Theodore Roosevelt and The Modern Presidency. 1901 President McKinley assassinated
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“I told William McKinley that it was a mistake to nominate that wild man at Philadelphia, I asked him if he realized what would happen if he should die. Now look, that damned cowboy is President of the United States!” – Mark Hanna
Believed that the government should be a mediator of the public good, with the president at its center, he also believed that economic concentration had resulted in a consolidation of power that produced dangerous abuses of power, urged regulation (but not destruction) of the trusts
Roosevelt wanted the government to have the power to investigate the activities of the corporations and publicize the results, believing that educated public opinion would eliminate most of the corporate abuses
In 1902 Roosevelt ordered the Justice Department to invoke the Sherman Anti-Trust Act against the Northern Securities Company, which was a $400 million railroad monopoly in the Northwest led by JP Morgan, EH Harriman, and James J. Hill.
Federal arbitration, the mine operators resisted and Roosevelt threatened to seize the mines, in arbitration the miners got a 10% wage increase and a 9 hour work day, more then the union would’ve got without Roosevelt’s help, but Roosevelt also on several occasions sent in federal troops on the behalf of the employers, Roosevelt’s “Square Deal”
During Roosevelt’s first term he was principally concerned with winning re-election, so could not afford to antagonize the conservative Republican Old Guard, he dispensed patronage to conservatives and progressives equally, he won the support of northern businessmen and reformers alike.
In the election of 1904 Roosevelt faced conservative Democrat Alton B. Parker and won 57% of the popular vote and lost no state outside of the South, was free to display the extent of his commitment to reform in his second term
The Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 established the Interstate Commerce Commission, which was an early effort to regulate the railroad industry but it was weakened by the courts, Roosevelt got the Hepburn.
Starting in 1907 Roosevelt began pushing for more stringent reforms such as an 8-hour work day, compensation for victims of industrial accidents, an inheritance and income tax, and regulation of the stock market.
Roosevelt also began to openly criticize conservatives in Congress and the judiciary who were obstructing these programs, this resulted in a widening gap between the president and conservative wing of his party
Roosevelt was concerned about the unregulated exploitation of America’s natural resources and its remaining wilderness, using his executive powers Roosevelt restricted private development on millions of acres of undeveloped land, mostly in the West, by adding them to the National Forest system
Conservatives in Congress passed a law in 1907 restricting Roosevelt’s authority over public land, Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot (chief forester) worked to seize all the forests and many of the waterpower sites that were still in the public domain before the bill became law
The National Reclamation Act (Newlands Act) provided federal funds for the construction of dams, reservoirs and canals in the West - projects that would open new lands for cultivation and provide cheap electric power this was the beginning of many years of critical federal aid for irrigation and power development in the West
George Perkins wrote Man and Nature in which he said the most important consequence of losing forests was the forest’s role in stabilizing the natural environment, received wide attention and became the basis for the National Forest Service
Roosevelt championed the expansion of the National Forest System as a way to protect the landscape for continued rational lumbering, but he also greatly expanded the National Park System to protect public land from any exploitation or development at all
First national park was Yellowstone in Wyoming (1872), followed by Yosemite and Sequoia in California and Mount Rainer in Washington (1890’s), Roosevelt added Crater Lake (OR), Mesa Verde (UT), Platt (OK), Wind Cave (SD)
Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite was a spectacular high walled valley highly popular with conservationists, but San Francisco residents wanted to dam it in order to create reservoir for the city, after the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 and the resulting fire, the public outcry for the dam increased.
Opposed by Muir and the Sierra Club, the case was turned over to Pinchot who approved construction of the dam, Pinchot who believed in the rational use of nature was not swayed by Muir’s aesthetic and spiritual arguments
Muir helped place a referendum on the issue on the ballot in 1908, but dam was approved by huge margins, the construction of the dam would finally begin after WWI, the fight against the Hetch Hetchy dam helped mobilize a new coalition of people committed to preservation, not the "rational use" of wilderness
Panic of 1907 – American industrial production outran the ability of either domestic or foreign markets to absorb it, the banking system and the stock market displayed pathetic inadequacies, and irresponsible speculation and rampant financial mismanagement shattered the prosperity that many thought was permanent
The conservatives blamed Roosevelt's "mad" economic policies, he disagreed but did not interfere with their recovery efforts, JP Morgan helped create a pool of assets from several important New York banks to prop up shaky financial institutions.
