Turn of the Century Teddy



Print page

The image above is a sketch that I replicated to represent President Theodore Roosevelt’s “Big Stick Diplomacy” and propaganda in the 1900’s. Theodore Roosevelt’s Big Stick Diplomacy is a foreign policy: “speak softly, and carry a big stick.” Roosevelt described his style of foreign policy as “the exercise of intelligent forethought and of decisive action sufficiently far in advance of any likely crisis.”


Propaganda is information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view. So basically they are very one sided images describing a topic of issue. It may take a few minutes to intemperate everything in each image, and what the artist is really trying to say. With propaganda came yellow journalism. Yellow journalism is journalism that is based upon sensationalism and crude exaggeration.

The image above was drawn by William Allen Rogers in 1904. It shows Theodore Roosevelt pulling modern American warships; which would later be known as The Great White Fleet which consisted of 16 battleships that circumnavigated the world. This cartoon was created in 1904 right when Theodore Roosevelt was being re-elected. When President McKinley got assassinated in September 1901 at the world fair in Buffalo, New York. Theodore Roosevelt took his place and added to his Dollar Diplomacy. Only 4 days before McKinley was shot Theodore Roosevelt first used the term “Big Stick” diplomacy.

The first important foreign policy Theodore thought of was to create a Panama Canal. By 1903 the American Army was preparing to support a revolution for Panamanian independence from Columbia so that they could gain rights in gaining rights for building a canal. US work began in June of 1904 and the canal was completed by December 1913. This is a symbol of the growing American Imperialism leading up to WWI. Teddy Roosevelt created his corollary to the Monroe Doctrine in his 1904 inauguration speech.


The Indianapolis News said, “It is manifest destiny for a nation to own the islands which border its shores.” Roosevelt had written privately that if “any South American country misbehaves” it should be “spanked”.[25] A year later, Roosevelt wrote,

Just at the moment I am so angry with that infernal little Cuban republic that I would like to wipe its people off the face of the earth. All that we wanted from them was that they would behave themselves and be prosperous and happy so that we would not have to interfere.

— Theodore Roosevelt, Roosevelt to White.

For more images of early 20th century American Imperialism CLICK HERE.

This cartoon shows President McKinley serving Uncle Sam (USA) the leftovers of the Spanish American war and Dollar Diplomacy.
This cartoon shows President McKinley serving Uncle Sam (USA) the leftovers of the Spanish American war and Dollar Diplomacy.