Theodore Roosevelt

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Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
Term of office September 14, 1901 – March 3, 1909
Preceded by William McKinley
Succeeded by William Howard Taft
Date of birth October 27, 1858
Place of birth New York City
Spouse Edith Roosevelt
Political party Republican Party

Theodore Roosevelt (October 27, 1858January 6, 1919) was the 26th (190109) President of the United States of America. He had been the 25th Vice President before becoming President upon the assassination of President William McKinley. At the age of 42, Roosevelt was the youngest person ever to serve as President. Thanks to his "trust-busting" and conservationist policies, Roosevelt frequently appears among the top 5 in historical rankings of U.S. Presidents surveys.

Roosevelt was remarkable for his diverse interests, particularly in leading what he called the "strenuous life". As a soldier, he led a famous cavalry charge in the Battle of San Juan Hill, for which he was posthumously awarded the congressional Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military decoration; as of 2005 he is the only President to have received the award. During his stay in the White House, he boxed voraciously, and took friends and colleagues on long hikes.

Roosevelt was also influential in spearheading the construction of the Panama Canal, and for his mediation in the Russo-Japanese War of 1905, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906. He was the first American to win a Nobel Prize in any category. Roosevelt was also a fifth cousin of the later President Franklin D. Roosevelt, making them the only cousins to have each served as President.


Childhood and education

Roosevelt was born at 28 East 20th Street in the modern-day Gramercy section of New York City on October 27, 1858, as the second of four children of Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. (183178) and Martha Bulloch (183484). Theodore was younger than his sister Anna but older than his brother Elliott and his sister Corinne. His father was a New York City philanthropist, merchant, and partner in the glass-importing firm Roosevelt and Son. Martha Bulloch was a homemaker and former Southern belle who was raised in Georgia and had Confederate sympathies.

Sickly and asthmatic as a youngster, Roosevelt had to sleep propped up in bed or slouching in a chair during much of his early childhood, and had frequent incidences of diarrhea, colds, and other ailments. Despite his illnesses, he was a hyperactive and oftentimes mischievous young man. His lifelong interest in zoology was first 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". Roosevelt filled his makeshift museum with many animals that he caught, studied, and prepared for display. At age nine 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 Roosevelt to take up exercise. A couple of his peers beat him during this time, and as a result Roosevelt started boxing lessons. Two trips abroad also had a great effect on him;

Soon afterwards, he became a sporting and outdoor enthusiast, a hobby that would last a lifetime.

Although sickly as a child, Roosevelt became known for leading what he called the "strenuous life".
Although sickly as a child, Roosevelt became known for leading what he called the "strenuous life".

Except for a few months at school, young Teedie was mostly taught by a string of tutors due to his poor physical condition. His first tutor was Annie Bulloch, his maternal aunt. She was followed by others, including a teacher of taxidermy who helped nourish his propensity toward natural history. Fraulein Anna, a tutor of German and French while the family was in Dresden, remarked, "He will surely one day be a great professor, or who knows, he may become president of the United States."

After his family returned to their home in New York, Roosevelt started intensive tutoring under Arthur Hamilton Cutler in preparation for the Harvard University entrance exam. He passed the exam in 1875 and entered as a freshman the next year, in 1876. That same year, he participated in a torchlight demonstration for Rutherford B. Hayes' presidential bid. At Harvard, Roosevelt did well in science, philosophy, and rhetoric but fared poorly in classical languages. Together, Professor J. Laurence Laughlin and Roosevelt's girlfriend and future wife, Alice Hathaway Lee, convinced Roosevelt to drop natural history in favour of politics.

While at Harvard, Roosevelt was:

  • editor of the student newspaper, the Advocate;
  • vice-president of the Natural History Club;
  • member of the Porcellian Club;
  • secretary of the Hasty Pudding Club;
  • founder of the Finance Club;
  • member of the Nuttall Ornithological Club.

He also found time for boxing, and was runner-up in the Harvard boxing championship, losing to C.S. Hanks. The sportsmanship Roosevelt showed in that fight was long remembered.

He graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude (21st of 177) from Harvard University in 1880, and entered Columbia Law School that same year. Finding law school tedious, however, Roosevelt found other diversions, including the completion of his first published book, The Naval War of 1812 (1882). Unable to stomach a career as a corporate lawyer, and presented with an opportunity to run for New York Assembly-man in 1881, he dropped out of school to pursue his new goal of entering public life.

Life in the Badlands

Roosevelt was an activist during his years in the Assembly, writing more bills than any other New York state legislator, often defending the poor and the disadvantaged. In 1884, he attended the Republican National Convention and fought as a progressive, but lost to the conservative faction that nominated James G. Blaine. Reluctantly, he backed Blaine over New York's governor and Democratic Presidential candidate Grover Cleveland, whom he counted as a friend.

His wife and mother died on the same day earlier that year, and in the same house, only two days after his wife gave birth to their only daughter, Alice. Roosevelt was distraught, writing in his diary, "the light has gone out of my life forever." Later that year, he left the General Assembly and moved to the Badlands of the Dakotas for the life of a rancher and lawman.

Living near the boomtown of Medora, North Dakota, Roosevelt learned to ride and rope, and occasionally got himself into fistfights, spending his time with the rough-and-tumble world of the final days of the American Old West. On one occasion, he hunted down notorious outlaws on the Little Missouri River, heading into the uninhabited forests of the Badlands. At another time, he had a row with the legendary French duelist, the Marquis de Mores, who challenged him to a duel. Roosevelt, because he was challenged, claimed the right to pick the weapon, the shotgun, stating that it was the weapon he was most comfortable with. The duel was later called off and they reconciled.

After a blizzard wiped out Roosevelt's herd of cattle, he returned to the Eastern United States, where in 1885, he purchased Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay, New York. It would be his home and estate until his death. Roosevelt ran for mayor of New York City in 1886, coming in a distant third. Following the election, he went to London and married his childhood sweetheart, Edith Kermit Carow. They honeymooned in Europe, and Roosevelt took the time to climb Mount Blanc, leading only the third expedition to successfully reach the top (the first was in 1865). As of 2005, Roosevelt is the only President to have become a widower and remarry before becoming President.

Return to public life

In the 1888 presidential election, Roosevelt campaigned for Benjamin Harrison in the Midwest. After winning the election, Harrison appointed Roosevelt to the United States Civil Service Commission where he served until 1895. In his term he vigorously sought enforcement of civil service laws, and the number of jobs that fell under that classification more than doubled during his tenure. This made few friends for Roosevelt among party professionals. Nevertheless, in spite of Roosevelt's support for Harrison's reelection bid in the presidential election of 1892, the eventual winner, Grover Cleveland (a Democrat), reappointed him to the same post.

In 1895, Roosevelt became president of the New York Board of Police Commissioners. During the two years that he held this post, Roosevelt radically changed the way a police department was run. Roosevelt required his officers to be registered with the Board and to pass a physical fitness test. He also saw that telephones were installed in station houses. Always an energetic man, Roosevelt made a habit of walking officers' beats late at night and early in the morning just to make sure that they were on duty. While serving on the Board, Roosevelt also opened up job opportunities in the department to women and Jews for the first time.

Although a Navy official, Roosevelt left his post in the Navy Department to become Colonel Roosevelt, leader of the "Rough Riders".
Although a Navy official, Roosevelt left his post in the Navy Department to become Colonel Roosevelt, leader of the "Rough Riders".

In 1897, President William McKinley appointed Roosevelt as Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Roosevelt loved the job, and was instrumental in preparing the Navy for the coming conflict with Spain. In 1898 Roosevelt resigned from the Navy Department and with the aid of U.S. Army Colonel Leonard Wood, organized the First U.S. National Cavalry out of a motley crew that ranged from cowboys, Indians and outlaws from the Western territories to Ivy League chums from New York. The newspapers billed them as the "Rough Riders." Originally, Roosevelt held the rank of lieutenant colonel and served under Col. Wood, but after Wood was promoted to Brigadier General of Volunteer Forces, Roosevelt was promoted to full colonel and put in control of the Rough Riders. Under his direct command, the Rough Riders became famous for their dual charges up Kettle Hill and San Juan Hill in July 1898, the battle being named after the latter hill.

