Theodore Roosevelt was born on 27 October, 1858, in a 4-story brownstone at 28 East 20th Street, in the modern-day Gramercy section of New York City, the 2nd of 4 children of Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. (1831–1877) and Mittie Bulloch (1835–1884). Theodore Roosevelt died on 6 January, 1919, also known as T.R., and to the public (but never to friends and intimates) as Teddy. Theodore Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States. A leader of the Republican Party and of the Progressive Party, he was a Governor of New York and a professional historian, naturalist, explorer, hunter, author, and soldier. Theodore Roosevelt is most famous for his personality: his energy, his vast range of interests and achievements, his model of masculinity, and his “cowboy” personality. Originating from a story from one of Theodore Roosevelt’s hunting expeditions, Teddy bears are named after him.
Theodore Roosevelt had an elder sister Anna, nicknamed “Bamie” as a child and “Bye” as an adult for being always on the go, and 2 younger siblings—his brother Elliott (the father of Eleanor Roosevelt) and his sister Corinne (grandmother of newspaper columnists Joseph and Stewart Alsop).
As Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Theodore Roosevelt prepared for and advocated war with Spain in 1898. Theodore Roosevelt organised and helped command the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment – the Rough Riders – during the Spanish-American War. Returning to New York as a war hero, he was elected governor. An avid writer, his 35 books include works on outdoor life, natural history, the American frontier, political history, naval history, and his autobiography.
In 1901, as Vice President, the 42-year-old Theodore Roosevelt succeeded President William McKinley after William McKinley’s assassination by anarchist Leon Czolgosz. Theodore Roosevelt is the youngest person to become President. Theodore Roosevelt was a Progressive reformer who sought to move the dominant Republican Party into the Progressive camp. Theodore Roosevelt distrusted wealthy businessmen and dissolved 40monopolistic corporations as a “trust buster”. Theodore Roosevelt was clear, however, to show he did not disagree with trusts and capitalism in principle but was only against corrupt, illegal practices. Theodore Roosevelt’s “Square Deal” promised a fair shake for both the average citizen (through regulation of railroad rates and pure food and drugs) and the businessmen. Theodore Roosevelt was the 1st U.S. president to call for universal health care and national health insurance. As an outdoorsman, he promoted the conservation movement, emphasizing efficient use of natural resources. After 1906 he attacked big business and suggested the courts were biased against labour unions. In 1910, he broke with his friend and anointed successor William Howard Taft, but lost the Republican nomination to William Howard Taft and ran in the 1912 election on his own one-time Bull Moose ticket. Theodore Roosevelt beat William Howard Taft in the popular vote and pulled so many Progressives out of the Republican Party that Democrat Woodrow Wilson won in 1912, and the conservative faction took control of the Republican Party for the next 2 decades.
Theodore Roosevelt negotiated for the U.S. to take control of the Panama Canal and its construction in 1904; he felt the Panama Canal’s completion was his most important and historically significant international achievement. Theodore Roosevelt was the 1st American to be awarded the Nobel Prize, winning its Peace Prize in 1906, for negotiating the peace in the Russo-Japanese War.
Historian Thomas Bailey, who disagreed with Theodore Roosevelt’s policies, nevertheless concluded, “Roosevelt was a great personality, a great activist, a great preacher of the moralities, a great controversialist, a great showman. Theodore Roosevelt dominated his era as he dominated conversations….the masses loved him; he proved to be a great popular idol and a great vote getter.” Theodore Roosevelt’s image stands alongside Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln on Mount Rushmore. Surveys of scholars have consistently ranked him from 3rd to 7th on the list of greatest American presidents.
The Roosevelts had been in New York since the mid-17th century. Theodore Roosevelt was born into a wealthy family; by the 19th century, the family had grown in wealth, power and influence from the profits of several businesses including hardware and plate-glass importing. The family was strongly Democratic in its political affiliation until the mid-1850s, then joined the new Republican Party. Theodore Roosevelt’s father, known in the family as “Thee”, was a New York City philanthropist, merchant, and partner in the family glass-importing firm Roosevelt and Son. Theodore Roosevelt was a prominent supporter of Abraham Lincoln and the Union effort during the American Civil War. Theodore Roosevelt’s mother Mittie Bulloch was a Southern belle from a slave-owning family in Roswell, Georgia and had quiet Confederate sympathies. Mittie’s brother, Theodore’s uncle, James Dunwoody Bulloch, was a United States Navy officer who became a Confederate admiral and naval procurement agent in Britain. Another uncle, Irvine Bulloch, was a midshipman on the Confederate raider CSS Alabama; both remained in England after the war. From his grandparents’ home, a young Theodore Roosevelt witnessed Abraham Lincoln’s funeral in New York.
