Theodore Roosevelt's The Strenuous Life

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At the beginning of the 20th century, the United States was booming with new industrial innovations because of new technologies, and it was becoming one of the leading economies in the world. This economic boom came to a sharp halt as events such as the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl hit, causing millions of Americans to face economic struggles. “The Strenuous Life,” a speech given by Theodore Roosevelt, displays the ideas of American work ethics that led to economic growth in the early 1900s. These ideals of work ethic not only prompted the cause of the Dust Bowl, but were continued on into the lives of the affected farmers as Americans displaced and in poverty from this event continued to participate in migrant work with awful living…show more content…
As American industry began to increase, and the economy was prospering, the labor market became competitive as new technologies were replacing certain jobs that were previously needed. Ideas of labor and what a proper “American” work ethic was began to become extremely popular in society as labor competition increased. “The Strenuous Life,” was presented in 1899 by Roosevelt—right at the boom of the industrial and technological revolution. As Roosevelt discussed many ideas of what “real” American men and women were, he continued into discussing what an American work ethic should be, saying that he wished to preach “the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, or labor and strife.” This idealized American work ethic was not necessarily painted as being easy; it was one of perseverance, hard work, and strife. As these ideas were spread throughout the nation, they encouraged Americans to actively practice them. Roosevelt emphasized the idea that not practicing this work ethic was unhealthy for individuals, as well as the country as a whole, stating that “A mere life of ease is not in the end a very satisfactory life, and, above all, it is a life which…show more content…
Farmers in the West, both before and as the Depression hit, frivolously worked to farm their land and produce as much agriculture as possible, aiming to fulfil their duty as a “proper” American citizen in fulfilling their role as a hard and productive worker. The ideas of hard work ultimately led to over-working the American farmland in the western United States. As the overworked land was uprooted, displacing these farmers, the ideas of a strenuous American work ethic continued to remain in the minds of these
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