What criticism is there about Theodore Roosevelt? 

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As with any president, Theodore Roosevelt has his critics.  Some of the most common reasons for criticizing him are:

  • He was excessively egotistical.  He felt that, even after he left office, his vision should be carried out.  He handpicked William Taft as his successor but then became unhappy with Taft’s actions in office.  Therefore, he ran against Taft in the 1912 primaries.  When he lost, he decided to run as a third party candidate, thus dividing the Republican Party and allowing the Democrats to win the election.
  • He was racist.  Roosevelt did not just believe that white people were superior to non-whites.  He also believed, as was fairly common at the time, that some kinds of white people were better than others.  He feared that the best white people of the US (essentially what we would call White Anglo-Saxon Protestants) would commit “race suicide” by intermarrying with the lower kinds of whites and/or by not having enough children while the lower races had more children.
  • He was overly aggressive in his foreign policy.  Roosevelt believed that the US should be able to do essentially whatever it wanted in the Caribbean and in American territories like the Philippines.  He did not worry about letting people from such places have independence or self-government.  He felt, perhaps because these people were non-white, that they could not govern themselves properly and that the US should step in and take control whenever it deemed it necessary.

All of these are criticisms of Theodore Roosevelt that are at least somewhat common today.

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