Theodore Roosevelt

1903 Painting of Theodore Roosevelt by John Singer Sargent

1903 Painting of Theodore Roosevelt by John Singer Sargent

Theodore Roosevelt was the twenty-sixth President of the United States. He served from 1901-1909. He was born a rich man’s son on October 27, 1858 in New York City. He was pale and sickly as a child, but was also pampered by his family.

When Roosevelt was thirteen, it was discovered that he was nearsighted and needed glasses. At about this time, due to teasing by other boys, Roosevelt began a strenuous program of exercise, something he continued through his life, and became strong and robust.

Roosevelt went to Harvard at eighteen and threw himself into his studies. He was never halfway with anything. He graduated at the age of twenty-one and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa due to his outstanding grades. After graduating, he married Alice Hathaway Lee, whom he had courted at Harvard. They had one child.

Roosevelt attended Columbia Law School for a short time but found the studies boring. He left and took Alice to Europe. During the trip, he worked on a book about the navy during the War of 1812 and climbed the Matterhorn.

On his return, he joined a Republican club and in November of 1881 was elected to the state legislature in New York. He took his seat in 1882, and his book was published later that year. He made a name for himself through his fearless pursuit of corruption and was re-elected. In 1884, both his mother and wife died on the same day, devastating Roosevelt.

Roosevelt threw himself into his work for a time, then went to the West, still suffering from his dual tragedy. Returning after three years, he ran for Governor in 1886, but finished last. The next year he re-married. He campaigned for Benjamin Harrison and was appointed to the US Civil Service Commission in 1889, serving for six years.

In 1895 he was appointed Police Commissioner in New York and began to drive out corruption there with his usual fearlessness. McKinley then appointed him as Secretary of the Navy in 1897. He resigned his post two weeks after Congress declared war on Spain in April 1898 and led a troop of “Rough Riders” to Cuba where he achieved fame for leading his men in a dangerous charge up San Juan Hill in Havana.

He returned and was elected Governor of New York in 1899. Again he showed will, fearlessness and strength of character in his dealings with machine politics. In 1900, he was nominated to be McKinley’s running mate and was inaugurated as Vice President in March 1901. When McKinley was shot, then died, Roosevelt became, at the age of forty-three, President of the United States in September, 1901.

Roosevelt took on the role with his usual vigor and courage. He called for a new post, Secretary of Commerce and Industries, and took on the big corporations, culminating in an anti-trust suit against Northern Securities company, the giant railroad trust of J.P. Morgan.

Roosevelt was an advocate for a strong America. He worked hard to strengthen the Navy across the board. He also recognized the need for a connection between the Atlantic and Pacific and worked very hard to make the Panama Canal a reality.

Roosevelt showed his courage in taking on both the United Mine Workers and the coal mine owners. Inserting himself into their strike, because the country was suffering form the lack of coal, he threatened to take over the mines, something he did not have the power to do. His strength was such that the owners decided to settle.

Roosevelt was elected in his own right in 1904 and took office again in 1905. He pushed through an expansion of the Monroe Doctrine called the “Roosevelt Corollary” which said that, in the Western Hemisphere, in the face of wrongdoing, the US could act as an international police force. He used this to intervene in Santo Domingo to force the country out of corruption in 1905.

Roosevelt also began to use his own courage to intervene in the Russo-Japanese war in 1905. He brought the parties to the negotiating table in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in August 1905, with a treaty as the result. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize the next year.

Again acting out his love for the country and his own sense of honor, Roosevelt obtained the Pure Food Act in 1906, regulating the food industry. He pushed the San Francisco School Board to reverse itself and allow Japanese Americans to be sent to school. He attacked corruption ruthlessly wherever he found it, no matter the cause. He also added the West Wing to the White House, somewhat to make room for his wife and six children, but also to reflect the need for offices.

Roosevelt declined to run, throwing his support to Taft in 1908. When he left the office, he was only fifty years old. He continued to lead a strenuous life and act on his convictions. When he recognized that Taft was not carrying out progressive policies, he ran as an independent. He came in second to Wilson. During the campaign he had been shot in the chest while giving a speech. He continued the speech and recovered quickly after a short hospital stay.

When the US declared war in Germany in April 1917, Roosevelt wanted to lead a “Roosevelt Division” to fight in Europe. He was gently refused by Wilson. When his son Quentin was killed during an air battle in France in 1918, he took it very hard. He died on January 6, 1919 due to an arterial blood clot. Of his Presidency Roosevelt said, “While President, I have been President emphatically, I have used every ounce of power there was in the office”. He thoroughly enjoyed the job.

Theodore Roosevelt Facts

  • President No.: 26th
  • When did Theodore Roosevelt serve? 1901-1909
  • What was Theodore Roosevelt’s party? Republican
  • Where was Theodore Roosevelt from? New York
  • Who was Theodore Roosevelt’s wife? Alice Roosevelt, first wife, Edith Roosevelt, second wife
  • When was Theodore Roosevelt born? October 27, 1858
  • When did Theodore Roosevelt die? January 6, 1919
  • Which college did Theodore Roosevelt attend? Harvard University, Columbia University Law School
  • What was Theodore Roosevelt’s Jobs Before President? Officer in the Naional Guard, New York police commissioner, Governor of New York, Vice President, Assistant Secretary of the Navy
  • What was Theodore Roosevelt’s height? 5 feet, 10 inches
  • What was the population when Theodore Roosevelt was president? 75,994,575
  • What hobbies did Theodore Roosevelt have? Boxing, hunting, jujitsu, riding, shooting, tennis, wrestling
  • What pets did Theodore Roosevelt have? Macaw, Ponies
  • What transportation did Theodore Roosevelt use? Car
  • How did Theodore Roosevelt communicate? Telephone, typed letter. telegram


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