11.06.16
VII | VII Observations

The Rough Rider


Supporters of Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega attack elected Vice President Guillermo (Billy) Ford in Panama City, May 10, 1989.
© Ron Haviv / VII

It was on this day in 1906 that American President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt became the first president to officially make a diplomatic tour outside of the Continental United States. He set out on a 17-day trip to Panama and Puerto Rico, which was largely successful.

Roosevelt was elected to office in 1901 with the hopes of influencing Central and South American politics. Prior to becoming president, he was secretary of the Navy in 1897 under President William McKinley, and it was during McKinley’s term that the US secured access to strategic ports and industries in nearby countries. American sea power was gaining strength during this period when Roosevelt was serving in the Navy’s highest civilian office, which allowed the US to become even more influential globally.

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