Theodore Roosevelt

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Theodore Roosevelt
President Theodore Roosevelt, 1904.jpg
President Roosevelt in 1904
26th President of the United States
In office
September 14, 1901 – March 4, 1909
Vice President None (1901–1905)
Charles W. Fairbanks
Preceded by William McKinley
Succeeded by William Howard Taft
25th Vice President of the United States
In office
March 4, 1901 – September 14, 1901
President William McKinley
Preceded by Garret Hobart
Succeeded by Charles W. Fairbanks
33rd Governor of New York
In office
January 1, 1899 – December 31, 1900
Lieutenant Timothy L. Woodruff
Preceded by Frank S. Black
Succeeded by Benjamin Barker Odell Jr.
Assistant Secretary of the Navy
In office
April 19, 1897 – May 10, 1898
President William McKinley
Preceded by William McAdoo
Succeeded by Charles Herbert Allen
Personal details
Born Theodore Roosevelt Jr.
(1858-10-27)October 27, 1858
Manhattan, New York, US
Died January 6, 1919(1919-01-06) (aged 60)
Oyster Bay, New York, US
Resting place Youngs Memorial Cemetery
Oyster Bay, New York, US
Political party Republican (1880–1909)
Progressive "Bull Moose" (1912)
Spouse(s) Alice Lee
(m. 1880–84; her death)
Edith Carow
(m. 1886–1919; his death)
Children Alice, Theodore III, Kermit, Ethel, Archibald, Quentin
Parents Theodore Roosevelt Sr.
Martha Bulloch Roosevelt
Alma mater Harvard University (A.B.)
Columbia Law School (J.D.)
  • Politician
  • Author
  • Historian
  • Explorer
  • Conservationist
Religion Dutch Reformed Church
Awards Nobel Peace Prize (1906)
Medal of Honor (Posthumously; 2001)
Signature Cursive signature in ink
Military service
Service/branch New York National Guard
United States Army
Years of service 1882–1886, 1898
Rank US-O6 insignia.svg Colonel
Commands 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry
Battles/wars Spanish–American War
 • Battle of Las Guasimas
 • Battle of San Juan Hill
The coat of arms of Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt bookplate.jpg
A contemporary book plate used by Roosevelt for his personal library[1]
Date of origin 17th century
Shield Argent upon a grassy mound a rosebush bearing three roses gules barbed and seeded proper.
Crest and mantle Upon a torse argent and gules, Three ostrich plumes each per pale gules and argent, the mantling gules doubled argent.
Motto Qui plantavit curabit, Latin for "he who has planted will preserve".[1]

Theodore "T.R." Roosevelt Jr. (/ˈrzəvɛlt/ ROH-zə-velt;[a] October 27, 1858 – January 6, 1919) was an American politician, author, naturalist, soldier, explorer, and historian who served as the 26th President of the United States.[3] He was a leader of the Republican Party and founder of the Progressive Party insurgency of 1912. He is known 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.[4] Growing up, Roosevelt was a sickly child who suffered from asthma. To overcome his physical weakness, he embraced a strenuous life. He was home-schooled and became an eager student of nature. He attended Harvard College, where he studied biology, boxed, and developed an interest in naval affairs. He quickly entered politics, determined to become a member of the ruling class. In 1881, he was elected to the New York State Assembly, where he became a leader of the reform faction of the GOP. His book, The Naval War of 1812 (1882), established him as a learned historian and writer.

When Roosevelt's first wife, Alice, died two days after giving birth in February 1884 and when his mother died the same day in the same house, he was heartbroken and in despair. Roosevelt temporarily left politics and became a cattle rancher in the Dakotas. When blizzards destroyed his herd, he returned to New York City politics, running in and losing a race for mayor. In the 1890s, he took vigorous charge of the city police as New York City Police Commissioner. By 1897, under President William McKinley, Roosevelt was, in effect, running the Navy Department. When the war with Spain broke out in 1898, he helped form the famous Rough Riders, a combination of wealthy Easterners and Western cowboys. He gained national fame for his courage during the war in Cuba. Roosevelt then returned to United States and was elected Governor of New York. He was the GOP nominee for Vice President with William McKinley, campaigning successfully against radicalism and for prosperity, national honor, imperialism (regarding the Philippines), high tariffs and the gold standard.

Roosevelt became President after McKinley was assassinated in 1901. He was inaugurated at age 42, making him the youngest person to become president, and the first President to receive full-time Secret Service protection (although this was not at his request). He tried to move the GOP toward Progressivism, including trust busting and increased business regulation. In November 1904, he was reelected in a landslide against conservative Democrat Alton Brooks Parker. Roosevelt called his domestic policies a "Square Deal", promising a fair deal to the average citizen while breaking up monopolistic corporations, holding down railroad rates, and guaranteeing pure food and drugs. He was the first president to speak out on conservation, and he greatly expanded the system of national parks and national forests. By 1907, he propounded more radical reforms, which were blocked by the conservative Republicans in Congress. His foreign policy focused on the Caribbean, where he ordered the construction of the Panama Canal and guarded it. There were no wars, but his slogan, "Speak softly and carry a big stick" was underscored by expanding the navy and sending the Great White Fleet on a world tour. He negotiated an end to the Russo-Japanese War, for which he won the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize, becoming the first American Nobel laureate, and the first born outside of Eurasia.

At the end of his second term, Roosevelt supported his close friend, William Howard Taft, for the 1908 Republican nomination. After leaving office, he toured Africa and Europe, and on his return in 1910, his friendship with President Taft ended as a result of disputes on the issues of progressivism and personalities. In the 1912 presidential election, Roosevelt tried to block Taft's renomination, but failed. He then launched the Progressive ("Bull Moose") Party that called for progressive reforms, which split the Republicans, and captured almost 25 percent of all votes cast in the 1912 Presidential election. This allowed Democrat Woodrow Wilson to win the White House and Congress, while the Taft conservatives gained control of the GOP for decades. Roosevelt then led a major expedition to the Amazon jungles and contracted several illnesses. From 1914 to 1917, he campaigned for American entry into World War I, and reconciled with the GOP leadership. He was the frontrunner for the GOP nomination in the 1920 presidential election, but his health collapsed and he died in 1919. Roosevelt has consistently been ranked by scholars as one of the greatest U.S. Presidents.[5] His face adorns Mount Rushmore alongside those of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln.

Early life and family

Theodore Roosevelt at age 11

Theodore Roosevelt Jr. was born on October 27, 1858, in a four-story brownstone at 28 East 20th Street, in Manhattan, New York. He was the second of four children born to socialite Martha Stewart "Mittie" Bulloch and glass businessman and philanthropist Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. He had an older sister, Anna (nicknamed "Bamie"), a younger brother, Elliott, and a younger sister, Corinne. Elliott was the father of First Lady Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. His paternal grandfather was of Dutch descent;[6] his other ancestry included English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, and French.[citation needed] Thee (Theodore Roosevelt, Sr.) was the fifth son of businessman Cornelius Van Schaack "C.V.S." Roosevelt and Margaret Barnhill. Thee's fourth cousin, James Roosevelt I, who was also a businessman, was the father of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Mittie was the younger daughter of Major James Stephens Bulloch and Martha P. "Patsy" Stewart.[7] Through the Van Schaacks Roosevelt is a descendant of the Schuyler family.[8]

Roosevelt's youth was largely shaped by his poor health and his need to overcome severe asthma, which has a debilitating impact on the body and personality. He repeatedly experienced sudden nighttime asthma attacks that caused near deathlike experiences of being smothered to death, terrifying Theodore and his parents. Doctors had no cure.[9] Nevertheless, he was energetic and mischievously inquisitive.[10] His lifelong interest in zoology began at age seven when he saw a dead seal at a local market; after obtaining the seal's head, Roosevelt and two cousins formed what they called the "Roosevelt Museum of Natural History". Having learned the rudiments of taxidermy, he filled his makeshift museum with animals that he killed or caught; he then studied the animals and prepared them for display. At age nine, he recorded his observation of insects in a paper entitled "The Natural History of Insects".[11]

Roosevelt's father significantly influenced him. His father had been a prominent leader in New York's cultural affairs; he helped to found the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and had been especially active in mobilizing support for the Union war effort. Although Roosevelt's father was dead by the time he entered politics, there were many family friends who came to his aid.[12] Roosevelt wrote: "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." Family trips abroad, including tours of Europe in 1869 and 1870, and Egypt in 1872, also had a lasting impact.[13] Hiking with his family in the Alps in 1869, Roosevelt found that he could keep pace with his father. He had discovered the significant benefits of physical exertion to minimize his asthma and bolster his spirits.[14][15] With encouragement from his father, Roosevelt began a heavy regime of exercise. After being manhandled by two older boys on a camping trip, he found a boxing coach to help him strengthen his weakened body and psyche.[16][17]

Roosevelt later articulated the abiding influence of the courageous men he read about, including those in his family: "I was nervous and timid. Yet from reading of the people I admired – ranging from the soldiers of Valley Forge and Morgan's riflemen, to the heroes of my favorite stories – and from hearing of the feats of my southern forefathers and kinsfolk and from knowing my father, I felt a great admiration for men who were fearless and who could hold their own in the world, and I had a great desire to be like them."[18]


Roosevelt's taxidermy kit[19]

Roosevelt was mostly home schooled by tutors and his parents. Biographer H. W. Brands argues that "The most obvious drawback to the home schooling Roosevelt received was uneven coverage of the various areas of human knowledge."[20] He was solid in geography (as a result of self study during travels), and bright in history, biology, French, and German; however, he struggled in mathematics and the classical languages. He entered Harvard College on September 27, 1876; his father told him "Take care of your morals first, your health next, and finally your studies".[21]

