Teddy Roosevelt takes command

Posted by John Kanelis on

Ken Burns's documentary series on the Roosevelt family continues Monday with a look at how the youngest man ever to become president changed fundamentally the way the presidency would be viewed.

"The Roosevelts" airs over the next several days on Panhandle PBS, beginning at 7 p.m. The next segment is titled "In the Arena," and it tells of Theodore's aggressive governing style.

Roosevelt became president after the nation was shocked by President William McKinley's assassination.

Did he just bide his time? Did he sit on his hands?

Oh no. He went to work. He used the office as a "bully pulpit" to promote environmental awareness and to espouse a U.S. foreign policy built on the view that we should "walk softly but carry a big stick."

The Panama Canal was dug on Theodore Roosevelt's watch. He fought political corruption by big business. He fought huge corporations over what he called antitrust violations, dissolving the Northern Securities Co., among other such firms in the process.

Along the way, he mediated a peace agreement between Russia and Japan in 1905, ending the Russo-Japanese War; he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.

Indeed, Roosevelt didn't just step gingerly "Into the Arena" when he took the oath of office to become the 26th president of the United States. He jumped in with both feet, which symoblized his style -- as a politician and a man.

All the while, his cousins Franklin and Eleanor began dating and got married, forming a powerhouse partnership that would last far longer than Teddy Roosevelt's tempestuous life.

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