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THEODORE ROOSEVELT

-By Ryan Chace


“I am mighty glad you like what I have been doing in the
governmental field. I do not have to tell you that my great hero is
Abraham Lincoln, and I have wanted while President to be the
representative of the "plain people" in the sense that he was - not, of
course, with the genius and power that he was, but according to my
lights, along the same lines.”

-Theodore Roosevelt
Explanation
◦ At the time of his presidency, Roosevelt wrestled with newfound problems that faced his great nation,
particularly: the rich getting exorbitantly richer and the middle class and poor stagnating or getting poorer,
among many others
◦ To combat these issues, Roosevelt had to master the art of American power
◦ To master this art he looked for inspiration from his heroes – people like George Washington, Alexander
Hamilton, and Abraham Lincoln
◦ What these leaders shared was the conviction that American prosperity and security depended on a muscular,
problem-solving federal government led by the president
◦ Roosevelt shared these convictions – his core political philosophy being: “While I am a Jeffersonian in my
genuine faith in democracy and popular government, I am a Hamiltonian in my government views, especially
with . . . The need of the exercise of broad powers by the National Government.”
“I HAVE USED EVERY OUNCE OF POWER
THERE WAS IN THE OFFICE AND HAVE NOT
CARED A RAP FOR THE CRITICISM OF THOSE
WHO SPOKE OF MY ‘USURPATION OF POWER’ . .
. I BELIEVE IN A STRONG EXECUTIVE; BUT I
BELIEVE THAT RESPONSIBILITY SHOULD GO
WITH POWER AND THAT IT IS NOT WELL THAT
THE STRONG EXECUTIVE SHOULD BE A
PERPETUAL EXECUTIVE.”
-THEODORE ROOSEVELT
An American Hero
◦ Roosevelt also viewed the presidency as more than the policymaker in chief – he felt that as president his
duty was to epitomize and inspire the nation
◦ “Most of these people habitually led rather grey lives, and they came to see the President” for “something to
talk over and remember and tell their children . . . I think that besides mere curiosity there was a . . . Feeling
that the President was their man and symbolized their government, and that . . . He embodied their
aspirations and best thought.” – Theodore Roosevelt
◦ He recognized that his political power was partly grounded in his ability to personify a type of American
hero: “The chief service I can render these plain people who believe in me is not to destroy their ideal of
me.”
His “Bully Pulpit”
◦ Additionally, Roosevelt thought of his position as America’s teacher in chief. In that respect he wielded what
he called his “bully pulpit” to educate the public on vital issues and inspire them to devote themselves to civic
duties
◦ The foundation to the success of his foreign policy was his ability to enlist the public’s support by educating
them of its necessity
◦ He explained: “This people of ours simply does not understand how things are outside our own boundaries;
of course I do not desire to act unless I can get the bulk of our people to understand the situation and to
back up the action; and to do that I have got to get the facts vividly before them.”
Works Cited
◦ “President Theodore Roosevelt Letter on His ‘Hero’ Abraham Lincoln: Shapell Manuscript Foundation.”
Shapell, www.shapell.org/manuscript/president-theodore-roosevelt-on-abraham-lincoln/.
◦ Nester, William R. Theodore Roosevelt and the Art of American Power: an American for All Time. Lexington Books,
2019, pp. 8-14.