The 26th President of the United States of America, Theodore Roosevelt, was sworn in as the President after the assassination of William McKinley. Known for this dynamic personality, Roosevelt heralded the 'Progressive Party' and the 'Republican Party'. Before his presidency, he was the Governor of New York. He became the icon of the Square Deal, the cornerstones of which were conservation, regulation of business monopolies, enforcing the anti-trust act and the support of progressive ideas. His reforming ideology won him the title of being one of the most able presidents of the progressive era.
He was known as the 'trust buster', as he promoted the breaking down of trusts to help the public at large. Trusts were business entities incorporated with an intent to monopolize and cheat the citizens. The trusts achieved this motive by fixing unreasonable prices and restraining trade. These trusts were dominating the non-manufacturing sectors like railways, local transit and banking sectors. The Attorney General directed by Roosevelt filed 44 suits against monopolies. The noted trusts to be booked were, J. P. Morgan's Northern Securities Company and J. D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company. Northern Securities Company was a railroad trust formed in 1902 by E. H. Harriman, James J. Hill, J. P. Morgan, J. D. Rockefeller and others. The company was sued by Theodore Roosevelt under the Sherman Antitrust Act, 1890. The Standard Oil Company was the single largest oil producing, manufacturing and marketing Ohio corporation, which too succumbed under the devious act of monopolizing.
His high point was when he averted the national emergency in 1902. The united mine workers of America, working in the anthracite coal fields threatened to stop the supply of winter fuel to the big cities in America. Roosevelt set up a fact-finding committee to investigate into the matter. With a lot of negotiation and compromises, the strike was averted, as the miners received heavy pays and had to work for only a few hours. The owners too got a higher price for the supply of coal. For the first time ever in the history of America, his presidency intervened to solve the labor problems.
In 1906, the progressive President coaxed the Congress to pass the 'Pure Food and Drug Act' and the 'Meat Inspection Act'. These acts were passed in response to the public outrage against the crude system of packaging meat prevailing in the market. The law provided for mandatory checks on the meat-packing units, maintaining their sanitation and inspection of livestock.
Theodore Roosevelt was a historian, explorer, naturalist, hunter and an author. A man of many traits, he was above all a conservationist. Thus conservation became a national agenda during his presidency. He was highly motivated to save natural resources. He established five national parks and set up the United States Forest Service. In 1906, Roosevelt signed the 'Antiquities Act' which saw the rise of 18 new National Museums in the US. He also created 51 bird sanctuaries, 150 national forests, four game reserves. In 1908, he addressed the conference of Governors with the opening line "Conservation is a national duty."
He was a staunch opponent of racism. In fact, he was the first President to invite an African-American, Booker T Washington, for dinner at the White House on 16th October, 1901. He was a strong believer in anti-Semitism and was the first President to appoint a Jew, Oscar S. Straus, to his cabinet. He openly condemned racism and wrote fondly to his 'buffalo soldiers'. He had a workforce of Afro-American personnel in his administration.
The last two years of this presidency, from 1907 to 1908, Theodore Roosevelt became wary of big business houses due to their scandalous stories. He pushed the Congress to pass the 'Square Deal' so as to bring the economy to an order. His lambasting of business entities become popular in the Midwest, Pacific Coast and among the working class. He campaigned on similar lines in 1912.
While he held the office, he built the American Navy to ease the tensions between Japan and America. He always held that America would be attacked from the Pacific Coast. The fleet came to be known as the Great White Fleet. Theodore was lucky to witness the return of Great White Fleet in 1909 just before he left office. Some of the Navy warships have been named after Roosevelt as an ode to his vision.
The progressive era, which Roosevelt was a part of, was characterized by expertise, the use of science, engineering and technology, new social sciences, identification of inefficiency and promotion of modernization. For this moralistic approach and progressive attitude, he became the first spokesperson of progressivism in America. His presidency came to a halt when he was succeeded by William Jennings Bryan. Roosevelt retired from the position but remained active in politics till his death.