Sickly and asthmatic as a youngster, Theodore Roosevelt had to sleep propped up in bed or slouching in a chair during much of his early childhood, and had frequent ailments. Despite his illnesses, he was a hyperactive and often mischievous boy. Theodore Roosevelt’s lifelong interest in zoology was formed at age 7 upon seeing a dead seal at a local market. After obtaining the seal’s head, the young Theodore Roosevelt and 2 of his cousins formed what they called the “Roosevelt Museum of Natural History”. Learning the rudiments of taxidermy, he filled his makeshift museum with many animals that he killed or caught, studied, and prepared for display. At the age of 9, he codified his observation of insects with a paper titled “The Natural History of Insects”.
To combat his poor physical condition, his father compelled the young Theodore Roosevelt to take up exercise. To deal with bullies, Theodore Roosevelt started boxing lessons. 2 trips abroad had a permanent impact: family tours of Europe in 1869and 1870, and of the Middle East 1872 to 1873.
Theodore, Sr. had a tremendous influence on his son. Of him Theodore Roosevelt wrote, “My father, Theodore Roosevelt, was the best man I ever knew. Theodore Roosevelt combined strength and courage with gentleness, tenderness, and great unselfishness. Theodore Roosevelt would not tolerate in us children selfishness or cruelty, idleness, cowardice, or untruthfulness.” Theodore Roosevelt’s sister, Corinne, later wrote, “He told me frequently that he never took any serious step or made any vital decision for his country without thinking first what position his father would have taken.”
Young “Teedie”, as he was nicknamed as a child, (the nickname “Teddy” was from his 1st wife, Alice Hathaway Lee, and he later harboured an intense dislike for it) was mostly home schooled by tutors and his parents. A leading biographer says: “The most obvious drawback to the home schooling Theodore Roosevelt received was uneven coverage of the various areas of human knowledge.” Theodore Roosevelt was solid in geography (thanks to his careful observations on all his travels) and very well read in history, strong in biology, French and German, but deficient in mathematics, Latin and Greek. Theodore Roosevelt matriculated at Harvard College in 1876. Theodore Roosevelt’s father’s death in 1878 was a tremendous blow, but Theodore Roosevelt redoubled his activities. Theodore Roosevelt did well in science, philosophy and rhetoric courses but fared poorly in Latin and Greek. Theodore Roosevelt studied biology with great interest and indeed was already an accomplished naturalist and published ornithologist. Theodore Roosevelt had a photographic memory and developed a life-long habit of devouring books, memorising every detail. Theodore Roosevelt was an eloquent conversationalist who, throughout his life, sought out the company of the smartest people. Theodore Roosevelt could multitask in extraordinary fashion, dictating letters to one secretary and memoranda to another, while browsing through a new book.
While at Harvard, Theodore Roosevelt was active in rowing, boxing, the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, and was a member of the Porcellian Club. Theodore Roosevelt also edited a student magazine. Theodore Roosevelt was runner-up in the Harvard boxing championship, losing to C.S. Hanks. Upon graduating, he underwent a physical examination and his doctor advised him that due to serious heart problems, he should find a desk job and avoid strenuous activity. Theodore Roosevelt chose to embrace strenuous life instead.
Theodore Roosevelt graduated Phi Beta Kappa(22nd of 177) from Harvard in 1880, and entered Columbia Law School. When offered a chance to run for New York Assemblyman in 1881, he dropped out of law school to pursue his new goal of entering public life.
