Ryan Walsh Hon. U.S. History 2 The Social Impact of Theodore Roosevelt In the post-Gilded Age, America needed a strong President to carry out and embellish upon the social reform and dismantle the corruption left by trusts. Taking over for the late President McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt was the upper-class proponent of the people willing to wage the crusade against big business with a boyish vigor to be admired by the entire world. His campaign for the layperson to “avoid the extremes of swollen fortunes and grinding poverty” is one of Herculean proportions to be remembered for all history. To understand the political beliefs of Teddy Roosevelt, one must understand the man behind the peoples champion.
Although wealthy in his youth, young Theodore quickly learned the value of hard work due to his frail body and failing eyesight; this value echoed in his every word and bled into every bill he signed. TR worked tremendously to maintain a healthy body and became quite skilled in many areas of sport, and built a titanic zest for life, which he carried through his presidency. Without adversity, Roosevelts romance with the raw wilderness and his sense of debt to the common person could never have been constructed. Beginning with his role in the Rough Riders, Theodore was a romantic and dynamic American hero for the new era. As President, TR was clever in bringing about his reform and fearless of his antagonists; for Roosevelt felt a president should lead and fight the good fight for the greater good. In May1902, he showed his political clout by arbitrating the coal dispute.
TR backed the miners insisting that nobody owned them and by using the pressure of lose, TR composed a “square deal” for the miners and shook the age of Big Business by proving federal intervention was possible for the common man. When written, The Sherman Anti-trust Act was fruitless but in the inventive forges of Roosevelts mind it evolved into a modern Excalibur. Roosevelt used his new blade to dismember “bad” trusts; such were the circumstances of the Northern Securities case. Roosevelt used the case to prove his skill in public relations, show the nation the power of his “sword”, and prove to the nation and big business the power of the federal government. In 1904, the Supreme Court ordered the trust to dissolve. The re-energized Roosevelt campaigned against other “bad” trusts- the beef trust, the oil trust, and the tobacco trust.
Roosevelt went on to complete more general reform and “prove that a free society was not powerless against large corporations”. In a time stirred by muckrakers, Roosevelt made strides to improve the social standards of his nation, especially in 1906. On the coat tails of Sinclairs “The Jungle”, TR pushed the Meat Inspection Act that granted federal officials the right to inspect all meat and its source. A Pure Food and Drug Act, forbidding the sale of impure food, drug or alcohol almost immediately followed the Meat Inspection Act. Roosevelts 1906 hat trick was capped by The Employers Liability Act, which provided accident insurance for workers and catapulted TR to almost mythic proportions as the peoples advocate.
Roosevelts years in the Oval Office mirrored the man himself, outspoken and a triumph for the American soul and people. He brought creeds and values back to the American experience and helped set the destiny of a great nation back on the tracks laid by its for fathers. In a period of history preceded by extreme rape of capitalism, TR was the fierce republican with the grit and utter courage to pull the sword from the mighty stone of corruption and bring it down upon the big businesses defiling the American principles.