Theodore "T.R." Roosevelt, Jr. (October 27, 1858 – January 6, 1919) was the 26th President of the United States (1901–1909). He is noted for his exuberant personality, range of interests and achievements, and his leadership of the Progressive Movement, as well as his "cowboy" persona and robust masculinity. He was a leader of the Republican Party and founder of the first incarnation of the short-lived Progressive ("Bull Moose") Party of 1912. Before becoming President, he held offices at the city, state, and federal levels. Roosevelt's achievements as a naturalist, explorer, hunter, author, and soldier are as much a part of his fame as any office he held as a politician. Roosevelt was 42 years old when sworn in as President of the United States in 1901, making him the youngest president ever. Roosevelt was also the first of only three sitting presidents to have won the Nobel Peace Prize. The Teddy bear is named for him, despite his contempt for being called "Teddy".
Roosevelt often described his ancestry as "half Irish and half Dutch." His patrilineal Roosevelt family, colonists of Dutch origin, had been in New York since the mid-17th century. Roosevelt was born into considerable wealth, for the family by the 19th century had grown in wealth 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, and then joined the new Republican Party. Theodore's father, known in the family as "Thee", was a New York philanthropist, merchant, and partner in the family glass-importing firm Roosevelt and Son. "Father," as the children called him, was an ardent patriot and a prominent supporter of Abraham Lincoln and the Union effort during the Civil War. His mother Martha "Mittie" Bulloch was a Southern belle from a slave-owning family in Roswell, Georgia, and she maintained Confederate sympathies. Mittie's brother, Theodore's uncle, James Dunwoody Bulloch, was a United States Navy officer who became a Confederate Navy commander and secret agent in Great Britain who was most responsible for the destruction of the United States merchant fleet and procuring ships and supplies to run through the Union blockade. Another uncle, Irvine Bulloch, was a midshipman on the Confederate raider CSS Alabama; both remained in England after the war.
Roosevelt was a fifth cousin to the 32nd President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and he was the uncle and guardian of Franklin's wife, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.
Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. was born on October 27, 1858, in a four-story brownstone at 28 East 20th Street, in the modern-day Gramercy section of New York City, the second of four children and elder son of Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. (1831–1878) and Martha "Mittie" Bulloch (1835–1884). Roosevelt had an older sister, Anna "Bamie" Roosevelt, and two younger siblings: Elliott Bulloch Roosevelt (the father of First Lady Anna Eleanor Roosevelt) and Corinne Roosevelt.Sickly and asthmatic as a child, Roosevelt had to sleep propped up in bed or slouching in a chair during much of his early years, and had frequent ailments. Despite his illnesses, he was hyperactive and often mischievous. His lifelong interest in zoology was formed at age seven upon seeing a dead seal at a local market. After obtaining the seal's head, the young Roosevelt and two of his cousins formed what they called the "Roosevelt Museum of Natural History". Learning the rudiments of taxidermy, he filled his makeshift museum with animals that he killed or caught, studied, and prepared for display. At age nine, he codified his observation of insects with a paper titled "The Natural History of Insects".
Encouraged by his father, the boy began exercising and boxing to combat his poor physical condition. Two trips abroad had a lasting impact: family tours of Europe in 1869 and 1870, and Egypt 1872 to 1873.
Theodore, Sr. had a tremendous influence on his son, who wrote of him, "My father, Theodore Roosevelt, was the best man I ever knew. He combined strength and courage with gentleness, tenderness, and great unselfishness. He would not tolerate in us children selfishness or cruelty, idleness, cowardice, or untruthfulness."
Young "Teedie", as he was nicknamed as a child, was mostly home schooled by tutors and his parents. A leading biographer says: "The most obvious drawback to the home schooling Roosevelt received was uneven coverage of the various areas of human knowledge." He was solid in geography (thanks to his careful observations on all his travels) and well read in history, strong in biology, French, and German, but deficient in mathematics, Latin and Greek.