While at Harvard, the Theodore Roosevelt began a systematic study of the role played by the nascent US Navy in the War of 1812. Theodore Roosevelt recorded that right in the middle of classes on mathematics at Harvard, his mind would wander from his tedious lessons to the accomplishments of the infant US Navy, the clash of the “fighting tops”. Reading through the literature of the day, Theodore Roosevelt found both American and British accounts heavily biased and that there had been no systematic study of the tactics employed by opposing forces. Although a tremendous challenge for a young man with no formal military nor naval education, nevertheless, helped on the nautical science aspects by his 2 former Confederate naval officer uncles living in Liverpool and Theodore Roosevelt did his own original research. After graduation, in 1882, the 23 year old Theodore Roosevelt published his 1st book, “The Naval War of 1812.” Immediately, reviewers praised the book’s scholarship and style. The newly established Naval War College adopted it for study, and the Department of the Navy ordered a copy placed in library of every capital ship. Theodore Roosevelt brought out a subsequent edition with questions and answers from both scholars and critics. On modern naval historian, writes that, “Roosevelt’s study of the War of 1812 influenced all subsequent scholarship on the naval aspects of the War of 1812 and continues to be reprinted. More than a classic, it remains, after 120 years, a standard study of the war.”
Alice Hathaway Lee (July 29, 1861 in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts – February 14, 1884in Manhattan, New York) was the 1st wife of Theodore Roosevelt and mother of their child, Alice. Roosevelt’s wife, Alice died of an undiagnosed case of kidney failure called, in those days, Bright’s disease at 2pm in the afternoon, 2 days after Alice Lee was born. Theodore Roosevelt’s mother, Mittie, had died of typhoid fever in the same house, on the same day, at 3am, some 11 hours earlier. After the near simultaneous deaths of his mother and wife, Theodore Roosevelt left his daughter in the care of his sister, Anna “Bamie/Bye” in New York City. In his diary he wrote a large X on the page and indicated that “the light has gone out of my life.”
A short time later, Theodore Roosevelt also wrote a short tribute to his wife published privately. To the immense disappointment of his wife’s namesake and daughter, Alice, he would not speak of his wife publicly or privately for the rest of his life and made no mention of her in his autobiography. Theodore Roosevelt would later indicate that this was his only method of dealing with a such a debilitating loss.
Theodore Roosevelt was a Republican activist during his years in the Assembly, writing more bills than any other New York state legislator. Already a major player in state politics, he attended the Republican National Convention in 1884 and fought alongside the Mugwump reformers; they lost to the Stalwart faction that nominated James G. Blaine. Refusing to join other Mugwumps in supporting Democrat Grover Cleveland, the Democratic nominee, he debated with his friend Henry Cabot Lodge the plusses and minuses of staying loyal or straying. When asked by a reporter whether he would support James G. Blaine, he replied, “That question I decline to answer. It is a subject I do not care to talk about.” Upon leaving the convention, he complained “off the record” to a reporter about James G. Blaine’s nomination. But, in probably the most crucial moment of his young political career, he resisted the very instinct to bolt from the Party that would overwhelm his political sense in 1912. In an account of the Convention, another reporter quoted him as saying that he would give “hearty support to any decent Democrat.” Theodore Roosevelt would later take great (and to some historical critics such as Henry Pringle, rather disingenuous) pains to distance himself from his own earlier comment, indicating that while he made it, it had not been made “for publication.” Leaving the convention, his idealism quite disillusioned by party politics, Theodore Roosevelt indicated that he had no further aspiration but to retire to his ranch in the wild Badlands of the Dakota Territory that he had purchased the previous year while on a buffalo hunting expedition.
Theodore Roosevelt built a 2nd ranch, which he named Elk Horn, 35 miles (56 km) north of the boomtown of Medora, North Dakota. On the banks of the Little Missouri, Theodore Roosevelt learned to ride, rope, and hunt. Theodore Roosevelt rebuilt his life and began writing about frontier life for Eastern magazines. As a deputy sheriff, Theodore Roosevelt hunted down 3 outlaws who stole his river boat and were escaping north with it up the Little Missouri. Capturing them, he decided against hanging them, and sending his foreman back by boat, he took the thieves back overland for trial in Dickinson, guarding them 40 hours without sleep and reading Tolstoy to keep himself awake. When he ran out of his own books, he read a dime store western that one of the thieves was carrying. .” While working on a tough project aimed at hunting down a group of relentless horse thieves, Theodore Roosevelt came across the famous Deadwood Sheriff, Seth Bullock. The 2 would remain friends for life.
