I thought the forceful drive of Richard Strauss' Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme Suite Op. 60 was an appropriate accompaniment to today's review about a man whose forceful and driving personality changed the face and global reputation of the United States.
Lion in the White House: A Life of Theodore Roosevelt by Aida D. Donald
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a brief biography of Theodore Roosevelt focusing primarily on his years prior to becoming president, all he accomplished as president and finally how he spent his time in the few years remaining to him after leading his country and shaping into a world power.
Anyone born with a silver spoon in his mouth as Roosevelt did, would most likely enjoy life to the fullest, travel, hunt, marry well and pretty much make a jolly good time of his life.
That is in fact what Teddy did, but his sense of bon vivre was accompanied with a strong sense of noblesse oblige; that he must change the wrongs being committed against the impoverished and discriminated and in order to do that, he must arise into a position that empowered him to do so.
His first gubernatorial experience was in New York and leader of the Republican party, where he almost singlehandedly kicked out the corrupt crime bosses who were running much of the business, both private and public. As a member of the New York City Commission he radically restructured the New York police force.
This did not endear him to many and it woke up a cranky House and Senate who were well content to sit idly by and not rock a political boat that was already firmly entrenched, but Teddy was his father's child and he accomplished what his father so passionately believed in, but died too early to effect.
Later, he served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy under President McKinley. Others in office found Roosevelt troublesome and in an effort to neuter him they elected him to become McKinley's Vice President where they believed he could do no harm.
Roosevelt understood just exactly how much a Vice Presidency was worth so after campaigning for McKinley, he went out west to enjoy himself living the Cowboy fantasy.
But then McKinley was assassinated and Roosevelt found himself President.
There are a number of long reaching feats that Roosevelt accomplished. To name a few:
He developed a powerful navy that allowed the U.S. to acquisition the Philippians and picked up the mantle the French left in Panama and finished the Canal there. America became a world power under Roosevelt.
Roosevelt preserved great swaths of land from private ownership and established National Parks.
He culled racially discriminatory hiring practices. He scandalized the south by having Booker T Washington to the White House.
It's interesting that many of the causes and beliefs Roosevelt held have been made a part of the contemporary Democratic platform, at least rhetorically, but Roosevelt was a Republican.
When Woodrow Wilson became president and WWI loomed ahead, Teddy roared at Wilson's inaction. But Wilson had become president based on his pacifist platform, he wasn't about to jeopardize that. This drove Roosevelt almost insane and he considered running for president. He did not win and his health soon swallowed up any future in politics.
I wonder what turn history would have taken if Teddy Roosevelt had become president instead of Wilson during WWI.
We'll never know.
View all my reviews