He entered Harvard College in the fall of 1876. His father's death in 1878 was a tremendous blow, but Roosevelt redoubled his activities. He did well in science, philosophy, and rhetoric courses but fared poorly in Latin and Greek. He studied biology with considerable interest and was already an accomplished naturalist and published ornithologist. He had a photographic memory and developed a lifelong habit of devouring books, memorizing every detail. He was an eloquent conversationalist who, throughout his life, sought out the company of the smartest people. He could multitask in impressive fashion, dictating letters to one secretary and memoranda to another, while browsing through a new book. While at Harvard, Roosevelt was active in rowing, boxing, the Alpha Delta Phi literary society, the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, and was a member of the Porcellian Club. He also edited The Harvard Advocate. He was runner-up in the Harvard boxing championship.
Upon graduating, Roosevelt underwent a physical examination, and his doctor advised him that because of serious heart problems, he should find a desk job and avoid strenuous activity. He chose to embrace strenuous life instead. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa (22nd of 177) from Harvard with an A.B. magna cum laude in 1880. He entered Columbia Law School, where he was a diligent student but showed little interest in a legal career; he spent much of his time writing a book on the War of 1812. When offered a chance to run for the New York Assembly as a Republican in 1881, he dropped out of law school to pursue his new goal: "I intended to be one of the governing class." He was elected and overnight became a prominent player in state politics, and a rising star in the Republican Party (the "GOP")
On his 22nd birthday, he married Alice Hathaway Lee (July 29, 1861—February 14, 1884), daughter of George Cabot Lee and Caroline Watts Haskell. She died young of an undiagnosed case of kidney failure (in those days called Bright's disease) two days after their daughter Alice Lee Roosevelt was born. Her pregnancy had masked the illness. Theodore's mother Mittie died of typhoid fever on the same day, at 3:00 am, some eleven hours earlier, in the same house. After the nearly simultaneous deaths of his mother and wife, he left young Alice in the care of his elder sister Bamie in New York City. He took custody of his daughter when she was three. In his diary, he wrote a large 'X' on the page and then, "The light has gone out of my life."
For the rest of his life, he rarely spoke of his wife Alice at all and did not write about her in his autobiography. As late as 1919, when Roosevelt was working with Joseph Bucklin Bishop on a biography that included a collection of his letters, Roosevelt did not mention either of his marriages.
As a deputy sheriff, Roosevelt hunted down three outlaws who stole his riverboat and were escaping north with it up the Little Missouri. Capturing them, he decided against hanging them (apparently yielding to established law procedures in place of vigilante justice), and sending his foreman back by boat, he took the thieves back overland for trial in Dickinson, guarding them forty 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 searching for a group of relentless horse thieves, Roosevelt met Seth Bullock, the famous sheriff of Deadwood, South Dakota. The two would remain friends for life.
After the uniquely severe U.S. winter of 1886-1887 wiped out his herd of cattle (together with those of his competitors) and most of his $80,000 investment, Roosevelt returned to the East. In 1885, he had built Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay, New York on Long Island, which was his home and estate until his death.
In 1886, Roosevelt ran as the Republican candidate for mayor of New York City, portraying himself as "The Cowboy of the Dakotas." Due to information on the in-progress election, Republican insiders warned voters that George was leading and that Roosevelt was likely beat, thus causing a last-minute defection of Republican voters to the Democratic candidate Hewitt. Theodore Roosevelt took third place. The election results showed Hewitt (D) with 90,552 votes, George (United Labor) with 68,110, and Roosevelt (R) with 60,435.
On December 2, 1886, he married his childhood friend, Edith Kermit Carow (August 6, 1861—September 30, 1948), daughter of Charles Carow and Gertrude Elizabeth Tyler. They honeymooned in Europe, and Roosevelt led a group to the summit of Mont Blanc, an achievement that resulted in his induction into the British Royal Society. Edith was also best friends with his younger sister Corinne. They had five children: Theodore "Ted" Roosevelt III, Kermit Roosevelt, Ethel Carow Roosevelt, Archibald Bulloch "Archie" Roosevelt, and Quentin Roosevelt.
