The twenty-sixth president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, was one of the most popular men to ever hold the office. A prolific writer, a lover of the outdoors, and a military hero, Roosevelt brought his considerable energies to bear on reforming the economy, increasing the role of the federal government in national life, and increasing U.S. military power.
Roosevelt first entered politics in 1881 at the age of twenty-three, when he was elected to the New York State Assembly as a Republican. In his three years there, he established a reputation as a charismatic speaker and a crusader against corruption. Then during the Spanish-American War of 1898, his successful exploits as a colonel in charge of the 1st Volunteer Cavalry gained him widespread fame. This success translated into political power after the war, when he was elected governor of New York State. Roosevelt's actions as governor made him popular with the people, but not so popular with the business community. This concerned top-ranking members of the Republican Party, who encouraged him to leave state politics and seek nomination for the vice-presidency on McKinley's ticket. Roosevelt was reluctant at first, as he worried that the role of vice-president would be less challenging than that of governor. McKinley was elected in 1900 and was assassinated in 1901, which thrust Roosevelt into an unexpected presidency. He took office at forty-three years of age, which makes him the youngest president the United States has ever had.
Once in office, Roosevelt allied himself with progressive reformers who advocated a more active role for the federal government, especially towards controlling monopolistic companies known as combinations or trusts. These companies had accumulated great power and wealth, yet operated with little or no public scrutiny. In 1902, Roosevelt invoked a little-used antitrust act to break up the Northern Securities Company, an enormous railroad monopoly....
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