NEGenWeb Project
Resource Center OLLibrary




a hundred years before, we more than doubled the area of our country by the acquisition of the Louisiana territory (§§ 215, 216). It showed the marvelous growth of that part of the great West lying between the Mississippi and the Rocky Mountains.
   The year following (1905) Portland, Oregon, opened an exposition, which proved a great success. It celebrated not only the Lewis and Clark Centennial (§ 216), but one of the most interesting of the "heroic periods" in the history of that part of the United States west of the Rocky Mountains.
   429. Summary. The chief events of the administrations of Presidents McKinley and Roosevelt (1897-1905) were (1) the enactment of the Dingley high protective tariff; (2) the war with Spain; the annexation of Hawaii, Porto Rico, and the Philippines; (3) the wonderful agricultural progress of the country west of the Mississippi River; (4) the growth of national wealth and of gifts for the public good; (5) our action in regard to the Panama Canal;. (6) the assassination of President McKinley; (7) the Louisiana Purchase Exposition.


   430. Roosevelt's Administration (Twenty-seventh President, One Term, 1905-1909); Some Things Americans are doing in the Twentieth Century; how Disasters are met. In his inaugural address President Roosevelt said there are two things that we should all resolve to do: first, to keep whatever is good in our native land unwasted and unharmed; secondly, to make that good still better, for the sake of those who are coming after us. There were many who heard the President's earnest words who could truthfully answer, That is what we have been trying to do.
   I. We work to save time -- "the stuff," as Franklin said "of which life is made."

   1 Born in New York, 1858 (§ 417, note 1); elected Vice President, 1900; became President, 1901; awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, $40,000, 1906, with which he endowed the Foundation for the Promotion of Industrial Peace; but as no way was found for using the money for that purpose it was eventually returned to him. Elected President by the Republicans, 1904, over Alton B. Parker, Democrat.




   Our American steam shovels (see p. 390) were then cutting a passage for ships across the Isthmus of Panama. This would make the voyage from New York to San Francisco 8000 miles shorter than that around South America.
   Next, as we have already seen (§§ 250, 251), the state of New York was engaged in deepening President Rooseveltand enlarging the Erie Canal, now called the New York State Barge Canal. That great work was completed in 1917. It is hoped that before long barges, moved by steam or other power, will go from Buffalo to New York City in three days -- or much less than half the time that the old boats used to take. They can bring millions of bushels of grain from the West 1 at very low rates. This should make bread cheaper in the eastern states and in Europe.
   Finally, we are improving and extending our railways, and taking measures to secure greater safety in railway travel. We have many more miles of steam roads than all the countries of Europe combined.2 We are increasing the speed of trains and are running some by electricity. By so doing we save time to every passenger, and on every carload of freight; here time is money.
   2. We are trying to save health, without which life is hardly worth living. We are working for the children, so that they may grow up with strong bodies and active minds. We are endeavoring to secure pure food, and our cities and villages are making efforts to obtain cleaner streets and better drinking water.

    1 Much of this grain will probably come through the "Soo" Ship Canal, which unites Lake Superior with Lake Huron.
   2 The total length of the steam railways of the United States at the close of 1904 exceeded 212,000 miles, and in 1920 (including Alaska and Hawaii) it exceeded 260,000 miles. Europe has less than 200,000 miles.




   About sixty years ago New York planned the first great pleasure ground in this country and named it Central Park. To-day every leading American city has one or more such open spaces, including playgrounds for children and ball grounds where all can freely enjoy fresh air and sunshine.
   We have laid out national parks on a generous scale. They will preserve some of the grandest mountain, river, lake, and forest scenery in the world. We have one such park in the Yosemite1 Valley in California, another in the valley of the Yellowstone



River in Wyoming, a third at Mt. Rainier2 in Washington, a fourth at Crater Lake in Oregon, a fifth, of lakes and glaciers,3 in Montana, a sixth in Oklahoma, and a seventh in Colorado. These, with the Big Tree Parks in California, cover a space more than double that of Rhode Island and Delaware combined.
   Recently the national government has recommended that we make a national park of the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River in Arizona (see p. 25). It is furthermore hoped that our half

