35 Theodore Roosevelt

This is a post in My Presidential Rankings series, linked here: https://sdu754.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/presidential-rankings/

Theodore Roosevelt became president upon the assassination of William McKinley. This happened shortly after the turn of the century at the beginning of the progressive movement.

Generally considered Roosevelt’s biggest accomplishment was the building of the Panama  Canal. An isthmus canal had long been a dream of the United States, but the Spanish-American war showed the need for the canal, making it’s building a certainty. There were two proposed routes, one through Panama and one through Nicaragua. Roosevelt was bent on Panama, and when Columbia wanted what Roosevelt thought was too much money, he decided to foment rebellion in Panama. Basically, Roosevelt disgraced the United States to save a few million dollars .

Roosevelt also extended the Monroe Doctrine by adding his corollary to it. The Roosevelt corollary basically states that the US could “intervene” in other countries to keep Europeans out. This is very hypocritical. Basically the US would invade and occupy neighboring countries to keep others from invading and occupying those countries. I’m sure that those countries seen very little difference between American or European occupiers. Also, the Monroe Doctrine isn’t international law. Roosevelt even recklessly courted war with both Germany and Britain in defense of Venezuela, when Venezuela wasn’t paying it’s debts.

Roosevelt also oversaw the Philippines insurrection and ordered military commanders to end the guerrilla war anyway necessary. This included the burning of entire villages, torture and killing all Filipinos down to age 10. TR tried to whitewash the whole incident, but the blood was clearly on his hands.

Roosevelt passed several reforms through Congress, some were good like The Meat Inspection Act of 1906 & Pure Food and Drug Act. Others were very bad. Two of these dealt directly with railroads. The first was the Elkins Act – banned railroad rebates to large companies and outlawed bulk rates. It’s practical that railroads would give discounts to secure large customers, as it would allow for better planning of route, and larger cargoes can be hauled for lower incremental costs. The other The Hepburn Act, gave the ICC the power to set “just and reasonable” rates. Who is to decide what is “just and reasonable”? This act helped to trigger the panic of 1907

The worse thing TR did was to continuously disregard the constitution and congress in many of his actions, by stating he could do anything he wanted “for the greater good”. The idea that the president is above the law and has unlimited powers is a very dangerous one.

Roosevelt ingrained federal coercion by intervening in a coal strike, mainly for political purposes. He threatened both sides by saying he would use the army to seize the mines if they didn’t accept arbitration. TR was known as the “trust buster” for the many anti-trust cases during his term. Unfortunately, the law was applied using Roosevelt’s “greater good” argument. Companies were sued not based on whether they broke the law, but based on if they were “good” companies. The inconsistent application of the law wasn’t only unfair and unconstitutional, it also caused uncertainty within the economy.

Roosevelt is greatly hailed for his environmental conservation. Whereas environmental conservation is a good thing, Many times TR took lands out of public use through executive orders against the will of Congress and without any reguard to private citizens rights.



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