After the uniquely severe U.S. winter of 1886-1887 wiped out his herd of cattle and his $60,000 investment (together with those of his competitors), he returned to the East, where in 1885 he had built Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay, New York. It would be his home and estate until his death. Theodore Roosevelt ran as the Republican candidate for mayor of New York City in 1886 as “The Cowboy of the Dakotas”; he came in 3rd.
Following the election, he went to London in 1886 and married his childhood sweetheart, Edith Kermit Carow. They honeymooned in Europe, and Theodore Roosevelt led a party to the summit of Mont Blanc, a feat which resulted in his induction into the British Royal Society. They had 5 children: Theodore Jr., Kermit, Ethel Carow, Archibald Bulloch “Archie”, and Quentin.
Theodore Roosevelt’s definitive 1882 book The Naval War of 1812 was standard history for 2 generations. Theodore Roosevelt undertook extensive and original research, computing British and American man-of-war broadside throw weights. However, his biographies Thomas Hart Benton (1887) and Gouverneur Morris (1888) are considered hastily-written and superficial. Theodore Roosevelt’s 4-volume history of the frontier titled The Winning of the West (1889–1896) had a notable impact on historiography, as it presented a highly original version of the frontier thesis elaborated upon by his friend Frederick Jackson Turner in 1893.
In the 1888 presidential election, Theodore Roosevelt campaigned in the Midwest for Benjamin Harrison. President Benjamin Harrison appointed Theodore Roosevelt to the United States Civil Service Commission, where he served until 1895. In his term, he vigorously fought the spoilsmen and demanded the enforcement of civil service laws. In spite of Theodore Roosevelt’s support for Benjamin Harrison’s reelection bid in the presidential election of 1892, the eventual winner, Grover Cleveland (a Bourbon Democrat), reappointed him to the same post.
Theodore Roosevelt became president of the board of New York City Police Commissioners in 1895. During the 2 years he held this post, Theodore Roosevelt radically reformed the police department. The police force was reputed as one of the most corrupt in America. The NYPD’s history division records that Theodore Roosevelt was “an iron-willed leader of unimpeachable honesty, (who) brought a reforming zeal to the New York City Police Commission in 1895.” Theodore Roosevelt and his fellow commissioners established new disciplinary rules, created a bicycle squad to police New York’s traffic problems and standardized the use of pistols by officers. Thoedore Roosevelt implemented regular inspections of firearms, annual physical exams, appointed 1,600 new recruits based on their physical and mental qualifications and not on political affiliation, established meritorious service medals, and shut down corrupt police hostelries. During his tenure, a Municipal Lodging House was established by the Board of Charities, and Theodore Roosevelt required officers to register with the Board. Theodore Roosevelt also had telephones installed in station houses. Always an energetic man, he made a habit of walking officers’ beats late at night and early in the morning to make sure they were on duty. Theodore Roosevelt became caught up in public disagreements with Commissioner Parker, who sought to negate or delay the promotion of many officers put forward by Theodore Roosevelt. As Governor of New York State before becoming Vice President in March 1901, Theodore Roosevelt signed an act replacing the Police Commissioners with a single Police Commissioner.
Theodore Roosevelt was always facinated by history. Urged by Roosevelt’s close friend, Congressman Henry Cabot Lodge, President William McKinley appointed a delighted Theodore Roosevelt to the post of Assistant Secretary of the Navy in 1897. (Because of the inactivity of Secretary of the Navy John D. Long at the time, this basically gave Theodore Roosevelt control over the department.) Theodore Roosevelt was instrumental in preparing the Navy for the Spanish-American War and was an enthusiastic proponent of testing the U.S. military in battle, at one point stating “I should welcome almost any war, for I think this country needs one”.