After recovering from devastation over his father's death on February 9, 1878, Roosevelt doubled his activities. He did well in science, philosophy, and rhetoric courses but continued to struggle in Latin and Greek. He studied biology intently and was already an accomplished naturalist and a published ornithologist; he read prodigiously with an almost photographic memory.[22] While at Harvard, Roosevelt participated in rowing and boxing; he was once runner-up in a Harvard boxing tournament. Roosevelt was a member of the Alpha Delta Phi literary society, the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, and the Porcellian Club; he was also an editor of The Harvard Advocate. On June 30, 1880, Roosevelt graduated Phi Beta Kappa (22nd of 177) from Harvard with an A.B. magna cum laude.[21]

He entered Columbia Law School, and was an able student, but he often found law to be irrational; he spent much of his time writing a book on the War of 1812. Roosevelt eventually became entirely disenchanted with law and diverted his attention to politics at Morton Hall on 59th Street, the headquarters for New York's 21st District Republican Association. When the members of the association encouraged him to run for public office, he dropped out of law school to do so, later saying, "I intended to be one of the governing class."[23]

The Naval War of 1812

While at Harvard, Roosevelt began a systematic study of the role played by the nascent US Navy in the War of 1812, largely completing two chapters of a book he published after graduation.[24][25] Assisted by two uncles, he scrutinized original source materials and official US Navy records. Roosevelt's carefully researched book, published in 1882, was comparable to modern doctoral dissertations, complete with drawings of individual and combined ship maneuvers, charts depicting the differences in iron throw weights of cannon shot between American and British forces, and analyses of the differences between English and American leadership down to the ship-to-ship level. Published after Roosevelt's graduation from Harvard, The Naval War of 1812 was praised for its scholarship and style, and it showed Roosevelt to be a scholar of history. One modern naval historian wrote: "Roosevelt's study of the War of 1812 influenced all subsequent scholarship on the naval aspects of the War of 1812 and continues to be reprinted. More than a classic, it remains, after 120 years, a standard study of the war."[26] Roosevelt summarized one of the primary morals of the war: "It must be but a poor spirited American whose veins do not tingle with pride when he reads of the cruises and fights of the sea-captains, and their grim prowess, which kept the old Yankee flag floating over the waters of the Atlantic for three years, in the teeth of the mightiest naval power the world has ever seen."[27]

First marriage and widowerhood

On his 22nd birthday, Roosevelt married socialite Alice Hathaway Lee, daughter of banker George Cabot Lee and Caroline Watts Haskell. Their daughter, Alice Lee Roosevelt, was born on February 12, 1884. Roosevelt's wife died two days after giving birth due to an undiagnosed case of kidney failure (called Bright's disease at the time), which had been masked by the pregnancy. In his diary, Roosevelt wrote a large 'X' on the page and then, "The light has gone out of my life." His mother, Mittie, had died of typhoid fever eleven hours earlier at 3:00 a.m., in the same house. Distraught, Roosevelt left baby Alice in the care of his sister Bamie in New York City while he grieved. He assumed custody of his daughter when she was three.[21]

Roosevelt also reacted by focusing on work, specifically by re-energizing a legislative investigation into corruption of the New York City government, which arose from a concurrent bill proposing that power be centralized in the mayor's office.[28] For the rest of his life, he rarely spoke about his wife Alice and did not write about her in his autobiography. While working with Joseph Bucklin Bishop on a biography that included a collection of his letters, Roosevelt did not mention his marriage to Alice nor his second marriage to Edith Kermit Carow. [29]

Early political career

Roosevelt as NY State Assemblyman, 1883

State Assemblyman

Roosevelt was soon put forth as the Republican party's candidate for the District's House seat in Albany.[30] He was a member of the New York State Assembly (New York Co., 21st D.) in 1882, 1883 and 1884. He immediately began making his mark, specifically in corporate corruption issues.[31] He blocked a corrupt effort by financier Jay Gould to lower his taxes. Roosevelt exposed suspected collusion in the matter by Judge Theodore Westbrook, and argued for and received approval for an investigation to proceed, aiming for the impeachment of the judge. The investigation committee rejected impeachment, but Roosevelt had exposed the potential corruption in Albany, and thus assumed a high and positive political profile in multiple New York publications.[32] In 1883, Roosevelt became the Assembly Minority Leader. In 1884, he lost the nomination for Speaker to Titus Sheard by a vote of 41 to 29 in the GOP caucus.[33] Roosevelt was also Chairman of the Committee on Affairs of Cities; he wrote more bills than any other legislator.[34]

Presidential election of 1884

With numerous presidential hopefuls to choose from, Roosevelt supported Senator George F. Edmunds of Vermont, a colorless reformer. The GOP preferred New York City's Chester Arthur, who was known as a spoilsman. Roosevelt fought hard and succeeded in influencing the Manhattan delegates in the state convention at Utica. He then took control of the state convention, bargaining through the night and outmaneuvering the supporters of Arthur and James G. Blaine; he gained a national reputation as a key person in New York State.[35]

Roosevelt attended the GOP National Convention in 1884 and fought alongside the Mugwump reformers; they lost to the Stalwart faction, who nominated James G. Blaine. In a crucial moment of his budding political career, Roosevelt resisted the demand of the Mugwumps that he bolt from Blaine. He bragged about his one small success: "We achieved a victory in getting up a combination to beat the Blaine nominee for temporary chairman... To do this needed a mixture of skill, boldness and energy... to get the different factions to come in... to defeat the common foe."[36] He was also impressed by an invitation to speak before an audience of ten thousand, the largest up to that date. Having gotten a taste of national politics, Roosevelt felt less aspiration for advocacy on the state level; he then retired to his new "Chimney Butte Ranch" on the Little Missouri.[37] Roosevelt refused to join other Mugwumps in supporting Grover Cleveland, the governor of New York and the Democratic nominee in the general election. He debated the pros and cons of staying loyal with his political friend, Henry Cabot Lodge. After Blaine won the nomination, Roosevelt had carelessly said that he would give "hearty support to any decent Democrat." He distanced himself from the promise, saying that it had not been meant "for publication."[38] When a reporter asked if he would support Blaine, Roosevelt replied, "That question I decline to answer. It is a subject I do not care to talk about."[39] In the end, he realized that he had to support Blaine to maintain his role in the GOP, and he did so in a press release on July 19.[40]

In 1886, Roosevelt was the Republican candidate for mayor of New York City, portraying himself as "The Cowboy of the Dakotas." GOP precinct workers warned voters that the independent radical candidate Henry George was leading and that Roosevelt would lose, thus causing a last-minute defection of GOP voters to the Democratic candidate Abram Hewitt. Roosevelt took third place with 27% (60,435 votes). Hewitt won with 41% (90,552 votes), and George was held to 31% (68,110 votes).[41]

Cowboy in Dakota

Theodore Roosevelt as Badlands hunter in 1885. New York studio photo

Roosevelt built a second ranch named Elk Horn, thirty-five miles (56 km) north of the boomtown of Medora, North Dakota. On the banks of the Little Missouri, Roosevelt learned to ride western style, rope and hunt; though he earned the respect of the authentic cowboys, they were not overly impressed.[42] However, he identified with the herdsman of history, a man he said possesses, "few of the emasculated, milk-and-water moralities admired by the pseudo-philanthropists; but he does possess, to a very high degree, the stern, manly qualities that are invaluable to a nation."[43][44] He reoriented, and began writing about frontier life for national magazines; he also published three books – Hunting Trips of a Ranchman, Ranch Life and the Hunting-Trail, and The Wilderness Hunter.[45]

As a deputy sheriff, Roosevelt pursued three outlaws who had stolen his riverboat and escaped north up the Little Missouri. He captured them, but decided against a vigilante hanging; instead, he sent his foreman back by boat, and conveyed the thieves to Dickinson for trial. He assumed guard over them for forty hours without sleep, while reading Leo 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.[46] On another occasion, 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.[47]

Roosevelt brought his desire to address the common interests of citizens to the west. He successfully led efforts to organize ranchers to address the problems of overgrazing and other shared concerns; his work resulted in the formation of the Little Missouri Stockmen's Association. He was also compelled to coordinate conservation efforts and was able to form the Boone and Crockett Club, whose primary goal was the conservation of large game animals and their habitats.[48] After the uniquely severe US winter of 1886–1887 wiped out his herd of cattle and those of his competitors, and with it over half of his $80,000 investment, Roosevelt returned to the East.[49][50]

Second marriage

On December 2, 1886, Roosevelt married his childhood and family friend, Edith Kermit Carow (August 6, 1861 – September 30, 1948), a daughter of Charles Carow and Gertrude Elizabeth Tyler.[51] The couple married at St George's, Hanover Square in London, England. English diplomat Cecil Arthur Spring Rice, Roosevelt's close friend, served as best man.[52] The couple honeymooned in Europe, and while there, Roosevelt led a group to the summit of Mont Blanc, an achievement that resulted in his induction into the Royal Society of London.[53] They had five children: Theodore "Ted" III (1887–1944), Kermit (1889–1943), Ethel (1891–1977), Archibald (1894–1979), and Quentin (1897–1918). At the time of Ted's birth, Roosevelt was both eager and worried for Edith after losing his first wife, Alice, shortly after childbirth.[21]

