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Chapter Two. Theodore Roosevelt's Early Political Career: The Making of an Independent Republican and Urban Progressive

Edward P. Kohn

Subject History » Political History

Place Americas » Northern America

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1800-1899

People Roosevelt, Theodore

Key-Topics capitalism, democracy, political theory

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781444331400.2011.00004.x


While TR's path to the White House may have gone through Cuba, it did not start there. Almost two decades before he charged Spanish positions at the head of his Rough Riders, TR began his political career in the New York Assembly representing his uptown Manhattan brownstone district. TR would go on to have his early political career firmly rooted in New York, the city of his birth. He served in the Assembly for three years, ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 1886, and headed the Board of Police Commissioners from 1895 to 1897. Moreover, while the Spanish-American War may have made TR a household name in the United States, the Colonel had long before “made his bones” in the Republican Party at both a local and national level. TR was continually rewarded for his loyalty to the Republican Party by choice appointments in Washington, D.C., first as Civil Service Commissioner for six years, then as Assistant Secretary of the Navy before the outbreak of War with Spain. From time to time TR displayed an independent streak that landed him in trouble with party leaders, especially New York's Thomas Platt, the “Easy Boss.” He often sided with the reforming, independent wing of the party that sought to clean up politics and government. Yet from an early date TR chose to be counted among the party faithful, observing that a man could only be an effective politician by working within the party structure. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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