On leaving the Army, Theodore Roosevelt was elected governor of New York in 1898 as a Republican. Theodore Roosevelt made such a concerted effort to root out corruption and “machine politics” that Republican boss Thomas Collier Platt forced him on William McKinley as a running mate in the 1900 election, against the wishes of William McKinley’s manager, Senator Mark Hanna. Theodore Roosevelt was a powerful campaign asset for the Republican ticket, which defeated William Jennings Bryan in a landslide based on restoration of prosperity at home and a successful war and new prestige abroad. William Jennings Bryan stumped for Free Silver again, but William McKinley’s promise of prosperity through the gold standard, high tariffs, and the restoration of business confidence enlarged his margin of victory. William Jennings Bryan had strongly supported the war against Spain, but denounced the annexation of the Philippines as imperialism that would spoil America’s innocence. Theodore Roosevelt countered with many speeches that argued it was best for the Filipinos to have stability, and the Americans to have a proud place in the world. Theodore Roosevelt’s 6 months as Vice President (March to September 1901) were uneventful. On 2 September, 1901, at the Minnesota State Fair, Theodore Roosevelt 1st used in a public speech a saying that would later be universally associated with him: “Speak softly and carry a big stick, and you will go far.”
At the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, on 6 September, 1901, President William McKinley was shot by Leon Czolgosz (Zol-gash). Theodore Roosevelt had been at a luncheon of the Vermont Fish and Game League on Lake Champlain when he learned the news. Theodore Roosevelt rushed to Buffalo, but after being assured the President would recover, he went on a planned family camping and hiking trip to Mount Marcyin the Adirondacks. In the mountains, a runner notified him William McKinley was on his death bed. Theodore Roosevelt pondered with his wife, Edith, how best to respond, not wanting to show up in Buffalo and wait on William McKinley’s death. Theodore Roosevelt was rushed by a series of stagecoaches to North Creek train station. At the station, Theodore Roosevelt was handed a telegram that said President William McKinley died at 2:30 AM that morning. Theodore Roosevelt continued by train from North Creek to Buffalo. Theodore Roosevelt arrived in Buffalo later that day, accepting an invitation to stay at the home of Ansley Wilcox, a prominent lawyer and friend since the early 1880s when they had both worked closely with New York State Governor Grover Cleveland on civil service reform.
Theodore Roosevelt took the oath of office in the Ansley Wilcox House at Buffalo, borrowing Ansley Wilcox’s morning coat. Theodore Roosevelt did not swear on a Bible, in contrast to the usual tradition of US presidents. Expressing the fears of many old-line Republicans, Mark Hanna lamented “that damned cowboy is president now.” Theodore Roosevelt was the youngest person to assume the presidency, at 42, and he promised to continue William McKinley’s cabinet and his basic policies. Theodore Roosevelt did so, but after winning election in 1904, he moved to the political left, stretching his ties to the Republican Party’s conservative leaders.
Theodore Roosevelt commanding 2 large bears “Interstate Commerce Commission” and “Federal Courts” to attack Wall Street before the Panic of 1907. Puck May 8, 1907Theodore Roosevelt promised to continue William McKinley’s program, and at first he worked closely with William McKinley’s men. Theodore Roosevelt 20,000-word address to the Congress in December 1901 asked Congress to curb the power of trusts “within reasonable limits.” They did not act but Theodore Roosevelt did, issuing 44 lawsuits against major corporations; he was called the “trust-buster”.
Theodore Roosevelt firmly believed: “The Government must in increasing degree supervise and regulate the workings of the railways engaged in interstate commerce.” Inaction was a danger, he argued: “Such increased supervision is the only alternative to an increase of the present evils on the one hand or a still more radical policy on the other.”
Theodore Roosevelt’s biggest success was passage of the Hepburn Act of 1906, the provisions of which were to be regulated by the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC). The most important provision of the Act gave the ICC the power to replace existing rates with “just-and-reasonable” maximum rates, with the ICC to define what was just and reasonable. Anti-rebate provisions were toughened, free passes were outlawed, and the penalties for violation were increased. Finally, the ICC gained the power to prescribe a uniform system of accounting, require standardised reports, and inspect railroad accounts. The Act made ICC orders binding; that is, the railroads had to either obey or contest the ICC orders in federal court. To speed the process, appeals from the district courts would go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. The limited on railroad rates depreciated the value of railroad securities, a factor in causing the panic of 1907.
