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Chapter Eleven. Theodore Roosevelt and the Indians

Roger L. Nichols


The historical literature on Theodore Roosevelt is vast, and for nearly 100 years scholars have characterized him in a dizzying variety of ways. Among those depictions one can find him described varyingly as a cautious and sane diplomat, a dangerous and unapologetic imperialist, or a clever leader who employed bombast and hyperbole to present his ideas. Other chapters in this book analyze examples of those and similar labels used when examining his life and career. John Gable's “The Man in the Arena of History” in Natalie A. Naylor, Douglas Brinkley, and John Allen Gable, Theodore Roosevelt (1992) gives a useful early analysis of the basic historiography. While TR expressed ideas about American Indians repeatedly, his pronouncements about them appear far more often in his speeches or writings than in his actions or the scholarship that considers his political life. In fact, a brief perusal of 50 books on his life and career showed that only 12 had as much as a single entry on Indians in the index. Among those, only three had more than a single line referring to that subject. As a result, the brief analysis in this chapter will focus first on his ideas and statements related to Native Americans, second on his actions on specific questions of Indian affairs, and third on any modest historiographic treatment of his views and actions dealing with related issues. For scholars and ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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