by Robert Wilkinson
I usually don’t celebrate presidential birthdays, but today is an exception. Teddy Roosevelt was one of the greatest presidents the US ever had. Today I found a few things that show us why.
Given the current dialog about political positions, Teddy Roosevelt (October 27, 1858 – January 6, 1919) did some things we REALLY need today. He was truly a progressive President, and wasn’t afraid to take on corporate interests when corporations were doing things that weren’t good for the people. What follows is from Wikipedia.
One of his first notable acts as president was to deliver a 20,000-word address to Congress asking it to curb the power of large corporations (called "trusts"). For his aggressive attacks on trusts over his two terms, he has been called a "trust-buster."
Roosevelt also dealt with union workers. In May 1902, United Mine Workers went on strike to get higher pay wages and shorter workdays. He set up a fact-finding commission that stopped the strike, and resulted in the workers getting more pay for fewer hours.
In August 1902, Roosevelt was the first president to be seen riding in an automobile in public. This took place in Hartford, CT. The car was a Columbia Electric Victoria Phaeton, manufactured in Hartford. The police squad rode bicycles alongside the car.
Roosevelt helped the wellbeing of people by passing laws such as The Meat Inspection Act of 1906 and The Pure Food and Drug Act. The Meat Inspection Act of 1906 banned misleading labels and preservatives that contained harmful chemicals. The Pure Food and Drug Act banned food and drugs that are impure or falsely labeled from being made, sold, and shipped.
Roosevelt was also served as honorary president of the school health organization American School Hygiene Association from 1907 to 1908, and in 1909 he convened the first White House Conference on the Care of Dependent Children.
The Gentlemen’s Agreement with Japan came into play in 1907, banning all school segregation of Japanese, yet controlling Japanese immigration in California. That year, Roosevelt signed the proclamation establishing Oklahoma as the 46th state of the Union.
Roosevelt made the White House the center of news every day, providing interviews and photo opportunities. After noticing the White House reporters huddled outside in the rain one day, he gave them their own room inside, effectively inventing the presidential press briefing.
Theodore Roosevelt introduced the phrase "Square Deal” to describe his progressive views in a speech delivered in August 1910 after leaving the office of the Presidency. In his broad outline, he stressed equality of opportunity for all citizens and emphasized the importance of fair government regulations of corporate 'special interests'.
Roosevelt was one of the first Presidents to make conservation a national issue. In a speech that Roosevelt gave at Osawatomie, Kansas, on August 31, 1910, he outlined his views on conservation of the lands of the United States. He favored using America's natural resources, but opposed wasteful consumption. One of his most lasting legacies was his significant role in the creation of 5 national parks, 18 national monuments, and 150 National Forests, among other works of conservation. Roosevelt was instrumental in conserving about 230 million acres (930,000 km2) of American soil among various parks and other federal projects.
In the Eighth Annual Message to Congress (1908), Roosevelt mentioned the need for federal government to regulate interstate corporations using the Interstate Commerce Clause, also mentioning how these corporations fought federal control by appealing to states' rights.
So here’s a tip of the hat to you, Teddy! Regardless of your human failings, you busted “too large to fail” corporations, regulated interstate corporations and their special interests, fought for union rights, gave us the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act, promoted children’s hygiene, banned school segregation of the Japanese in our country, and gave us national parks and designated national forests and monuments. And you were the first American to win a Nobel Prize, the Nobel Peace Prize. Not bad for a guy who had no idea he’d be regarded as one of the greatest presidents the US has ever had.
“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checked by failure...than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”
© Copyright 2013 Robert Wilkinson