Reentering public life

Civil Service Commission

In the 1888 presidential election, Roosevelt successfully campaigned, primarily in the Midwest, for Benjamin Harrison. President Harrison appointed Roosevelt to the United States Civil Service Commission, where he served until 1895. While in office, Roosevelt vigorously fought the spoilsmen and demanded enforcement of civil service laws.[54] The New York Sun then described Roosevelt as "irrepressible, belligerent, and enthusiastic".[55] Despite Roosevelt's support for Harrison's reelection bid in the presidential election of 1892, the eventual winner, Grover Cleveland (a Bourbon Democrat), reappointed him to the same post.[56] Roosevelt's close friend and biographer, Joseph Bucklin Bishop, described his assault on the spoils system:

The very citadel of spoils politics, the hitherto impregnable fortress that had existed unshaken since it was erected on the foundation laid by Andrew Jackson, was tottering to its fall under the assaults of this audacious and irrepressible young man... Whatever may have been the feelings of the (fellow Republican party) President (Harrison) – and there is little doubt that he had no idea when he appointed Roosevelt that he would prove to be so veritable a bull in a china shop — he refused to remove him and stood by him firmly till the end of his term.[55]

New York City Police Commissioner

In 1894, a group of reform Republicans approached Roosevelt about running for Mayor of New York again; he declined, mostly due to his wife's resistance to being removed from the Washington social set. Soon after he declined, he realized that he had missed an opportunity to reinvigorate a dormant political career. He retreated to the Dakotas for a time; his wife Edith regretted her role in the decision and vowed that there would be no repeat of it.[57]

NYC Police Commissioner Roosevelt walks the beat with journalist Jacob Riis in 1894 – Illustration from Riis' autobiography.

Roosevelt became president of the board of the New York City Police Commissioners for two years in 1895 and radically reformed the police force. The New York Police Department (NYPD) 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."[58] Roosevelt implemented regular inspections of firearms and annual physical exams; he appointed 1,600 recruits based on their physical and mental qualifications, regardless of 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.[59]

In 1894, Roosevelt met Jacob Riis, the muckraking Evening Sun newspaper journalist who was opening the eyes of New Yorkers to the terrible conditions of the city's millions of poor immigrants with such books as How the Other Half Lives. Riis described how his book affected Roosevelt:

When Roosevelt read [my] book, he came... No one ever helped as he did. For two years we were brothers in (New York City's crime-ridden) Mulberry Street. When he left I had seen its golden age... There is very little ease where Theodore Roosevelt leads, as we all of us found out. The lawbreaker found it out who predicted scornfully that he would "knuckle down to politics the way they all did," and lived to respect him, though he swore at him, as the one of them all who was stronger than pull... that was what made the age golden, that for the first time a moral purpose came into the street. In the light of it everything was transformed.[60]

Roosevelt made a habit of walking officers' beats late at night and early in the morning to make sure that they were on duty.[61] He made a concerted effort to uniformly enforce New York's Sunday closing law; in this, he ran up against boss Tom Platt as well as Tammany Hall – he was notified that the Police Commission was being legislated out of existence. Roosevelt chose to defer rather than split with his party.[62] 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.[63]

Emergence as a national figure

Assistant Secretary of the Navy

Roosevelt had demonstrated, through his research and writing, a fascination with naval history; President William McKinley, urged by Roosevelt's close friend Congressman Henry Cabot Lodge, appointed Roosevelt as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy in 1897.[64] Secretary of the Navy John D. Long was more concerned about formalities than functions, was in poor health, and left major decisions to Roosevelt. Roosevelt seized the opportunity and began pressing his national security views regarding the Pacific and the Caribbean on McKinley. Roosevelt was particularly adamant that Spain be ejected from Cuba, to foster the latter's independence and to demonstrate the U.S. resolve to reenforce the Monroe Doctrine.[65] Ten days after the battleship Maine exploded in the harbor of Havana, Cuba, the Secretary left the office and Roosevelt became Acting Secretary for four hours. Roosevelt cabled the Navy worldwide to prepare for war, ordered ammunition and supplies, brought in experts and went to Congress asking for the authority to recruit as many sailors as he wanted.[66] Roosevelt was instrumental in preparing the Navy for the Spanish–American War. Roosevelt had an analytical mind, even as he was itching for war. He explained his priorities to one of the Navy's planners in late 1897:

I would regard war with Spain from two viewpoints: first, the advisability on the grounds both of humanity and self-interest of interfering on behalf of the Cubans, and of taking one more step toward the complete freeing of America from European dominion; second, the benefit done our people by giving them something to think of which is not material gain, and especially the benefit done our military forces by trying both the Navy and Army in actual practice."[67]

Col. Theodore Roosevelt

War in Cuba

Main article: Rough Riders

Prior to his service in the Spanish–American War, Roosevelt had already seen reserve military service from 1882 to 1886 with the New York National Guard. Commissioned on August 1, 1882 as a 2nd Lieutenant with B Company, 8th Regiment, he was promoted to Captain and company commander a year later, and he remained in command until he resigned his commission.[68][69][70][71][72]

When the United States and Spain declared war against each other in late April 1898, Roosevelt resigned from his civilian leadership job with the Navy on May 6 and formed the First US Volunteer Cavalry Regiment along with Army Colonel Leonard Wood.[73] Referred to by the press as the "Rough Riders", the regiment was one of many temporary units active only for the duration of the war.[74]

After securing modern multiple-round Krag smokeless carbines, Lieutenant Colonel Roosevelt arrived on May 15.[70] The regiment trained for several weeks in San Antonio, Texas, and in his autobiography Roosevelt wrote that his prior National Guard experience had been invaluable, in that it enabled him to immediately begin teaching his men basic soldiering skills.[75] The Rough Riders used some standard issue gear and some of their own design, purchased with gift money. Diversity characterized the regiment, which included Ivy Leaguers, professional and amateur athletes, upscale gentlemen as well as cowboys, frontiersmen, Native Americans, hunters, miners, prospectors, former soldiers, tradesmen, and sheriffs. The Rough Riders were part of the cavalry division commanded by former Confederate general Joseph Wheeler. It was one of three divisions in the V Corps under Lieutenant General William Rufus Shafter. Roosevelt and his men departed Tampa on June 13, landed in Daiquiri, Cuba, on June 23, 1898, and marched to Siboney. Wheeler sent parts of the 1st and 10th Regular Cavalry on the lower road northwest and sent the "Rough Riders" on the parallel road running along a ridge up from the beach. To throw off his infantry rival, Wheeler left one regiment of his Cavalry Division, the 9th, at Siboney so that he could claim that his move north was only a limited reconnaissance if things went wrong. Roosevelt was promoted to colonel and took command of the regiment when Wood was put in command of the brigade.

The Rough Riders had a short, minor skirmish known as the Battle of Las Guasimas; they fought their way through Spanish resistance and, together with the Regulars, forced the Spaniards to abandon their positions.[76]

Colonel Roosevelt and the Rough Riders after capturing Kettle Hill along with members of the 3rd Volunteers and the regular Army black 10th Cavalry

Under his leadership, the Rough Riders became famous for the charge up Kettle Hill on July 1, 1898, while supporting the regulars. Roosevelt had the only horse, and rode back and forth between rifle pits at the forefront of the advance up Kettle Hill, an advance that he urged despite the absence of any orders from superiors. He was forced to walk up the last part of Kettle Hill, because his horse had been entangled in barbed wire. The victories came at a cost of 200 killed and 1000 wounded.[77]

Roosevelt commented on his role in the battles: "On the day of the big fight I had to ask my men to do a deed that European military writers consider utterly impossible of performance, that is, to attack over open ground an unshaken infantry armed with the best modern repeating rifles behind a formidable system of entrenchments. The only way to get them to do it in the way it had to be done was to lead them myself."[78]

Roosevelt as a veteran

In August, Roosevelt and other officers demanded that the soldiers be returned home. Roosevelt always recalled the Battle of Kettle Hill (part of the San Juan Heights) as "the great day of my life" and "my crowded hour". In 2001, Roosevelt was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions; he had been nominated during the war, but Army officials, annoyed at his grabbing the headlines, blocked it.[79] After returning to civilian life, Roosevelt preferred to be known as "Colonel Roosevelt" or "The Colonel". However, "Teddy" remained much more popular with the public, even though Roosevelt openly despised it. Men working closely with Roosevelt customarily called him "Colonel" or "Theodore".[80]

Governor of New York

Chicago newspaper sees cowboy-TR campaigning for governor

After leaving the Army, Roosevelt discovered that New York Republicans needed him, because their current governor was tainted by scandal and would probably lose. He campaigned vigorously on his war record, winning the 1898 state election by a historical margin of 1%.[81]

As governor, Roosevelt learned much about ongoing economic issues and political techniques that later proved valuable in his presidency. He was exposed to the problems of trusts, monopolies, labor relations, and conservation. Chessman argues that Roosevelt's program "rested firmly upon the concept of the square deal by a neutral state." The rules for the Square Deal were "honesty in public affairs, an equitable sharing of privilege and responsibility, and subordination of party and local concerns to the interests of the state at large."[82]

By holding twice-daily press conferences — which was an innovation — Roosevelt remained connected with his middle-class political base.[83] Roosevelt successfully pushed the Ford Franchise-Tax bill, which taxed public franchises granted by the state and controlled by corporations, declaring that "a corporation which derives its powers from the State, should pay to the State a just percentage of its earnings as a return for the privileges it enjoys."[84] He rejected "boss" Thomas C. Platt's worries that this approached Bryanite Socialism, explaining that without it, New York voters might get angry and adopt public ownership of streetcar lines and other franchises.[85]

