Wanting the American Way Back
The “Strenuous Life” was a thought brought upon by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1899, with his views on what the American way is and where he thought the American way was headed. Being a former military member and police chief himself, Roosevelt’s views were far different than majority of other people. Roosevelt thought that America was all about masculinity and patriotism and due to the women movements and other factors, the American way was becoming too feminized for his liking. All of this happening during the Victorian Era, the factors that aided the “Strenuous Life” during this time would be modern day urbanization and industrialization, the rise of Christianity, and the women of America. The Victorian people were obsessed with work. They believed in free labor and had strong work ethics therefore resulting in the rise of urbanization and industrialization in America. An example of these would be the railroad systems, which settled the most of the newcomers of the West and the integration of the economy. Moving out and exploring the West made the expansion of civilization a reality by at first, attracting mainly cowboys and Indians due to the “romantic” vision they all had1.
Acts such as the Homestead Act of 1862 were being passed and people were settling down in new parts of the country. And once settled they would produce mass markets for consumer goods and an abundance of other types of retail. The rise of Christianity in America has an impact on the “Strenuous Life” as well. Slowly but surely it was becoming liberalized in America. Walter Raushenbusch, a man for what the social uplift really stood for thought that if one does things through religion it will make what that one does, better. He created soup kitchens and things of that nature to go along and give back to the people in the communities. But with the rise of Christianity during the Victorian era, came the limits of control one would place on themselves. True Christians of this time were never really about having fun. As stated earlier, work came first and then, if any, fun would follow. Lastly, the women of America had multiple impacts on the “Strenuous Life” during the Victorian era. It was thought that if women rode on bikes, that they would turn into men2. “The woman must be the housewife3.”
That was Roosevelt’s thoughts on women in the Victorian era. To him, the men should be going out and working a eight to five job and then coming back to the house and family tended to by the wife. With the women’s rights movements, and women writing pieces of literature, Roosevelt thought that America as a whole was becoming feminized. And for a while, the women of America were finding jobs creating a completely reversed image on how the American way should be. Overall, Theodore Roosevelt’s words and thoughts on the “Strenuous Life” made an impact on America and its ways. It was thought that America was becoming soft with all these movements and organizations being brought upon overtime, things needed to be back to the original way they were in order to be successful Roosevelt thought. The urbanization and industrialization, rise of Christianity, and the women of America were all key factors to the “Strenuous Life” during the Victorian era. Teddy’s views made a lasting remark on how the American way should be.