The Progressive Presidents

A Comparison

Theodore Roosevelt Biography

"Teddy" Roosevelt was born in New York On October 27, 1858. Before he was the 26th president he was a New York governor. His family owned a plate glass import business. It was a very successful business. He was home schooled because of his asthma. He then got the opportunity to nurse his passion for animal life. At age 42, Teddy Roosevelt became the youngest man to assume the U.S. presidency after President William McKinley was assassinated in 1901. He won a second term in 1904. Known for his anti-monopoly policies and ecological conservationism, Roosevelt won the Nobel Peace Prize for his part in ending the Russo-Japanese War. He died in New York on January 6, 1919.

Presidential Report Card

Grade: A+


Leadership- The nation adored Roosevelt. He left a remarkable legacy although taken prematurely. He was a charismatic leader. He is often considered the "conservationist president." He used his authority, being president, to protect wildlife and public lands by creating the United States Forest Service and establishing 150 national forests, 51 federal bird reserves, 4 national game preserves, 5 national parks, and 18 national monuments.During his presidency he protected approximately 230 million acres of public land.


Organization- He got a great deal accomplished including building the Panama canal, one of the wonders of the world. When he had visions and plans, he made them happen. He created The Square Deal, vowing not to favor any group of Americans but to be fair to all. He also worked to restrict the power of big business by breaking up a monopoly. He passed many bills including the Meat inspection act, pure food and drug act, immigration act, etc.


Professionalism- He was very enthusiastic and devoted to his presidency, including as a child. Teddy acted very energetic and happy while in office. He was one of the most popular and important presidents ever to serve. The public loved Teddy. He was the first American honored with the Nobel Peace Prize. He fought a lot of big industries and corruption, to help the common man. He was very serious about his presidency, on December 1904 he declared the Roosevelt Corollary. It stated that the United States would intervene as a last resort to ensure that other nations in the Western Hemisphere fulfilled their obligations to international creditors, and did not violate the rights of the United States.


Contributions- Theodore Roosevelt left a big impact on our nation and history. He was the youngest man to assume the U.S. presidency after President William McKinley. He was most known for his anti-monopoly policies and ecological conservationism, Roosevelt won the Nobel Peace Prize for his part in ending the Russo-Japanese War. One of his most famous quotes, “speak softly and carry a big stick,” Theodore Roosevelt built a foreign policy legacy of expanding the United States’ influence on the world stage.

He advocated war against Spain and mobilized the Navy while his boss was away. When the U.S. declared war on Spain, Roosevelt assembled the Rough Riders and led the First Volunteer Cavalry to victory on Cuba's San Juan Hill in 1898. One of Roosevelt’s foreign accomplishments was the establishment of the Panama Canal. When negotiations for the canal with Columbia failed, Roosevelt supported a revolution. Independent of Colombian control, Panama agreed to a canal zone, giving the United States control of the canal for $10 million and an annual payment of $250,000

Teddy Roosevelt speech

William Howard Taft Biography

William was the president after Theodore Roosevelt, making him the 27th president. He fulfilled his lifelong dream of being chief of justice of the Supreme Court. He is the only person that has been US chief of justice and president. Born in Cincinnati, on September 15, 1857. Taft went to private school and went to Yale College. Before he became president he was a lawyer. Taft rose through the ranks, as county prosecutor, state judge, then at age 32 he became the youngest appointee as U.S. Solicitor General by President Benjamin Harrison. Taft had an easy victory in the November 1908 election. He got popular and endorsement of predecessor Theodore Roosevelt very easily. He became president on March 4, 1909, but the rest of his single-term presidency was not as easy. Taft died in Washington, D.C., on March 8, 1930.

Presidential Report Card

Grade: B


Leadership- His presidency is generally viewed as a failure. While his presidency left a mark on the organization and conduct of the executive branch, and developed the administration of anti-trust policy, his public leadership has been widely seen as below average for 20th century Presidents. He didn't really want to be the president, one of the main reasons he became president was because his wife. He hated politics.


Organization- Theodore Roosevelt's trust-busting broke up nearly twice as many as his predecessor. He strengthened the Interstate Commerce Commission and its ability to negotiate rates with railroads. He promoted "Dollar Diplomacy," which involved the US coordination of loans for infrastructure improvements abroad, to further the economic development of Latin American and Asian nations. Lastly, he passed the Sixteenth Amendment codifying the federal government's authority to tax income without apportioning it among the states.


Professionalism- Not many people admired him. While in office he gained up to 350 lbs. He even got depressed. Before becoming the president, he was happy and not as overweight. But about a month into it, he was more serious and depressed. Many said he was very lazy. He was generally a more successful administrator than politician. Roosevelt was dissatisfied with Taft’s presidency, which made Roosevelt form his own Progressive Party, splitting Republican voters and handing the White House to the Democrat Woodrow Wilson. Surprisingly, Taft beat Roosevelt for the republican nomination. Taft did not win the overall election though. After leaving office, Taft achieved his lifelong goal when President Warren Harding appointed him chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court; he held that post until just before his death in 1930.