The key to this arrangement was the purchase of the shares of Tennessee Coal and Iron Company which were held by a threatened New York bank, US Steel would buy the shares but needed assurances from Roosevelt that he would not face antitrust action, Roosevelt agreed and the Panic soon subsided
Roosevelt made a promise in 1904 that he would not seek a third term, so after 8 years in the White House in which he had transformed the role of the presidency in American government, Roosevelt retired from public life at the age of 50
William Howard Taft was Roosevelt's handpicked successor, seemed acceptable to both progressives and conservatives, easily defeated William Jennings Bryan in the 1908 election, however, 4 years later Taft left office as the most decisively defeated president of the 20th Century, his party deeply divided, and with the Democrats in control of the government for the first time in 20 years
Taft called Congress into special session to lower protective tariff rates, but Taft made no attempt to overcome the opposition of Old Guard Republicans arguing that it would violate doctrine of separation of powers, the result was the Payne-Aldrich Tariff which reduced tariff rates scarcely at all, and in some areas raised them, progressives resented Taft’s passivity
Taft replaced Roosevelt's secretary of interior, James R. Garfield an ardent conservationist, with a the conservative Richard A. Ballinger, a conservative corporate lawyer, Ballinger attempted to invalidate Roosevelt's removal of 1 million acres of forests and mineral reserves from the public lands available for private development
Louis Glavis, an Interior Department investigator, charged Ballinger with having connived to turn over valuable public coal lands in Alaska to a private syndicate for personal profit, Glavis took the evidence to Pinchot and Pinchot took the investigation to Taft.
Roosevelt's “New Nationalism” made it clear he had moved away from the cautious conservatism of the first years of his presidency, argued that social justice was possible only through vigorous efforts of strong federal government whose executive acted as the “steward of the public welfare”, those who thought primarily of property rights and personal profit “must now give way to the advocate of human welfare”
Roosevelt supported graduated income and inheritance taxes, workers' compensation for industrial accidents, regulation of the labor of women and children, tariff revision, firmer regulation of corporations
In the Congressional elections of 1910, conservative Republicans went down to defeat while progressive Republican incumbents were reelected, Democrats ran progressive candidates of their own and gained control of the House of Representatives for the first time in 16 years, reform sentiment was on the rise
In 1911 the Taft administration announced a suit that charged US Steel with antitrust violations in the 1907 acquisition of the Tennessee Coal and Iron Company, Roosevelt was enraged by the implication that he had acted improperly
In 1912 Senator La Follette, who had been campaigning for president himself, suffered a nervous breakdown (exhausted and distraught over his daughter’s illness) Roosevelt announced his candidacy for president on February 22, 1912
The campaign for the Republican nomination was battle between Roosevelt (progressives) and Taft (conservatives) but Taft remained the choice of most party leaders who controlled the nominating process, Roosevelt told the convention “We stand at Armageddon and we battle for the Lord”, the Republican convention nominated Taft
Roosevelt launched the new Progressive Party and nominated himself as the presidential candidate, Roosevelt approached the campaign "fit as a bull moose", but many of the insurgents who had supported him during the primaries refused to follow him out of the Republican party
Wilson concentrated the powers of the executive branch in his own hands, he exerted firm control over his cabinet, and delegated real authority to those whose loyalty to him was beyond question, Colonel Edward M. House was Wilson’s most powerful advisor even though he held no official position in the executive branch
Wilson called Congress into special session in order to pass the Underwood- Simmons Tariff, which substantially lowered the protective tariff in order to allow real competition into American markets and break the power of the trusts.
Congress approved a graduated income tax (under the 16th Amendment) to make up for lost revenue from the tariff, this first modern income tax imposed a 1% tax on individuals and corporations earning over $4,000 up to a maximum of 6% on incomes of over $500,000
The Federal Reserve Act (1913) created twelve regional banks, each to be owned and controlled by the individual banks of its district, these regional banks would hold a certain percentage of the assets of their member banks in reserve.
The system would use those reserves to support loans to private banks at an interest rate that the Federal Reserve Board would set, they would also issue a new type of currency, Federal Reserve Notes, which would become the nations basic medium of trade and backed by the government.
