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Introduction: An All-Time Historian's Favorite

Serge Ricard


Subject History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781444331400.2011.00002.x


Extract

Theodore Roosevelt remains highly rated by historians, with a steady ranking over the years among the first top ten – and often five – US presidents. The latest assessment ranks him fourth ( C-SPAN 2009 , “Historians Presidential Leadership Survey”). After Lincoln, presidential historians rated George Washington, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman as the best leaders overall. The same five received the same top spots in the 2000 survey (with FDR outranking Washington). Interestingly, alone among them, Nobel Peace Prize winning TR cannot be regarded as a war president. Quite obviously, his popularity in recent years has greatly increased on account of his modernity: American diplomacy came of age with him; he was the first president to tackle the trusts and advocate federal control of the economy and government protection of the underprivileged; and last but not least, he was the first really environment-conscious chief executive, whose conservation policies, by today's standards, seem amazingly prescient. By enlarging executive power he ushered in the modern presidency. Over 80 years after his death and over a century after the famous battle of San Juan, Bill Clinton revived the Rough Rider's legend by awarding him posthumously the Medal of Honor on January 16, 2001, thus making him the first president to receive it. Furthermore, the 2008 presidential ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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