The New International Encyclopædia/Roosevelt, Theodore
ROOSEVELT, Theodore (1858—). The twenty-sixth President of the United States, born in New York City, October 27, 1858. He was educated at Harvard University, where he graduated in 1880, and afterwards attended the law school of Columbia University. He turned early to politics and was elected to the New York Assembly in 1881 as an opponent of the Tammany Hall machine. There, for more effective service, he allied himself with the Republican minority, although not a member of that party, and for three terms, 1882, -83, -84, was its leader. He was a delegate to the Republican National Convention of 1884 and in the same year removed to Medora, N. Dak., where he conducted a ranch for two years. As the Republican candidate for Mayor of New York in 1886, he opposed Henry George, Single-Taxer, and Abram S. Hewitt, Democrat, the successful candidate. From 1889 to 1895 he was a member of the United States Civil Service Commission, being appointed by President Harrison and retained by President Cleveland. In the latter year he became president of the Police Board in New York City and served for two years, attaining wide prominence by the energetic methods employed by him to eradicate evils existing in the system. President McKinley called him to national service in 1897, as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and as such his work was of signal value in hurrying the navy to readiness for the war with Spain. In his desire for field service in the war he resigned from the department in April, 1898, and was active in organizing the First United States Volunteer Cavalry, popularly known as ‘Roosevelt's Rough Riders.’ He was first lieutenant-colonel and afterward colonel, being promoted for gallantry in the action at Las Guasimas, Cuba.
When his command was mustered out of the military service in the summer of 1898, Colonel Roosevelt returned to private life just in time to begin an active itinerant campaign as the Republican nominee for Governor of New York, which resulted in his election over Augustus Van Wyck, the Democratic candidate, by a plurality of 18,079. His first important act as Governor was to investigate the State canal system, concerning which there had been much talk of fraud in the preceding administration. The agitation of this question continued throughout his term, the net result being the appropriation by an unsympathetic Legislature of $200,000 for a new survey and an accurate estimate of the proposed improvements. Other conspicuous acts of the Governor were in connection with the enactment of the Ford Franchise Law, providing for the taxation of corporation franchises, whereby he incurred the enmity of some of the largest corporate interests; the extension of the civil service system to include many offices hitherto under the control of political influence; and the passage of the Davis Law fixing the minimum annual salary of school-teachers at $600, and providing for proportionate advances for length of service. With the approach of the State and national conventions of 1900, the position of Governor Roosevelt in the Republican Party grew both interesting and involved. He had become a leading personality in the party, although hostile to some sections of it and dangerous to others, and was known to be ambitious. Against his expressed desire for a second term as Governor, in which to complete the reforms barely begun, he was nominated for Vice-President on the ticket with President McKinley, and was elected in November of the same year. On September 14, 1901, at the death of McKinley, Roosevelt became his successor. Shrewd political commentators had construed the nomination of Roosevelt for Vice-President as an intrigue of party leaders to insure his political extinction in that inconspicuous office. If such a plan existed, chance frustrated it by the death of President McKinley.
President Roosevelt conducted his administration as a continuation of McKinley's, of whose principles he was the avowed conservator. The plans for trust and tariff legislation were adhered to, particularly in reference to reciprocity treaties with other countries. The Philippine policy was maintained and a partially autonomous government was provided for the islands. Also, the construction of an Isthmian canal was authorized, and the connection of the Philippine Islands with the United States was accomplished by means of a submarine cable. All this was a heritage of the McKinley administration. Legislation identified more distinctively with Roosevelt himself dealt with the revision of the country's financial system, the increase of the navy as the best means of preserving peaceful relations between this and other powers, and the establishment of a permanent Census Bureau and of a Department of Commerce and Labor, whose Secretary is a member of the Cabinet. Of the personal side of his administration two instances are sufficiently characteristic — his action in the anthracite coal strike of 1902 and his treatment of the negro question. His calling together of representatives of both parties in the anthracite trouble and causing them to agree to the appointment of an arbitration commission was an act without precedent in the history of his office and was performed in the public behalf, to remedy a ‘national evil.’ The appointment of a negro, Dr. Crum, to be collector of the port of Charleston, S. C., and the selection of negroes for some minor offices aroused indignant protest from the South and other parts of the country, despite which the President preserved a steadfast position — that in the question of fitness for an office color did not have a part. During his administration President Roosevelt was the most active and conspicuous figure in American public life. To his fearlessness of action and speech, and his independence of counsel, as shown by many of his official appointments, may be ascribed the continuous apprehension with which the leaders of his party viewed him, but for these same qualities the generality of the people gave him unstinted praise.
In addition to his political prominence Mr. Roosevelt is the author of the following works: The Naval War of 1812 (1882); Life of Thomas Hart Benton (1887) and Life of Gouverneur Morris (1888) in the “American Statesmen” series; Ranch Life and Hunting Trail (1888); History of New York City (1891), in the “Historic Towns” series; The Winning of the West (4 vols., 1889-96); Essays on Practical Politics (1892); The Wilderness Hunter (1893); American Political Ideals (1897); The Rough Riders (1899); Life of Oliver Cromwell (1900); The Strenuous Life (1900); and, in collaboration with others, The Deer (1902).