In response to public clamor (and due to the uproar cause by Upton Sinclair’s book The Jungle), Theodore Roosevelt pushed Congress to pass the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, as well as the Meat Inspection Act of 1906. These laws provided for labeling of foods and drugs, inspection of livestock and mandated sanitary conditions at meatpacking plants. Congress replaced Theodore Roosevelt’s proposals with a version supported by the major meatpackers who worried about the overseas markets, and did not want small unsanitary plants undercutting their domestic market.
Theodore Roosevelt was the 5ht Vice President to succeed to the office of President, but the 1st to win election in his own right. (Millard Fillmore ran and lost on a
3rd-party ticket 4 years after leaving office, and Chester Arthur was denied nomination by his party in 1884). After Senator Mark Hanna, William McKinley’s old campaign manager, died in February 1904, there was no one in the Republican Party to oppose Theodore Roosevelt, and he easily won the nomination. When an effort to draft former president Grover Cleveland failed, the Democrats were without a candidate and finally settled on obscure New York judge Alton B. Parker. The outcome was never in doubt. Theodore Roosevelt crushed Alton B. Parker 56%-38% in the popular vote and 336-140 in the Electoral College, sweeping the country outside the perennially Democratic Solid South. Socialist Eugene Debs got 3%. The night of the election, after his victory was clear, Theodore Roosevelt promised not to run again in 1908. Theodore Roosevelt later regretted that promise, as it compelled him to leave the White House at the age of only 50, at the height of his popularity.
Theodore Roosevelt took Cabinet members and friends on long, fast-paced hikes, boxed in the state rooms of the White House, romped with his children, and read voraciously. In 1908, he was permanently blinded in his left eye during one of his boxing bouts, but this injury was kept from the public at the time. Theodore Roosevelt’s many enthusiastic interests and limitless energy led one ambassador to wryly explain, “You must always remember that the President is about 6.”
During his presidency, Theodore Roosevelt tried but did not succeed to advance the cause of spelling reform as advocated by the Simplified Spelling Board. Theodore Roosevelt issued an executive order requiring the use of the reformed spelling system in August 1906. Theodore Roosevelt tried to force the federal government to adopt the system, sending an order to the Public Printer to use the system in all public federal documents. The order was obeyed, and among the documents thus printed was the President’s special message regarding the Panama Canal.
The reform annoyed the public, forcing him to rescind the order. Literary critic Brander Matthews, a friend of Theodore Roosevelt and one of the chief advocates of the reform as Chairman of the Spelling Reform Board, remonstrated with him for abandoning the effort. Theodore Roosevelt replied on 16 December: “I could not by fighting have kept the new spelling in, and it was evidently worse than useless to go into an undignified contest when I was beaten. Do you know that the one word as to which I thought the new spelling was wrong – thru – was more responsible than anything else for our discomfiture?” Next summer Theodore Roosevelt was watching a naval review when a newspaper launch marked “Pres Bot” chugged ostentatiously by. The President waved and laughed with delight.
Theodore Roosevelt’s oldest daughter, Alice, was a controversial character during his stay in the White House. When friends asked if he could rein in his elder daughter, Theodore Roosevelt said, “I can be President of the United States, or I can control Alice. I cannot possibly do both.” In turn, Alice said of him that he always wanted to be “the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral.”
Theodore Roosevelt’s contribution to the White House was the construction of the original West Wing, which he had built to free up the 2nd floor rooms in the residence that formerly housed the president’s staff. Theodore Roosevelt and Edith also had the entire house renovated and restored to the federal style, tearing out the Victorian furnishings and details (including Tiffany windows) that had been installed over the previous 3 decades.
Theodore Roosevelt angrily complained about the foreign policy of President Wilson, calling it “weak.” This caused him to develop an intense dislike for Woodrow Wilson. When World War I began in 1914, Theodore Roosevelt strongly supported the Allies of World War I and demanded a harsher policy against Germany, especially regarding submarine warfare. In 1916, he campaigned energetically for Charles Evans Hughes and repeatedly denounced Irish-Americans and German-Americans who Theodore Roosevelt said were unpatriotic because they put the interest of Ireland and Germany ahead of America’s by supporting neutrality. Theodore Roosevelt insisted one had to be 100% American, not a “hyphenated American” who juggled multiple loyalties. When the U.S. entered the war in 1917, Theodore Roosevelt sought to raise a volunteer infantry division, but Woodrow Wilson refused.