The New York state government affected many interests, and the power to make appointments to policy-making positions was a key role for the governor. Platt insisted that he be consulted; Roosevelt appeared to comply, but then made his own decisions. Historians marvel that Roosevelt managed to appoint so many first-rate men with Platt's approval. He even enlisted Platt's help in securing reform, such as in the spring of 1899, when Platt pressured state senators to vote for a civil service bill that the secretary of the Civil Service Reform Association called "superior to any civil service statute heretofore secured in America."[86]

Chessman argues that as governor, Roosevelt developed the principles that shaped his presidency, especially insistence upon the public responsibility of large corporations, publicity as a first remedy for trusts, regulation of railroad rates, mediation of the conflict of capital and labor, conservation of natural resources and protection of the less fortunate members of society.[82]

Vice President

In November 1899, William McKinley's first Vice-President Garret Hobart died of a heart attack. Theodore Roosevelt had anticipated a second term as governor or, alternatively, a cabinet post in the War Department; his friends (especially Henry Cabot Lodge) saw this as a dead end. They supported him for Vice President, and no one else of prominence was actively seeking that job. Some people in the GOP wanted Roosevelt as Vice President. His friends were pushing, and so were his foes. Roosevelt's reforming zeal ran afoul of the insurance and franchise businesses, who had a major voice in the New York GOP. Platt engineered Roosevelt's removal from the state by pressuring him to accept the GOP nomination as Vice President in 1900. McKinley refused to consider Roosevelt as Secretary of War, but saw no risk in making him Vice President. Roosevelt accepted the nomination, although his campaign manager, Mark Hanna, thought Roosevelt was too cowboy-like. While the party executives were pleased with their success in engineering Roosevelt's next political foray, Roosevelt, very much to the contrary, thought he had "stood the state machine on its head".[87]

The office of Vice President was a powerless sinecure, and did not suit Roosevelt's aggressive temperament.[88] However, campaigning for the position added to his skills. Roosevelt threw himself into the campaign with his accustomed energy, crisscrossing the nation denouncing the radicalism of William Jennings Bryan, in contrast to the heroism of the soldiers and sailors who fought and won the war against Spain. Bryan had strongly supported the war itself, but he denounced the annexation of the Philippines as imperialism, which would spoil America's innocence. Roosevelt countered that it was best for the Filipinos to have stability, and the Americans to have a proud place in the world. With the nation basking in peace and prosperity, the voters gave McKinley an even larger landslide than in 1896.[89] Roosevelt's six months as Vice President (March to September 1901) were uneventful with one singular exception:[90] On September 2, 1901, Roosevelt first publicized an aphorism that thrilled his supporters: "Speak softly and carry a big stick, and you will go far."[91]

Presidency (1901–1909)

BEP engraved portrait of Roosevelt as President.
BEP engraved portrait of Roosevelt as President.

On September 6, President McKinley was shot by an anarchist acting alone while in Buffalo, New York. Initial reports suggested that his condition was improving, so Roosevelt, after visiting the ailing president, embarked for the west. When McKinley's condition worsened, Roosevelt rushed back. McKinley died on September 14, and Roosevelt was sworn in at the Ansley Wilcox House.[21] The following month, Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington to dinner at the White House. To his dismay, this sparked a bitter, and at times vicious, reaction across the heavily segregated South. Roosevelt reacted with astonishment and protest, saying that he looked forward to many future dinners with Washington. Upon further reflection, Roosevelt wanted to ensure that this had no effect on political support in the South, and further invitations to Washington were avoided.[92] Roosevelt kept McKinley's Cabinet and promised to continue McKinley's policies. In the November 1904 presidential election, Roosevelt won the presidency in his own right in a landslide victory against Alton Brooks Parker. His vice president was Charles Warren Fairbanks of Indiana.[21]

Domestic policies

Official White House portrait by John Singer Sargent

One of Roosevelt's first notable acts as president was to deliver a 20,000-word address to Congress[93] asking it to curb the power of large corporations (called "trusts"). He also spoke in support of organized labor to further chagrin big business, but to their delight, he endorsed the gold standard, protective tariffs and lower taxes.[94] For his aggressive use of United States antitrust law, he became known as the "trust-buster." He brought 40 antitrust suits, and broke up major companies, such as the largest railroad and Standard Oil, the largest oil company.[95]

In May 1902, anthracite coal miners went on strike, threatening a national energy shortage. After threatening the coal operators with intervention by federal troops, Roosevelt won their agreement to an arbitration of the dispute by a commission, which succeeded in stopping the strike, dropping coal prices and retiring furnaces; the accord with J.P. Morgan resulted in the workers getting more pay for fewer hours, but with no union recognition.[96][97] Journalist Ray Baker quoted Roosevelt concerning his policy towards capitalists and laborers: "My action on labor should always be considered in connection with my action as regards capital, and both are reducible to my favorite formula – a square deal for every man."[98] Roosevelt thought it was particularly important for the government to supervise the workings of the railway to avoid corruption in interstate commerce; the result was the Hepburn bill, which established control over railroad rates.[99]

Roosevelt responded to public anger over the abuses in the food packing industry by pushing Congress to pass 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 were impure or falsely labeled from being made, sold, and shipped. Roosevelt also served as honorary president of the American School Hygiene Association from 1907 to 1908, and in 1909 he convened the first White House Conference on the Care of Dependent Children.[100]

Roosevelt and Fairbanks, 1904

During the Panic of 1907, nearly all agreed that a more flexible system to ensure liquidity was needed – the Republicans sought a response to the money supply through the bankers, whereas the Democrats sought government control; Roosevelt was unsure, but leaned towards the Republican view while continuing to denounce corporate corruption.[101] Nonetheless, in 1910, Roosevelt commented on "enormously wealthy and economically powerful men" and suggested "a graduated inheritance tax on big fortunes... increasing rapidly in amount with the size of the estate."[102][103]

Roosevelt was inclined to extend the regulatory reach of his office. In a moment of frustration, House Speaker Joseph Gurney Cannon commented on Roosevelt's desire for executive branch control in domestic policy-making: "That fellow at the other end of the avenue wants everything from the birth of Christ to the death of the devil." Biographer Brands states that, "Even his friends occasionally wondered whether there wasn't any custom or practice too minor for him to try to regulate, update or otherwise improve."[104] In fact, Roosevelt's willingness to exercise his power included attempted rule changes in the game of football; at the Naval Academy, he sought to force retention of martial arts classes and to revise disciplinary rules. He even ordered changes made in the minting of a coin whose design he disliked, and ordered the Government Printing Office to adopt simplified spellings for a core list of 300 words, according to reformers on the Simplified Spelling Board. He was forced to rescind the latter after substantial ridicule from the press and a resolution of protest from the House of Representatives.[105]

Foreign policy

Roosevelt Corollary of Monroe Doctrine depicted

In the late 1890s, Roosevelt had been an ardent imperialist, and vigorously defended the permanent acquisition of the Philippines in the 1900 election campaign. After the rebellion ended in 1901, he largely lost interest in the Philippines and Asian expansion in general, despite the contradictory opinion of his Secretary of War, William Howard Taft. As president, he primarily focused the nation's overseas ambitions on the Caribbean, especially locations that had a bearing on the defense of his pet project, the Panama Canal.[106]

In 1905, Roosevelt offered to mediate a treaty to end the Russo-Japanese War. The parties agreed to meet in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and they resolved the final conflict over the division of SakhalinRussia took the northern half, and Japan the south; Japan also dropped its demand for an indemnity.[107] Roosevelt won the Nobel Peace Prize for his successful efforts. George E. Mowry concludes that Roosevelt handled the arbitration well, doing an "excellent job of balancing Russian and Japanese power in the Orient, where the supremacy of either constituted a threat to growing America."[108][109]

The Gentlemen's Agreement of 1907 resolved unpleasant racial tensions with Japan. Tokyo was angered over the segregation of Japanese children in San Francisco schools. The tensions were ended, but Japan also agreed not to allow unskilled workers to emigrate to the U.S.[110]

Latin America

Roosevelt's attention concerning Latin American turmoil was heightened by his plans for building a canal. In December 1902, the Germans, English, and Italians sought to impose a naval blockade against Venezuela in order to force the repayment of delinquent loans. Roosevelt was particularly concerned with the motives of Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm. He succeeded in getting the aggressors to agree to arbitration by a tribunal at The Hague, and averted the Venezuela Crisis of 1902–1903.[111] The latitude granted to the Europeans by the arbiters was in part responsible for the "Roosevelt Corollary" to the Monroe Doctrine, which the President issued in 1904: "Chronic wrongdoing or an impotence which results in a general loosening of the ties of civilized society, may in America, as elsewhere, ultimately require intervention by some civilized nation, and in the Western Hemisphere, the adherence of the United States to the Monroe doctrine may force the United States, however reluctantly, in flagrant cases of such wrongdoing or impotence, to the exercise of an international police power."[112]

The pursuit of an isthmus canal in Central America during this period focused on two possible routes – Nicaragua and Panama, which was then a rebellious district within Colombia. Roosevelt convinced Congress to approve the Panamanian alternative, and a treaty was approved, only to be rejected by the Colombian government. When the Panamanians learned of this, a rebellion followed, was supported by Roosevelt, and succeeded. A treaty with the new Panama government for construction of the canal was then reached in 1903. [113]

In 1906, following a disputed election, an insurrection ensued in Cuba; Roosevelt sent Taft, the Secretary of War, to monitor the situation; he was convinced that he had the authority to unilaterally authorize Taft to deploy Marines if necessary, without congressional approval.[114]

Examining the work of numerous scholars, Ricard (2014) reports that:

