National Geographic : 1965 Oct
Riding a steam shovel, the President in 1906 inspects a pet project, the Pan ama Canal. Crews worked on the stra tegic short cut between the Atlantic and Pacific for 16 years despite tropical heat, yellow fever, and opposition from Colombia, former owner of the Isthmus. UNDERWOODAND UNDERWOOD To enable the fleet to move readily between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, Roosevelt took drastic measures (keenly resented in Latin America) to begin construction of a ca nal across the Isthmus of Panama (above). And to forestall the intervention of European creditors and the establishment of unfriendly foreign bases in the Caribbean, he sent an American official to police the finances of the Dominican Republic. At the request of Japan, in 1905 he mediated the Russo-Japanese War, winning the Nobel Peace Prize-and the ill will of the Japanese, who did not gain as much as they had hoped. When, later, war with Japan threatened over the separation of Japanese from Americans in San Francisco schools, Roosevelt persuaded the school board to back down and negotiated immigration restrictions with Japan. He then sent the Great White Fleet on a good-will tour of the world (opposite, upper). At Yokohama it was received with acclaim. "Teddy" brought a new vibrancy to the 546 Presidency. His high-pitched, earnest voice, jutting jaw, and pounding fist captivated audiences. And he was a brilliant conversa tionalist of almost limitless range. Rudyard Kipling recalled listening to Roosevelt in the early 1890's at Washington's Cosmos Club: "I curled up on the seat oppo site," Kipling said, "and listened and won dered, until the universe seemed to be spin ning round and Theodore was the spinner." The strenuous life was a necessity for Roosevelt. Leaving the Presidency in 1909, he was not content to settle down at Sagamore Hill, his home at Oyster Bay, Long Island, today a national historic site (page 545). In stead, he departed for Africa at the head of an expedition to hunt big game.* He bagged probably the world's most comprehensive col lection of East African animals, now housed in the Smithsonian Institution. In 1914 Roosevelt explored the unknown *See "Wild Man and Wild Beast in Africa," by Theo dore Roosevelt, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, January, 1911.