Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919)

Was the youngest man ever to become President of the United States. He took office at the age of 42. Roosevelt had been Vice president for only six months when President William McKinley was assassinated in September 1901. Roosevelt won wide popularity, and millions of Americans affectionately called him “Teddy” or “T.R.”. In 1904 the voters elected him to a full term as President. He ran for President again in 1912, as the Bull Moose” party candidate, but lost to Woodrow Wilson.

Roosevelt was a man of great energy and practiced what he called the “strenuous life”. He enjoyed horseback riding, swimming, hunting, hiking, and boxing. He often expressed enthusiasm for something by describing it as bully. Cartoonists liked to draw Roosevelt with his rim less glasses, bushy mustache, prominent teeth, and jutting jaw. One cartoon showed him with a bear cub. Soon, toymakers were producing stuffed animals that are still known as “Teddy bears”.

As commander of the fearless Rough Riders, Roosevelt became a national hero during the Spanish-American War in 1898. He led this famous cavalry regiment against the Spaniards in Cuba. Roosevelt came home and won the election as governor of New York. Two years later, he was elected Vice President.

As President, Roosevelt used his power of leadership to help the United States meet challenges at home and abroad. “I didn’t usurp power”, Roosevelt said, “but I did greatly broaden the use of executive power”.

Roosevelt fought for reforms that would benefit the American people. He became known as a “trust buster” because he tried to limit the power of great business corporations. During his Administration, Congress passed laws to regulate the railroads, to protect the public from harmful foods and drugs, and to conserve the nation’s forests and other natural resources.

In foreign relations, Roosevelt worked to make the United States a world leader. He felt that this leadership must be supported by strong armed forces. He expressed his foreign policy as: “Speak softly and carry a big stick”.

Roosevelt strengthened the US Navy began the construction of the Panama Canal and kept European nations from interfering in Latin America. He helped end the Russo-Japanese War and became the first American to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

While Roosevelt was President, millions of Americans traveled by bicycle, even women in their sweeping ankle-length skirts. But automobiles, along with electric lights and telephones, started to come into widespread use. Guglielmo Marconi sent the first radio message across the Atlantic Ocean, and a telegraph cable was laid across the Pacific to the Philippines. The air age was born when the Wright Brothers flew the first successful airplane. Roosevelt enjoyed taking a ride in one of the early models.

Roosevelt regarded public life as a great stage. As President, he joyfully held the center of that stage. When Roosevelt left office, he wrote, I do not believe that anyone else has ever enjoyed the White House as much as I have”. He was probably right.

Early Life

Boyhood and Education

Theodore Roosevelt was born in New York City on October 27, 1858. He was the second of the four children of Theodore and Martha Bulloch Roosevelt. “Teedie” as the family called him, was younger than his sister Anna, and older than his brother Elliott and his sister Corinne.

Roosevelt’s ancestors, the Van Roosevelt’s, had come to America from Holland in the 1640s. One of these ancestors, Claes Martensen Van Roosevelt, settled in New York, which was then called New Amsterdam. Claes was also an ancestor of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States. Most of the Van Roosevelts were wealthy landowners and business leaders.

Theodore Roosevelt’s mother came from a prominent Georgia family. One of her brothers was an admiral in the Confederate Navy. Her husband, an importer of plate glass, supported the North.

But the Roosevelt’s did not let their differences keep them from providing a happy home life for their family. Like his father, Teedie had great energy, curiosity, and determination. He enjoyed an active childhood although he was puny and frequently ill. He suffered greatly from asthma.

While playing with friends one day, he discovered that he also was nearsighted. The other children easily read an advertisement on a billboard some distance away. “Not only was I unable to read the sign, but I could not even see the letters”, Roosevelt work later. From then on Theodore wore glasses.

Theodore loved both books and the outdoors. He combined these interests in nature study. Hus bureau drawers smelled of dead mice and birds and so, often, did Theodore. When he was 10, and again when he was 14, Theodore went with his family on a year-long trips abroad. He visited Europe and the Middle East.

When Theodore was about 12, his father told him that he would need a strong body to give his mind a chance to develop fully. The next year, while alone on a trip to Maine, Theodore was tormented by two mischievous boys. He felt ashamed because he was not strong enough to fight back. Roosevelt’s father built a gymnasium in the family home and Theodore exercised there regularly. He overcame his asthma and built up unusual physical strength

Roosevelt studied under tutors until he entered Harvard University in 1876 at the age of 18. He earned good grades in college. Once he asked so many questions during a lecture that the professor exclaimed: “Now look here, Roosevelt let me talk. I’m running this course!” Roosevelt graduated from Harvard in 1880.

