167re: [tr-m] Michael Beschloss quote on CSPAN
- Mar 1, 2001Some time ago I sent the following quote to the list and asked what you
thought of it. Some discussion followed. I thought I would add my thoughts.
Michael Beschloss is, I believe, a well respected historian and therefore
we tend to take what he says as gospel, especially if it appears on
TV. Nonetheless, I think he is dead wrong about the historiography of
TR. In fact he has it backwards. TR was well respected in the 20's. The
biographies were all uncritical, even fawning. It was in 1931 with the
publication of Henry F. Pringle's Pulitzer Prize winning "debunking"
biography, *Theodore Roosevelt* that TR's reputation took a nose dive. It
began to be resurrected with the publication of William Henry Harbaugh's
*Power & Responsibility, The life and times of Theodore Roosevelt* in 1961,
and achieved it's current status with Edmund Morris's *The Rise of Theodore
Roosevelt* in 1979, also a Pulitzer Prize winner. Yes, Beschloss is right
that presidential reputations are influenced by contemporary attitudes, but
only to an extent. Perhaps what is much more important is who is writing
about a particular president and how the writer portray him.
>The following quote appeared on CSPAN2 on2/11/01 at 7:00 AM
>... And historians are
>human and I think that leads us to be fairly open minded about someone who
>does that. Another thing to remember is the presidential reputations are so
>influenced by changes in a political era. The priorities of the American
>people at a given time. Theodore Roosevelt is a wonderful example of this.
>We now think
>of Theodore Roosevelt as a pretty major important president, but that was not
>always the case. If we were talking about Theodore Roosevelt in the 1920's,
>some wag probably would have referred to him as a hyper thyroid case who got
>the government much too involved in the domestic economy and around the
>world. T. R.'s time was not the 1920's, a time when people were very
>allergic to the idea of being involved in the world and allergic to the
>idea of government
>intervention in the economy. But you get up to the 1930's, the 1940's, that
>was a time that was just tailor made for Theodore Roosevelt, his
>reputation began to
>Quote from Michael Beschloss, author of *American Heritage Illustarted
>History of the Presidents
>What do member of the group think of this idea?
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