Contributions- Taft did not leave much of an impact on the nation and history. He is most famous for being the only president to serve on the Supreme Court after leaving office. His central ambition regarding reform was to create an orderly framework for administering a reform agenda. His conception of executive leadership was mostly focused on administration rather than legislative agenda-setting. He felt most comfortable in executing the law, dismissing his personal feelings for the particular piece of legislation. During his presidency, Congress produced significant reform legislation. In one of his first acts in office, Taft called for a special session of Congress to reform tariff law through reduced rates. Taft's intent to provide more efficient administration for existing reform policies was perfectly suited for the prosecution of antitrust violations. More trust prosecutions occurred under Taft than under Roosevelt, who was known as the "Great Trust-Buster." Taft stumbled dramatically on two important occasions as President. The first misstep occurred with his special congressional session to revise the tariff downward. This move activated a concerted effort by the protectionist majority in the Republican Party to persuade Taft to back off on tariff reform. In the struggle over the tariff, Senator Nelson Aldrich and Representative Sereno E. Payne succeeded in pushing through a tariff (the Payne-Aldrich Tariff) that affected only modest reductions. Taft's reversal on tariff reform immediately alienated progressives who saw high tariffs as the "mother of trusts."The second misstep involved his dismissal of Roosevelt's friend, the chief forester of the United States, Gifford Pinchot.

#27 William Howard Taft

Woodrow Wilson Biography

Born in Stanton, Virginia, on December 28, 1856. Wilson's dream job was a professorship at Princeton, which he achieved in 1890, becoming the university's 13th president in 1902. Woodrow led America through World War I and crafted the Versailles Treaty's "Fourteen Points," the last of which was creating a League of Nations to ensure world peace. Wilson also created the Federal Reserve and supported the 19th Amendment, allowing women to vote. He saw the ravages of the Civil War and its aftermath. He was a dedicated scholar and enthusiastic orator. He spent two years as governor of New Jersey before becoming the two-term 28th president of the United States in 1912. He suffered his second stroke during the last year of his presidency and died three years after leaving office, on February 3, 1924, with sweeping reforms for the middle class, voting rights for women and precepts for world peace as his legacy.

Presidential Report Card

Grade: B+


Leadership- Wilson is one of the most hated presidents. He had nicknames such as, "The Root of Much Mischief". It's said that when he lost he had one of his characteristic tantrums, went into politics and ruined the 20th century. Before he was even president he insisted that the new residential college be integrated into the main campus. At first he was hailed and called "the savior of humanity." Wilson was in the top-10 perennial on historians’ lists of outstanding presidents. But as the centennial of his ascension to the White House nears, he has also become a target for an increasingly raucous chorus of conservative pundits who portray him as the man at the helm when everything began to go wrong in America.


Organization- Wilson accomplished many goals during his two terms. Firstly, he got the Nobel Peace Prize. He also established the Federal Trade and Reserve Commission. The 17th, 18th, and 19th Amendments were established while he was in office. He supported Prohibition and he also said women had the right to vote in 1920. One of the primary goals of his presidency was to regulate big business. And he easily passed them. The Federal Reserve System and the Federal Trade Commission were established. The Federal Reserve Act established a new system to support finance and banking. The Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914 established an Antitrust Commission with broad powers to enforce laws that further limited the power of large corporations. The Underwood Tariff Act lowered tariffs on imported goods for the first time in forty years, which stimulated foreign trade. During his first term, the Federal Farm Loan Act was passed, as was a law giving railroad workers an eight-hour day.


Professionalism- He was not only head of the political party but also as manager of the nation’s interests independent of the party and Congress. A survey of presidential leadership shows Americans rank Woodrow Wilson among the top ten US Presidents in terms of lasting impact. In his first month in office, Wilson went before a joint session of Congress to have the legislative branch act on “the New Freedom,” his reform package. Many said, as I've said before, he was one of the most hated presidents.


Contributions- Wilson did make a big impact on our nation, but others may think otherwise. He accomplished much and passed many acts and amendments. He left the White House serenely confident that his vision of America playing a central role in a league of nations would be realized eventually. While it can be argued that his stubbornness or his physical collapse prevented his realizing the dream that was within his grasp, there can be no doubt that his ideal inspired many Americans and that it shaped much of American foreign policy for the remainder of the twentieth century. Wilson left an enduring legacy. His transformation of the basic objective of American foreign policy from isolation to internationalism, his success in making the Democratic Party a "party of reform," and his ability to shape and mobilize public opinion fashioned the modern presidency. Under his leadership, Congress enacted the most cohesive, complete, and elaborate program of federal oversight of the nation's economy up to that time. He was known to lead America through World War I and crafted the Versailles Treaty's "Fourteen Points," which was creating a League of Nations to ensure world peace.

The League of Nations: Wilson's League for Peace (National History Day 2010, Documentary)