from Presidential Courage 1 Brave Leaders and How They Changed America 1789-1989
by Michael Beschloss
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Editor's notes: 1) Presidents elected on even decades like 1990, 2000, off year elections of 1992, 2014...2) Pictures are from Wikipedia and the Internet can often be enlarged with a click.3) Editorial comments are in red font. Return to Part 1 Go to Part 2 for TR, FDR, HST, JFK, and RR

THEODORE ROOSEVELT                                print in landscape

President Roosevelt was nervous about the coming 1904 election because he had gotten the job when William McKinley had been murdered and no President-by-succession had ever won election on his own.

In December of 1901  TR had showed the nation he was no McKinley when he wrote to Congress about the  ' "grave evils" ' of corporate monopolies. He knew that ' "Americans resented eastern bankers and corporate trusts whose dictates on railroad rates and routs could destroy towns and farms." ' Ohio Senator Hanna, who never wanted TR as McKinley's running mate, was stung when he found out Roosevelt had sued to break-up Northern Securities. Hearing the shocking news J. P. Morgan's son Pierpont Morgan bought shares in his own gigantic trust to avert a financial panic.  see trusts     Excerpt from-Wealth Against Commonwealth,1894     

The Politics

A political cartoon. A huge, grotesque, boyish figure stands with a half-eaten apple in his hand, looking back over his shoulder at a tiny man behind him. "Please, mister," asks the small figure, marked "McKinley", "may I have the core?" "Git away, boy," answers the large person, denoted "Hanna"; "they ain't goin' to be no core."

President McKinley had won reelection in 1900 by again beating William Jennings Bryant who was known as ' " Boy Orator of the Planes." ' Ohio Senator Mark Hanna had been McKinley's chief promoter and sold him like ' "patent medicine," 'calling him an ' "Advance Agent of Prosperity" ' and braking all campaign contribution records. The 7 million dollars was raised by requiring big business to fork over 4% of corporate assets. McKinley won by a landslide. Hanna would warn TR not to run for reelection. Pictured a 1896 Homer Davenport cartoon, suggesting that Hanna would be the real president. Click to enlarge.

Roosevelt wrote a friend that "...his ' "chief fight" ' as President was against the new plutocracy who are ' "as unattractive now as in the days of Carthage."  "Like both Adams and Andrew Jackson, he was taking a large risk by challenging the citadels of wealth and power," 

Roosevelt faced a pro business court system as demonstrated in 1877 with  Munn vs. Illinois which had been a labor victory that would be overturned by  the Supreme Court. Consumers were also hurt by court decisions as property rights over human rights had ruled and would continue to rule U.S. Federal Courts. See Pacific Railway Co. vs. Illinois

18 BLACK STORM  "... in the fall of 1902, he tried to stop the coal strike that threatened, more than any event since the Civil War, to divide the country." For months over 100,000 Pennsylvanian miners had been striking. There was sabotage, riots and murder. The leader of the United Mines Workers suggested a Presidential commission but railroad man George Bear refused to bargain with ' " instigators of violence and crime." ' 

Fearing ' "... the most terrible riots the country had ever seen..." ' Roosevelt got seventy-two year old ex--Commanding General of the U.S. Army John Schofield, to agree to, if necessary, to seize the mines using ten thousand troops. Roosevelt was please that the General, in his outdated skullcap and whiskers, did not look like a ' " military dictator" '. Using the threat of  troops to nationalize the coal industry, TR got J.P. Morgan, still fighting off the National Securities suit, to use his influence to have a commission resolve the differences.

19) A ROUGH-AND TUMBLE-MAN Liking T.R.'s dexterity, the Republicans did well in the 1902 midterm elections. Roosevelt had the morals of a ' "green-grocer" ' and he felt easy divorces "...were dragging the country into the ' "barnyard." '

Roosevelt knew he might be braking the Constitution by seizing property without due process of law but he felt that ' :"The Constitution was made for the people, and not the people for the Constitution." ' 
See Pullman Strike of 1894

In 1903 Roosevelt asked Congress for a Department of Commerce. It was the request of big business who wanted to insure labor was watched as closely as business. Wealthy Republican, led by Ohio Senator Mark Hanna were unable to stop Roosevelt's 1904 election nomination. The senator then suddenly dies from typhoid fever. 

20) I UPSET THEM ALL In March of 1904 the Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 that finance company Northern Securities must be dissolved. Of Judge Oliver Wendell Holmes who voted in the negative, Roosevelt said, he could carve ' "a judge with more backbone than that" from a "banana." '  Roosevelt felt he had amended capitalism to save it . "Better to take it from him than ' "some Bryan" ' who would ' " ride over them roughshod." '  Secretary of State John Hay gave a ring belonging to Lincoln to the new President as an inauguration gift. It was said to contain one of Lincoln's hairs and TR said it would remind him ' " to put human rights above property rights." '  Source


To dampen Roosevelt's radicalism the delegates chose McKinley Conservative Senator Charles Fairbanks of Indiana as the 1904 V.P. running mate. Roosevelt wasn't happy. Fear of Roosevelt diminished and rich Republicans like Morgan and Harriman  gave $150,000 and $250,000 respectively to his campaign. ..."T.R. lauded the "man in the arena," who if he failed, at least did so "by daring greatly." '  One of FDR's sons told the author of this book that ' "My father spent his whole adult life competing with T.R.." ' Click to enlarge.

1 From the 2007 first edition 2. Table, column and row titles, and name abbreviations are by Walter Antoniotti 3. Editor's addition 
4. Editor's Note: Washington's fears of political though logical were avoided as US Undergoes the First Peaceful 1800Transfer of a Democratic System from Turning Points in American History Notes from A Great Course audio by E. O'Donnell 5. Help in keeping track of presidential elections, they happen on even numbered decades as Lincoln was elected in 1860, Kennedy, 1960. 

 For more on Washington see Don't Know Much About History Chapter 3 on Growth of a Nation from the Creation of the Constitution to Manifest Destiny and Meacham's Thomas Jefferson. PART VII reviewing Jefferson as opposition to the Federalists of Hamilton and Adams.