Updated date:

Theodore Roosevelt: 26th President: Great Conservationist

Angela loves history and feels it is essential to our future to know the past—or else be destined to repeat it.

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.

Vice-President Roosevelt

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

Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, in rough rider uniform, full-length portrait, standing and facing slightly left.

Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, in rough rider uniform, full-length portrait, standing and facing slightly left.

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

Fun Facts

  • 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

“Colonel Roosevelt and his Rough Riders at the top of the hill which they captured, Battle of San Juan”

“Colonel Roosevelt and his Rough Riders at the top of the hill which they captured, Battle of San Juan”

Basic Facts

Question Answer

Born

October 27, 1858 - New York

President Number

26th

Party

Republican (1880–1909) Progressive "Bull Moose" (1912)

Military Service

United States Army - Colonel

Wars Served

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

8 years

Vice-President

None (1901–1905) Charles W. Fairbanks (1905–1909)

Age and Year of Death

January 6, 1919 (aged 60)

Cause of Death

pulmonary embolism

Mount Rushmore

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

Sources

  • 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

© 2016 Angela Michelle Schultz

Comments

CJ Kelly from the PNW on April 21, 2016:

Great Bio. Good hub. Shared.