On January 16, 2001, Roosevelt was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President Bill Clinton. The award was accepted on Roosevelt's behalf by his great-grandson, Tweed Roosevelt. The Roosevelts thus became one of only two father-son pairs to receive this honor. Roosevelt's eldest son, Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt II, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism at Normandy during the D-Day invasion of 6 June 1944. The other pair was Douglas MacArthur and his father, Civil War hero Arthur MacArthur.

Upon his return from Cuba, Roosevelt reentered New York State politics and, using his military record to great advantage, was elected governor of New York. He made such a concerted effort to root out corruption and "machine politics" that, it is said, Republican leaders in New York advanced him as a running mate for William McKinley in the 1900 election simply to get rid of him. (At the time, becoming Vice President was generally considered the end of a political career—only 27 served full terms, only 17 went on to other elected offices, and only 14 went on to become President.)


McKinley and Roosevelt won the presidential election of November 6, 1900, against William Jennings Bryan and Adlai E. Stevenson Sr.. The duo were inaugurated on March 4, 1901. Roosevelt was the second youngest U.S. vice president (John C. Breckinridge, at 36, was the youngest) at the time of his inauguration. Roosevelt found the vice-presidency unfulfilling, and thinking that he had little future in politics, considered returning to law school after leaving office. On September 2, 1901, Roosevelt first uttered a sentence that would become strongly associated with his presidency, urging Americans to "speak softly and carry a big stick" during a speech at the Minnesota State Fair. Only twelve days later, he would be catapulted forever into the American public's consciousness.

McKinley was shot on September 6, 1901, and died September 14, vaulting Roosevelt into the presidency. Roosevelt took the oath of office on September 14 in the Ansley Wilcox House at Buffalo, New York. One of his first notable acts as President was to deliver a 20,000-word address to the House of Representatives on December 3, 1901 [1], asking Congress to curb the power of trusts "within reasonable limits." For this and subsequent actions he has been called a "trust-buster."

Roosevelt relished the Presidency and seemed to be everywhere at once. He 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. He was permanently blinded in one eye during one of his boxing bouts. His many enthusiastic interests and seemingly limitless energy led the British ambassador to wryly explain to an acquaintance, "You must always remember that the President is about six."

Roosevelt's children were almost as popular as he was, and their pranks and hijinks in the White House made headlines. His daughter, Alice Lee Roosevelt, became the toast of Washington, D.C. When friends asked if he could rein in his only daughter, 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."

In 1904 Roosevelt ran for President in his own right and won in a landslide victory.


Determined to create what he called a "Square Deal" between business and labor, Roosevelt pushed several radical pieces of legislation through Congress. He was responsible for several reforms in business and the environment.

During his tenure as President, Roosevelt became known for trust-busting and his enthusiastic conservationist policies.
During his tenure as President, Roosevelt became known for trust-busting and his enthusiastic conservationist policies.

Although the trust-busting era was actually launched by his predecessor, McKinley, when he appointed the U.S. Industrial Commerce Commission in 1898, it was Roosevelt who bore the nickname "Trust Buster." Once President, Roosevelt worked to increase the regulatory power of the federal government. He persuaded Congress to pass laws that strengthened the Interstate Commerce Commission, which later investigated John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Charles M. Schwab, and other trust and corporate titans of industry. Under his leadership, the federal government brought forty-four suits against corporate monopolies, most notably J.P. Morgan's Northern Securities Company, a huge railroad combination. Roosevelt also established a new federal Department of Labor and Commerce.

He encouraged the Newlands Reclamation Act of 1902 to promote federal construction of dams to irrigate small farms and placed 230 million acres (930,000 km²) under federal protection. Roosevelt was also instrumental in the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, as well as the Meat Inspection Act of 1906.


