Theodore Roosevelt: 26th President: Great Conservationist
Roosevelt's Sickly Beginnings
Born in New York, New York, to a wealthy family, Theodore Roosevelt grew up as a sickly child who had asthma, nearsightedness and was very thin and weak. He was unable to attend school; therefore, he was home-schooled by his parents and tutors. Fortunately, due to his father's wealth, they were able to have a gym upstairs in their home, which allowed Teddy to become more fit and become an accomplished boxer.
He was married to his first wife, Alice Lee, as a young man. Unfortunately, in 1884, she died on the same day his mother passed away. He then spent the next two years as a cowboy and rancher for the Dakota Territory in the Badlands, where he drove cattle, hunted big game, and even captured an outlaw. He married his second wife, Edith Carow, in December 1886.
Later he moved back to New York, where he worked as a police officer and became well-known for firing cops who were acting illegally. Due to those feeling threatened by him, he gained the nickname, "Teddy the Scorcher."
President McKinley took notice of Roosevelt's exceptional qualities and made him Assistant Secretary of the Navy. While in the Navy, as the Spanish-American War began, he organized the Rough Riders cavalry unit, where he acted as a lieutenant colonel and became well known for leading the charge at the battle of San Juan.
His success as Assistant Secretary brought him national attention, and he was soon elected Governor of New York. Many people felt intimidated by his strict values and ambition and felt that placing him as Vice-President would get him out of the way. Unbeknownst to them, McKinley would soon be assassinated, leaving Roosevelt as the youngest president ever to assume the position at age 42. He became the 26th President of the United States. Later he was elected for the following term, allowing him to serve almost two full terms.
Colonel Theodore Roosevelt
Roosevelt's Presidency: Broadened Executive Power
His dynamic personality and strong heart caused him to succeed as president. He felt that the President's job was to be a "steward of the people" and once wrote, "I did not usurp power, but I did greatly broaden the use of executive power." He felt that in the executive position that he should do whatever he could to help the public without breaking the law or going against the Constitution.
Roosevelt felt that it was important not just to look at our nation's issues but stretched his views internationally as well. He recognized a need for there to be a shortcut between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean to ship goods around the world more efficiently. It was then that he sought to have a canal that would connect the two oceans. On June 19, 1902, the Senate voted to have the Panama Canal built. Unfortunately, Colombia, which controlled the area, rejected the plan. Roosevelt sent U.S. warships to the area in support of Panamanian independence, which resulted in them gaining their independence on November 3, 1903, which then, in turn, allowed for the construction of the Panama Canal, making transport of goods much less costly and more efficient.
One of Theodore's greatest frustrations was that of giant trusts. He felt that large companies that controlled the lucrative industries such as steel and coal should not be allowed to retain so much power. He then decided to enforce antitrust laws because he felt that being unchecked, these companies could become more powerful than the United States government.
Nobel Peace Prize and a Happier Life
In 1906, he became the first American ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize, although he did not formally accept the award until after his presidency in 1910. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize because of his efforts to end the conflict between Russia and Japan in 1905. The previous year, Japan had offered the Russians control over Manchuria as long as they could have control over the northern part of Korea. They were unable to reach an agreement, and Japan officially severed ties and declared war against Russia on February 8, 1904. After a year of fighting, Roosevelt invited both leaders to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where he, along with the citizens of Portsmouth, encouraged diplomacy between the two nations. His efforts succeeded, resulting in peace between the two countries.
When he accepted the award, he recognized that the only reason Roosevelt was capable of doing such a noble act, was because he was president and felt slightly unworthy of the award. He attempted to decline the cash portion of the prize, but when they insisted, he donated the funds to help support war relief at the end of World War II.
In addition to his great achievements in international affairs, he also was a great conservationist. In the West, he added over 125 million acres to the national forest system, protecting the wilderness lands and its natural resources from destruction.
Not only was he a great leader, but he was also a father of six very unruly children who often made headlines. The younger ones often would slide down the banisters in the White House or walk on stilts inside. They even took a pony upstairs in the White House elevator.
