This era's three presidents, Theodore Roosevelt, William Taft, and Woodrow Wilson, presided over a federal government beginning to assert its power to regulate

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Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States and writer, naturalist, and soldier. He expanded the powers of the presidency and of the federal government in support of the public interest in conflicts between big business and labour and steered the nation toward an active role in world politics, particularly in Europe and Asia.


In 1902 he cajoled Republican conservatives into creating the Bureau of Corporations with the power to investigate businesses engaged in interstate commerce but without regulatory powers. He also resurrected the nearly defunct Sherman Antitrust Act by bringing a successful suit to break up a huge railroad conglomerate, the Northern Securities Company. Roosevelt pursued this policy of "trust-busting" by initiating suits against 43 other major corporations during the next seven years. Also in 1902 Roosevelt intervened in the anthracite coal strike when it threatened to cut off heating fuel for homes, schools, and hospitals. This was the first time that a president had publicly intervened in a labour dispute at least implicitly on the side of workers. Roosevelt characterized his actions as striving toward a "Square Deal" between capital and labour. Roosevelt's boldest actions came in the area of natural resources. At his urging, Congress created the Forest Service (1905) to manage government-owned forest reserves (Encyclopedia Britannica Online).
William Howard Taft became President after Roosevelt. While agreeing with the overall policies of the Roosevelt administration, Taft felt that the power of the Presidency had been extended too far by the previous administration. Taft exerted his power to a much lesser degree. ...
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