Roosevelt became president of the board of New York City Police Commissioners in 1895. During his two years in this post, 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 Roosevelt was "an iron-willed leader of unimpeachable honesty, (who) brought a reforming zeal to the New York City Police Commission in 1895." Roosevelt and his fellow commissioners established new disciplinary rules, created a bicycle squad to enforce New York's traffic laws, and standardized the use of pistols by officers. He selected the Colt New Police Revolver in .32 Colt Caliber as the first standard issue pistol for the NYPD. Roosevelt implemented regular inspections of firearms and annual physical exams, appointed 1,600 recruits based on their physical and mental qualifications and not on political affiliation, established Meritorious Service Medals, and closed corrupt police hostelries. During his tenure, a Municipal Lodging House was established by the Board of Charities, and Roosevelt required officers to register with the Board. He also had telephones installed in station houses.
Roosevelt made a habit of walking officers' beats late at night and early in the morning to make sure they were on duty. As Governor of New York State before becoming Vice President in March 1901, Roosevelt signed an act replacing the Police Commissioners with a single Police Commissioner.
On leaving the Army, Roosevelt was elected governor of New York in 1898 as a Republican. He made such an effort to root out corruption and "machine politics" that Republican boss Thomas Collier Platt forced him on McKinley as a running mate in the 1900 election, against the wishes of McKinley's manager, Senator Mark Hanna. 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. Bryan stumped for Free Silver again, but McKinley's promise of prosperity through the gold standard, high tariffs, and the restoration of business confidence enlarged his margin of victory. Bryan had strongly supported the war against Spain, but denounced the annexation of the Philippines as imperialism that would spoil America's innocence. 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. Roosevelt's six months as Vice President (March to September 1901) were uneventful. On September 2, 1901, at the Minnesota State Fair, Roosevelt first 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."
On September 6, President McKinley was shot while at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. Initial reports in the succeeding days suggested his condition was improving, so Roosevelt embarked on a vacation at Mount Marcy in northeastern New York. He was returning from a climb to the summit on September 13 when a park ranger brought him a telegram informing him that McKinley's condition had deteriorated, and he was near death.
Roosevelt and his family immediately departed for Buffalo. When they reached the nearest train station at North Creek, at 5:22 AM on September 14, he received another telegram informing him that McKinley had died a few hours earlier. Roosevelt arrived in Buffalo that afternoon, and was sworn in there as President at 3:30 pm by U.S. District Judge John R. Hazel at the Ansley Wilcox House.
Roosevelt kept McKinley's Cabinet and promised to continue McKinley's policies. One of his first notable acts as president was to deliver a 20,000-word address to Congress asking it to curb the power of large corporations (called "trusts"). For his aggressive attacks on trusts over his two terms, he has been called a "trust-buster."
In the 1904 presidential election, Roosevelt won the presidency in his own right in a landslide victory. His vice president was Charles Fairbanks.
Roosevelt also dealt with union workers. In May 1902, United Mine Workers went on strike to get higher pay wages and shorter workdays. He set up a fact-finding commission that stopped the strike, and resulted in the workers getting more pay for fewer hours.
In August 1902, Roosevelt was the first president to be seen riding in an automobile in public. This took place in Hartford, CT. The car was a Columbia Electric Victoria Phaeton, manufactured in Hartford. The police squad rode bicycles alongside the car. (The reference includes a photo of the event.)
In 1905, he issued a corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, which allows the United States to "exercise international policy power" so they can intervene and keep smaller countries on their feet.
Roosevelt helped the well-being of people by passing laws such as The Meat Inspection Act of 1906 and The Pure Food and Drug Act. The Meat Inspection Act of 1906 banned misleading labels and preservatives that contained harmful chemicals. The Pure Food and Drug Act banned food and drugs that are impure or falsely labeled from being made, sold, and shipped. Roosevelt was also served as honorary president of the school health organization American School Hygiene Association from 1907 to 1908, and in 1909 he convened the first White House Conference on the Care of Dependent Children.
