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Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick

By ANWorst Apr 11, 2013 1654 Words
Ashley Worst
Period 2
November 14, 2012

Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” Spoken by the first modern president, Theodore Roosevelt was a man of his word. Even though he was reluctant to become vice-president during his early years in politics, he ‘took the helm’ when it came time to lead the country after President William McKinley’s assassination in 1901. Lovingly dubbed “Teddy” by the American citizens, Roosevelt became a beloved icon who proved just how much one man could change a country after a time of declining stability. Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt should be included on the TIME magazine prestigious list because of his ability to impact the world that came before his presidency, his actions during his time in office the changed the course of history, and how his indelible actions are still impacting the world today. To start off with, Theodore Roosevelt should be included on the TIME magazine prestigious list because of his ability to impact the world that came before his presidency during his time in office. The time period before Roosevelt was different politically, socially, and economically. Before Roosevelt’s time in the Presidential office, William McKinley was President of the United States. When McKinley became President, the depression of 1893 had almost run its course and with it the extreme distress over silver. Postponing action on the money question, he called Congress into special session to pass the highest tariff in history. (Beschloss) Foreign policy, dominated McKinley's Administration. Unable to restrain Congress or the American people on the topic of war for Cuba, McKinley delivered his message of neutral intervention in April 1898. Congress thereupon voted three resolutions equal to a declaration of war for the liberation and independence of Cuba. In this 100-day war, the United States destroyed the Spanish fleet outside Santiago harbor in Cuba, seized Manila in the Philippines, and occupied Puerto Rico. Afterwards, the United States annexed the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico. (Beschloss) Social life under McKinley was the precursor to the major civil rights movement in the early 1900s. This was a time period after the civil war in which many African Americans started to advocate for their rights and they felt that the President should help support those rights. During this time African Americans were able to gain ranks higher than lieutenant. There was little to be done to ease racial tensions by McKinley but he still did more than other presidents. (Gould) Economic aspects of the United States while under McKinley proved to be memorable ones. Two of the big issues of the day, tariff reform and free silver, became connected in 1897. A new tariff bill was introduced to revise the Wilson–Gorman Tariff Act of 1894; McKinley supported this, which increased tariffs on wool, sugar, and luxury goods. (Gould) Because of this, the coinage went from silver to gold, meaning the silver problem was no longer an issue; the gold standard had taken over. (Gould) Before Theodore Roosevelt’s time in office, the United States had fought Spain for Cuban independence, gone through civil rights troubles, and dealt with tariff reforms and free silver. Next, Theodore Roosevelt should be included on the TIME magazine prestigious list because of the actions he took to change the world. Roosevelt believed that a country’s power lay with naval power so he rebuilt America’s fleet. (Garraty) This navy was now second to Great Britain’s, the most powerful navy in the world. Teddy Roosevelt’s decision to send the entire battle fleet on a worldwide tour was an aim to impress all nations, but in particular to intimidate Japan. Roosevelt did this without the consent of Congress; the manner in which Roosevelt carried out this exhibition was perhaps as significant as the act itself. Congress objected, threatening to not fund the worldwide tour. Roosevelt saw the façade, and warned Congress that since he had the money to send the ships to the Pacific, their refusal to fund the return trip, and therefore to strip the USA of its defenses, was a political decision he would leave to them. (Woods) Another action made by Roosevelt was the decision to take over the customs houses in the Dominican Republic. In what has become known as the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, Theodore Roosevelt had declared in 1904 that although the United States had no territorial desires in its own hemisphere, cases of "chronic wrongdoing" on the part of a Latin American country that might invite occupation by a European power could force America's hand. To stop European occupation, the United States would intervene to restore order and to see that all just claims were satisfied. In early 1905, it looked as though one or more European countries might intervene in the Dominican Republic to recover outstanding debt; Roosevelt put the Corollary into effect for the first time by declaring that the United States would administer the Dominican Republic's customs collections to prevent any foreign intervention. (Woods) The largest action that President Roosevelt enacted was that of the Panama Canal. After its failure in 1888, the word Panama had only negative connotations to the French investors who had lost their money and the people who helped build it. In negotiations, a very small revolution broke out between the US and Columbia, resulting in the use of the newly strengthened navy and the creation of the nation of Panama. (PBS) The canal’s design changed to a “lake and lock” design that proved successful. Nine years later, the canal was complete but it was dwarfed by the brutality of WWI. (PBS) The creation of the Panama Canal led to the realization of a long-term United States goal: a trans-isthmian canal. Throughout the 1800s, American and British leaders and businessmen wanted to ship goods quickly and cheaply between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and now that feat was possible. (USDS) The Panama Canal symbolized U.S. technological prowess and economic power. Although U.S. control of the canal eventually became an irritant to U.S.-Panamanian relations, at the time it was signaled as a major foreign policy achievement. (USDS) All of these actions prove that Theodore Roosevelt should be included on the prestigious list. The final reason why Theodore Roosevelt should be included on the prestigious list is because of how his actions are still being felt today. Of the forty-four presidents, only four of them grace Mount Rushmore. Theodore Roosevelt is one of them. His face is featured there because of his actions and how they shaped the United States into what it is today. Since Roosevelt built up the naval forces so long ago, the United States is now the top military power in the world. Had Roosevelt not done this, some of the major wars we played a part in may not have ended how they had. The world could be ruled by Communist and ended up a totalitarian government. That is a little extreme but the unknown is extreme especially when it comes to world powers. Roosevelt’s contribution to the completion of the Panama Canal led to international cooperation and to the independence of the nation of Panama. The canal also allows transport of goods from the Atlantic to Pacific oceans quickly and efficiently. Had this not occurred because Roosevelt had not played a part in it, trade would not be as advanced, nor would technology. Foreign affairs between Colombia and its many islands would be tense due to Panama wanting its freedom and most likely a revolution or two would have broken out, brining European powers to the front, occupying the territory so close to the US borders. This means there was just an invasion of the United States waiting to happen. Finally, the preservation of the natural forests in America happened because of Roosevelt’s love for the land. Theodore Roosevelt believed that the land should be preserved and to do so he created the national forests that are still found today. (Garraty) These forests are home to wildlife that have been saved from being hunted to extinction. If Roosevelt’s love for the outdoors had not been so strong, the United States would not have any of its natural beauty preserved; it would most likely be a concrete jungle with a few farms here and there. Teddy Roosevelt’s actions were imperative to the modernizing the United States and to the global reaches the modernizing effected. Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt should be included on the TIME magazine prestigious list because of his ability to impact the world that came before his presidency, his actions during his time in office the changed the course of history, and how his indelible actions are still impacting the world today. He played a part in making the US navy the power it is today, creation of the Panama Canal and the effects that came with it, and the preservation of the US National forests. All of these actions prove that Theodore Roosevelt is worthy enough to be put upon TIME magazine’s prestigious list above all others.

Works Cited

Garraty, John A. Theodore Roosevelt; the Strenuous Life,. New York: American Heritage Pub.; Distribution by Harper & Row, 1967. Print.

Gould, Lewis L. The Presidency of William McKinley. Kansas: University, 1980. Print.

"How Theodore Roosevelt Changed America." Web log post. Classic Liberal Blog. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2012. <>.

Office of the Historian. U.S. Department of State, n.d. Web. <>.

"Theodore Roosevelt & the Panama Canal." American Experience. PBS. N.d. PBS. PBS. Web. 13 Nov. 2012. <>.

The White House. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2012. <>.

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