Due to his love for adventure and nature, after his presidency, he went on an African safari and eventually toured the jungles of Brazil. He did not stay away from politics too long, for he ran for President a second time, but under the "Bull Moose" party, in which he lost.
During his campaign, a fanatic shot him in the chest, but fortunately, he quickly recovered. His response to the tragedy was taken with grace, as he stated, "No man has had a happier life than I have led; a happier life in every way."
Years later, he did die of a pulmonary embolism in Oyster Bay on January 6, 1919.
Excerpt from the History Channel
- Officially named the White House, the White House in 1901, before being called the White House, people referred to it as the President's House, the Executive Mansion, or even the President's Palace.
- The first president to ride in a car, during his presidency, and was photographed on official White House business doing so on August 22, 1902.
- 5th cousin to Franklin D. Roosevelt.
- He was the first American to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
- On November 14, 1906, he became the first president to travel outside the United States on official business. He traveled to Panama.
- The youngest man to ever serve as president, but not the youngest to be elected, that honor goes to John F. Kennedy.
- The teddy bear was named after him.
- Oklahoma became a state while he was in office in 1907, becoming our 46th state.
Battle of San Juan
October 27, 1858 - New York
Republican (1880–1909) Progressive "Bull Moose" (1912)
United States Army - Colonel
Spanish–American War • Battle of Las Guasimas • Battle of San Juan Hill
Age at Beginning of Presidency
42 years old
Term of Office
September 14, 1901 to March 3, 1909
How Long President
None (1901–1905) Charles W. Fairbanks (1905–1909)
Age and Year of Death
January 6, 1919 (aged 60)
Cause of Death
List of American Presidents
1. George Washington
16. Abraham Lincoln
31. Herbert Hoover
2. John Adams
17. Andrew Johnson
32. Franklin D. Roosevelt
3. Thomas Jefferson
18. Ulysses S. Grant
33. Harry S. Truman
4. James Madison
19. Rutherford B. Hayes
34. Dwight D. Eisenhower
5. James Monroe
20. James Garfield
35. John F. Kennedy
6. John Quincy Adams
21. Chester A. Arthur
36. Lyndon B. Johnson
7. Andrew Jackson
22. Grover Cleveland
37. Richard M. Nixon
8. Martin Van Buren
23. Benjamin Harrison
38. Gerald R. Ford
9. William Henry Harrison
24. Grover Cleveland
39. James Carter
10. John Tyler
25. William McKinley
40. Ronald Reagan
11. James K. Polk
26. Theodore Roosevelt
41. George H. W. Bush
12. Zachary Taylor
27. William Howard Taft
42. William J. Clinton
13. Millard Fillmore
28. Woodrow Wilson
43. George W. Bush
14. Franklin Pierce
29. Warren G. Harding
44. Barack Obama
15. James Buchanan
30. Calvin Coolidge
45. Donald Trump
- Building the Panama Canal, 1903–1914 - 1899–1913 - Milestones - Office of the Historian. (n.d.). Retrieved April 21, 2016, from https://history.state.gov/milestones/1899-1913/panama-canal
- Freidel, F., & Sidey, H. (2006). Theodore Roosevelt. Retrieved April 20, 2016, from https://www.whitehouse.gov/1600/presidents/theodoreroosevelt
- King, L. (2016, November 06). Theodore Roosevelt. Retrieved April 21, 2016, from http://abouttheodoreroosevelt.com/roosevelt-peace-prize/291/
- Sullivan, G. (2001). Mr. President: A book of U.S. presidents. New York: Scholastic.
- U.S. Presidential Fun Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved April 20, 2016, from http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/explore/history/presidential-fun-facts/#geo-washington.jpg
- What are some interesting facts about presidents and first ladies? (n.d.). Retrieved April 20, 2016, from https://www.whitehousehistory.org/questions/what-are-some-interesting-facts-about-presidents-first-ladies
Questions & Answers
© 2016 Angela Michelle Schultz