions of the
meat-packing industry? (The Jungle) After reading
Roosevelt insisted on reform. In 1906, the Meat Inspection
forced meat-packers to allowed government workers to inspect
facilities and their meat. The 1907 Pure Food and Drug act
allowed the government to inspect other foods as well as
which had previously been completely unregulated, allowing many
and even dangerous medicines to be sold.
*Roosevelt was a great lover of the environment—he believed that
hunting and camping and fishing kept a man healthy and
He also wanted to make sure that future generations could enjoy
outdoors and the nation’s natural resources as he had, so he
expanded the national park system.
*What was the first national park? (Yellowstone) Look at
237. What parks existed before Roosevelt became president?
(Yellowstone, Yosemite, Sequoia, Mount Ranier) When was
land added to the national park and national forest
during, or after TR’s presidency? (during) Where in
country is most national parkland found? (West)
*In doing this, he was following the ideas of John Muir and
particularly Gifford Pinchot.
*To deal with the problem of water use in the West, Roosevelt
the National Reclamation Act, which gave the government control
Western water rights and allowed it to improve irrigation and
dams to create reservoirs and electricity—Hoover Dam is part of
*In 1908, Roosevelt chose not to run for a third term, but
Americans to vote for his Secretary of War, William Howard
they did, electing America’s fattest president (defeating
Jennings Bryan in the process).
*Taft at first did the same things Roosevelt had, but eventually
his own course. He lowered tariffs, but not as much as
wanted. He busted trusts, but did not just try to break up
trusts, but sometimes good ones, too—in fact, he busted twice as
trusts as Roosevelt, including Standard Oil and stopped US Steel
buying a coal company TR had given them permission to
However, he allowed other monopolies to continue, giving him a
reputation as being soft of the rich and big business, even
XVI Amendment was ratified while he was president.
*Soon TR began to criticise Taft, eventually going on a speaking
to promote the New Nationalism, a programme to make the
powerful so that it could bust more trusts and enact other
*In 1912, Roosevelt tried to get the Republican nomination for
president, but Taft was chosen to run again. Soon
and many other Republican and some Democratic reformers formed
Progressive Party. However, when Theodore Roosevelt wanted
to think he was still healthy (despite having a leg broken when
carriage was hit by a trolley in 1902 and being blind in one eye
a bad boxing match in the White House) he told them he was as
as a bull moose, and soon people called his party the Bull Moose
*While running for president, Roosevelt was shot just before
speech by a man who had dreams in which President McKinley told
avenge his death. The bullet went through his coat,
50-page speech folded double (which slowed it down), through his
spectacle case, through his shirt, and into his chest. As
aides examined him and saw the blood flowing from his wound,
him to go to the doctor, but he refused, until after he gave his
speech. Nonetheless, this forced him to spend over a week
hospital right before the election.
*Look at the map on page 241. Who won the election of
(Wilson) Why? (Taft and Roosevelt split the
*Woodrow Wilson had been president of Princeton University and
of New Jersey, but he had been born in the South and was the
Southern president since Andrew Johnson (and the first one
since James K Polk). He was also a Progressive, and called
plan the New Freedom.
*Wilson wanted to bust trusts in order to give small businessmen
chance to compete (or even start businesses at all). The
Trade Commission and the Clayton Antitrust Act helped him do
*Wilson lowered tariffs even more than Roosevelt or Taft.
*Wilson created the Federal Reserve System in 1913. This
national banks under the control of a Federal Reserve Board
up regional banks to hold reserves for other banks. This
one bank from holding too much money (thus placing it at risk if
bank failed or its owner tried to skim off the top).
*Wilson usually sided with workers in labour disputes. He
the railroads to give their workers an 8-hour day.
coal miners in Colorado went on strike, the Colorado National
eventually the US Army were sent in to break up the strike (the
Colorado National Guard even shot into the tents the strikers
and set them on fire, killing 26 people).
*While Wilson was president, the United States ratified the
XVIII, and XIX Amendments to the Constitution. What did
*Today, the Federal Reserve System governs our economy.
government oversees many aspects of trade, business, and
Food safety laws, workplace safety laws, and other laws meant to
protect workers and consumers date to the Progressive
the other hand, the government is much larger, much more
much more involved in people’s lives than it was in the
For good and bad we live in a world created by the Progressives.