The Gentlemen's Agreement with Japan came into play in 1907, banning all school segregation of Japanese, yet controlling Japanese immigration in California. That year, Roosevelt signed the proclamation establishing Oklahoma as the 46th state of the Union.
Building on McKinley's effective use of the press, Roosevelt made the White House the center of news every day, providing interviews and photo opportunities. After noticing the White House reporters huddled outside in the rain one day, he gave them their own room inside, effectively inventing the presidential press briefing. The grateful press, with unprecedented access to the White House, rewarded Roosevelt with ample coverage.He chose not to run for another term in 1908, and supported William Howard Taft for the presidency, instead of Fairbanks. Fairbanks withdrew from the race, and would later support Taft for re-election against Roosevelt in the 1912 election.
Roosevelt appointed a record 75 federal judges. Roosevelt appointed three Justices to the Supreme Court of the United States: Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1902), William Rufus Day (1903), William Henry Moody (1906). In addition to these three, Roosevelt appointed 19 judges to the United States Courts of Appeals, and 53 judges to the United States district courts.
While Roosevelt was campaigning in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on October 14, 1912, a saloonkeeper named John Flammang Schrank shot him, but the bullet lodged in his chest only after penetrating his steel eyeglass case and passing through a thick (50 pages) single-folded copy of the speech he was carrying in his jacket. Roosevelt, as an experienced hunter and anatomist, correctly concluded that since he was not coughing blood, the bullet had not completely penetrated the chest wall to his lung, and so declined suggestions he go to the hospital immediately. Instead, he delivered his scheduled speech with blood seeping into his shirt. He spoke for 90 minutes. His opening comments to the gathered crowd were, "Ladies and gentlemen, I don't know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose." Afterwards, probes and x-ray showed that the bullet had traversed three inches (76 mm) of tissue and lodged in Roosevelt's chest muscle but did not penetrate the pleura, and it would be more dangerous to attempt to remove the bullet than to leave it in place. Roosevelt carried it with him for the rest of his life.
Because of the bullet wound, Roosevelt was taken off the campaign trail in the final weeks of the race (which ended election day, November 5). Though the other two campaigners stopped their own campaigns in the week Roosevelt was in the hospital, they resumed it once he was released. The bullet lodged in his chest caused his rheumatoid arthritis - which he had suffered from for years to get worse and it soon prevented him from doing his daily stint of exercises; Roosevelt would soon become obese as well. Roosevelt, for many reasons, failed to move enough Republicans in his direction. He did win 4.1 million votes (27%), compared to Taft's 3.5 million (23%). However, Wilson's 6.3 million votes (42%) were enough to garner 435 electoral votes. Roosevelt had 88 electoral votes to Taft's 8 electoral votes. This meant that Taft became the only incumbent president to place third in a re-election bid. But Pennsylvania was Roosevelt's only eastern state; in the Midwest, he carried Michigan, Minnesota and South Dakota; in the West, California and Washington; he did not win any southern states.
When World War I began in 1914, Roosevelt strongly supported the Allies and demanded a harsher policy against Germany, especially regarding submarine warfare. Roosevelt angrily denounced the foreign policy of President Wilson, calling it a failure regarding the atrocities in Belgium and the violations of American rights. In 1916, he campaigned energetically for Charles Evans Hughes and repeatedly denounced Irish-Americans and German-Americans who Roosevelt said were unpatriotic because they put the interest of Ireland and Germany ahead of America's by supporting neutrality. He insisted one had to be 100% American, not a "hyphenated American" who juggled multiple loyalties. When the U.S. entered the war in 1917, Roosevelt sought to raise a volunteer infantry division, but Wilson refused.
Roosevelt's attacks on Wilson helped the Republicans win control of Congress in the off-year elections of 1918. Roosevelt was popular enough to seriously contest the 1920 Republican nomination, but his health was broken by 1918, because of the lingering malaria. His family and supporters threw their support to Roosevelt's old military companion, General Leonard Wood, who was ultimately defeated by Taft supporter Warren G. Harding.
