Perhaps one of our nation's most energetic leaders was the 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt. Elevated to the top office after an assassins bullet laid low his predecessor, President William McKinley, Roosevelt became one of the most consequential Chief Executives of the 20th-century.
He was not afraid to speak his mind, indeed, is contemporaries found it near impossible to get him to stop talking on any subject. Because of this, history has a wealth of quotable quotes that point to the leadership skills of this extraordinary American.
His success is even more amazing when you consider his childhood. He suffered from crippling asthma and a weak constitution, and his parents did not think he would see his tenth birthday.
"Believe you can and you're halfway there."
Owing to his weak physical condition, and motivated by his father's exhortations that "sickness is a shame and maybe a sin," more often than not, the young boy was found engaged in strenuous exercise that aimed to push more air into his weakened lungs.
Believing that only hard work stood between him and his goal of a robust and healthy body, his early years embodied his attitude. More importantly, it fueled his belief whenever he entered the public arena whether as part of the New York Assembly, as Secretary to the Navy, or President of the United States, that showing up was half the battle.
" A man who has never gone to school may steal a freight car, but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad."
Education and public service went hand-in-hand in Roosevelt's mind - he understood that he enjoyed a privileged place in American society. What he could not tolerate however, was the elite class that did nothing more than pursue their relentless search of profits to the detriment of their fellow countrymen. While he did not disapprove of concentrated wealth, he was fanatically against the concentration of wealth that was earned through devious measures and then leveraged against the interest of the common man and woman.
Not surprisingly, then, he focused a lot of his attention on busting business trusts designed to rig the economic system in favor of the "Robber Barons." To attack corrupt trusts engaged in restraint of trade, Roosevelt wielded the 1890 Sherman Anti-Trust Law like a weapon. His targets included J.P. Morgan's Northern Securities Company, the nation's largest railroad monopoly, and John D. Rockefeller's Ohio-based Standard Oil.
" Speak softly and carry a big stick: you will go far."
Elevated to the presidency at the very beginnings of America's experiment with global imperialism, Theodore Roosevelt had long been an expansionist with dreams of an American hegemony that was destined to span the globe. While he gained his own combat spurs during the Cuban campaigning phase of the Spanish American War, his policies following his elevation to the presidency were a combination of threat and bluster.
From the pressure applied on Columbia to wrench their Panamanian province from their control to sending the great White Fleet on a worldwide tour of American military prowess, Roosevelt understood the power an American naval battle cruiser had as an a tool of diplomacy.
Whether you agree with Roosevelt's actions or not, he had a profound impact on his nation and on the world. This has earned him a prominent place in history as one of the most impactful presidents of the USA.