UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

President Theodore Roosevelt and United States foreign policy, 1901-1907 Roy, Reginald Herbert

Abstract

During the most active years of his life, Theodore Roosevelt lived in an age which was characterized by imperialism. From the time of his youth until the time of his retirement, the Great Powers of Europe were busily engaged extending their political domination over large areas of the world with a view of exploiting these areas economically and otherwise. The United States had been practicing a similar form of imperialism within the limits of North America as its frontier moved westwards. At the turn of the century the country turned from expansion on the American continent to expansion overseas. Roosevelt participated in this latter wave of American imperialism, and the terms of his presidency were wedged in between this and a minor wave of American imperialism in the Caribbean area which took place in the decades following his period. For this reason many people have come to regard Roosevelt as an imperialist and his presidency as an era of imperialism also. The purpose of this thesis is to prove that, although not untainted by the spirit of Manifest Destiny himself, as President of the United States, Roosevelt pursued a nationalist course in his relations with the other nations of the world. Roosevelt's aims in foreign affairs were basically simple. An ultra-nationalist and super-patriot, he believed that his country had a mission in life. This mission was to serve as the beacon of light of progressive civilization in a world of states struggling to better themselves and so reach the goal so happily attained by the United States. The methods he employed in foreign affairs were dominated by this belief. Thus he felt it not improper to use, at times, unethical means to achieve his idealistic ends. The main instrument he employed in this field was his 'big stick' which served him in as many ways as the occasion warranted. And since the 'stick' was used in defence of the 'honor', security and prestige of the United States, Roosevelt assumed that it was of little moment if heads were knocked within the area the 'big stick' was wielded. As a nationalist, and from a short-range and rather narrow point of view, Roosevelt's foreign policy was successful. But viewed from the standpoint of two generations later, his success was mediocre.

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