“Do what you can, with what you

have, where you are.”

–Theodore Roosevelt

 

On this day, January 6, in 1919 Theodore Roosevelt, the 16th U.S president died in his sleep after a blood clot had detached from a vein and traveled to his lungs. He was 60 years old.

While he is generally remembered as a Progressive, opposed to the power of big business, TR in fact stuck a middle path, going after trusts only when they became too large and non-competitive. He successfully broke up both Standard Oil and the Northern Securities Company (a railroad trust), and overall brought 44 anti-trust suits, significantly more than any of his predecessors. He also helped institute progressive reforms such as the pure food and drugs act and created the first national parks.

TR also changed the role of the presidency (and of the US as a whole). He saw the growing power of the political press, and sought to use them as a political tool. Accordingly, he was the first president to give regular press conferences, in order to make the best use of his ‘bully pulpit’ (a term he coined). Finally, he set the trend for more active and interventionist American foreign policy. He intervened frequently in Latin America, most famously creating the Panamanian republic in order to begin construction of the Panama canal.