Ragtime begins by describing the patriotism in America at the turn of the century while Teddy Roosevelt was president. Roosevelt became the 26th president of the United States after the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901. He served two terms, leaving office in March of 1909. He was succeeded in office by William Howard Taft.
A trust is a large business with significant market power, sometimes used to refer to monopolies in the United States during the Second Industrial Revolution in the 19th century. When Roosevelt took office, he began to sympathize with the public concern over monopolies on business created by the super wealthy. His domestic policy included more populist acts such as support of organized labor unions to curb the power of trusts. He became known as the "trust-buster" using the 1890 Sherman Antitrust Act to bring 44 antitrust suits. He "busted" the Northern Securities Company which had a monopoly on American railroads and Standard Oil, the largest oil and refinery company. He also created the United States Department of Commerce and Labor. For big businessmen such as J.P. Morgan and Henry Ford, Roosevelt's policy must have seemed threatening.
Coal strike of 1902
In eastern Pennsylvania, anthracite coal miners went on strike for higher wages, shorter workdays, and recognition of their union, the United Mine Workers of America. The strike threatened to shut down the winer fuel supply to major US cities. Roosevelt created a fact-finding commission that suspended the strike. It was never reopened; together with J.P. Morgan, Roosevelt crafted an accord in which the miners received a 10% wage increase and reduced work days from ten to nine hours, but the union was not recognized. This was the first labor dispute in which the US government involved itself as a neutral arbitrator.
Roosevelt became the first president to issue more than 1,000 executive orders, more than the first 25 presidents combined. He is infamous for extending the reach of his presidential office, even attempting to make changes to the official rules of football. His executive orders largely focused on environmental conservation, an issue which he believed was one of the most important of his time.
Dramaturgy for the Ragtime musical and novel.
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