In one of those ironic, funny moments in history, Teddy Roosevelt unexpectedly became president of the United States in September of 1901 when President William McKinley died of an assassins bullet.
Why was it ironic and funny? Certainly not because of McKinley’s death, which was tragic and heart-breaking for the country. It was ironic and funny because of the politicians whose plan back-fired on them.
Teddy Roosevelt became the young governor of New York at the tale of the 19th century. The New York Republicans and big business fat cats couldn’t stand him, simply because he wouldn’t play their games. He couldn’t be bribed or willed to do anything. Teddy had in his mind what was right and stuck to it. He was far too progressive for these tycoons and back-room politicians and their sly, sneaky dealings. So the cronies of unchecked capitalism had an idea, let’s push to get Teddy out of New York! The best way to do that is put him on the 1900 Republican Presidential Ticket with McKinley as his new Vice President. This would solve everyone’s problems because everyone knows that the Vice President does nothing and has no power!
So Teddy became Vice President in March of 1901 as McKinley was sworn in for his second term of office. But as he visited the Pan-Am Exposition in Buffalo, NY, he was shot, dying a couple days later. The outdoors-man Roosevelt was performing his Vice Presidential duties by camping in the Catskills when the messenger found him, telling him of McKinley’s death.
Teddy Roosevelt was sworn in as president, and now those New York politicians had him as their Commander-in-Chief. Roosevelt went on to become the first progressive president, pushing back against the unchecked monopolies of the Gilded Age.
The New York industrialists and politicians got exactly what they needed, but certainly not what they wanted.