Study Guide

Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt Governor and Vice President

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Governor and Vice President

At that point, events seem to have taken on a momentum all their own. Within three years, Roosevelt would find himself the next president of the United States. It took a little maneuvering to get the beloved war hero into the governor's office, but not much. Lodge put T.R.'s name into circulation among leading New York Republicans, and convinced Conkling's successor, the new Republican political boss Thomas Platt, that Roosevelt would toe the party line. Meanwhile, T.R. added to his own fame, touring the country with other Rough Riders and participating in Wild West shows. When Platt gave T.R. the okay to run, Roosevelt cruised to victory.

Of course, Roosevelt had no intention of following a standard Republican line. He had not forgotten the lessons he learned in New York and D.C. From his time in Washington, he remembered how dangerous unregulated monopolies could be for average Americans. And from his time as New York City Police Commissioner, he recalled how much the poor and the vulnerable needed government protection and support. As soon as he was elected, he began pushing for more relief for the hungry, more crime control, more economic regulation, and more sanitation. His fight against government franchises—the lucrative contracts controlled by Platt and his associates, which kept corrupt political machines running—proved to be the last straw. Roosevelt was threatening the power of the political bosses who had allowed him to win office in the first place. A furious Platt pulled all his strings to get T.R. onto the national Republican ticket in 1896 as a vice-presidential candidate, thus getting him out of New York State. Republican insiders agreed to nominate T.R. for V.P., mostly because the vice-president didn't have any real power at all. Only when an assassin's bullet felled the recently re-elected William McKinley in September 1901, making Teddy Roosevelt president, did they realize what had done.

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