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Teddy Roosevelt Dbq

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DBQ: Access the validity of the following statement using background knowledge and the provided documents. "Theodore Roosevelt was not a true progressive reformer, but rather a politician that responded to the political climate of the age."

Progressivism originated as the optimistic vision that society was capable of improvement, and that continued growth and advancement were the nation's destiny. This, however, would require direct, purposeful human intervention in social and economic affairs. Progressive reformers wished to limit the disperse authority and wealth by empowering the government to regulate or break up trusts at both state and national levels. They also believed in the importance of social cohesion. Individuals were not autonomous; rather they are each part of a great web of social relationships. Therefore they pushed for reforms to help women, children, industrial workers, immigrants, and even African Americans to a certain extent. Progressives also harbored a deep faith in knowledge, wishing to apply the principles of natural and social sciences to society. This would improve organization and efficiency, they felt, and would make for a more equitable and humane society. They understood that people could participate in government directly. (Document G) Another belief of theirs was that modernized government was completely necessary to improve and stabilize society, and that government required new and enhanced institutions, leaders, and experts.

Theodore Roosevelt became president in 1901, after the assassination of McKinley. Roosevelt was a republican, whose greatest claim to fame was as a progressive. His presidency was dedicated to progressive reform, and was filled with successful changes. Therefore, he was a true progressive, and not just a politician responding to the political climate of the age. Many of the changes which he embarked upon started out as grassroots campaigns. Just as any progressive would, he was building from the bottom up (from local government to national government), in order to create a strong foundation for the reforms, and not just patch it from the outside.

Roosevelt acknowledged that consolidation produced dangerous abuses of power and urged for the regulation of monopolies and trusts. Early on in his presidency the Hepburn Act was passed. The Hepburn Act was an attempt to clean up the railroad issues by setting fair rates and demanding to see their accounting records. There were ways to get around the law, but it was a sincere attempt to help.

Roosevelt also went after the Northern Securities, a railroad holding company established by J.P. Morgan. Then, he went after Rockefeller's standard oil trust. By the time Roosevelt left office he had attacked twenty five different monopolies. He created the Department of Commerce and Labor to report on any illegal activities that businesses were participating in. This was truly progressive of him, in his attempt to help the little guy.

From 1902 through 1908 a serried of laws were passed called the Conservation Laws. One of them, the Newlands Act, put an end to strip mining. This was very progressive because Roosevelt was the first person to actually come out and say we can't keep abusing our natural resources, because they won't last forever. (Document B) In his 1907 annual message to Congress Roosevelt said: "To waste, to destroy, our natural resources, to skin an exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed."

Another place in which Roosevelt proves his true progressivism was during the Anthracite Coal Strike. These coal miners, who provided the coal used to heat homes, went on strike just as winter was approaching. Theodore Roosevelt decided to demand that both the workers union and the homeowners send forth representatives to present the case before him, and he would act as an arbitrator. When the owners refused to oblige his demands he threatened to seize the mines as public property (thus giving the government the right to decide upon issues dealing with the grievances of the workers). The fact that Roosevelt settled on the side of the workers was very progressive at the time.

Another progressive move on Roosevelt's behalf was his immigration reform.



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