No one would accuse Teddy Roosevelt of a lack of ambition. Part of the charm and part of the hubris of his storied career were his unmitigated aspirations. So it came as somewhat of a surprise that in 1904, immediately upon his election to president in his own right, Roosevelt announced his intention to make his first full term, his last. While it is not entirely clear why TR made this decision, on this as in so many crucial decisions he kept his own counsel, it is probably the case that inasmuch as Roosevelt had served most of McKinley’s second term and because his critics had taken note of and criticized his aggressive ambition, TR decided to confound the opposition and unilaterally disarm. It was a decision Roosevelt would come to regret. Roosevelt expended much energy in the next four years choosing a worthy successor—an effort that apparently went to no avail. TR was so angry with President William Howard Taft that by the end of Taft’s first term, the two men hardly spoke. So frustrated was he with Taft’s performance and with his own absence from the limelight, Roosevelt took the extraordinary step in 1912 of running again for the presidency without even his party’s nomination. He lost, but he succeeded in beating Taft (by drawing off Republican votes) and electing Woodrow Wilson in the bargain.
KeywordsForeign Policy Chief Executive Executive Order Final Term Presidential Transition
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