Theodore Roosevelt’s attacks on Woodrow Wilson helped the Republicans win control of Congress in the off-year elections of 1918. Theodore Roosevelt was popular enough to seriously contest the 1920 Republican nomination, but his health was broken by 1918, because of the lingering malaria. Theodore Roosevelt’s son Quentin, a daring pilot with the American forces in France, was shot down behind German lines in 1918. Quentin was his youngest son and probably his favourite. It is said the death of his son distressed him so much that Theodore Roosevelt never recovered from his loss.
Theodore Roosevelt’s Grave in Youngs Memorial Cemetery Oyster Bay, New York 26 steps leading to Theodore Roosevelt’s grave, commemorating his service as 26th President Despite his debilitating diseases, Theodore Roosevelt remained active to the end of his life. Theodore Roosevelt was an enthusiastic proponent of the Scouting movement. The Boy Scouts of America gave him the title of Chief Scout Citizen, the only person to hold such title. One early Scout leader said, “The 2 things that gave Scouting great impetus and made it very popular were the uniform and Teddy Roosevelt’s jingoism.”
On 6 January, 1919 Theodore Roosevelt died in his sleep at Oyster Bay of a coronary embolism, preceded by a 2 1/2-month illness described as inflammatory rheumatism, and was buried in nearby Youngs Memorial Cemetery. Upon receiving word of his death, his son, Archie, telegraphed his siblings simply, “The old lion is dead.” Woodrow Wilson’s vice president at the time Thomas R. Marshall said of his death “Death had to take Roosevelt sleeping, for if he had been awake, there would have been a fight.”
Theodore Roosevelt intensely disliked being called “Teddy,” and was quick to point out this fact to those who used the nickname, though it would become widely used by newspapers during his political career. Theodore Roosevelt attended the Madison Square Presbyterian Church until the age of 16. Later in life, when Theodore Roosevelt lived at Oyster Bay he attended an Episcopal church with his wife. While in Washington he attended services at Grace Reformed Church. As President he firmly believed in the separation of church and state and thought it unwise to have In God We Trust on currency, because he thought it sacrilegious to put the name of the Deity on something so common as money. Theodore Roosevelt was also a Freemason, and regularly attended the Matinecock Lodge’s meetings. Theodore Roosevelt once said that “One of the things that so greatly attracted me to Masonry that I hailed the chance of becoming a Mason was that it really did act up to what we, as a government, are pledged to – namely to treat each man on his merit as a man.”
Theodore Roosevelt had a lifelong interest in pursuing what he called, in an 1899 speech, “the strenuous life.” To this end, he exercised regularly and took up boxing, tennis, hiking, rowing, polo, and horseback riding. As governor of New York, he boxed with sparring partners several times a week, a practice he regularly continued as President until one blow detached his left retina, leaving him blind in that eye (a fact not made public until many years later). Thereafter, he practiced jujutsu and continued his habit of skinny-dipping in the Potomac River during winter.
Theodore Roosevelt was an enthusiastic singlestick player and, according to Harper’s Weekly, in 1905 showed up at a White House reception with his arm bandaged after a bout with General Leonard Wood. Theodore Roosevelt was also an avid reader, reading tens of thousands of books, at a rate of several a day in multiple languages. Along with Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt is often considered the most well read of any American politician.
For his gallantry at San Juan Hill, Theodore Roosevelt’s commanders recommended him for the Medal of Honour, but his subsequent telegrams to the War Department complaining about the delays in returning American troops from Cuba doomed his chances. In the late 1990s, Theodore Roosevelt’s supporters again took up the flag on his behalf and overcame opposition from elements within the U.S. Army and the National Archives. On 16 January, 2001, President Bill Clinton awarded Theodore Roosevelt the Medal of Honour posthumously for his charge up San Juan Hill, Cuba, during the Spanish-American War. Theodore Roosevelt’s eldest son, Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., received the Medal of Honour for heroism at the Battle of Normandy in 1944. The Roosevelts thus became 1 of only 2 father-son pairs to receive this honour.
The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles is named after him.
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