His youngest son Quentin, a daring pilot with the American forces in France, was shot down behind German lines in 1918 at the age of 20. It is said the death of his son distressed him so much that Roosevelt never recovered from his loss.
Despite his rapidly declining health, Roosevelt remained active to the end of his life. He 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 two things that gave Scouting great impetus and made it very popular were the uniform and Teddy Roosevelt's jingoism."
On January 6, 1919, Roosevelt died in his sleep at Oyster Bay of a coronary thrombosis (heart attack), preceded by a 2½-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." The U.S. vice president, Thomas R. Marshall, said that "Death had to take Roosevelt sleeping, for if he had been awake, there would have been a fight." In addition to sisters Corinne and Bamie and his wife Edith, Theodore was survived by five children and eight grandchildren at the time of his death.
Theodore Roosevelt introduced the phrase "Square Deal" to describe his progressive views in a speech delivered after leaving the office of the Presidency in August 1910. In his broad outline, he stressed equality of opportunity for all citizens and emphasized the importance of fair government regulations of corporate 'special interests'.
Roosevelt was one of the first Presidents to make conservation a national issue. In a speech that Roosevelt gave at Osawatomie, Kansas, on August 31, 1910, he outlined his views on conservation of the lands of the United States. He favored using America's natural resources, but opposed wasteful consumption. One of his most lasting legacies was his significant role in the creation of 5 national parks, 18 national monuments, and 150 National Forests, among other works of conservation. Roosevelt was instrumental in conserving about 230 million acres (930,000 km2) of American soil among various parks and other federal projects.
In the Eighth Annual Message to Congress (1908), Roosevelt mentioned the need for federal government to regulate interstate corporations using the Interstate Commerce Clause, also mentioning how these corporations fought federal control by appealing to states' rights.
In an 1894 article on immigration, Roosevelt said, "We must Americanize in every way, in speech, in political ideas and principles, and in their way of looking at relations between church and state. We welcome the German and the Irishman who becomes an American. We have no use for the German or Irishman who remains such..... He must revere only our flag, not only must it come first, but no other flag should even come second."
Roosevelt took an active interest in immigration, and within months of assuming the presidency had launched an extensive reorganization of the federal immigration depot at Ellis Island. Roosevelt himself “straddled the immigration question,” taking the position that “we cannot have too much immigration of the right sort, and we should have none whatever of the wrong sort.” As president, his stated preferences were relatively inclusive, across the then diverse and mostly European sources of immigration.
Roosevelt was a prolific author, writing with passion on subjects ranging from foreign policy to the importance of the national park system. Roosevelt was also an avid reader of poetry. American poet, Robert Frost said of Roosevelt, "He was our kind. He quoted poetry to me. He knew poetry."
As an editor of Outlook magazine, he had weekly access to a large, educated national audience. In all, Roosevelt wrote about 18 books (each in several editions), including his Autobiography, The Rough Riders History of the Naval War of 1812, and others on subjects such as ranching, explorations, and wildlife. His most ambitious book was the four volume narrative The Winning of the West, which connected the origin of a new "race" of Americans (i.e. what he considered the present population of the United States to be) to the frontier conditions their ancestors endured throughout the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries.
In 1907, Roosevelt became embroiled in a widely publicized literary debate known as the nature fakers controversy. A few years earlier, naturalist John Burroughs had published an article entitled "Real and Sham Natural History" in the Atlantic Monthly, attacking popular writers of the day such as Ernest Thompson Seton, Charles G. D. Roberts and William J. Long for their fantastical representations of wildlife. Roosevelt agreed with Burroughs' criticisms, and published several essays of his own denouncing the booming genre of "naturalistic" animal stories as "yellow journalism of the woods". It was the President himself who popularized the negative term "nature faker" to describe writers who depicted their animal characters with excessive anthropomorphism.
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