First Marriage

In October 1879, Roosevelt met Alice Hathaway Lee (1861-1884). She was the daughter of a wealthy official of Boston investment firm. Roosevelt counted Alice during his senior year at Harvard. They were married on his 22nd birthday.

A double tragedy struck on February 14, 1884. Alice Roosevelt died two days after the birth of a daughter also named Alice (1884-1980). On the same day, Roosevelt’s mother died of Typhoid fever.

 

Political and Public Activities

State Legislator

After graduation from Harvard in 1880, Roosevelt didn’t know what to do for a living. His father who had died in 1878, had left him some money. But Theodore needed to earn more in order to live comfortably. He enrolled in the Columbia University Law School, but the courses didn’t interest him. While studying law he wrote The Naval War of 1812, a technically excellent but dull book.

Roosevelt decided to enter politics to public service. He joined a Republican club in New York City. He recalled that his friends “laugh at me, and told me that politics were low, I answered that the people I knew did not belong to the governing class, and that the other people did and that I intended to be one of the governing class.”

In the fall of 1881, at the age of 23, Roosevelt won election of the New York State assembly. He wore sideburns and dressed elegantly. The other legislators thought he looked like a “dude”. But his intelligence, courage, and energy won their respect. He was reelected twice in 1882 and 1883.

Party Leader

In 1882, Roosevelt served briefly as leader of the Republican minority in the assembly. State party bosses expected him to follow orders, but he refused to obey blindly. The bossed removed him as minority leader. However, Roosevelt remained the most influential man in the assembly. He worked closely with Governor Grover Cleveland, a Democrat, and became interested in civil service reform.

Rancher and Writer

After the death of his wife and mother in 1884, Roosevelt left politics. He ran two cattle ranches on the Little Missouri River in the Dakota Territory. The hard life and endless activity of a rancher helped him recover from his sorrow. Wearing cowboy clothes, Roosevelt often spent 14 to 16 hours a day in the saddle. He hunted buffalo and other wild animals, tended cattle, and even helped law officers capture a band of outlaws.

Roosevelt steadily. In one period of less than three months, he completed a biography of Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri. Roosevelt also wrote a four-volume series called The Winning of the West.

Serve snowstorms in the winter of 1885-1886 destroyed most of Roosevelt’s cattle. He returned to New York City in 1886, and at the request of Republican leaders, ran for mayor, but he was badly defeated.

Second Marriage

During several trips home from his ranches, Roosevelt had visited a childhood friend, Edith Kermit Carow (1861-1948). They were married on December 2, 1886, and lived in Sagamore Hill, Roosevelt’s home in Oyster Bay, Long Island, NY. Edith Roosevelt had a strong influence on her husband. He came to depend on her adnice. “Whenever I go against her judgement, I regret it”, he said.

The Roosevelts had five children: Theodore Roosevelt Jr. (1887-1944), the oldest son, who became an American soldier, statesman, explorer, and writer. During World War I, he commanded an infantry regiment and won the Distinguished Service Cross. After the war, he helped organize the American Legion. He served in the New York Assembly, and then as assistant secretary of the Navy from 1921 to 1924, and later wrote books on his explorations and on US colonial policies. He served as governor of Puerto Rico from 1929 to 1932. He died while commanding in World War II on infantry troops in France.

Kermit Roosevelt (1899-1943), was a businessman, soldier, explorer, and writer, the second son of Theodore Roosevelt. He graduated from Harvard University, served in both World Wars (in World War I, with both the British and American armies), and had explored two continents with his father. Fought a lifelong battle with depression ultimately leading to suicide while serving in the US Army in Alaska in World War II.

Ethel Carow (1891-1977), the youngest daughter and fourth child of Theodore Roosevelt, was known as The Queen of Oyster Bay.

Archibald Bulloch “Archie” (1894-1979), was the fifth child of US President Theodore Roosevelt, was a distinguished US Army Officer and commander of the US forces in both World War I and II. In both conflicts he was wounded. He earned the silver star with three oak leaf clusters, Purple Heart with oak leaf cluster and the French Croix de guerre. After World War II. He became a successful businessman and the founder of a New York City bomb brokerage house, as well as a spokesman for conservative political causes.

And Quentin (1897-1918), was the youngest son of President Theodore Roosevelt and Edith Roosevelt. He joined the United States Army Air Service where he became a pursuit pilot during World War I. Extremely popular with his fellow pilots, until he was killed in aerial combat over France on Bastille Day on July 14, 1918.

Mrs. Roosevelt reared Alice Roosevelt, Theodore’s daughter by his first wife as her own child. Roosevelt loved to play with his children.