Roosevelt was also interested in conserving natural wonders and resources, and is considered by many to be the nation's first conservation President. Roosevelt set aside more Federal land for national parks and nature preserves than all of his predecessors combined. As one story has it, he once asked his advisors, "Is there any law which prohibits me from declaring this island a bird refuge?" When they indicated there was not, Roosevelt signed the paper with a flourish and said, "Very well, then, I so declare it!"

During his presidency, Roosevelt established the United States Forest Service, signed into law the creation of five National Parks, and signed the 1906 Antiquities Act, under which he proclaimed 18 new national monuments. He also established the first 51 Bird Reserves, four Game Preserves, and 150 National Forests. The area of the United States that he placed under public protection totals approximately 230,000,000 acres (930,000 km²).

Today, Roosevelt's dedication to conservation is remembered by a national park that bears his name in the North Dakota Badlands. Theodore Roosevelt National Park is home to a variety of plants and animals, including bison, prairie dogs, and elk.


Although Roosevelt did some work improving race relations, he, like most leaders of the Progressive Era, lacked initiative on most racial issues. Booker T. Washington, the most important black leader of the day, was the first freeman of color to be invited to dinner on October 16, 1901, at the White House, where he discussed politics and racism with Roosevelt. News of the dinner reached the press two days later. The public outcry following the dinner was so strong, especially from the Southern states, that Roosevelt never repeated the experiment.

Publicly, Roosevelt spoke out against racism and discrimination, and appointed many blacks to lower-level Federal offices, and wrote fondly of the "Buffalo Soldiers," led by "Black Jack" Pershing, who had fought beside his Rough Riders at the Battle of San Juan Hill in Cuba in July 1898. Roosevelt opposed school segregation, having ended the practice as Governor of New York, and also did not subscribe to anti-Semitism—he was the first to appoint a Jew, Oscar S. Straus, to the Presidential Cabinet.

However, Roosevelt believed in "racial inheritance"—that a race of people are biologically inclined to behave and interact socially in certain ways and functions. After criticism of Washington's invitation to the White House, Roosevelt seemed to wilt publicly on the cause of racial equality. In 1906, he approved the dishonorable discharges of three companies of black soldiers involved in a riot in Brownsville, Texas, known as the Brownsville Raid.

Foreign policy

Roosevelt regarded the Panama Canal as one of his greatest achievements
Roosevelt regarded the Panama Canal as one of his greatest achievements

Roosevelt fervently urged the United States to build a strong navy. He believed in an imperial mission for the United States, and that the U.S could eventually be pulled into war in the Pacific Ocean with the Japanese people. Roosevelt ordered what came to be called the Great White Fleet (due to its gleaming white paint) on an around-the-world goodwill cruise, including a prominent stop in Japan. Roosevelt hoped to ease Japanese-American tensions and to show the Japanese leadership, as well as the rest of the world, the global reach of the United States' military might. The Great White Fleet returned to the U.S. in 1909, and Roosevelt had the pleasure of reviewing the Fleet just before leaving office. As a tribute to him, several Navy warships have been named after Roosevelt over the years, including a Nimitz class supercarrier.

In 1905, Roosevelt became the first president to set foot on Japanese and Russian land to improve relations with both governments and establish peace between the two countries. As a result Roosevelt won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1906 for his work to hasten the end of the Russian-Japanese War. He was the first American to win a Nobel Prize in any category. His prize is now on display in the White House.

In 1903, Roosevelt encouraged the local political class in Panama to form a nation independent from Colombia, after that nation refused the American terms for the building of a canal across the isthmus. The new nation of Panama sold a canal zone to the United States for 10 million U.S. dollars and a steadily increasing yearly sum. Roosevelt felt that a passage through the Isthmus of Panama was vital to protect American interests and to create a strong and cohesive United States Navy. The resulting Panama Canal was completed in 1914 and revolutionized world travel and commerce.


