Strenuous Life is a speech that gives an insight of what Theodore Roosevelt was and what he represented. A man unafraid to lead and who is willing to overcome all odds and challenges in life to follow the path he has cut for himself. It tells us of a man who abhors laziness and timidity. A patriot whose true sense of belonging starts and end with the United States, whose interest he seeks to further and protect at whatever cost. It tells us of a brave man who believes the destiny of the world lies with the United States and it is up to the men in America to rise up and shape that destiny. This can only happen through a strenuous endeavor.
Theodore Roosevelt stands as one of the greatest American president, his name only placed among the founding fathers and great states men such as George Washington, Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln amongst few others. He had an unshakeable belief that the United States should never shy away from a war if that war could help shape its international standing. This speech paint’s picture of a man who does not shy away from challenges, a fighter who could take up on anything (http://www.theodore-roosevelt.com/trstrenlife.html).
The courage exhibited in this speech was demonstrated in his life at the throne of leadership. Although literally he was known for his role during the war with Spain, he also fought battles in the home front and in the foreign policy. He put up a spirited fight against the big businesses and was always at the forefront in environmental conservation.
There are many memorable accomplishments of Theodore Roosevelt that showed that he could stand his ground even when faced by an uphill task. During the Anthracite coal strike in 1920, he made a rare decision and chose to stick with the miners. The miners had put up a spirited strike over low wages with the companies refusing to negotiate. This arrogance infuriated Roosevelt who threatened to turn the mines over to the army to run them. The companies consequently raised the miners’ pay.
The speech says that United States must rise up and pursue its self-interests in the global scene; Roosevelt emphasized this fact in the congress. He had before vowed to pursue an isolationist policy but after the war with Spain, he insisted that that the United States must take up its role in world policing especially in the 20 Th century.
In his go-getter stance and in pursuit of his love for environmental conservation, Roosevelt took congress head on and established a Federal Bird Reservation in the Pelican Island. He also established a large number of parks, forests and historical monuments.
As his speech reiterates, Roosevelt was always talking of the United States role as super power. He played a great role in convincing president Wilson to intervene in the cold war. He had been requesting to be allowed to bring to gather a group of volunteer soldiers to send to Europe. He was glad when the United States finally intervened and he sent his four sons to join in the war where he lost his youngest son to Germans.
Although his period in power was not characterized by the crisis that would propel his presidency and in to history books, his achievements have been remarkable and he remains one of the most popular presidents in the United States.
League of Nations
The League of Nations was formed immediately after the Second World War after the Treaty of Versailles in 1920. This organization was charged with a simple responsibility of maintaining peace in the world. It was also seeking to address the issues that had brought the world in to war with an objective of seeing that it did not happen again.
The First World War had kicked off in 1914 after the assassination of an archduke Franz Ferdinand. This in what would trigger a series of events with countries declaring war against each other. Prior to the war, an arms race had been occurring between Britain and Germany in what they called military preparedness. Britain was seeking to remain the dominant force in the world at the possible threat of Germany. There had been a feeling of distrust between the various countries in Europe that possessed economic power ranging from Russia and France on top of Britain and Germany. All these had been readying their defense in the face of a possible attack.
Imperialism is also blamed as having led to the war. Vladimir Lenin had earlier predicted this. This is further supported by the fact that all the European powers had been involved in an expansionist policy acquiring territories in the third world.
Russia was facing intense rivalry in the Balkans in the face of an attack from Germany. Russia was for the Pan Slavic movements while Germany was opposed to this. France went ahead and supported Russia against Germany. The assassination of the arch duke was just the final straw in the camels back as immediately Austro-Hungarian government declared war against Serbia which was accused of being under the assassination Russia supported Serbia While France was supporting Russia. Germany declares war on both and war broke out fully. Britain joined in after it became evident that Germany was going against the initial treaty.
All along during the First World War the United States had vowed to maintain a policy of isolationism. However after it became apparent that Germany was rooting for war using Mexico and after a number of U.S. submarines were sunk Wilson declared war on Germany joining the allied forces.
By the close of the Second World War, the various leaders were appalled by the destruction and loss of live that had taken place. With Woodrow Wilson at the driving seat, the idea of a League of Nations was strengthened. It was to be charged with a duty of arbitrating future disputes. This idea was not however popular at home as the isolationist policy was still in force (John Milton Cooper, 76).
The League of Nation was bringing together all the major European powers except Russia and Germany. France and Britain were its key members.
The League of Nation did not achieve much. It had some inherent flaws that were being exploited by some aggrieved nations and not even the economic sanctions could work out. It only built a framework through which future organizations could be founded on. It was unable to prevent a major fall out that culminated into the Second World War.
The Great Depression
Great depression refers to a period of economic collapse in the world between late 1920s and early 1940s. The depression is said to have started in the United States before spreading to the rest of the industrialized nations. It is a period characterized by closure of banks, unemployment and as well as collapse of factories leading to under production of essential goods.
