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Roosevelt the Reformer, Roosevelt the Reformer, 0817313613, 0-8173-1361-3, 978-0-8173-1361-6, 9780817313616, , , Roosevelt the Reformer, 081738233X, 0-8173-8233-X, 978-0-8173-8233-9, 9780817382339, , , Roosevelt the Reformer, 0817357246, 0-8173-5724-6, 978-0-8173-5724-5, 9780817357245,

Roosevelt the Reformer
Theodore Roosevelt as Civil Service Commissioner, 1889-1895
Richard D. White Jr

E Book
2008. 280 pp.
Price:  $34.95 d
Quality Paper
2012. 280 pp.
Price:  $34.95 s

Covers a fascinating period of Theodore Roosevelt’s life, his first six years in Washington

Roosevelt the Reformer sheds light on an important chapter in the biography of the flamboyant 26th president of the United States. From 1889 to 1895—before he was a Rough Rider in the Spanish–American War and before he oversaw the building of the Panama Canal and won the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize—“Teddy” Roosevelt served as one of three civil service commissioners. This was a significant period of his life because he matured politically and learned how to navigate through Washington politics. He sparred with powerful cabinet officers and congressmen and survived their attempts to destroy him. He cultivated important friendships and allegiances, flourished intellectually, and strengthened his progressive views of social justice, racial theory, and foreign relations. It was a period altogether significant to the honing of administrative talent and intellectual acuity of the future president.

Richard White Jr. situates young Roosevelt within the exciting events of the Gilded Age, the Victorian era, and the gay nineties. He describes Roosevelt's relationships with family, friends, colleagues, and adversaries. Many of these people, such as Henry Cabot Lodge, Cecil Spring-Rice, Alfred Mahan, Henry Adams, and John Hay would significantly influence Roosevelt when he later occupied the White House. White explores TR's accomplishments in civil service reform, the effect of the commission experience on his presidency a decade later, and his administrative legacy.

In addition to Harvard University’s immense collection of Roosevelt
correspondence, White drew from original sources such as the Civil Service Commission files in the National Archives, the Library of Congress, the National Park Service Roosevelt Historical Site at Sagamore Hill, and the records of the National Civil Service Reform League.


Richard D. White Jr. is Marjory B. Ourso Excellence in Teaching Professor of Public Administration at Louisiana State University. Retired in 1994 at the rank of captain following a career in the U.S. Coast Guard, he has published articles in numerous scholarly journals, including Public Administration Review and Policy Studies Review.

“The author . . . writes concisely and clearly . . . [and] is at his best relating Roosevelt’s civil service battles to the events of his life, and especially good at describing his ongoing feud with Samuel Wanamaker, the Philadelphia magnate who served as Harrison’s Postmaster General.”
“[White] surveys the ways in which Roosevelt developed his friendships, made progress in civil service reform, constructed the merit system, and continued his reform efforts as president.”
—Public Administration Review
“Richard D. White Jr.’s . . . monograph about Theodore Roosevelt’s six years as civil service commissioner is the best study of its kind. . . . White offers significant details about TR’s objection to the firing of black women in the Treasury, War, and Interior departments. He also provides fresh research about TR’s opposition to segregation and discrimination in the federal government. . . . White’s book fills an important gap in the Roosevelt literature.”
The Journal of American History
"This rationally organized study . . . astutely analyzes Roosevelt's diverse activities and accomplishments as civil service commissioner in the larger context of the history of the 'spoils system' and the civil service reform movement."
—Willard B. Gatewood, University of Arkansas