President Theodore Roosevelt 19011909
Vice President Charles Fairbanks 19051909
Secretary of State John Hay 19011905
  Elihu Root 19051909
  Robert Bacon 1909
Secretary of the Treasury Lyman J. Gage 19011902
  Leslie M. Shaw 19021907
  George B. Cortelyou 19071909
Secretary of War Elihu Root 19011904
  William Howard Taft 19041908
  Luke E. Wright 19081909
Attorney General Philander C. Knox 19011904
  William H. Moody 19041906
  Charles J. Bonaparte 19061909
Postmaster General Charles E. Smith 19011902
  Henry C. Payne 19021904
  Robert J. Wynne 19041905
  George B. Cortelyou 19051907
  George von L. Meyer 19071909
Secretary of the Navy John D. Long 19011902
  William H. Moody 19021904
  Paul Morton 19021906
  Charles J. Bonaparte 19061908
  Victor H. Metcalf 19061908
  Truman H. Newberry 19081909
Secretary of the Interior Ethan A. Hitchcock 19011907
  James Rudolph Garfield 19071909
Secretary of Agriculture James Wilson 19011909
Secretary of Commerce and Labor George B. Cortelyou 19031904
  Victor H. Metcalf 19041906
  Oscar S. Straus 19061909

Supreme Court appointments

Roosevelt appointed three Justices to the Supreme Court of the United States: Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., in 1902; William Rufus Day in 1903; and William Henry Moody in 1906. Although Moody was a close associate of Roosevelt, Holmes, who would become the longest-serving Justice in the Supreme Court, gained his appointment by virtue of sharing a mutual acquaintance with Roosevelt, Henry Cabot Lodge.

Lodge, who served as a member of the United States Senate for the state of Massachusetts, convinced Roosevelt that Holmes would be a "safe" appointment and would not oppose Roosevelt's policies. Holmes himself may have campaigned for his appointment, as he paid a visit to the home of Roosevelt's children to tell them stories of his service in the American Civil War. Roosevelt, who knew little of Holmes' judicial writings, already had obtained a favorable impression of Holmes due to the latter's speech entitled "The Soldier's Faith."

On August 11, 1902, while the Senate was in recess, Roosevelt appointed Holmes to the Supreme Court. However, Holmes' recess appointment would not be binding until the Senate agreed to confirm him, which it did on December 4. However, Lodge's assurance that Holmes would be "safe" turned out to be mistaken, and Roosevelt later regretted appointing Holmes to the Supreme Court for the latter's striking down of several reforms Roosevelt supported. Holmes resigned in 1932 at the age of ninety due to ill health.

Day, former Secretary of State for McKinley, had been appointed by the latter to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for four years after leaving his post in the cabinet. Roosevelt appointed him to the Supreme Court on January 29, 1903. If the President had expected a Justice who would tow the line on his progressive policies, he was not initially disappointed; however, he would later oppose the President on a number of issues, such as the regulation of hours and wages of labor. Day served on the court for 19 years, resigning in 1922, the year before his death.

Moody had served in Roosevelt's cabinet first as the Secretary of the Navy and then as Attorney General. In the latter capacity, he aided Roosevelt in prosecuting and negotiating with the trusts Roosevelt intended to bust. However, when a post on the court fell vacant, he was not Roosevelt's first choice; Roosevelt initially attempted to persuade William Howard Taft to take the empty seat on the bench. When Taft declined, however, Roosevelt went to Moody, and announced his appointment on December 12, 1906. The Senate confirmed his appointment on December 17. However, the one appointment of Roosevelt's that held closely to his philosophy did not last long; Moody developed debilitating rheumatism in 1909, and he was forced to resign the following year. At the time, Roosevelt commented that "there is not a public servant, at this particular time, that the public could so ill afford to lose."

States admitted to the Union

During Roosevelt's Presidency, one state, Oklahoma, was admitted to the Union. This new state included the former Indian Territory, which had attempted to gain admission on its own into the Union as the State of Sequoyah. Formerly, the state of Oklahoma had been divided into the Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory.

