Major Historical Events During Teddy Roosevelt’s Presidency

With President William McKinley’s assassination, Theodore Roosevelt, at the age of 43, became the nation’s 26th and youngest President (1901-1909). Theodore Roosevelt was one of the most energetic presidents ever. He injected new energy and power into the job, urging Congress and the American people to support liberal reforms and a strong foreign policy. He was not only youthful in age, but he was also plainly a doer, and this established the tone for his presidency.


  • President Franklin D. Roosevelt invites Booker T. Washington to dinner at the White House, causing fury among southern whites. Southerners were enraged by what was described as a “intentional affront to the South.” as well as a social equity threat.
  • The Hay-Pauncefote Treaty is signed between the United States and the United Kingdom, granting the United States control of an isthmian canal. On December 16, the Senate would ratify Hay-Pauncefote, nullifying the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty of 1850.


  • Signs an extension of the Chinese Exclusion Act (“An Act to restrict and regulate the entry and residency of Chinese and persons of Chinese descent into the United States, its Territories, and all land under its jurisdiction, and the District of Columbia”)
  • Signs the Isthmian Canal Act, which provides finances for the purchase of assets from the New Panama Canal Company of France, as well as land from Columbia, in order to build a canal in Panama.
  • Orders Investigation of Coal Strike. Theodore Roosevelt is instrumental in resolving the Anthracite Coal Strike. Laborers affiliated with the United Mine Workers union went on strike in Pennsylvania’s hard coal mines in the spring of 1902. With the threat of coal shortages looming in the winter months, Roosevelt concluded that strong executive action was required. The coal strike ended on October 21, and Roosevelt brought union officials and mine owners to the White House, an important gesture for both his presidency and the creation of his reform plan, dubbed the “Square Deal”


  • Signs legislation creating the Departments of Commerce and Labor. The Treasury provided offices (Light Houses; Steamboat Inspection Service; Bureau of Navigation; National Bureau of Standards; Coast and Geodetic Survey; Commissioner-General of Immigration; Bureau of Statistics); the Department of the Interior provided the Census Office and the Fish Commission; and the State Department provided the Bureau of Foreign Commerce.
  • The Elkins Anti-Rebate Act is passed by Congress, making it unlawful for railroads to offer rebates on their listed freight rates. The Elkins Act was enacted in reaction to railways engaging in business practices that favored specific shippers and locations. It would fall short of adequately regulating railroads, and the Hepburn Act, enacted three years later, would be required to further that cause.
  • The Hay-Buneau-Varilla Treaty is negotiated between the United States and Panama to develop the Panama Canal. In exchange for $10,000,000 in gold and a yearly fee of $250,000, the treaty grants the United States control of a ten-mile-wide canal zone. When the Columbians rejected, a revolt in Panama erupted. The triumphant new Columbian-Panamanian government was instantly recognized by the United States, with which it quickly signed a canal pact.


  • The President adds the “Roosevelt Corollary” to the Monroe Doctrine in his yearly message to Congress. According to the Monroe Doctrine, the United States would prohibit foreign involvement in Latin America and function as a hemispheric police force, ensuring that countries fulfilled their international debts.
  • Signs the Naval Construction Act authorizes the construction of numerous new ships to expand the Navy’s.


  • Signs Act transferring control of forest reserves from the Bureau of Forestry to the Department of Agriculture; Gifford Pinchot remains in charge. As of July 1, 1905, the Bureau is known as the “Forest Service.”
  • In Chicago, Illinois, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) is founded to oppose the conservative American Federation of Labor.
  • Signs the Portsmouth Treaty and conducted negotiations to terminate the Russo-Japanese War, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He also secured an arrangement with Japan, exchanging diplomatic recognition in exchange for Japan’s approval of the United States’ continued presence in the Philippines.


  • Signs the National Monuments Act. This act allows the President to create national monuments by proclamation, which are limited to the “smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the object to be conserved.”
  • President Roosevelt signs both the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act. The bill demands for an honest statement of food content on labels as well as federal inspection of all plants doing business across state lines.
  • The Platt Amendment is enacted, allowing the United States to maintain military control over Cuba. Provisional governor is future President William Howard Taft.


  • Signs the Immigration Act of 1907 (also known as the “An Act to Regulate Alien Immigration into the United States”). Imposes a head tax on immigrants; exempts anyone who is “likely to become a public charge” or has contagious diseases; exceptions are made for professions, ministers, and skilled labor. This includes text that prevents people from using their passports to enter another country.
  • The Great White Fleet (called for the color of the ships) leaves Hampton Roads, Virginia under Roosevelt’s instructions to sail around the world. The President envisioned the cruise as a spectacular culmination of his administration’s achievements. The Great White Fleet also signaled to the world the United States’ expanding worldwide military dominance, particularly its new and powerful navy. Roosevelt utilized the fleet to symbolize America’s entrance as a major nation on the world scene in this way.

White Fleet


  • The US and Japan have reached an agreement to limit Japanese immigration. The “Gentlemen’s Arrangement” is the name given to this executive agreement.
  • Roosevelt appoints Gifford Pinchot to lead the National Commission for the Conservation of Natural Resources.


  • Black intellectuals, including W.E.B. DuBois, and white progressives, led by Oswald Garrison Villard, form the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
  • Signs Appropriations Act, which includes a $50,000 raise in the President’s salary to $75,000.