Theodore Roosevelt, Congress, and the Military: U.S. Civil-Military Relations in the Early Twentieth Century



    1. Assistant professor of history at Radford University in Virginia. His published works include the centennial republication of Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders, to which he contributed the introduction. He is currently working on a book-length study of Theodore Roosevelt as commander in chief.
    Search for more papers by this author


The presidency of Theodore Roosevelt marked a time of considerable tension in civil-military affairs. Roosevelt made the modernization of the armed services a top priority, but frequently he complicated civil-military relations in the process. Members of Congress worried about the executive treading on legislative prerogatives, and military officers actually found many presidential initiatives disruptive. In addition, Roosevelt's cultivation of popular support for his military programs reshaped civil-military relations. The press regularly rewarded the president with favorable coverage, but sometimes Roosevelt endured controversies that were largely his own making. Roosevelt and the other participants in civil-military debates lavished so much attention on reporters that the press essentially became a fourth member of the established civil-military troika of president, Congress, and military. This development, along with Roosevelt's work to modernize the military and the demands of great power responsibilities, formed the broad outlines of modern civil-military relations in the United States.