Initially in 1892, residents of the Oklahoma Territory had presented a statehood bill to congress, after the holding of a statehood convention in Oklahoma City in late 1891. When the bill dropped without any action, another was submitted in 1893. Both bills would result in a new state of Oklahoma including both the Oklahoma and Indian Territories. However, the chiefs of the Five Civilized Tribes that made up the Indian Territory vehemently protested this move. Eventually the Oklahoma Territory tired of waiting and insisted on admission to the Union; a bill was passed in the House of Representatives in 1902 that secured such an admission. However, the Senate let the matter pass, and a further attempt in the next Congress to secure passage of a similar bill also failed.

In 1905, the Indian Territory held its own statehood convention, and drew up a constitution for what would be called the state of Sequoyah. When submitted to Congress, however, the constitution did not pass, and the state of Sequoyah never came to be. Eventually in 1906, a bill named the "Hamilton Bill" after its author was introduced to Congress. It provided for the admission of the Oklahoma and Indian Territories as one state, and Arizona and New Mexico as another state. Although it passed on June 14 and was signed into law by Roosevelt, the people of Arizona and New Mexico rejected the offer of statehood. Nevertheless, after almost 15 tumultuous years of struggle, Oklahoma was finally a state of the Union.


Despite his immense popularity, he had decided not to run for reelection in 1908, a move that he would later regret for the rest of his life. Instead he backed his longtime friend, former judge and Secretary of War William Howard Taft, whom he thought would carry on his policies. After Taft won, however, Roosevelt became increasingly thwarted as Taft proved to be his own man with his own policy agenda, more conservative and often counter to Roosevelt's.

On March 23, 1909, shortly after the end of his second term (but only full term) as President, Roosevelt left New York for a post-presidency safari in Africa. The trip was sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution and the National Geographic Society and received worldwide media attention. Despite his commitment to conservation, his party killed over 5,000 animals, including some of the last remaining white rhino.

In 1912 Roosevelt ran for president again. He sought the Republican nomination but was blocked by Taft's partisans at the Republican National Convention despite having greater public support, including a smashing primary win in Taft's own home state of Ohio. Roosevelt then bolted the party and ran on the United States Progressive Party ("Bull Moose") ticket, badly undermining popular support for Taft. While campaigning in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he was shot by saloonkeeper John Schrank in a failed assassination attempt on October 14, 1912. With the bullet still lodged in his chest, Roosevelt still delivered his scheduled speech. He was not seriously wounded, although his doctors thought it too dangerous to attempt to remove the bullet, and he carried it with him until he died. In spite of this, Roosevelt not only lost the race but split the Republican vote, outpolling Taft but ensuring a win by Democrat Woodrow Wilson. Roosevelt came to dislike Wilson even more than his former friend Taft, and was particularly critical of Wilson's foreign policy. He considered but rejected another attempted presidential campaign in 1916.

As an author, Roosevelt continued to write with great passion on subjects ranging from American foreign policy to the importance of the national park system. One of Roosevelt's more popular books, Through the Brazilian Wilderness, was about his expedition into the Brazilian jungle. After the election of 1912, Roosevelt went on the Roosevelt-Rondon Scientific Expedition, exploring the Brazilian jungle with Brazilian explorer Candido Rondon. During this expedition, he discovered the Rio of Doubt, later renamed Rio Roosevelt in honor of the President. In all, Roosevelt wrote about 18 books, including his Autobiography, Rough Riders and histories of the Naval Academy, ranching and wildlife, which are still in use today.

Roosevelt was buried with his wife, Edith, in Young's Memorial Cemetery.
Roosevelt was buried with his wife, Edith, in Young's Memorial Cemetery.

On January 6, 1919, at the age of 60, Roosevelt died in his sleep of a coronary embolism at Oyster Bay, Nassau County, New York, and was buried in Young's Memorial Cemetery. Upon receiving word of his death, his son, Archie, sent a telegram to his siblings, stating simply, "The old lion is dead."