The Federal Trade Commission created a regulatory agency that would help businesses determine in advance whether their actions would be acceptable to the government, the agency would also have authority to launch prosecutions against "unfair trade practices", it would also have the power to investigate corporate behavior
By the fall of 1914, Wilson believed that agitation for reform would slowly subside, he refused to support movement for women's suffrage, condoned the reimposition of segregation in the agencies of the federal government (southern Democrats), he dismissed progressive proposals for additional reform legislation as unconstitutional or unnecessary
Wilson sponsored measures that expanded the role of the national government, he supported the Keating-Owen Act (1916) which was the first federal law regulating child labor, it prohibited the shipment of goods produced by underage children across state lines, the Supreme Court struck down the Keating-Owen Act in 1918
Japan staged a surprise attack on the Russian fleet at Port Arthur in southern Manchuria (China), Roosevelt agreed to mediate an end to the conflict, at the peace conference in Portsmouth, New Hampshire Roosevelt extracted from the Russians a recognition of Japan's territorial gains, and from Japan an agreement to cease fighting and expansion
He also negotiated a secret agreement with the Japanese to ensure that the US could continue to trade freely in the region, Roosevelt won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906 for his work in ending the Russo-Japanese War
Japan destroyed the Russian fleet at Port Arthur and began to emerge as the preeminent naval power in the Pacific, the Japanese began to exclude American trade from many of the territories that it controlled.
In 1902, the naval forces of Britain, Italy and Germany blockaded Venezuela's coast in response to Venezuela's reneging on debts owed to European countries, German ships began to bombard a Venezuelan port amid rumors that Germany planned to establish a permanent base in the region, Roosevelt used the threat of American naval power to pressure German navy to withdraw
Roosevelt Corollary (1904) to the Monroe doctrine, the US had the right not only to oppose European intervention in the Western Hemisphere, but to intervene itself in the domestic affairs of its neighbors if they proved unable to maintain order and national sovereignty on their own
In 1903 the Dominican Republic went bankrupt, it owed $22 million to European nations, Roosevelt gained control of Dominican customs and distributed 45% of the revenues to Dominicans and the rest to foreign creditors
Roosevelt sent John Hay, his Secretary of State, to negotiate an agreement with Colombian diplomats, Tomas Herren signed an agreement giving US perpetual rights to six-mile wide "canal zone" across Colombia in return for $10 million and an annual rent of $250,000
Phillippe Bunau-Varilla was the chief engineer of the French canal project, he helped organize and finance a revolution in Panama, Roosevelt landed troops from the U.S.S Nashville to “maintain order” and their presence prevented Colombian forced from suppressing the rebellion.
Dollar Diplomacy – Taft's Secretary of State Philander C. Knox worked aggressively to extend American investments into less-developed regions, Americans intervene in Nicaragua (1909) and then made substantial loans to the new government thus increasing the US financial leverage over the country, two years later a revolution broke out again and US troops remained in Nicaragua for over a decade
1916: Americans established a military government in Dominican Republic after Dominicans refused to accept a treaty that would have made the country a virtual American protectorate Wilson bought the Danish West Indies from the Dutch (fearful that the Germans were about to acquire them) and renamed them the Virgin Islands
Under Porfirio Diaz, the corrupt dictator of Mexico, American businesses had been establishing an enormous economic presence in Mexico, in 1910, Diaz was overthrown by Francisco Madero who promised democratic reform and seemed hostile to American businesses in Mexico.
The US encouraged Victoriano Huerta to depose Madero and the Taft administration was ready to recognize the new Huerta regime and welcome back a receptive environment for American investments in Mexico.
The new government murdered Madero and Wilson announced he would never recognize Huerta's government of butchers, in 1913, Huerta, with the help of American business interests, established a full military dictatorship in Mexico
In April 1914, an officer in Huerta’s army temporarily arrested several American sailors from the U.S.S Dolphin who had gone ashore in Tampico, the men were immediately released but the American admiral was not satisfied with the apology he received demanded that the Huerta forces fire a 21 gun salute to the American flag as display of public penance, the Mexicans refused
The Carranza faction captured Mexico City, but refused to accept American guidelines for the creation of a new government, Wilson considered throwing American support to Pancho Villa but his military position deteriorated and Wilson abandoned him.
Pancho Villa retaliated by taking 16 American mining engineers off a train in northern Mexico and shooting them, 3 months later Pancho Villa led his soldiers across the border into Columbus, New Mexico where he killed 17 more Americans
Wilson ordered General John J. Pershing to lead an American expeditionary force across the Mexican border in pursuit of Pancho Villa, they never captured him but did get into conflicts with the Mexican army in which 40 Mexicans were killed and 12 Americans were killed.