For Theodore Roosevelt, policies were the lifeblood of presidency. Although the foreign policies of Theodore Roosevelt weren’t always met with overwhelming approval, he knew it was important to secure a place for America in the global community. With a focus on domestic policies such as conservation and progressive reform, he was also ensuring America would be effective on its own turf.
To Theodore Roosevelt, domestic policy was imperative. His main concerns ‘on the home front’ were: conservation of natural resources, government reform, creation or revamping of social programs, and working hard to achieve success. To a president like Theodore Roosevelt, legislation was the key to ensuring America would still be beautiful for future generations. As the first president to tackle the issues of nature preservation, resource conservation, and environment protection, he met with some hesitation. Despite the nation’s rapid descent into pollution (thanks to the booming industrial sector), the average citizenry had not yet begun to concern themselves with possible future ramifications. A nature enthusiast since his earliest childhood years, Teddy sensed the impending disaster if nothing were done to prevent it. As soon as he took over as president (in 1901, following McKinley’s assassination) he set to work protecting America’s beauty. He established the U.S. Forestry Service, designated more 18 locations as national monuments (including the Grand Canyon), and created numerous refuges and preserves. He also enacted legislation that would ensure the same powers for future presidents.
For government reform, Teddy turned to his fellow Progressives, who were determined to make a change for the better in various areas within the country. Not willing to focus solely on government, Roosevelt and his bipartisan colleagues also took on the daunting tasks of corruption, social reform, and promoting the sciences within society. With this dedication to reformation and transformation of American society, Roosevelt also sought to enlist the help of the citizens. His speech in Chicago (April 10, 1899) entitled, “The Strenuous Life” was a call to action of sorts. He challenged the people to work hard, to never spend their time in idleness, even when enjoying leisure. With his own life as a prime example of what hard work could do, his call was met with great applause.
The foreign policy of Theodore Roosevelt can be summed up in two words: Big Stick. During a speech in 1901, Roosevelt said it was beneficial to “speak softly and carry a big stick”. The moral of this phrase was that outward calm and diplomacy should always be ‘backed up’ with the threat of force. This is precisely how Teddy handled foreign affairs. When he was faced with a problem – a lingering war, a newly-won territory – he took it in stride, offering his toothy smile and warm handshake to calm the situation. But if things deteriorated, he was quick to wink and mention – off-handedly, of course – that if the problem continued, it would be cured with physical force, if necessary. This policy worked wonders in Panama, allowing the U.S. to complete the previously-disastrous project the French had been unable to finish. However, it didn’t work too well with the attempted annexation of the Philippines after the Spanish-American War, leading to a decades-long battle for independence, which the Filipino people finally won in 1946.