Roosevelt and Taft in the First Part Essay

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Roosevelt and Taft

In the first part of the twentieth century the United States found itself becoming an emerging world power. In response to this new position in the world, two distinct foreign policies developed under two successive presidents: Theodore Roosevelt's "big stick" policy and William Taft's "dollar diplomacy." While one was predicated on the development and use of military power to reinforce America's position in the world, the other was based on the development and use of economic resources to accomplish the same goal. Roosevelt's position was unashamedly militaristic while Taft's was based on economic incentives, but in the end Roosevelt was more successful. This is because, while he promoted military power, his reliance on military power intimidated many nations into acceding to his demands without the actual use of military force while Taft's attempt to downplay military force ultimately required him to use it more often.

Theodore Roosevelt based his foreign policy on an African proverb which stated that it was better to speak softly but carry a big stick. This was translated by Roosevelt into his "big stick" foreign policy which built up America's military power while not being overly threatening with it. America's military power would act as a silent threat which was to prod other nations into accepting American positions. The best example of this policy came when Roosevelt used American military power to support the Panamanian revolutionaries and, without a single battle, gained the Panama Canal as a result. He also used America's emerging military power in Asia to broker a peace treaty between Japan and Russia. The "Big Stick" policy was successful because, while it prepared the military for war, it avoided any real military action.

Following Roosevelt in the Presidency was William Taft, who changed the focus of America's foreign policy from the "Big Stick" to the "Dollar Diplomacy." In effect, the United States would…

Sources Used in Documents:


Faragher, J.M., Buhle, M.J., Czitrom, D., & Armitage, S.H.. (2009). Out of Many: A

History of the American People, Vol. II. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice

Hall. Print.

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