February 23rd, 2013

Theodore Roosevelt, progressive

For all you history buffs out there, and for anyone interested in the roots of progressivism in the United States (which would probably include most readers here), Theodore Roosevelt and the American Political Tradition by Bowdoin professor Jean Yarbrough sounds like an excellent read.

But don’t take my word for it. Take James W. Ceaser’s (author of Reconstructing America: The Symbol of America in Modern Thought):

In this extraordinary book centering on Theodore Roosevelt, Yarbrough has combined three genres to produce a new kind of political writing. As biography, it offers a rich and compelling account of TR’s life, especially in the period of his mature years. As intellectual history, it supplies the best treatment to date of TR’s own political thought, situating it within the framework of the various strands of progressivism. Finally, as political theory in its own right, it explores TR’s political and constitutional ideas in the light of the thought of the founders and of Abraham Lincoln, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of TR as both a thinker and statesman. Yarbrough has pulled off the perfect intellectual trifecta.

Full disclosure here: Jean Yarbrough is a friend of mine.

And I have not yet read the book, although it’s on my list.

But I’d wager it’s every bit as good as Ceaser and all the other reviewers so far at its Amazon page say it is.

5 Responses to “Theodore Roosevelt, progressive”

  1. thomass Says:

    He is not the only one. A good argument can be made that Nixon was a progressive republican too… and not because he had political problems and was forced out…

  2. G Joubert Says:

    Does it deal with the speculated possibility that Teddy had bipolar disorder?

  3. Ymarsakar Says:

    In so far as trust busting and union killing can be considered progressive at least.

  4. Don Carlos Says:

    In 2011 was published “Theodore Roosevelt in the Badlands”, by Roger Di Silvestro, a history of TR’s several years as a largely absentee owner of a ranch in South Dakota’s Badlands.
    TR hoped to make big money from cattle ranching in the 1880s. But he did not, and he screwed over his impecunious managers (who were his minority partners, the two grunts and their families, all from New England, who had to endure the terrible winters) when he bailed out.

    There is a tell in this tale of the ardent Progressive who cloaked himself in early environmentalism and preservation: The bison (aka buffalo) herds had been decimated by this point. TR loved to hunt from horseback, and one wintry day rode up on a tiny group of bison–one bull, 3 or 4 cows, a calf. He killed the bull despite his knowledge of bison numbers, couldn’t help himself.

  5. n.n Says:

    The problem is not with classical progressivism per se, but with its generational evolution, especially the development of internal inconsistencies. It’s the same problem which afflicts every philosophy, including liberalism, where the generational variety little resembles its classical predecessor. The problem is principally with generational “rebels” and selective standards.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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