Election of 1904
The Republicans nominated Roosevelt for President at their 1904 national convention. They chose Senator Charles W. Fairbanks of Indiana for Vice President. The Democrats nominated Judge Alton B. Parker of the New York Supreme Court for President and Henry G. Davis of West Virginia for Vice President.
During the election campaign, Roosevelt called on the voters to support his “square deal” policies. Parker appealed for an end to what he called “rule of individual caprice” and “usurpation of authority” by the President. Roosevelt won the election by more than 2 ½ million popular votes. No earlier President had won by so large a margin.
Roosevelt’s second Administration (1905-1909)
Roosevelt believed that laws were badly needed to control the nation’s railroads. The Elkins Act of 1903 had prohibited railroads from making rebates or returning sums of money, to practices, which of ten put rival shippers out of business. Roosevelt demanded legislation to curb the abuses. In 1906, Congress passed the Hepburn Rate Act despite Conservative Opposition. The act didn’t end the rebates, but it was a step in that direction.
The food and drug industries were also affected by reforms. In 1906, Roosevelt read Upton Sinclair’s new novel the Jungle. It described unsanitary conditions in the meat-packing industry. Roosevelt ordered an investigation and received what he called a ‘sickening report”.
He threatened to publish the report if Congress didn’t correct the situation. That same year, Congress passed the meat Inspection Act and the Food and Drugs Act. In 1907, the stock market slumped.
A financial panic spread throughout the county. The business community blamed Roosevelt and his progressive legislation. But most historians believe that speculation and inefficient business management caused the panic. Prosperity returned by 1909.
Friction with Japan
In 1905, Roosevelt helped end the Russia-Japanese War. He brought representatives of Russia and Japan together in Portsmouth, N.H. Then the President served as mediator in the peace talks that led to the Treaty of Portsmouth. In 1906, Roosevelt received the Nobel Peace Prize. He was the first American to win the Nobel Prize.
As the victors in the war, the Japanese demanded compensation payments from Russia. During the peace talks, “Roosevelt had opposed this demand. His attitude angered the Japanese and Japanese Americans in the United States. Their anger grew in 1906, when the San Francisco school board decided to segregate children of Japanese descent.
Relations between the United States and Japan became more strained. Roosevelt feared a Japanese attack on the Philippines. Many Americans thought war with Japan was near. But the President persuaded the San Francisco school board to end its segregation policy. He also negotiated a gentleman’s agreement with Japan to keep Japanese laborers out of the United States. In 1908, Japan and the United States signed the Root-Takahira Agreement. In this pact, the two nations promised bot to seek territorial gains in the Pacific, and to honor the Open-Door Policy in China.
In 1907, Roosevelt decided to display American naval power. He sent 16 new battleships on a good-will tour of the world. These ships became known as the Great White Fleet because they were painted white. The fleet received enthusiastic welcomes in Japan and other countries. Roosevelt viewed the tour as a part of “big stick” diplomacy.
European Power Balance
As maintained with Roosevelt’s help. In 1905, Germany demanded a share in the control of Morocco, which was dominated by France. Two alliances of nations one headed by Germany, the other by France and Great Britain came close to way. Roosevelt persuaded Germany to attend an international conference in Spain in 1906. At the conference, the United States sided with France and Britain, Germany backed down on its demand.
A party split developed among the Republicans as Roosevelt neared the end of his presidency. Conservative Republicans put up increased resistance to Roosevelt’s progressive policies. Roosevelt fought harder for “political, social, and industrial reforms”. But during his last year in office, he got little congressional action. His Republican opponents dared to resist him because they believed he would leave office in 1909.
Roosevelt had declared after his election in 1904 that he would “under no circumstances” run for President again. He decided to keep this pledge. He selected William Howard Taft, his Secretary of War, to succeed him.
At the Republican National Convention of 1908, he persuaded most of the delegates to support Taft for President. In this way, he assured Taft’s nomination. Taft won an easy election victory over the Democratic candidate William Jennings Bryan.
After leading the presidency in March 1909, Roosevelt sailed for Africa to hunt big game. Some conservative Congressmen wished “health to the lions”. But Roosevelt and his party brought down 296 big-game animals, including 9 lions. When Roosevelt arrived home in June 1910, he found himself the center of national attention. Progressive Republicans felt that Taft had betrayed them. They turned to Roosevelt.
Bull Moose Candidate
Roosevelt tried to bring together the progressive and conservative wings of the Republican Party. But he failed. He had become identified too closely with the progressives.
In 1910, while om speaking town of the West, Roosevelt proclaimed a policy of “New Nationalism”. This became the policy of the progressive Republicans. Roosevelt declared that the President must be the “steward of public welfare”. He frightened conservatives with his views in private property. He said that private property was “subject to the general right of the community to regulate it use to what ever degree the public welfare may require it”.
In 1912, Roosevelt gave in the pleas that he run for a third term as President. He said that his statement in 1904 had meant not running for a third consecutive term. Roosevelt won many victories in primary elections. These victories indicated he was the popular choice of the party. But President Taft controlled the party machinery and was re-nominated by the Republican National Convention. Roosevelt and his followers formed the Progressive Party or Bull Moose Party. The name came from Roosevelt’s reply when a reporter asked how he felt. “I feel as strong as a bull moose”, he said.
On October 14, 1912, a saloonkeeper named John F. Schrank tried to assassinated Roosevelt. Shrank shot Roosevelt just before he made a speech in Milwaukee. A glasses case in Roosevelt’s pocket deflected the bullet and probably saved his life. Even with the bullet in his chest, Roosevelt insisted on making the speech. He recovered from the wound in about two weeks. Schrank was committed to a mental hospital.
Roosevelt’s candidacy split the Republican vote. The Democratic Candidate, Governor Woodrow Wilson of New Jersey easy won the election.
World War I began in 1914. Roosevelt called for American preparedness against a “strong, ruthless, ambitious, militaristic… Germany”. He developed an intense dislike of Wilson, mostly because the President did not lead the nation into war in 1917. Roosevelt asked Wilson for permission to raise a division of troops to flight in France. When refused the request.
Roosevelt’s sons served in France. Quentin, an aviator was killed in an air battle with a German pilot.
In 1914, Roosevelt had explored the River of Doubt in the Brazilian jungle. He contracted a form of jungle fever and returned weak and prematurely aged.
Early in 1918, Roosevelt underwent operations to remove abscesses on his thigh and in his ears. The abscesses on his left ear. At about this time, Roosevelt revealed that he had been blind in his left eye since 1908. He lusts the sight in the eyes as a result of an injury he received boxing with a military aide in the White House.
Roosevelt opposed American membership in the League of Nations, which he felt would limit the United States in foreign relations. It seemed possible that he would receive the Republican presidential nomination in 1920. But Roosevelt died unexpectedly of a blood clot in the heart on January 6th, 1919. He was buried in Youngs, NY. His second wife died in 1948 and was buried beside him.
Roosevelt’s birthplace in New York City and Sagamore Hill are national historic sites, as is the Wilcox Mansion in Buffalo, NY, where Roosevelt took the oath of office in 1901. Theodore Roosevelt National Park, in western North Dakota, includes are of the ranches Roosevelt operated in the late 1880’s. Roosevelt’s other ranch is nearby. Theodore Roosevelt Island in the Potomac River in Washington DC, has a large statue of the former President Roosevelt is also one of the four Presidents whose forces are carved on Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.