Theodore Roosevelt, who came into office in 1901 and served until 1909, is considered the first modern President because he significantly expanded the influence and power of the executive office. From the Civil War to the turn of the twentieth century, the seat of power in the national government resided in the U.S. Congress. Beginning in the 1880s, the executive branch gradually increased its power. Roosevelt seized on this trend, believing that the President had the right to use all powers except those that were specifically denied him to accomplish his goals. As a result, the President, rather than Congress or the political parties, became the center of the American political arena. As President, Roosevelt challenged the ideas of limited government and individualism. In their stead, he advocated government regulation to achieve social and economic justice. He used executive orders to accomplish his goals, especially in conservation, and waged an aggressive foreign policy. He was also an extremely popular President and the first to use the media to appeal directly to the people, bypassing the political parties and career politicians. Early Life
Frail and sickly as a boy, "Teedie" Roosevelt developed a rugged physique as a teenager and became a lifelong advocate of exercise and the "strenuous life." After graduating from Harvard, Roosevelt married Alice Hathaway Lee and studied law at Columbia University. He dropped out after a year to pursue politics, winning a seat in the New York Assembly in 1882.
Click to read Roosevelt's diary entry
from the Theodore Roosevelt Center.
A double tragedy struck Roosevelt in 1884, when his mother and his wife died in the same house on the same day. Roosevelt spent two years out West in an attempt to recover, tending cows as a rancher and busting outlaws as a frontier sheriff. In 1886, he returned to New York and married his childhood sweetheart, Edith Kermit Carow. They raised six children, including Roosevelt's daughter...
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