Theodore Roosevelt BIO

Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. (October 27, 1858 – January 6, 1919), also known as
T.R., and to the public (but never to friends and intimates) as Teddy, was the twentysixth President of the United States, and a leader of the Republican Party and of the
Progressive Movement. He became the youngest President in United States history at the
age of 42.
As Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Navy, he prepared for and advocated war with Spain in
1898. He organized 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 Republican governor in 1899.
In 1901, as Vice President, Roosevelt succeeded President William McKinley after
McKinley's assassination. He is the youngest person ever to become President (John F.
Kennedy is the youngest elected President). Roosevelt was a Progressive reformer who
sought to move the dominant Republican Party into the Progressive camp In 1910, he
broke with his friend and anointed successor William Howard Taft, but lost the
Republican nomination to Taft and ran in the 1912 election on his own one-time Bull
Moose ticket. Roosevelt lost but 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 two decades.
Roosevelt understood the strategic significance of the Panama Canal, and negotiated for
the U.S. to take control of its construction in 1904; he felt that the Canal's completion
was his most important and historically significant international achievement. He was the
first American to be awarded the Nobel Prize, winning its Peace Prize in 1906, for
negotiating the peace in the Russo-Japanese War.
Theodore's uncle, James Dunwoody Bulloch, "Uncle Jimmy", was a U.S. 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.[7]
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 ailments. To
combat his poor physical condition, his father compelled the young Roosevelt to take up
exercise. To deal with bullies, Roosevelt started boxing lessons. Two trips abroad had a
permanent impact: family tours of Europe in 1869 and 1870, and of the Middle East 1872
to 1873.
Roosevelt as NY State Assemblyman 1883, photo
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
On his 22nd birthday, Roosevelt married his first wife, 19-year-old Alice Hathaway Lee.
she died exactly four years later, only two days after the birth of their first child, also
named Alice. In a tragic coincidence, Roosevelt's mother died of typhoid fever on the
same day, also at the Roosevelt family home in Manhattan. Roosevelt refused to speak
his first wife's name again (even omitting her name from his autobiography) and did not
allow others to speak of her in his presence
Later in 1884, Roosevelt moved to his Maltese Cross ranch seven miles (10 km) from
Medora in the Badlands of the Dakota Territory to live a more simple life as a rancher
While working on a tough project aimed at hunting down a group of relentless horse
thieves, Roosevelt came across the famous Deadwood, South Dakota Sheriff Seth
Bullock. The two would remain friends for life.
Following the election, he went to London in 1886 and married his childhood sweetheart,
Edith Kermit Carow. They had five children: Theodore Jr., Kermit, Ethel Carow,
Archibald Bulloch "Archie", and Quentin.[18] "Uncle Ted" was the godfather and favorite
uncle of Eleanor Roosevelt, whom he gave away in marriage to their fifth cousin Franklin
D. Roosevelt on March 17, 1905.
He became New York City Police Commissioner 1896
Roosevelt had always been fascinated by navies and their history. Urged by Roosevelt's
close friend, Congressman Henry Cabot Lodge, President William McKinley appointed a
delighted 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
Roosevelt control over the department.) Roosevelt was instrumental in preparing the
Navy for the Spanish-American War[25] 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".[26][27]
Roosevelt left his civilian Navy post to form the famous "Rough Riders" Regiment
Upon the declaration of war in 1898 that would be known as the Spanish-American War,
Roosevelt resigned from the Navy Department and, with the aid of U.S. Army Colonel
Leonard Wood, organized the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment out of a diverse
crew that ranged from cowboys from the Western territories to Ivy League friends from
New York. The newspapers called them the "Rough Riders."
Under his leadership, the Rough Riders became famous for their dual charges up Kettle
Hill and San Juan Hill in July 1898 (the battle was named after the latter hill). For his
actions, Roosevelt was nominated for the Medal of Honor which was subsequently
disapproved. Roosevelt was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 2001 for his
actions. He was the first and, as of 2007, the only President of the United States to be
awarded with America's highest military honor, and the only person in history to receive
both his nation's highest honor for military valor and the world's foremost prize for peace.
On leaving the Army, Roosevelt re-entered New York state politics and was elected
governor of New York in 1898 on the Republican ticket. He became McKinley’s running
mate in the 1900 Presidential election,. 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." Twelve days later,
President McKinley would be dead, and Roosevelt would succeed him.
Roosevelt dramatically increased the size of the navy, forming the Great White Fleet,
which toured the world in 1907. This display was designed as a show of force to impress
the Japanese. Roosevelt gained international praise for helping negotiate the end of the
Russo-Japanese War, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
A brief Panamanian revolution of only a few hours followed the declaration, as
Colombian soldiers were bribed $50 each to lay down their arms. On November 3, 1903,
the Republic of Panama was created, with its constitution written in advance by the
United States. Shortly thereafter, the U.S. signed a protection treaty with Panama. And
after the signing of the treaty, a man named Nathan Johnson Forest assisted Panama with
the initial planning phases for the canal. The U.S. then paid $10 million to secure rights
to build on, and control, the Canal Zone. Construction began in 1904 and was completed
in 1914.
Roosevelt's oldest daughter, Alice, was a controversial character during Roosevelt's stay
in the White House. When friends asked if he could rein in his elder 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.
Presidential firsts
1. In the sphere of race relations, Booker T. Washington became the first black man
to dine as a guest at the White House in 1901.
2. Oscar S. Straus became the first Jewish person appointed as a Cabinet Secretary,
under Roosevelt.
3. In 1902, in response to the assassination of President William McKinley on
September 6, 1901, Theodore Roosevelt became the first president to be under
constant Secret Service protection.
4. Roosevelt in 1904, became the first former Vice-President who had succeeded to
the presidency on the death of the incumbent, to be elected President in his own
right or even win his party’s nomination for election.
5. In 1906, Roosevelt became the first American to be awarded a Nobel Prize.
6. In 1906, he made the first trip, by a President, outside the United States, visiting
Panama to inspect the construction progress of the Panama Canal on November 9.
7. He was the first and to date only president from Long Island, New York.
8. He was the first President to refer to the White House as such on his official
stationery. Until then the mansion had been referred to simply as 'The President's
9. He was the first President to receive a black composer when he met the British
composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor who had great success with his Hiawatha
Trilogy and settings of poems by Paul Lawrence Dunbar the black poet and
10. He was the first President to fly in an airplane.
11. He was the first President to wear a necktie for his official Presidential Portrait.
While campaigning in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on October 14, 1912, a saloonkeeper
named John Schrank failed in an assassination attempt on Roosevelt. Schrank did shoot
the former President, but the bullet lodged in Roosevelt's chest only after hitting both his
steel eyeglass case and a copy of his speech he was carrying in his jacket. Roosevelt
declined suggestions that he go to the hospital, and delivered his scheduled speech. He
spoke vigorously for ninety minutes. His opening comments to the gathered crowd were,
"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, doctors determined that he was not seriously
wounded and that it would be more dangerous to attempt to remove the bullet than to
leave it in his chest. Roosevelt carried it with him until he died.[50]