The most striking evolution in the twenty-first century historiography of Theodore Roosevelt is the switch from a partial arraignment of the imperialist to a quasi-unanimous celebration of the master diplomatist.... [Regarding British relations these studies] have underlined cogently Roosevelt’s exceptional statesmanship in the construction of the nascent twentieth-century "special relationship."...The twenty-sixth president’s reputation as a brilliant diplomatist and realpolitician has undeniably reached new heights in the twenty-first century...yet, his Philippine policy still prompts criticism.[115]

The media

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 reporters huddled outside the White House 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.[116]

Roosevelt normally enjoyed very close relationships with the press, which he used to keep in daily contact with his middle-class base. While out of office, he made a living as a writer and magazine editor. He loved talking with intellectuals, authors, and writers. He drew the line, however, at expose-oriented scandal-mongering journalists who, during his term, set magazine subscriptions soaring by their attacks on corrupt politicians, mayors, and corporations. Roosevelt himself was not usually a target, but his speech in 1906 coined the term "muckraker" for unscrupulous journalists making wild charges. "The liar," he said, "is no whit better than the thief, and if his mendacity takes the form of slander he may be worse than most thieves."[117]

The press did briefly target Roosevelt in one instance. Ever since 1904, he had been periodically criticized for the manner in which he facilitated the Panama Canal. In the least judicious use of executive power, according to biographer Brands, Roosevelt, near the end of his term, demanded that the Justice Department bring charges of criminal libel against Joseph Pulitzer's New York World. The publication had accused him of "deliberate misstatements of fact" in defense of family members who were criticized as a result of the Panama affair. Though indictment was obtained, the case was ultimately dismissed in federal court – it was not a federal offense, but one enforceable at the state court level. The Justice Department had predicted that result, and had also advised Roosevelt accordingly.[118]

Election of 1904

1904 election results

The control and management of the Republican Party lay in the hands of chairman Mark Hanna until McKinley's death. Hanna's domination, and potential rivalry for the party's nomination in 1904, began to wane with his own health issues and ultimate death early that year. In deference to Hanna's conservative loyalists, Roosevelt at first offered the party chairmanship to Cornelius Bliss, but he declined. Roosevelt then turned to his own man, George B. Cortelyou of New York, the first Secretary of Commerce and Labor. To buttress his hold on the party's nomination, Roosevelt made it clear that anyone opposing Cortelyou would be considered to be opposing the President.[119] The President secured his own nomination, but his preferred vice-presidential nominee, Robert R. Hitt, was replaced by Charles Warren Fairbanks.[120]

While Roosevelt followed the tradition of incumbents in not actively campaigning on the stump, he sought to control the campaign's message through specific instructions to Cortelyou. He also attempted to manage the press's release of White House statements by forming the Ananias Club. Any journalist who repeated a statement made by the president without approval was penalized by restriction of further access.[121]

The Democratic Party's nominee in 1904 was Alton Brooks Parker. Roosevelt won 56% of the popular vote, and Parker received 38%; Roosevelt also won the Electoral College vote, 336 to 140. Before his inauguration ceremony, Roosevelt declared that he would not serve another term.[122]


Election of 1908

Before leaving office, while attempting to push through the nomination of William Howard Taft for the Presidency in 1908, Roosevelt declared Taft to be a "genuine progressive". In January of that year, Roosevelt wrote the following to Taft: "Dear Will: Do you want any action about those federal officials? I will break their necks with the utmost cheerfulness if you say the word!" Just weeks later he branded as "false and malicious"; the charge was that he was using the offices at his disposal to favor Taft.[123]

Taft easily defeated three-time candidate William Jennings Bryan. Taft promoted a different progressivism, one that stressed the rule of law and preferred that judges rather than administrators or politicians make the basic decisions about fairness. Taft usually proved to be a less adroit politician than Roosevelt and lacked the energy and personal magnetism, along with the publicity devices, the dedicated supporters, and the broad base of public support that made Roosevelt so formidable. When Roosevelt realized that lowering the tariff would risk creating severe tensions inside the Republican Party by pitting producers (manufacturers and farmers) against merchants and consumers, he stopped talking about the issue. Taft ignored the risks and tackled the tariff boldly, encouraging reformers to fight for lower rates, and then cutting deals with conservative leaders that kept overall rates high. The resulting Payne-Aldrich tariff of 1909 was too high for most reformers, but instead of blaming this on Senator Nelson Wilmarth Aldrich and big businesses, Taft took credit, calling it the best tariff ever. He again had managed to alienate all sides. While the crisis was building inside the Party, Roosevelt was touring Africa and Europe, to allow Taft to be his own man.[124]

Republican Party schism

Punch depicts GOP Schism between Taft and TR

Roosevelt had attempted to refashion Taft into a younger version of himself, but as soon as Taft began to display his individuality, Roosevelt unveiled his disenchantment. He was even offended on election night when Taft wrote and indicated that his success had been possible not just through the efforts of Roosevelt, but also his brother Charley. Roosevelt was further alienated when Taft, again intent on becoming his own man, did not consult him about cabinet appointments. Lodge empathized with Roosevelt, and therefore declined an offer to become Secretary of State.[125]

Unlike Roosevelt, Taft never attacked business or businessmen in his rhetoric. However, he was attentive to the law, so he launched 90 antitrust suits, including one against the largest corporation, US Steel, for an acquisition that Roosevelt had personally approved. Consequently, Taft lost the support of antitrust reformers (who disliked his conservative rhetoric), of big business (which disliked his actions), and of Roosevelt, who felt humiliated by his protégé. More trouble came when Taft fired Roosevelt's friend and appointee Gifford Pinchot, a leading conservationist. Pinchot alleged that Taft's Secretary of the Interior, Richard Ballinger, was in league with big timber interests. Conservationists sided with Pinchot, and Taft alienated yet another vocal constituency. The left wing of the Republican Party began turning against Taft. Senator Robert M. La Follette Sr. of Wisconsin joined with Pinchot, William White and Hiram Johnson to create the National Progressive Republican League; their objectives were to defeat the power of political bossism at the state level and to replace Taft at the national level. Roosevelt declined to join this group—he was still reluctant to leave the GOP.[126] Roosevelt, back from Europe, unexpectedly launched an attack on the courts. He gave his famous speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, in August 1910, which was the most radical of his career and openly initiated his break with the Taft administration and the conservative Republicans. Osawatomie was well known as the base used by John Brown when he launched his bloody attacks on slavery. Advocating a program of "New Nationalism", Roosevelt emphasized the priority of labor over capital interests, a need to more effectively control corporate creation and combination, and proposed a ban on corporate political contributions.[127]

Roosevelt shortly thereafter made it clear in a meeting with Lloyd Carpenter Griscom, a New York Republican regular, that Taft no longer enjoyed his support, since he had "deliberately abandoned" their previous close relations.[128] Taft was deeply upset. In the 1910 Congressional elections, Democrats won a majority in the House, and significantly diminished the Republican's hold on the Senate; Taft's reelection in 1912 was doubtful. The Republican progressives interpreted the defeat as compelling argument for the complete reorganization of the party in 1911, and Roosevelt reacted with renewed interest in more personal political endeavors.[126] Despite skepticism of La Follette's new League, Roosevelt expressed general support for progressive principles; in fact, between January and April 1911, Roosevelt wrote a series of articles for The Outlook, defending what he called "the great movement of our day, the progressive nationalist movement against special privilege, and in favor of an honest and efficient political and industrial democracy".[129]

Smithsonian-Roosevelt African Expedition (1909–1910)

Roosevelt standing next to the elephant he shot on safari

In March 1909, shortly after the end of his presidency, Roosevelt left New York for the Smithsonian-Roosevelt African Expedition, a safari in east and central Africa outfitted by the Smithsonian Institution.[130] Roosevelt's party landed in Mombasa, British East Africa (now Kenya), traveled to the Belgian Congo (now Democratic Republic of the Congo), before following the Nile to Khartoum in modern Sudan. Financed by Andrew Carnegie and by his own writings, Roosevelt's party hunted for specimens for the Smithsonian Institution and for the American Museum of Natural History in New York.[131] The group, led by the legendary hunter-tracker RJ Cunninghame, included scientists from the Smithsonian, and was joined from time to time by Frederick Selous, the famous big game hunter and explorer. Among other items, Roosevelt brought with him four tons of salt for preserving animal hides, a lucky rabbit's foot given to him by boxer John L. Sullivan, a Holland and Holland double rifle in .500/450 donated by a group of 56 admiring Britons, a Winchester 1895 rifle in .405 Winchester, an Army (M1903) Springfield in .30-06 caliber stocked and sighted for him, a Fox No. 12 shotgun, and the famous Pigskin Library, a collection of classics bound in pig leather and transported in a single reinforced trunk. Participants on the expedition included Kermit Roosevelt, Edgar Alexander Mearns, Edmund Heller, and John Alden Loring.[132]

Roosevelt and his companions killed or trapped approximately 11,400[131] animals, from insects and moles to hippopotamuses and elephants. The 1000 large animals included 512 big game animals, including six rare White rhinos. Tons of salted animals and their skins were shipped to Washington; it took years to mount them all, and the Smithsonian shared many duplicate specimens with other museums. Regarding the large number of animals taken, Roosevelt said, "I can be condemned only if the existence of the National Museum, the American Museum of Natural History, and all similar zoological institutions are to be condemned".[133]

Although the safari was ostensibly conducted in the name of science, it was as much a political and social event as it was a hunting excursion; Roosevelt interacted with renowned professional hunters and land-owning families, and met many native peoples and local leaders. Roosevelt became a life member of the National Rifle Association in 1907.[134] He wrote a detailed account of the safari in the book African Game Trails, recounting the excitement of the chase, the people he met, and the flora and fauna he collected in the name of science.[135]