Alice Lee Roosevelt Longworth (1884-1980), was the eldest child of US President Theodore Roosevelt, and the only child of Roosevelt and his first wife, Alice Hathaway Lee. She was a writer and prominent socialite. Alice led an unconventional and controversial life.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919)

Was the youngest man ever to become President of the United States. He took office at the age of 42. Roosevelt had been Vice president for only six months when President William McKinley was assassinated in September 1901. Roosevelt won wide popularity, and millions of Americans affectionately called him “Teddy” or “T.R.”. In 1904 the voters elected him to a full term as President. He ran for President again in 1912, as the Bull Moose” party candidate, but lost to Woodrow Wilson.

Roosevelt was a man of great energy and practiced what he called the “strenuous life”. He enjoyed horseback riding, swimming, hunting, hiking, and boxing. He often expressed enthusiasm for something by describing it as bully. Cartoonists liked to draw Roosevelt with his rim less glasses, bushy mustache, prominent teeth, and jutting jaw. One cartoon showed him with a bear cub. Soon, toymakers were producing stuffed animals that are still known as “Teddy bears”.

As commander of the fearless Rough Riders, Roosevelt became a national hero during the Spanish-American War in 1898. He led this famous cavalry regiment against the Spaniards in Cuba. Roosevelt came home and won the election as governor of New York. Two years later, he was elected Vice President.

As President, Roosevelt used his power of leadership to help the United States meet challenges at home and abroad. “I didn’t usurp power”, Roosevelt said, “but I did greatly broaden the use of executive power”.

Roosevelt fought for reforms that would benefit the American people. He became known as a “trust buster” because he tried to limit the power of great business corporations. During his Administration, Congress passed laws to regulate the railroads, to protect the public from harmful foods and drugs, and to conserve the nation’s forests and other natural resources.

In foreign relations, Roosevelt worked to make the United States a world leader. He felt that this leadership must be supported by strong armed forces. He expressed his foreign policy as: “Speak softly and carry a big stick”.

Roosevelt strengthened the US Navy began the construction of the Panama Canal and kept European nations from interfering in Latin America. He helped end the Russo-Japanese War and became the first American to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

While Roosevelt was President, millions of Americans traveled by bicycle, even women in their sweeping ankle-length skirts. But automobiles, along with electric lights and telephones, started to come into widespread use. Guglielmo Marconi sent the first radio message across the Atlantic Ocean, and a telegraph cable was laid across the Pacific to the Philippines. The air age was born when the Wright Brothers flew the first successful airplane. Roosevelt enjoyed taking a ride in one of the early models.

Roosevelt regarded public life as a great stage. As President, he joyfully held the center of that stage. When Roosevelt left office, he wrote, I do not believe that anyone else has ever enjoyed the White House as much as I have”. He was probably right.

Early Life

Boyhood and Education

Theodore Roosevelt was born in New York City on October 27, 1858. He was the second of the four children of Theodore and Martha Bulloch Roosevelt. “Teedie” as the family called him, was younger than his sister Anna, and older than his brother Elliott and his sister Corinne.

Roosevelt’s ancestors, the Van Roosevelt’s, had come to America from Holland in the 1640s. One of these ancestors, Claes Martensen Van Roosevelt, settled in New York, which was then called New Amsterdam. Claes was also an ancestor of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States. Most of the Van Roosevelts were wealthy landowners and business leaders.

Theodore Roosevelt’s mother came from a prominent Georgia family. One of her brothers was an admiral in the Confederate Navy. Her husband, an importer of plate glass, supported the North. But the Roosevelt’s did not let their differences keep them from providing a happy home life for their family. Like his father, Teedie had great energy, curiosity, and determination. He enjoyed an active childhood although he was puny and frequently ill. He suffered greatly from asthma. While playing with friends one day, he discovered that he also was nearsighted. The other children easily read an advertisement on a billboard some distance away. “Not only was I unable to read the sign, but I could not even see the letters”, Roosevelt work later. From then on Theodore wore glasses.

Theodore loved both books and the outdoors. He combined these interests in nature study. Hus bureau drawers smelled of dead mice and birds and so, often, did Theodore. When he was 10, and again when he was 14, Theodore went with his family on a year-long trips abroad. He visited Europe and the Middle East.

When Theodore was about 12, his father told him that he would need a strong body to give his mind a chance to develop fully. The next year, while alone on a trip to Maine, Theodore was tormented by two mischievous boys. He felt ashamed because he was not strong enough to fight back. Roosevelt’s father built a gymnasium in the family home and Theodore exercised there regularly. He overcame his asthma and built up unusual physical strength

Roosevelt studied under tutors until he entered Harvard University in 1876 at the age of 18. He earned good grades in college. Once he asked so many questions during a lecture that the professor exclaimed: “Now look here, Roosevelt let me talk. I’m running this course!” Roosevelt graduated from Harvard in 1880.

