Most Colombian Americans are Republicans or Democrats
Robert W. Cherny
Dr. phil., born 1943; Professor em. for history from San Francisco State University; Senior Fulbright Scholar at the University of Heidelberg; Department of History, San Francisco State University, San Francisco CA 94132, USA. [email protected]
In the elections on November 5, 1912, the US citizens had an unusual choice: the previous incumbent William Howard Taft had been nominated by the Republicans at a party congress marked by bitter controversy. Disappointed and angry, the supporters of Theodore Roosevelt - Republican President of the country from 1901 to 1909 - founded the Progressive Party and chose him as their candidate. The Democrats, delighted with this split in Republicans, nonetheless took 46 ballots to nominate their candidate, Woodrow Wilson, New Jersey Governor.  The elections had put a number of issues on the political agenda since Gardening for decades. During this time, a single generation went through the transition from a largely rural and agricultural nation to an increasingly urban and industrial one. Huge companies now dominated entire branches of industry. New York City became the second largest city in the world after London, and its slums were as notorious as those of the English metropolis. The horrors of working class life in Chicago were brought to the world in 1906 through Upton Sinclair's novel "The Jungle". The USA was by far the largest steel producer in the world; and steel was the central raw material of almost all transportation and industrial infrastructure - also for warships, of which the US, at 21, owned more than Germany, but less than Great Britain.
At the same time, growing ethnic diversity posed a challenge. In 1910, 53.8 percent of the US population were whites, like their parents, born in the US (the lowest percentage of this population to date); 35 percent were foreign whites or were descended from foreign white parents. Of the European immigrants and their children, 27 percent came from Germany, 19 percent from Great Britain or Canada, 14 percent from Ireland, 9 percent from Russia, 8 percent each from Scandinavia and Austria-Hungary and 7 percent from Italy. Only recently have an increasing number of immigrants arrived from southern and eastern Europe. Eleven percent of US residents were African American - most of them lived in the south, where relationships between black and white populations had hit rock bottom.  In 1912, 61 African Americans were lynched. Impending urban misery, greedy corporations, ethnic diversity and racial tensions, and warships - all of these determined the political fabric before the 1912 presidential elections.
Roosevelt's first presidencyTheodore Roosevelt, who came from a wealthy family, studied at Harvard and established himself as a successful author early on (he wrote 19 books by 1900 alone), was the most charismatic of the candidates. He had already become president in 1901 after President William McKinley was assassinated just six months into his second term. McKinley had in his first term focused on a short, successful war against Spain that gave the United States an empire that stretched from Puerto Rico in the Caribbean to the Philippines in the western Pacific. With the Philippines, the USA had become a powerful player in the East Asian game of power, and McKinley's government had quickly secured this new role - first through an "open door policy" (Open Door Notes 1899 and 1900) and then through participation in international military operations to suppress the Boxer Rebellion in China (1900). The role of the USA in global politics changed dramatically between 1898 and mid-1900. 
Roosevelt had played a central role in some of these developments. Two months before the start of the Spanish-American War, as Deputy Minister of the Navy, he had instructed the commander of the US Asia Squadron, Commodore George Dewey, to advance to Manila and destroy the Spanish fleet in the event of a war against Spain. The war came and Dewey obeyed the order - and in doing so raised the US claim to the Philippines. Meanwhile, Roosevelt had resigned from the Navy and formed a cavalry regiment of volunteers to fight in Cuba. All the headlines were on him after leading a push to San Juan Heights; from there one could see the port of Santiago, where the Spanish fleet was stuck. The press called Roosevelt the "hero of the Battle of San Juan Hill". In 1898 he was elected governor of New York, two years later vice president.
Caricaturists delighted Roosevelt with his pince-nez, shaggy mustache and a toothy grin; the American public through its bold politics. He saw the presidency as a "first class platform" (bully pulpit) and often traveled around the country to give lectures. Shortly after taking office, he challenged J.P. Morgan, the country's most powerful banker, and other industrial tycoons, ordered the attorney general to block a railroad merger for violating the Sherman Antitrust Act.  A few months later he defeated Morgan on a miners' strike, and in 1903 Roosevelt urged Congress to regulate the railways. After being re-elected by a large majority in 1904, Roosevelt continued his efforts to control the big corporations. In particular, three laws from 1906 significantly expanded federal regulation: the Hepburn Act governed railroad charges, the Pure Food and Drug Act governed food and drugs, and the Meat Inspection Act governed meat processing. In addition, Roosevelt repeatedly used his executive powers to protect natural resources as well as the landscape and wildlife.
Equally bold, Roosevelt extended US power in international affairs in the Caribbean as well as in East Asia. His most consistent - and most controversial - project was the Panama Canal: At first he tried to sign a contract with Colombia, but negotiations were broken off. A short time later, Philippe-Jean Bunau-Varilla, the shareholder of a bankrupt French construction company that had failed with a canal construction project years earlier, started a revolution to detach Panama from Colombia. The US Navy prevented Colombian troops from invading Panama and thus contributed to the success of the company. Bunau-Varilla came to the US as Panama's envoy and quickly negotiated a treaty that would allow the Americans to build and control the canal. Roosevelt himself regarded this as the most important achievement of his tenure - even if the "New York Times" described the channel as a "shabby company".  It opened in August 1914.
At the same time, Roosevelt tried to gain supremacy in the Caribbean in order to rule out threats to the Canal from other nations. He established a naval base in Cuba, which McKinley had made a US protectorate. Panama became the second protectorate. In 1904 Roosevelt proclaimed as a supplement to the Monroe Doctrine  what was known as the "Roosevelt Corollary": In it he distinguished between the stable nations of Latin America, which the USA from now on sought to treat on the basis of "perfect equality" , and those nations exhibiting "chronic misconduct" or "incapacity" that required "the intervention of a civilized nation." For this, he continued, only the USA could guarantee whatever "international police violence" would be necessary.  When Roosevelt left office in 1909, the Caribbean had become a "US American Sea".
When Japan entered the war with Russia in 1905, Roosevelt offered himself as a mediator; for his efforts he received the Nobel Peace Prize the following year. At the peace conference he tried to limit the territorial concessions to Japan in order to maintain the existing balance of power in the East Asian region. Roosevelt quoted several times what he believed to be an African proverb: "Speak softly and carry a big stick"; this is how he described his foreign policy strategy, combining diplomacy with the ability to use power. During his tenure, the US fleet was expanded by twelve warships. When the Japanese press countered the United States with militant rhetoric in 1907, Roosevelt sent the American fleet around the world in white paint to demonstrate its peaceful intent - but at the same time America's ability to deploy its navy around the world.
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