Election of 1912

Republican primaries and convention

In November 1911, a group of Ohio Republicans endorsed Roosevelt for the party's nomination for president; the endorsers included James Garfield and Dan Hanna. This was notable, in that it emanated from Taft's home state. Roosevelt conspicuously declined to make a statement requested by Garfield – that he flatly refuse a nomination. Soon thereafter, Roosevelt said, "I am really sorry for Taft... I am sure he means well, but he means well feebly, and he does not know how! He is utterly unfit for leadership and this is a time when we need leadership." In January 1912, Roosevelt declared "if the people make a draft on me I shall not decline to serve".[136] Later that year Roosevelt spoke before the Constitutional Convention in Ohio, openly referred to himself as a progressive and endorsed progressive reforms – even endorsing popular review of state judicial decisions.[137] In reaction to Roosevelt's proposals for popular overrule of court decisions, Taft said, "such extremists are not progressives – they are political emotionalists or neurotics".[138]

Roosevelt began to envision himself as the savior of the Republican party (the "GOP") from defeat in the upcoming Presidential election and announced himself as a candidate for the GOP banner. In February 1912, Roosevelt announced in Boston "I will accept the nomination for president if it is tendered to me. I hope that so far as possible the people may be given the chance through direct primaries to express who shall be the nominee.[139][140] Both Elihu Root and Cabot Lodge could then see the ultimate defeat of the party in the next election due to this lethal division; Taft considered that he was witnessing the end of his career – it was only a matter of whether he would be defeated by his own party or in the general election.[141]

The 1912 primaries represented the first extensive use of the presidential primary, a reform achievement of the progressive movement. The primaries in the South, where party regulars dominated, went for Taft, as well as New York, Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky and Massachusetts. Meanwhile, Roosevelt won in Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota, California, Maryland and Pennsylvania; Roosevelt also won Taft's home state of Ohio. These primary elections, while demonstrating Roosevelt's continuing popularity with the electorate, were not pivotal. The final credentials of the state delegates at the national convention were determined by the national committee, which was controlled by the party leaders, headed by the incumbent president. At the Republican Convention in Chicago, though Taft's victory was not immediate, the ultimate outcome was inevitably in his favor.[142]

Formation of the Progressive ("Bull Moose") Party

See also: New Nationalism
Excerpts from a speech given by Theodore Roosevelt at Carnegie Hall, March 12, 1912. Recorded August 1912 by Thomas Edison. Duration 4:07.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

Once his defeat as the GOP nominee was probable, Roosevelt announced that he would "accept the progressive nomination on a progressive platform and I shall fight to the end, win or lose". At the same time, Roosevelt prophetically said, "My feeling is that the Democrats will probably win if they nominate a progressive".[143] After two weeks at the GOP convention, Roosevelt asked his followers to leave the hall, and they moved to the Auditorium Theatre. Then Roosevelt, along with key allies such as Pinchot and Albert Beveridge created the Progressive Party, structuring it as a permanent organization that would field complete tickets at the presidential and state level. It was popularly known as the "Bull Moose Party", which got its name after Roosevelt told reporters, "I'm as fit as a bull moose."[144] At the convention Roosevelt cried out, "We stand at Armageddon and we battle for the Lord." Roosevelt's platform echoed his 1907–8 proposals, calling for vigorous government intervention to protect the people from the selfish interests;

"To destroy this invisible Government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day.[145][146] This country belongs to the people. Its resources, its business, its laws, its institutions, should be utilized, maintained, or altered in whatever manner will best promote the general interest. This assertion is explicit... Mr. Wilson must know that every monopoly in the United States opposes the Progressive party... I challenge him... to name the monopoly that did support the Progressive party, whether... the Sugar Trust, the US Steel Trust, the Harvester Trust, the Standard Oil Trust, the Tobacco Trust, or any other... Ours was the only program to which they objected, and they supported either Mr. Wilson or Mr. Taft"[147]

Assassination attempt

The bullet-damaged speech and eyeglass case on display at the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace

On October 14, 1912, while campaigning in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Roosevelt was shot by a saloonkeeper named John Flammang Schrank, 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.[148] 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 he declined suggestions to go to the hospital immediately. Instead, he delivered his scheduled speech with blood seeping into his shirt.[149] 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."[150] Afterwards, probes and an x-ray showed that the bullet had lodged in Roosevelt's chest muscle, but did not penetrate the pleura, and it would be less dangerous to leave it in place. Roosevelt carried the bullet with him for the rest of his life.[151]

Because of the bullet wound, Roosevelt was taken off the campaign trail in the final weeks of the race (which ended on election day, November 5). Though the other two campaigners stopped their own campaigns during the week Roosevelt was in the hospital, they resumed it once he was released. The bullet lodged in his chest exacerbated his rheumatoid arthritis and prevented him from doing his daily stint of exercises; Roosevelt would soon become obese.[152] In an era of party loyalty, Roosevelt failed to move enough Republicans to vote a third party ticket. 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, and Taft had 8. However, 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.[153]

1913–1914 South American Expedition

A friend of Roosevelt's, Father John Augustine Zahm, a Catholic priest and scientist at the University of Notre Dame, had searched for new adventures and found them in the forests of South America. After a briefing of several of his own expeditions, he persuaded Roosevelt to participate in such an expedition in 1912. To finance the expedition, Roosevelt received support from the American Museum of Natural History, promising to bring back many new animal specimens. Roosevelt's popular book, Through the Brazilian Wilderness[154] describes his expedition into the Brazilian jungle in 1913 as a member of the Roosevelt-Rondon Scientific Expedition, co-named after its leader, Brazilian explorer Cândido Rondon. The book describes the scientific discovery, scenic tropical vistas, and exotic flora and fauna experienced during the adventure.

From left to right (seated): Fr. John Augustine Zahm, Cândido Rondon, Kermit Roosevelt, Cherrie, Miller, four Brazilians, Roosevelt, Fiala. Only Roosevelt, Kermit, Cherrie, Rondon, and the Brazilians traveled down the River of Doubt.

Once in South America, a new, far more ambitious goal was added: to find the headwaters of the Rio da Duvida, the River of Doubt, and trace it north to the Madeira and thence to the Amazon River. It was later renamed Roosevelt River in honor of the former President. Roosevelt's crew consisted of his son Kermit, naturalist Colonel Rondon, George K. Cherrie, sent by the American Museum of Natural History, Brazilian Lieutenant João Lira, team physician Dr. José Antonio Cajazeira, and 16 skilled paddlers and porters (called camaradas [comrades] in Portuguese). The initial expedition started somewhat tenuously on December 9, 1913, at the height of the rainy season. The trip down the River of Doubt started on February 27, 1914.[155]

During the trip down the river, Roosevelt suffered a minor leg wound after he jumped into the river to try to prevent two canoes from smashing against the rocks. The flesh wound he received, however, soon gave him tropical fever that resembled the malaria he had contracted while in Cuba fifteen years before.[152] Because the bullet lodged in his chest from the assassination attempt in 1912 was never removed, his health worsened from the infection.[156] This weakened Roosevelt so greatly that six weeks into the adventure, he had to be attended to day and night by the expedition's physician and his son Kermit. By then, he could not walk because of the infection in his injured leg and an infirmity in the other, which was due to a traffic accident a decade earlier. Roosevelt was riddled with chest pains, fighting a fever that soared to 103 °F (39 °C) and at times made him delirious. Regarding his condition as a threat to the survival of the others, Roosevelt insisted he be left behind to allow the poorly provisioned expedition to proceed as rapidly as it could. Only an appeal by his son persuaded him to continue.[157]

Despite Roosevelt's continued decline and loss of over 50 pounds (20 kg), Commander Rondon reduced the pace of the expedition to allow for his commission's mapmaking and other geographical tasks, which required regular stops to fix the expedition's position by sun-based survey. Upon Roosevelt's return to New York, friends and family were startled by his physical appearance and fatigue. Roosevelt wrote, perhaps prophetically, to a friend that the trip had cut his life short by ten years. For the rest of his few remaining years, he would be plagued by flare-ups of malaria and leg inflammations so severe as to require surgery.[158] Before Roosevelt had even completed his sea voyage home, critics raised doubts over his claims of exploring and navigating a completely uncharted river over 625 miles (1,000 km) long. When he had recovered sufficiently, he addressed a standing-room-only convention organized in Washington, D.C., by the National Geographic Society and satisfactorily defended his claims.[157]

World War I

ex-President Theodore Roosevelt in Allentown, Pennsylvania, 1914.

