Theodore Roosevelt's Presidency

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What are some negative things about Theodore Roosevelt that I could put on a "wanted" poster? What are some reasons that people would want him dead or alive?

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One negative thing that could be leveled against Teddy Roosevelt was that he instigated the American intervention in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War. After the American battleship The Maine exploded in Havana harbor in 1898, causing the deaths of 258 crew members, Roosevelt told Admiral Dewey that if war broke out between the United States and Spain, he was to head to Manila to launch an attack. At that time, Roosevelt was Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and he acted when his boss, the Secretary of the Navy, was away from the office. As a result, Dewey headed to Manila Harbor and launched an attack against Spanish troops there and took control of the Philippines. This ushered in a period of overseas American imperialism and aggression against foreign powers.

In addition, when Roosevelt fought in the Rough Riders in Cuba during the Spanish-American War, he had the time of his life. Unfortunately, however, he showed heedlessness concerning his men, many of whom were killed in battle because of his rash decisions.

As the other educator noted, Roosevelt also encouraged a rebellion in Panama when he wanted to construct a canal across it. At that time, Panama was part of Colombia, and Colombia wanted to block the construction of the canal. By encouraging a rebellion, Roosevelt was able to build his canal in Panama. He was an imperialist and pursued a foreign policy that put American needs above those of people in other nations.

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There are a number of things that we could put on such a poster if we wanted to.

For a relatively minor thing, we could charge him with killing the Republican Party’s chances in the election of 1912.  His ego was big enough that he had to run against President Taft even though Taft was his own hand-picked successor.

Roosevelt can also be seen (if we are so inclined) as a thief.  When he wanted to be able to build a canal across Panama, he helped Panama become independent from Colombia, essentially taking away part of Colombia’s territory.  He then signed a treaty with Bunau-Varilla, who had only a dubious claim to represent the Panamanian government.  So that could be theft or fraud or something. 

We can also charge him with racial bigotry.  Roosevelt was a big believer in white supremacy and “racial fitness.”  He felt that the Anglo-Saxons were being overwhelmed by lower races (including lesser types of whites like Italians).  Therefore, he felt, they needed to improve themselves so they could win out in the Darwinian competition.

Finally, we can charge him with helping to provoke a war that killed many people.  Before Roosevelt was president, public anger against Spain was rising for its actions in Cuba.  Roosevelt badly wanted war with Spain and so he did various things to help bring that war about.  It ended up causing the deaths of many people, particularly if you include the war with the Filipino freedom fighters that came after it (part of it during Roosevelt’s presidency).

Thus we could conceivably charge Roosevelt with a number of “crimes.”

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