Popular and political notions about Theodore Roosevelt's larger-than-life, masculine persona helped him to shape many of the issues facing the country at the turn of the twentieth century. His legacy of masculinity, however, has overshadowed his rhetoric about women's rights. Whether he was an opportunistic politician who sought to garner female support for his own ends or a staunch ally for women in their search for equality, Roosevelt responded to women's plight in the same way he did regarding many of the nation's problems—he invoked the Frontier Myth as a catalyst for change. His prepresidential rhetoric constructed the frontier woman as an essential actor in the early development of the country and as a synthesis of competing ideologies in modern America: she embraced the rugged individualism needed on the wild frontier and proved her equality with men, but she also upheld her civic responsibility to birth a mighty nation. In his presidential and postpresidential discourse, Roosevelt evoked that mythic memory of the frontier woman as a lesson for modern women to consider as a means to achieve some level of cultural equality.


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pp. 423-456
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