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.[159] 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 interests of Ireland and Germany ahead of America's by supporting neutrality. He insisted that one had to be 100% American, not a "hyphenated American" who juggled multiple loyalties. In March 1917, Congress gave Roosevelt the authority to raise a maximum of four divisions similar to the Rough Riders, and Major Frederick Russell Burnham was put in charge of both the general organization and recruitment.[160][161] However, the Commander-in-chief, President Woodrow Wilson,announced to the press that he would not send Roosevelt and his volunteers to France, but instead would send an American Expeditionary Force under the command of General John Pershing.[162] Roosevelt was left with no option except to disband the volunteers. He never forgave Wilson, and quickly published The Foes Of Our Own Household, an indictment of the sitting president.[163][164][165]

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 behind Roosevelt's old military companion, General Leonard Wood, who was ultimately defeated by Taft supporter Warren G. Harding.[166] Roosevelt's youngest son, Quentin, a pilot with the American forces in France, was shot down behind German lines on July 14, 1918, at the age of 20. It is said that Quentin's death distressed Roosevelt so much that he never recovered from his loss.[167]


On the night of January 5, 1919, Roosevelt experienced breathing problems. He felt better after treatment from his physician, Dr. George W. Faller, and went to bed. Roosevelt's last words were "Please put out that light, James" to his family servant James Amos. Between 4:00 AM and 4:15 AM the next morning, Roosevelt died in his sleep at Sagamore Hill as a result of a blood clot detaching from a vein and traveling to his lungs.[156] Upon receiving word of his death, his son Archibald telegraphed his siblings simply, "The old lion is dead."[167] Woodrow Wilson'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."[168]

Political positions and speeches

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 his speech 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.[169] 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.[170] In the 21st century, historians have paid renewed attention to President Roosevelt as "The Wilderness Warrior" and his energetic promotion of the conservation movement. He collaborated with his chief advisor, Gifford Pinchot, the chief of the Forest Service. Pinchot and Roosevelt scheduled a series of news events that garnered nationwide media attention in magazines and newspapers. They used magazine articles, speeches, press conferences, interviews, and especially large-scale presidential commissions. Roosevelt's goal was to encourage his middle-class reform-minded base to add conservation to their list of issues.[171]

Positions on immigration, minorities, and civil 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."[172]

Roosevelt took an active interest in immigration, and had launched an extensive reorganization of the federal immigration depot at Ellis Island within months of assuming the presidency. Roosevelt "straddled the immigration question,"[173] taking the position that "we cannot have too much immigration of the right sort, and we should have none whatever of the wrong sort."[174] As president, his stated preferences were relatively inclusive, across the then diverse and mostly European sources of immigration:

It is unwise to depart from the old American tradition and discriminate for or against any man who desires to come here and become a citizen, save on the ground of that man's fitness for citizenship... We can not afford to consider whether he is Catholic or Protestant, Jew or Gentile; whether he is Englishman or Irishman, Frenchman or German, Japanese, Italian, or Scandinavian or Magyar. What we should desire to find out is the individual quality of the individual man...[175]

He was the first president to appoint a Jewish cabinet member – Secretary of Commerce and Labor, Oscar Solomon Straus, who served from 1906 to 1909. Straus, who had helped co-found the Immigration Protective League in 1898, was the Roosevelt Administration's cabinet official overseeing immigration; he helped secure the passage and implementation of the US Immigration Act of 1907.[176][177][178]

In 1886, Roosevelt criticized the morals of Indians he had seen:

I don't go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of ten are, and I shouldn't like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth. The most vicious cowboy has more moral principle than the average Indian. Turn three hundred low families of New York into New Jersey, support them for fifty years in vicious idleness, and you will have some idea of what the Indians are. Reckless, revengeful, fiendishly cruel, they rob and murder, not the cowboys, who can take care of themselves, but the defenseless, lone settlers on the plains.[179]

Regarding African-Americans, Roosevelt told a civil rights leader:

I have not been able to think out any solution of the terrible problem offered by the presence of the Negro on this continent, but of one thing I am sure, and that is that inasmuch as he is here and can neither be killed nor driven away, the only wise and honorable and Christian thing to do is to treat each black man and each white man strictly on his merits as a man, giving him no more and no less than he shows himself worthy to have."[180]

Roosevelt appointed numerous African Americans to federal offices, such as Walter L. Cohen of New Orleans, a leader of the Black and Tan Republican faction, whom Roosevelt named register of the federal land office.[181]

Contrasting the European conquest of North America with that of Australia, Roosevelt wrote: "The natives [of Australia] were so few in number and of such a low type, that they practically offered no resistance at all, being but little more hindrance than an equal number of ferocious beasts";[182] however, the Native Americans were "the most formidable savage foes ever faced ever encountered by colonists of European stock."[183] He regarded slavery as "a crime whose shortsighted folly was worse than its guilt" because it "brought hordes of African slaves, whose descendants now form immense populations in certain portions of the land."[184] Contrasting the European conquest of North America with that of South Africa, Roosevelt felt that the fate of the latter's colonists would be different because, unlike the Native American, the African "neither dies out nor recedes before their advance", meaning the colonists would likely "be swallowed up in the overwhelming mass of black barbarism."[185]

Starting in 1907, eugenicists in many states began the forced sterilization of the sick, unemployed, poor, criminals, prostitutes, and the disabled. Roosevelt said in 1914: "I wish very much that the wrong people could be prevented entirely from breeding; and when the evil nature of these people is sufficiently flagrant, this should be done. Criminals should be sterilized and feeble-minded persons forbidden to leave offspring behind them."[186]


A speech by Roosevelt as a former President

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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. Poet Robert Frost said that Roosevelt "was our kind. He quoted poetry to me. He knew poetry."[187]

As an editor of Outlook magazine, Roosevelt had weekly access to a large, educated national audience. In all, Roosevelt wrote about 18 books (each in several editions), including his autobiography,[188] The Rough Riders[189] History of the Naval War of 1812,[190] and others on subjects such as ranching, explorations, and wildlife. His most ambitious book was the four volume narrative The Winning of the West, focused on the American frontier in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Roosevelt said that the American character – indeed a new "American race" (ethnic group) had emerged from the heroic wilderness hunters and Indian fighters, acting on the frontier with little government help.[191] Roosevelt also published an account of his 1909-10 African expedition entitled African Game Trails.

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.[192]

Character and beliefs

Sagamore Hill, Roosevelt's estate

Roosevelt intensely disliked being called "Teddy", and was quick to point out this fact to those who referred to him as such, though it would become widely used by newspapers during his political career. He attended church regularly. In 1907, concerning the motto "In God We Trust" on money, he wrote, "It seems to me eminently unwise to cheapen such a motto by use on coins, just as it would be to cheapen it by use on postage stamps, or in advertisements." He was also a member of the Freemasons and Sons of the American Revolution.[193]

Roosevelt had a lifelong interest in pursuing what he called, in an 1899 speech, "The Strenuous Life". To this end, he exercised regularly and took up boxing, tennis, hiking, rowing, polo, and horseback riding. As governor of New York, he boxed with sparring partners several times each week, a practice he regularly continued as President until being hit so hard in the face he became blind in his left eye (a fact not made public until many years later). Thereafter, he practiced judo, attaining a third degree brown belt; he also continued his habit of skinny-dipping in the Potomac River during the winter.[194][195]

Roosevelt was an enthusiastic singlestick player and, according to Harper's Weekly, showed up at a White House reception with his arm bandaged after a bout with General Leonard Wood in 1905.[196] Roosevelt was an avid reader, reading tens of thousands of books, at a rate of several per day in multiple languages. Along with Thomas Jefferson, Roosevelt was the most well-read of all American politicians.[197]


Historians credit Roosevelt for changing the nation's political system by permanently placing the presidency at center stage and making character as important as the issues. His notable accomplishments include trust busting and conservationism. He is a hero to liberals for his proposals in 1907–12 that presaged the modern welfare state of the New Deal Era, and put the environment on the national agenda. Conservatives admire his "big stick" diplomacy and commitment to military values. Dalton says, "Today he is heralded as the architect of the modern presidency, as a world leader who boldly reshaped the office to meet the needs of the new century and redefined America's place in the world."[198]

However, liberals have criticized him for his interventionist and imperialist approach to nations he considered "uncivilized". Conservatives reject his vision of the welfare state and emphasis on the superiority of government over private action. Historians typically rank Roosevelt among the top five presidents.[199][200]

Persona and masculinity

1910 cartoon shows Roosevelt's multiple roles from 1899 to 1910

Dalton says Roosevelt is remembered as, "one of the most picturesque personalities who has ever enlivened the landscape."[201] His friend, historian Henry Adams proclaimed

Roosevelt, more than any other man... showed the singular primitive quality that belongs to ultimate matter — the quality that medieval theology assigned to God — he was pure act.[202]

Recent biographers have stressed Roosevelt's personality. Cooper compared him with Woodrow Wilson, and discovered that both of them played the roles of warrior and priest.[203] Dalton stressed Roosevelt's strenuous life.[204] Sarah Watts examined the desires of the "Rough Rider in the White House."[205] Brands calls Roosevelt "the last romantic," arguing that his romantic concept of life emerged from his belief that "physical bravery was the highest virtue and war the ultimate test of bravery."[206]

Roosevelt as the exemplar of American masculinity has become a major theme.[207] As president, he repeatedly warned American men that they were becoming too office-bound, too complacent, too comfortable with physical ease and moral laxity, and were failing in their duties to propagate the race and exhibit masculine vigor.[208] French historian Serge Ricard says, "the ebullient apostle of the Strenuous Life offers ideal material for a detailed psycho-historical analysis of aggressive manhood in the changing socio-cultural environment of his era; McKinley, Taft, or Wilson would perhaps inadequately serve that purpose."[209] He promoted competitive sports and the Boy Scouts of America, founded in 1910, as the way forward.[210] Brands shows that heroic displays of bravery were essential to Roosevelt's image and mission:

What makes the hero a hero is the romantic notion that he stands above the tawdry give and take of everyday politics, occupying an ethereal realm where partisanship gives way to patriotism, and division to unity, and where the nation regains its lost innocence, and the people their shared sense of purpose.[211]


