University of Oklahoma
American Presidents Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson faced many challenges in their terms. At the turn of the 20th century, America was on the brink of war, faced many business reforms on the home-front as the country became more industrialized, and were falling behind in the global race for power. As we review A People and a Nation, Volume II: Since 1865, we’ll see each president’s individual challenges, policies, and personalities. We’ll also compare and contrast the ways they dealt with world events and overcame (or fell victim to) the challenges brought before their administrations.
Roosevelt vs. Wilson: A Discussion on Policies
President Roosevelt and President Wilson were two of America’s great presidents. They both had strong views and beliefs on how the nation should continue to grow and evolve. They had differing views on war and what America’s role should be on the global stage and they had different views on how the country should expand, but they were both progressive and shared aspirations of being great leaders in America’s imperialistic change. A review of each of their foreign and domestic policies as well as the challenges each of their administrations faced show their similarities and differences and how each influenced change in our country.
Theodore Roosevelt was leading our nation at the beginning of an expansion into a greater global power. In the early 1900’s, America had secured land in the Pacific and had eyes on Latin soil. According to Norton, Roosevelt “had a fascination with power and its uses.” (p. 580). In the time leading up to his presidency, he played a key role in projecting U.S. policy abroad and believed that the U.S. would have to ally with other nations if America was ever to become a viable world power. He had a strong interest in Latin America and his Roosevelt Corollary pronounced that Latin America (Venezuela in particular) needed to square up its debts with Europe or the United States would have to mediate the matter and become “an international police power” (Norton, 2015). Roosevelt was a strong proponent of the “Open Door” and built a “Great White Navy” that projected America’s prestige abroad. His presence wasn’t only required on the foreign stage though. At the turn of the century, America was facing a lot of domestic change.
On the home-front, Roosevelt was faced with immigration reform, growing industrialization, and big businesses that were dominating the workforce with little to no governance. Roosevelt appeared to have mixed views when it came to race. He believed that African-Americans were an inferior race, but he invited Booker T. Washington to dine with him. He expressed the same racial views against Asian-Americans as most Anglo-Americans of his time, but he forced the San Francisco school board to rescind a segregation order imposed on Chinese, Korean, and Japanese students. In the business world, Roosevelt believed that big corporations should not go ungoverned and that it was the responsibility of the government to protect the workforce. As a result of his passion for the people, the Hepburn Act was passed which brought stricter regulations on the railroads. President Roosevelt’s successes both foreign and domestic laid a political foundation for Woodrow Wilson to continue the imperialistic march.
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