Personal life

Roosevelt with family
Roosevelt with family

Though Roosevelt was Dutch Reformed by birth, because there was no church of that denomination available to him as a child, he attended the Madison Square Presbyterian Church until the age of 16. While attending Harvard University, he taught Sunday school at an Episcopal church ("Christ's Church") until the rector discovered Roosevelt had not been baptized Episcopalian. Later in life when Roosevelt lived at Oyster Bay in Long Island, he attended an Episcopal church with his wife. While in Washington, D.C., he attended services at Grace Reformed Church. As President he firmly believed in the separation of church and state and thought it unconstitutional to have In God We Trust on U.S. currency, not because of a lack of faith in God, but because he thought it sacrilegious to put the name of the Deity on something so common as money; however, his efforts to have the phrase removed bore little fruit.

Roosevelt had a lifelong interest in pursuing what he called "the strenuous life." To this end he exercised regularly and took up boxing, tennis, hiking, rowing, hunting, 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. Thereafter he practiced jiujitsu and continued as well his habit of skinny-dipping in the Potomac River during winter.

At the age of 22, Roosevelt married his first wife, 19-year-old Alice Hathaway Lee. Their marriage ceremony was held on October 27, 1880, at the Unitarian Church in Brookline, Massachusetts. Alice was the daughter of the prominent banker George Cabot Lee and Caroline Haskell Lee. The couple first met on October 18, 1878, at the residence of her next-door neighbors, the Saltonstalls. By Thanksgiving Roosevelt had decided to marry Alice. He finally proposed in June 1879, though Alice waited another six months before accepting the proposal; their engagement was announced on Valentine's Day 1880. Alice Roosevelt died shortly after the birth of their first child, whom they also named Alice. In a tragic coincidence, his mother died on the same day as his wife at the Roosevelt family home in Manhattan.

In 1886 he married Edith Carow. They had five children: Theodore Jr., Kermit, Ethel, Archibald Roosevelt, and Quentin. Although Roosevelt's father was also named Theodore Roosevelt, he died while the future president was still childless and unmarried, so Roosevelt took the suffix of Sr. and subsequently named his son Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. Because Roosevelt was still alive when his grandson and namesake was born, said grandson was named Theodore Roosevelt, III, and consequently the president's son retained the Jr. after his father's death.


In popular culture

  • Roosevelt appears as a semi-fictional character in the novel The Alienist by Caleb Carr. The novel is set in New York City in 1896 when Roosevelt was the city's police commissioner.
  • In Chris Elliott's spoof novel The Shroud of the Thwacker, Roosevelt appears as the mayor of New York City (which he never was).
  • In Scrooge McDuck comics by Keno Don Rosa, Roosevelt appears several times. Scrooge and Roosevelt met each other in 1882, and on several other occasions they meet each other coincidentally. He is credited with mentoring an adolescent Scrooge in the values of self-confidence and self-reliance.
  • Stuffed toy bears (teddy bears) are named after him; his childhood nickname was "Teedie," (not "Teddie") but his adult nickname was "Teddy" (which he despised and considered improper, preferring "T.R."). Toy bear manufacturers took to naming them after him following an incident on a hunting trip in Mississippi in 1902 in which he refused to kill a black bear cub. Bear cubs became closely associated with Roosevelt in political cartoons thereafter.
  • Roosevelt is also depicted fictionally in Gore Vidal's novel Empire, Harry Turtledove's How Few Remain, and the movie The Wind and the Lion, written and directed by John Milius.
  • His 1909 African safari was included in an episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and in an episode of the Disney TV animated series The Legend of Tarzan.
  • In Harry Turtledove's Timeline-191 alternate history, Roosevelt raised an "Unauthorized Regiment" during the Second Mexican War (1881) and became a war hero. He later served as Democratic President in 191321, defeating the Confederate States and crushing Canada during the Great War (1914–17). He was defeated by Socialist Upton Sinclair in his historic run for a third term; he died in 1924 as the most beloved president in recent U.S. history.
  • Roosevelt, together with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, is depicted in stone at the Mount Rushmore Memorial.