   1 Yosemite (yo-sem'i-tee).
   2 Rainier (ray-neer').
   3 The glacier, (glay'shers) are vast fields of ice which slowly creep down the sides of snow-capped mountains




of Niagara Falls may be preserved. Then both will become the common property of American citizens for all time.
One of California's Big Trees   3. We are taking steps to save our farming and pasture land, our forests, our coal and iron mines, our quarries, our oil fields, our natural gas, and the water courses of our country, so that they shall be protected against needless waste; we are reclaiming vast areas of desert regions by careful irrigation (see p. 386), and we are beginning to reclaim extensive marshes by drainage. The government at Washington employs a number of trained men who devote their whole time to this most important work.
   These men examine the soils of the different states and territories to see what crops will grow best on them. They try experiments with trees, plants, grasses, vegetables, grains, seeds, fruits, and flowers. Through their labors our farmers are converting swamps, sand hills, and stony places into broad, fertile fields. In this way, too, we are drawing new riches from the earth, -- the mother of nearly all the riches we possess, whether they come from cotton plantations, from grain, corn, rice, or sugar fields, from fruit orchards, dairy and poultry farms, and cattle ranches, or from mines, quarries, forests, and streams.
   In the spring of his last term of office (1908) President Roosevelt invited the governors of all the states and territories of the Union to meet him in Washington. They gathered there to consider what action we should take to save these natural resources of America, which have just been mentioned (see also p. 31). They asked how we could use them to the greatest advantage and yet keep them for the longest possible time. It is safe to say that




the meeting was the most important one of the kind ever held in the history of our country. Great good ought to come from it to us all.
   4. But going beyond these things, we are beginning to try to save the wear and tear of human life. Not very much has been done in this direction yet, but we look forward with hopeful hearts. We believe that the time will come when we shall be able to settle all labor disputes in a friendly way. Then strikes and lockouts will practically cease. Better work will be done and better results obtained.
   Last of all, we are trying and shall continue trying to determine what can be done to save the needless destruction of human life by foolish and hasty wars. For, notwithstanding all our progress, by far the greater part of our enormous national revenue is still spent either in preparation for war or for carrying on war, or in discharging debts and pensions incurred in our past wars.1 But we find that there is another side to the picture, for it seems probable that never before in the history of the world have there been so many wise and thoughtful men resolved to do all in their power to hold back nations from unnecessary fighting.
   We can truthfully say that, in the main, the influence of America has been on the side of peace. Our record in the peaceable settlement of our disputes with other nations shows that fact (§§ 374, 400, 424). It was also in accordance with this principle that President Roosevelt (1905) persuaded Japan and Russia to end their terrible war. In the same year the United States made treaties or agreements with Mexico and a number of the republics of Central America and of South America, which may prevent many useless quarrels. Then (1907-1908) six more similar treaties were made with England, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and Portugal.
   In these four ways we Americans have resolved to try to save time, health, the good earth on which we live, and human life.

   1 Total ordinary expenditures of the national government for 1907 were over $578,000,000; of this amount over $363,000,000 was spent on the army, the navy, pensions, and payment of interest on the national war debt. Since the government was established in 1789 we had spent more than $15,000,000,000 on war and less than $5,000,000,000 in other ways; now we must add at least $25,000,000,000 for our expenses in the Great War (1917-1918), and some estimates would put the amount far higher.




There are more than 20,000,000 children in our public schools, who, we hope, will grow up to take part in this beneficent work.
   But other events show that Americans have begun developing a different kind of power. They are manifesting their ability to face and overcome widespread disasters and business panics.
   Reference has been made (§ 372) to the conflagrations which occurred, in Chicago (1871) and in Boston (1872) and to the Charleston earthquake (1886). These calamities were followed by the Galveston hurricane (1900), which destroyed more than 6000 lives and property valued at $18,000,000, and which swept away much of the very ground on which the city stood. Four years later (1904) the great Baltimore fire burned up property worth upwards of $50,000,000. In all these cases the citizens have more than made good the devastation, and the rapidly growing port of Galveston has completed a gigantic sea wall to protect the new city for the future.
   Two years later (1906) came a still heavier blow. The California earthquake wrought havoc far beyond anything the country had ever before experienced. Its destructive force showed itself on the greatest scale at San Francisco, where scores of costly buildings were overthrown. Fire completed the work of devastation. More than 200,000 persons were rendered homeless, and property valued at more than $400,000,000 was destroyed.
   The whole population of the United States rose to send aid to the stricken city. It was a demonstration of the fact that with us North, South, East, and West form but one country and one people, and that the blow which strikes the remotest part is felt by all.
    On the other hand, the inhabitants of San Francisco showed their wonderful power of self-help. They proved what Americans have proved more than once, that is, that strength of heart and strength of will can find ways to turn loss into gain. Standing in the midst of confusion and desolation, they set their hands to the work, and above the ruins and the ashes of their old home they have built a new and grander city.
   In the same spirit the business men of our entire country met the money panic (§§ 275, 312, 373, 400) of a later date (1907).

Prior page
General Index
Next page

© 1999, 2000, 2001 for NEGenWeb Project, T&C Miller