First Marriage

In October 1879, Roosevelt met Alice Hathaway Lee (1861-1884). She was the daughter of a wealthy official of Boston investment firm. Roosevelt counted Alice during his senior year at Harvard. They were married on his 22nd birthday.

A double tragedy struck on February 14, 1884. Alice Roosevelt died two days after the birth of a daughter also named Alice (1884-1980). On the same day, Roosevelt’s mother died of Typhoid fever.

 

Political and Public Activities

State Legislator

After graduation from Harvard in 1880, Roosevelt didn’t know what to do for a living. His father who had died in 1878, had left him some money. But Theodore needed to earn more in order to live comfortably. He enrolled in the Columbia University Law School, but the courses didn’t interest him. While studying law he wrote The Naval War of 1812, a technically excellent but dull book.

Roosevelt decided to enter politics to public service. He joined a Republican club in New York City. He recalled that his friends “laugh at me, and told me that politics were low, I answered that the people I knew did not belong to the governing class, and that the other people did and that I intended to be one of the governing class.”

In the fall of 1881, at the age of 23, Roosevelt won election of the New York State assembly. He wore sideburns and dressed elegantly. The other legislators thought he looked like a “dude”. But his intelligence, courage, and energy won their respect. He was reelected twice in 1882 and 1883.

Party Leader

In 1882, Roosevelt served briefly as leader of the Republican minority in the assembly. State party bosses expected him to follow orders, but he refused to obey blindly. The bossed removed him as minority leader. However, Roosevelt remained the most influential man in the assembly. He worked closely with Governor Grover Cleveland, a Democrat, and became interested in civil service reform.

Rancher and Writer

After the death of his wife and mother in 1884, Roosevelt left politics. He ran two cattle ranches on the Little Missouri River in the Dakota Territory. The hard life and endless activity of a rancher helped him recover from his sorrow. Wearing cowboy clothes, Roosevelt often spent 14 to 16 hours a day in the saddle. He hunted buffalo and other wild animals, tended cattle, and even helped law officers capture a band of outlaws.

Roosevelt steadily. In one period of less than three months, he completed a biography of Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri. Roosevelt also wrote a four-volume series called The Winning of the West.

Serve snowstorms in the winter of 1885-1886 destroyed most of Roosevelt’s cattle. He returned to New York City in 1886, and at the request of Republican leaders, ran for mayor, but he was badly defeated.

Second Marriage

During several trips home from his ranches, Roosevelt had visited a childhood friend, Edith Kermit Carow (1861-1948). They were married on December 2, 1886, and lived in Sagamore Hill, Roosevelt’s home in Oyster Bay, Long Island, NY. Edith Roosevelt had a strong influence on her husband. He came to depend on her adnice. “Whenever I go against her judgement, I regret it”, he said.

The Roosevelts had five children: Theodore Roosevelt Jr. (1887-1944), the oldest son, who became an American soldier, statesman, explorer, and writer. During World War I, he commanded an infantry regiment and won the Distinguished Service Cross. After the war, he helped organize the American Legion. He served in the New York Assembly, and then as assistant secretary of the Navy from 1921 to 1924, and later wrote books on his explorations and on US colonial policies. He served as governor of Puerto Rico from 1929 to 1932. He died while commanding in World War II on infantry troops in France.

Kermit Roosevelt (1899-1943), was a businessman, soldier, explorer, and writer, the second son of Theodore Roosevelt. He graduated from Harvard University, served in both World Wars (in World War I, with both the British and American armies), and had explored two continents with his father. Fought a lifelong battle with depression ultimately leading to suicide while serving in the US Army in Alaska in World War II.

Ethel Carow (1891-1977), the youngest daughter and fourth child of Theodore Roosevelt, was known as The Queen of Oyster Bay.

Archibald Bulloch “Archie” (1894-1979), was the fifth child of US President Theodore Roosevelt, was a distinguished US Army Officer and commander of the US forces in both World War I and II. In both conflicts he was wounded. He earned the silver star with three oak leaf clusters, Purple Heart with oak leaf cluster and the French Croix de guerre. After World War II. He became a successful businessman and the founder of a New York City bomb brokerage house, as well as a spokesman for conservative political causes.

And Quentin (1897-1918), was the youngest son of President Theodore Roosevelt and Edith Roosevelt. He joined the United States Army Air Service where he became a pursuit pilot during World War I. Extremely popular with his fellow pilots, until he was killed in aerial combat over France on Bastille Day on July 14, 1918.

Mrs. Roosevelt reared Alice Roosevelt, Theodore’s daughter by his first wife as her own child. Roosevelt loved to play with his children.

Alice Lee Roosevelt Longworth (1884-1980), was the eldest child of US President Theodore Roosevelt, and the only child of Roosevelt and his first wife, Alice Hathaway Lee. She was a writer and prominent socialite. Alice led an unconventional and controversial life.