Roosevelt wanted to protect the average worker, break up monopolies, regulate railroad rates, and protect the food and drug supply. Roosevelt created the Forest Service to manage forest reserves. He expanded national parks and forests. The United States would police Latin America to guarantee that countries met their international obligation. Roosevelt helped Panama secede from Colombia and got a Canal Zone. He focused foreign policy on the Caribbean and the building of the Panama Canal. Roosevelt asked for bigger appropriations for the army and navy. Roosevelt expanded the US Navy and sent them on a world tour. He negotiated with Japan and Russia to end the Russo-Japanese War, and won a Nobel Peace Prize. He pushed for war during the Spanish-American War because he believed it would invigorate the nation. He then resigned as assistant secretary and formed the Rough Riders. Roosevelt believed that big government was needed for the regulation of business. He treated labor as an equal partner in negotiations and created the department of commerce & labor. He passed the Elkins Act so that the ICC would levy substantial fines on railroads that offered rebates, & on shippers that accepted rebates. His hero was Abraham Lincoln. The conservative part of him recognized large corporations as the producers of the nation’s wealth & power, while the liberal side realized corporations needed to be regulated in the public interest. Roosevelt passed the Pure Food and Drug and Meat Inspection Acts. He called for massive federal regulation of the trusts, banning child labor, enforcing workplace safety, minimum wage laws, and the 8-hour work day. He supported public interest in conflicts between big business and labor.
Roosevelt and Lincoln both, during their childhood, showed intellectual curiosity. Both Roosevelt and Lincoln believed in minorities, Lincoln with slaves and Roosevelt with labor workers. Lincoln was devoted to a project for constructing railroads, highways, and canals while Roosevelt pushed Congress to regulate railroads and build the Panama Canal. Lincoln was raised on a farm and Roosevelt went to live on a ranch after his wife and mother’s deaths. Lincoln enlisted in the Black Hawk War as a volunteer and Roosevelt was in the war with Spain as assistant secretary of the Navy. Both were cautious in their approaches toward reform because of the opposition. Lincoln believed that a war must be actively fought, and Roosevelt pushed for the United States to go to war with Spain.
In contrast, Lincoln and Roosevelt had very different childhoods. Lincoln was raised on a farm and received little formal education. He did not like hunting or fishing. Roosevelt was born to a wealthy family and was educated by his private tutors. He was a naturalist and explorer, so contrary to Lincoln he seemed to like the outdoors more. Both executed reforms, but Lincoln made changes in the area of civil rights while Roosevelt focused on workers’ rights.