“Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”
Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919)
During a nearly eight-year presidency, Theodore Roosevelt transformed the United States into a world power and the federal government into a vigorous regulator of the industrializing domestic economy. Roosevelt was a frail boy who became a strong man; a soldier who won the Nobel Prize for Peace; a big-game hunter who founded the National Wildlife Refuge System; a historian whose freewheeling revision of the Monroe Doctrine was ultimately dismantled by his fifth cousin Franklin. Above all, he was the son of an elite New York Knickerbocker family who promised “a square deal” for ordinary Americans, taking on powerful lobbies to strengthen the Interstate Commerce Commission, establish the Department of Labor and Commerce, pass the Pure Food and Drug and Meat Inspection acts, and file dozens of federal suits against monopolies. Raised by his father to believe in his civic responsibility, certain of his ability to determine what was right, he possessed in abundance the intellectual and physical energies, political acuity, social standing, and charisma to realize many of his convictions.