Chronicles of America 

Theodore Roosevelt and His Times

In the first decade of the Twentieth Century, the sectional movements which had agitated American politics since the Civil War merged into a nationwide demand that the public interest be served and that the particular desires of individuals, classes, or sections be subordinated to the welfare of the whole. America had achieved an economic and social integration never known before. Business and politics had drawn together in close alliance. Party machines had concentrated political power. Nevertheless, the movements of protest did not die; they came to fruition. The remonstrances of farmers and laborers which had created the Populist party grew into the wider Progressive movement. Roosevelt sensed the trend of public opinion and brought his administration into harmony with it. He undertook to regulate "Big Business" and give a vitality to the Sherman Anti-Trust Law that few had believed possible. He took the same strong  middle ground in his management of labor. Reclamation of waste lands and conservation  of national resources were obviously for the benefit of all and an obligation of the present to future generations.

Roosevelt's successor continued to maintain the public interest as superior to all others, but Taft, like Cleveland before him, was harassed by strife within his party. The contest between the Congressional insurgents and conservative Republicans became bitter with the overthrow of Speaker Cannon's rule over the House of Representatives. Both sides prepared to fight for control of the party convention in 1912. The conservatives won. Progressives bolted the party, and the Democrats had their opportunity. Wilson, nominated because of his liberal tendencies, was elected.