Presidential firsts

  • First American to be awarded a Nobel Prize (in any category) in 1906.
  • On November 9, 1906, he made history by becoming the first sitting U.S. President to make an official trip outside of the United States, visiting Panama to inspect the construction progress of the Panama Canal.
  • Roosevelt was also the first to sail in a submarine (aboard the USS Plunger, 1905), and first former president to fly in an airplane (October 11, 1910).
  • Roosevelt was the first and only president to ever knife fight a cougar in 1901. [2]
  • Roosevelt was the first president to ride an automobile. The car was a purple-lined Columbia Electric Victoria. On August 22, 1902, Roosevelt rode through the streets of Hartford, Connecticut, along with a 20-carriage procession following behind.
  • Roosevelt was also the first president to own a car.
  • First President to invite a black man (Booker T. Washington in 1901) to dine at the White House.
  • First President to appoint a Jew, Oscar S. Straus in 1906, as a Presidential Cabinet Secretary.
  • First and only U.S. President to be awarded the Medal of Honor (posthumously in 2001), for his charge up San Juan Hill.


TR in San Francisco, 1903 (info)
Parade for the school children of San Francisco, down Van Ness Avenue. (13.8 MB, ogg/Theora format).
Teddy Roosevelt video montage (info)
Collection of video clips of the president. (6.5 MB, ogg/Theora format).
Problems seeing the videos? Media help.


See also

External links

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Preceded by:
Frank S. Black
Governor of New York
Succeeded by:
Benjamin B. Odell, Jr.
Preceded by:
Garret Hobart
Republican Party Vice Presidential candidate
1900 (won)
Succeeded by:
Charles W. Fairbanks
Preceded by:
Garret Hobart
Vice President of the United States
March 4, 1901September 14, 1901
Succeeded by:
Charles W. Fairbanks
Preceded by:
William McKinley
President of the United States
September 14, 1901March 3, 1909
Succeeded by:
William Howard Taft
Preceded by:
William McKinley
Republican Party Presidential candidate
1904 (won)
Succeeded by:
William Howard Taft
Presidents of the United States of America U.S. presidential seal
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Vice Presidents of the United States of America Seal of the Vice President of the United States
Adams | Jefferson | Burr | Clinton | Gerry | Tompkins | Calhoun | Van Buren | R Johnson | Tyler | Dallas | Fillmore | King | Breckinridge | Hamlin | A Johnson | Colfax | Wilson | Wheeler | Arthur | Hendricks | Morton | Stevenson | Hobart | Roosevelt | Fairbanks | Sherman | Marshall | Coolidge | Dawes | Curtis | Garner | Wallace | Truman | Barkley | Nixon | L Johnson | Humphrey | Agnew | Ford | Rockefeller | Mondale | Bush | Quayle | Gore | Cheney

United States Republican Party Presidential Nominees Republican Party
Frémont | Lincoln | Grant | Hayes | Garfield | Blaine | Harrison | McKinley | Roosevelt | Taft | Hughes | Harding | Coolidge | Hoover | Landon | Willkie | Dewey | Eisenhower | Nixon | Goldwater | Nixon | Ford | Reagan | GHW Bush | Dole | GW Bush

Governors of New York
New York State Flag
G. Clinton | Jay | G. Clinton | Lewis | Tompkins | Tayler | D. Clinton | Yates | D. Clinton | Pitcher | Van Buren | Throop | Marcy | Seward | Bouck | Wright | Young | Fish | Hunt | Seymour | Clark | King | Morgan | Seymour | Fenton | Hoffman | J.A. Dix | Tilden | Robinson | Cornell | Cleveland | Hill | Flower | Morton | Black | T. Roosevelt | Odell | Higgins | Hughes | White | J. Dix | Sulzer | Glynn | Whitman | Smith | Miller | Smith | F. Roosevelt | Lehman | Poletti | Dewey | Harriman | Rockefeller | Wilson | Carey | Cuomo | Pataki
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