Theodore Roosevelt: Progressivism and the Bully Pulpit “bully pulpit

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Theodore Roosevelt: Progressivism and the Bully Pulpit
bully pulpit”: According to the Oxford English Dictionary, bully pulpit means "a public office or position of authority that provides its occupant with an outstanding opportunity to speak out on any issue." It was first used by TR, explaining his view of the presidency, in this quotation -- "I suppose my critics will call that preaching, but I have got such a bully pulpit!" The word bully itself was an adjective of the time meaning "first- rate," somewhat like our use of the word "awesome." The term "bully pulpit" is still used today to describe the president's power to influence the public.
Excerpt: Teddy Roosevelt “Crooked Politics & Crooked Business” 1912
“Some of them may, individually, prefer Mr. Wilson to Mr. Taft and others may prefer Mr. Taft to Mr. Wilson. But the preference for either is tepid, compared to their intensity of their animosity towards us. And their willingness to stand by either of the other two candidates, or by anyone else, if only they can beat the Progressive party. The reason is evident, these men - the big bodies of the political deal, the beneficiaries of privilege in the field of industry, the men who represent that sinister alliance between crooked politics and crooked business, which has done more than anything else for the corruption of American life -are united as one man against the genuine rule of the people themselves.”




1.    Who are the “them” President Roosevelt is referring to in this speech excerpt? How do you know?


2.    To what does President Roosevelt feel these men pose a threat?


3.    By way of inference, if these men stand for all of the things President Roosevelt says they stand for, then what does the Progressive party stand for?

One sees his finish unless good government retakes the ship” by C. Gordon Moffat, The Verdict, 5/22/1899


5.    How is this political cartoon in accordance with President Roosevelt’s speech?
6.    In what way does the cartoon’s title represent Progressive Era ideals?

Roosevelt & the Progressives: America Seeks Reforms in the early 20th century

What was the connection between the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era?

What were the goals of Progressive reformers? How was this different than reforms of the Gilded Age?

How did Roosevelt embody the Progressive movement?
Origins of Progressivism

As America entered the 20th century, ___________________________ reformers at the municipal, state, and national levels addressed the problems of the _____________________________, including:





Four Goals of Progressive Reformers

  1. Protect social __________________

  2. Promote ________________ development

  3. Secure economic ____________________

  4. Foster efficiency

President Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919)

Born into an elite New York family; had some physical limitations, pushed himself through with a love of exercise and the outdoors

By 1890, back in ________________________ politics and elected to the Senate and eventually runs Department ____________________________

  • Roosevelt captured national attention by _______________________________ with ____________ in 1898 over Cuba’s right to self-determination

    • His volunteer cavalry brigade, the “_____________________________,” won public acclaim for its role in the Battle of ___________________________________ in Cuba.

    • Roosevelt returned a hero, and was elected NY governor and later, McKinley’s vice-president.

Roosevelt’s Modern Presidency

President McKinley was assassinated just months into his second term in September, 1901

Assassinated by an anarchist at the Buffalo Exposition who was angry over being refused a patronage position by NY party members.
Theodore Roosevelt became the nation’s 26th president and the youngest president at age 42

  • He quickly established himself as a modern president who could influence the ________________ and shape legislation

    • Use of the “______________________” to get his agenda passed

    • “stump” speeches (including one in which he is shot)

    • Using the new _______________________________ to showcase his actions and the work of the government

The “Square Deal”

While McKinley was pro-business, Roosevelt came into office with a strong anti-corruption agenda called ____________________________________________, outlined in a later speech.

Goal: eliminate political machines’ influence and big business trusts (the “______________________”)

  • Success in using Sherman ___________________ Act against monopolies; restricts business

    • Reforms greatly influenced economic, environmental, and international affairs

Roosevelt’s platform became known as the “__________________________” because he vowed not to favor any group of Americans but to be fair to all.

  • Roosevelt defended the right of labor to organize, and avoided use of federal troops to put down strikes.

    • In 1902, he intervened in a United Mine Workers Strike and got miners a wage increase and shortened workday

Roosevelt restricted the power of big business by breaking up monopolies and trusts

    • Northern Securities Co. v. United States (1904)

    • Court ruled against the stockholders of the Great Northern and Northern Pacific railroad companies, who had essentially formed a monopoly, and dissolved Northern Securities Company

After reelection in 1904, Roosevelt negotiated the passage of the _____________________________ which gave the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), a previously weak agency, to set maximum railroad rates and inspect railroad companies’ financial records.