Prior to the great depression, the United States seemed to be treading on a prosperous path especially in the 1920s. However, underlying this prosperity was rampant inequality, as the rich enlarged the pockets, the poor especially the farmer’s earnings were fast dwindling. The World War 1 also left a huge dent among the European powers as many were still paying their huge debts.
It is the culmination of these financial strains that contributed to the crash of the United States stock market on a day that is referred to as a black Monday.
There are a number of people who hold a wrong perception that the Great Depression was as a result of the events of the Black Monday. In retrospect, both were a culmination of the underlying strains in the economy. A look at the pre-events to the depression would reveal this.
The Roaring Twenties, immediately after the First World War, would see the United States hide in to a cocoon, continuing with its isolationist policy. A new culture of Consumerism and Jazz was taking root with the traditional American values being shown the door. Individualism and feminism were also creeping in fast with majority of the population embarking in a fierce race to acquire riches. Consumerism was encouraged through modern advertising methods. Long held traditional ideals like saving were abandoned as people took to rapid buying of things such as motor vehicles and electronics. The factories were over producing consumer goods more than the peoples demands could match.
Unlike the factories that were on a boom, workers wages were not growing proportionately. Income tax was also not proportionate to wealth as those high in the income level enjoyed tax slashes as per the revenue act of 1926.
This was the fact exacerbating inequality. People began to borrow heavily to put up with the consumerism trend that had taken root. Farmers had doubled their production due to the huge demand after the war and the market as flooded leading low prices. Banks were heavily lending their money to the European countries. The U.S put high tariffs on imports and this became the tendency in the many countries as they sough to pursue self-interest. Shares acquired unnatural growth, they were rising in their prices more than their real value, and millions of shares were being traded daily. This however could not be held for long and suddenly shares prices started falling rapidly leading to a stock market crash. People were using their incomes to pay for their debts. Production fell and factories had to lay off a large proportion of their employees. People were unable to pay their bank loans and depositors needed their money back. Banks started falling. Farmers suffered a great blow as they could not produce anymore and the following drought threatening to wipe their produces out. Almost the whole nation was filled with desolate and hopeless faces awaiting government aid.
FDRS Strategies for Fighting the Great Depression
Majority of Americans were distraught and largely disillusioned. They were dissatisfied with President Herbert’s policy, which did not seem to bear any fruits. Hoover was still insisting that the economy would pick up. To him the Great Depression was as a result of waning confidence in the public. The government started giving loans to the collapsing industries and offering relief. This however did not bear any fruit as the economy was on its knees.
Public’s displeasure had risen to a tension high. War veterans held protests in Washington demanding relief and bonuses. The government could give none and was busy raising tariffs for imports, which resulted to the European countries raising theirs, further worsening the situation. Hoover grew more unpopular amongst the Americans (Ron Olson, 116).
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was nominated the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party and he was promising a change of things upon his election. His win was readily guaranteed as president Hoover presented no serious challenge. True to his words the New Deal policies were implemented immediately after his inauguration. A series of legislations were introduced into the congress. His temporary measures included “banking holiday” and a number of programs aimed at alleviating problems of specific groups like the farmers, unemployed youths. The reforms that Franklin Roosevelt introduced helped alleviate suffering and got the economic running. They also strengthened the role of the government in business. The introduced reforms and programs reduced unemployment although not significantly and stabilized the stock market, as well as aid to special groups like the disabled. Public works were expanded and other capital expenses, to increase demand.
These measures temporarily decreased the suffering of the masses during the depression but unemployment levels were still high.
Roosevelt’s confidence was contagious and would boost the publics’ confidence in him and the economy. His bills were getting an easy pass in parliament. The number of agencies initiated also worked to his favor. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) provided job opportunities to the youth who were absorbed in to the expansion projects. The Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA) was meant to help the farmers in reducing production and demanding higher prices. The National Industrial Recovery Act was focusing on the recovery of industries that would lead to decrease in unfair competition practices by introducing new regulatory codes.
The Works Progress Administration had an objective of employing two million people; this however was not without opposition from the Republicans who said that it was favoring democrats. But it recorded huge success as David M. notes (1999, 253) ” WPA employed more than three million people in its first year and in the light years of its life. Put 8.5 million persons to work at a total cost of some $11 billion”
Majority of the people are in agreement that Roosevelt’s policies helped alleviate suffering from the people and also inject life in to the economy. Some however are against the increased powerful role that the government was playing in the economy and in business.
John Milton Cooper, Jr. Pivotal Decades: The United States, 1900-1920. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1990; 76
David M. Kennedy, Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. (ISBN: 0-19-514403-1)
Theodore Roosevelt. The Strenuous Life. April 10 1899.Retrieved on 23/01/08 from: http://www.theodore-roosevelt.com/trstrenlife.html
Ron Olson. Homework Helpers: From Reconstruction through the Dawn of the 21st Century. Career Press.2007; 116