New Nationalism (Theodore Roosevelt)

New Nationalism was Theodore Roosevelt's Progressive political philosophy during the 1912 election.


Roosevelt made the case for what he called the New Nationalism in a speech in Osawatomie, Kansas, on September 1, 1910. The central issue he argued was government protection of human welfare and property rights,[1] but he also argued that human welfare was more important than property rights.[1][2] He insisted that only a powerful federal government could regulate the economy and guarantee social justice,[1] and that a President can only succeed in making his economic agenda successful if he makes the protection of human welfare his highest priority.[1] Roosevelt believed that the concentration in industry was a natural part of the economy. He wanted executive agencies (not the courts) to regulate business. The federal government should be used to protect the laboring men, women and children from exploitation.[3] In terms of policy, Roosevelt's platform included a broad range of social and political reforms advocated by progressives.[4][5][6]

In the social sphere the platform called for

  • A National Health Service to include all existing government medical agencies
  • Social insurance, to provide for the elderly, the unemployed, and the disabled.
  • Limited injunctions in strikes.
  • A minimum wage law for women.
  • An eight-hour workday.
  • A federal securities commission.
  • Farm relief.
  • Workers' compensation for work-related injuries.
  • An inheritance tax.
  • A Constitutional amendment to allow a Federal income tax.

The political reforms proposed included

However, the main theme of the platform was an attack on the domination of politics by business interests, which allegedly controlled both established parties. The platform asserted that

To destroy this invisible Government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day.[7]

To that end, the platform called for

  • Strict limits and disclosure requirements on political campaign contributions.
  • Registration of lobbyists.
  • Recording and publication of Congressional committee proceedings.

The book The Promise of American Life, written in 1909 by Herbert Croly, influenced Theodore Roosevelt.[8] New Nationalism was in direct contrast with Woodrow Wilson's policy of The New Freedom, which promoted antitrust modification, tariff reduction, and banking and currency reform.

According to Lewis L. Gould, "The Progressive party did not go as far as the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt would, but it represented a long step in that direction."[9]


  • "The essence of any struggle for healthy liberty has always been, and must always be, to take from some one man or class of men the right to enjoy power, or wealth, or position, or immunity, which has not been earned by service to his or their fellows. That is what you fought for in the Civil War, and that is what we strive for now."[1]
  • "We grudge no man a fortune in civil life if it is honorably obtained and well used. It is not even enough that it should have gained without doing damage to the community. We should permit it to be gained only so long as the gaining represents benefit to the community."[1]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "The New Nationalism", text of Theodore Roosevelt's August 31, 1910 speech in Osawatomie, Kansas
  2. "Teddy Roosevelt quotes, Teddy Roosevelt and President Abraham Lincoln-inventions, FDR, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John Hay, leadership style,Teddy Roosevelt-leadership style, Lincoln leadership style". Archived from the original on 2012-02-07. Retrieved 2012-02-23.
  3. "Theodore Roosevelt, The New Nationalism—August 31, 1910". 1910-08-31. Retrieved 2012-02-23.
  4. Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U. S. elections. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Inc. 1985. pp. 77–78. ISBN 0-87187-339-7.
  5. P.O. Box 400406 (2012-01-20). "American President: Theodore Roosevelt: Campaigns and Elections". Archived from the original on 2012-10-06. Retrieved 2012-02-23.
  6. "Minor/Third Party Platforms: Progressive Party Platform of 1912". 1912-11-05. Retrieved 2012-02-23.
  7. O'TOOLE, PATRICIA, "The War of 1912," TIME in Partnership with CNN, Jun. 25, 2006.
  8. Roosevelt, Theodore (January 21, 1911). "Nationalism and Popular Rule". The Outlook (New York). pp. 96–101.

Further reading

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