By 1900, trusts – legal bodies created to hold stock in many companies – controlled 80% of U.S. industries.

  • Roosevelt filed 44 antitrust suits under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act

Raking the “muck”

The term muckraker was coined by TR in his 1906 speech, “The Man With the Muck Rake”

  • One of the most famous Progressive era muckrakers was ­­­­­­­­___________________________, who caused a sensation with her "History of the Standard Oil Company," an account of how Rockefeller ruthlessly crushed his competition to become the first American billionaire.

Muckrakers’ exposés, such as Upton Sinclair’s ____________________, highlighted the unsanitary conditions in food plants and dangerous ingredients in foods and medicines

  • Disgusted by what he read, in 1906 Roosevelt endorsed the _________________________ and ____________________ Act and the ________________________________Act

  • The first act prohibited the sale of adulterated or inaccurately labeled foods and medicines, and the second established federal regulations for meatpackers and a system of inspection (later, the USDA).

Roosevelt and the Environment

Early 20th century rise in environmental concerns led to conservation and protection movement by ___________________________________

  • Preservationists were often in direct opposition to __________________________________, who saw the environment as unlimited resources and development sites

Roosevelt was at heart a preservationist, but saw a need for compromise through his conservation program, which provided for the regulated use of the nation’s wilderness

    • 200 million acres as national forests, mineral reserves, and potential waterpower sites

    • Creation of _______________________________ and _________________________

    • Creation of the National Conservation Commission in 1908 to inventory the nation’s resources and efficiently manage their use

Roosevelt and Civil Rights

Roosevelt failed to support legislation or actions for ongoing Civil Rights for African Americans

  • Booker T. Washington founded the ____________________________________ to provide a technical education for African Americans

  • _____________________________________________, head of Tuskegee's agriculture department, helped end the failing cotton industry in the South by convincing farmers to plant peanuts, soybeans and sweet potatoes to save the soil

    • Allowed black farmers to get new sources of income, food

  • In 1909 black and white reformers, including ______________________________ created the formed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (__________________)

Limits of Progressivism

Progressive era was responsible for many important reforms, but failed to make gains for African Americans

    • Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) Court allows “separate but equal facilities”

The KKK, which formed during Reconstruction, grew to almost 4.5 million members by 1924

    • D.W. Griffiths' silent film Birth of a Nation (1915) glorified white supremacy and the Ku Klux Klan (premiered at the Wilson White House)

    • Massive parade in D.C.

  • Lynching nationwide

    • Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit”

  • Some, like ___________________________, advocated a “___________________________” movement, as they believed equality could never be reached

    • Openly criticized by other AA leaders, NAACP

Progressivism under President Taft

William Howard Taft was Roosevelt’s War Secretary, and was hand-selected by Roosevelt to be the next Republican president

  • Part of a powerful political family, his leanings were more toward law than politics (later becomes a Supreme Court justice)

Taft easily defeated Democrat William Jennings Bryan in 1908

  • Among his accomplishments, Taft “busted” 90 trusts during his four years in office – more than Theodore Roosevelt during his eight years in office.

During his administration:

  • Dissolved J.D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company monopoly, which controlled 91% of oil production in the country & undermined competition

  • Oversaw the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1913)

    • Authorized the income tax; a progressive rate where you pay more taxes as your income increases; aimed at curbing the wealth of a few for the betterment of the whole

  • Oversaw the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1913)

    • Direct election of national senators by the people; not by the state legislatures anymore; aimed at curbing the economic & political power by the social magnates.

However, Taft was not popular with the American public or reform-minded Republicans

    • Presidency was the “lonesomest job in the world.”

    • By 1910, Democrats had regained control of the House of Representatives

    • Roosevelt was not pleased with Taft’s inability to keep the party in line

The Ballinger-Pinchot Affair: Taft’s Secretary of the Interior Richard Ballinger was accused of shady dealings in Alaskan coal lands, leading to conflict over resource use and preservation created by Roosevelt’s chief forester, Gifford Pinchot. Roosevelt and Taft end their friendship, later culminating in a split in the Republican Party.

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