Roosevelt's face on Mount Rushmore
Roosevelt's Grave, Oyster Bay, NY

Roosevelt was included with Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln at the Mount Rushmore Memorial, designed in 1927 with the approval of Republican President Calvin Coolidge.[212][213] For his gallantry at San Juan Hill, Roosevelt's commanders recommended him for the Medal of Honor. In the late 1990s, Roosevelt's supporters again recommended the award. On January 16, 2001, President Bill Clinton awarded Theodore Roosevelt the Medal of Honor posthumously for his charge on San Juan Hill, Cuba, during the Spanish–American War.[214] The United States Navy named two ships for Roosevelt: the USS Theodore Roosevelt (SSBN-600), a submarine that was in commission from 1961 to 1982, and the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), an aircraft carrier that has been on active duty in the Atlantic Fleet since 1986. On November 18, 1956, the United States Postal Service released a 6¢ Liberty Issue postage stamp honoring Roosevelt. A 32¢ stamp was issued on February 3, 1998, as part of the Celebrate the Century stamp sheet series.[citation needed]

In 2008, Columbia Law School awarded a law degree to Roosevelt, posthumously making him a member of the class of 1882.[215] In Chicago, the city renamed 12th Street to Roosevelt Road four months after Roosevelt's death.[216]

Theodore Roosevelt Association

In 1919, the Theodore Roosevelt Association (originally known as the Permanent Memorial National Committee) was founded by friends and supporters of Roosevelt. Soon renamed the Roosevelt Memorial Association (RMA), it was chartered in 1920 under Title 36 of the United States Code. In parallel with the RMA was an organization for women, The Women's Theodore Roosevelt Association, that had been founded in 1919 by an act of the New York State Assembly. Both organizations merged in 1956 under the current name. This organization preserved Roosevelt's papers in a 20-year project, preserved his photos and established four public sites: the reconstructed Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site, New York City, dedicated in 1923 and donated to the National Park Service in 1963; Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park, Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York, dedicated in 1928 and given to the people of Oyster Bay; Theodore Roosevelt Island in the Potomac in Washington, D.C., given to the federal government in 1932; Sagamore Hill, Roosevelt's Oyster Bay home, which opened to the public in 1953 and, together with nearby Old Orchard, the home of Theodore Roosevelt Jr., was donated to the National Park Service in 1963. The organization has its own web site at and maintains a Facebook page at

In popular culture

TR impersonator Joe Wiegand performs October 27, 2008 in the East Room of the White House, during a celebration of Roosevelt's 150th birthday.

Roosevelt's "Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick" ideology is still quoted by politicians and columnists in different countries — not only in English, but also in translations to various other languages.[91]

One lasting, popular legacy of Roosevelt is the stuffed toy bears — teddy bears — named after him following an incident on a hunting trip in Mississippi in 1902. Roosevelt famously refused to shoot a defenseless black bear. After the cartoonist Clifford K. Berryman illustrated the President with a bear, a toy maker heard the story and named the teddy bear after Roosevelt. Bears, and later bear cubs, became closely associated with Roosevelt in political cartoons, despite Roosevelt openly despising being called "Teddy".[80] On June 26, 2006, Roosevelt was on the cover of TIME magazine with the lead story, "The Making of America — Theodore Roosevelt — The 20th Century Express": "At home and abroad, Theodore Roosevelt was the locomotive President, the man who drew his flourishing nation into the future."[217]

President Roosevelt. Pastel study by V. Floyd Campbell after a snapshot photograph. (c. 1903)

In 1905, Roosevelt, an admirer of various western figures, named Captain Bill McDonald of the Texas Rangers as his bodyguard and entertained the legendary Texan at the White House. Ironically, in the 1912 campaign, McDonald was Woodrow Wilson's bodyguard. Wilson thereafter named the Democrat McDonald as the U.S. Marshal for the Northern district of Texas.[218]

Roosevelt has been portrayed many times in film and on television. Karl Swenson played him in the 1967 western picture Brighty of the Grand Canyon, the story of a real-life burro who guided Roosevelt on a hunting trip to find mountain lions.[219] Brian Keith played Roosevelt in the 1975 film The Wind and the Lion. He was also portrayed by actor Tom Berenger in 1997 for the TNT movie Rough Riders, a made-for-cable film about his exploits during the Spanish–American War in Cuba.[220] Frank Albertson played Roosevelt in the episode "Rough and Ready" of the CBS series My Friend Flicka."[221] Robin Williams portrayed Roosevelt in the form of a wax mannequin that comes to life in Night at the Museum and its sequels Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian and Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb.


  • Theodore Roosevelt was one of the first presidents whose voice was recorded for posterity. Several of his recorded speeches survive.[222] A 4.6-minute voice recording,[223] which preserves Roosevelt's lower timbre ranges particularly well for its time, is among those available from the Michigan State University libraries (this is the 1912 recording of The Right of the People to Rule, recorded by Edison at Carnegie Hall). The audio clip sponsored by the Authentic History Center includes his defense[224] of the Progressive Party in 1912, wherein he proclaims it the "party of the people", in contrast with the other major parties.
Parade for the school children of San Francisco, down Van Ness Avenue
Collection of film clips of Roosevelt



See also


  1. ^ His last name is, according to Roosevelt himself, "pronounced as if it was spelled 'Rosavelt.' That is in three syllables. The first syllable as if it was 'Rose.'"[2]


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  3. ^ Moore, Frazier (September 10, 2014). "PBS' 'The Roosevelts' portrays an epic threesome". AP News. Retrieved September 10, 2014. 
  4. ^ Brinkley, Douglas (Fall 2009), TR's Wild Side, American Heritage .
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  7. ^ Putnam 1958, ch 1–2.
  8. ^ Genealogy of the Oyster Bay Roosevelts. Almanac of Theodore Roosevelt Accessed March 14, 2015
  9. ^ McCullough 1981, pp. 93–108.
  10. ^ Putnam 1958, pp. 23–27.
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  13. ^ Roosevelt 1913, p. 13.
  14. ^ Putnam 1958, pp. 63–70.
  15. ^ Brands 1997, pp. 25–26.
  16. ^ Brands 1997, p. 31.
  17. ^ Thayer 1919, p. 20.
  18. ^ Brands 1997, p. 28.
  19. ^ Sanabria, Santa (June 26, 2011). "Mounted in New Jersey". The Hudson Reporter.
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  22. ^ Brands 1997, p. 62.
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  24. ^ Roosevelt 1913, p. 35.
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Full biographies

Personality and activities

Domestic policies

  • Brinkley, Douglas (2009). The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America. New York, NY: HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-056528-2. 
  • Dorsey, Leroy G (1997), "The Frontier Myth and Teddy Roosevelt's Fight for Conservation", in Gerster, Nicholas; Cords, Myth America: A Historical Anthology II, St. James, NY: Brandywine Press, ISBN 1-881089-97-5 .
  • Gould, Lewis L (2011), The Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt (2nd ed.) , standard history of his domestic and foreign policy as president.
  • Keller, Morton, ed. (1967), Theodore Roosevelt: A Profile (excerpts from TR and from historians) .
  • Murphey, William (March 2013), "Theodore Roosevelt and the Bureau of Corporation: Executive-Corporate Cooperation and the Advancement of the Regulatory State", American Nineteenth Century History 14 (1): 73–111, doi:10.1080/14664658.2013.774983 .
  • Swanson, Ryan A (2011), "'I Never Was a Champion at Anything': Theodore Roosevelt's Complex and Contradictory Record as America's 'Sports President'", Journal of Sport History 38 (3): 425–46 .
  • Zacks, Richard (2012), Island of Vice: Theodore Roosevelt's Doomed Quest to Clean Up Sin-Loving New York .


Foreign and military policies

  • Beale, Howard K (1956), Theodore Roosevelt and the Rise of America to World Power (standard history of his foreign policy) .
  • Hendrix, Henry J (2009), Theodore Roosevelt's Naval Diplomacy: The US Navy & the Birth of the American Century .
  • Holmes, James R (2006), Theodore Roosevelt and World Order: Police Power in International Relations . 328 pp.
  • Jones, Gregg (2012), Honor in the Dust: Theodore Roosevelt, War in the Philippines, and the Rise and Fall of America's Imperial Dream 
  • Marks III, Frederick W (1979), Velvet on Iron: The Diplomacy of Theodore Roosevelt .
  • McCullough, David (1977), The Path between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870–1914 .
  • Oyos, Matthew (2011), "Courage, Careers, and Comrades: Theodore Roosevelt and the United States Army Officer Corps", Journal of the Gilded Age & Progressive Era 10 (1): 23–58, doi:10.1017/s1537781410000022 . On TR's controversial reforms.
  • Ricard, Serge (2006), "The Roosevelt Corollary", Presidential Studies Quarterly 36 (1): 17–26, doi:10.1111/j.1741-5705.2006.00283.x .
  • ——— (2008), "Theodore Roosevelt: Imperialist or Global Strategist in the New Expansionist Age?", Diplomacy and Statecraft 19 (4): 639–57, doi:10.1080/09592290802564379 .
  • Rofe, J Simon (2008), "'Under the Influence of Mahan': Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt and their Understanding of American National Interest", Diplomacy and Statecraft 19 (4): 732–45, doi:10.1080/09592290802564536 .
  • ———; Thompson, John M (2011), "Internationalists in Isolationist times – Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt and a Rooseveltian Maxim", Journal of Transatlantic Studies 9 (1): 46–62, doi:10.1080/14794012.2011.550773 .
  • Tilchin, William N (1997), Theodore Roosevelt and the British Empire: A Study in Presidential Statecraft 
  • Tilchin, William N; Neu, Charles E, eds. (2006), Artists of Power: Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Their Enduring Impact on US Foreign Policy, Praeger . 196 pp.


Primary sources

External links

Libraries and collections