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Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt


In 1858, Theodore Roosevelt was born into a wealthy and prominent family in New York City. From an early age, Roosevelt suffered from asthma. Yet, despite his frailty as a youth, his lifelong battling spirit propelled him into a life of action. Roosevelt became the embodiment of his own philosophy—The Strenous Life.

After an undergraduate education at Harvard, Roosevelt settled on a career in law and politics. At the age of 22, he married Alice Hathaway. At the age of 23, using his political sense and his family connections, Roosevelt easily won election to the New York State Assembly. Over the next three terms, as a progressive and reformer, he was becoming a rising star in the Republican Party.

1884 was a disastrous year for the future President. When Roosevelt supported the reform candidate, Senator George Edmunds, for the Republican nomination. When Edmunds loast the nomination to James G. Blaine, and Roosevelt supported Blaine against his better judgment, his political career was in ruins. In February of that year, his wife died after giving birth to their daughter Alice. Just hours earlier, in the same house, Roosevelt’s mother, Martha Bulloch Roosevelt, died. After that, Roosevelt stated “For joy or for sorrow my life has now been lived out.”

Roosevelt packed up and moved to the Badlands. Though he did not do well at ranching at which he lost much of his savings, he was a natural at the kind of rough-and-tumble life that people lived in the turn-of-the-century Dakotas.

In 1886, Roosevelt went back to New York to marry his childhood friend, Edith Carow. She was able to curb Roosevelt’s free-wheeling ways. In addition to Alice, from Roosevelt’s first marriage, the couple, had five children: Theodore, Jr.; Kermit; Ethel; Archibald; and Quentin.

In 1888, after spending much of his time writing, Roosevelt got back into politics and campaigned for Benjamin Harrison. After the election, the newly-elected President Harrison appointed Roosevelt a Civil Service Commissioner. Roosevelt brought reform to the Civil Service, and, later as Police Commissioner in New York, brought reform there as well.
In 1896, Roosevelt campaigned vigorously for William McKinley. As a reward for his effort, Roosevelt was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Many of Roosevelt’s political beliefs were honed at that time. His desire to allow movement of the American fleet quickly between the Atlantic to the Pacific, led to his realization that an isthmian canal was a necessity, and that war with Spain was inevitable. Roosevelt fiercely promoted the Spanish-American War.

When the battleship Maine blew up in the Havana Harbor in 1898, the Spanish were blamed, and war was inevitable. After war was declared, Roosevelt quit his job in the Naval Department and joined the Army. By the end of the war, Colonel Roosevelt’s Rough Riders were famous and Roosevelt had become a national hero.

Roosevelt was besieged by requests to run for office. In 1998, Tom Platt, the Republican boss of New York, asked if Roosevelt would run for governor. Roosevelt accepted and won the election. But Roosevelt’s anti-big-business tendencies antagonized Platt, so much so that, in 1899, when Garret Hobart, Vice President of the United States, died in office, Platt encouraged Roosevelt’s nomination as Vice President. President McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt both both deferred to the tremendous support this idea generated, and the McKinley/Roosevelt ticket was victorious.

In September of 1901, McKinley was shot. Roosevelt was climbing a mountain when he heard the news. President McKinley died a few weeks later and Roosevelt became President.

As President, Roosevelt pushed the country into the twentieth century. He enforced the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, passed in 1890, and took on and dismantled the powerful trusts, made his dream of the Panama Canal a reality, and further positioned the United States as the new world power. His mediation of the Russo-Japanese War earned him a Nobel Peace Prize. In addition, because of his love of the outdoors and his belief that it needed to be protected, he developed the National Parks. When he ran for election in 1904, he promised he would not run for office again. So, in 1909, Roosevelt left office leaving the Presidency to his hand-picked successor William H. Taft.

Over the next four years, Taft took a conservative turn, and Roosevelt became displeased. In 1912, Roosevelt decided to run again, but this decision fractured the Republican party. Roosevelt ran as the candidate for the newly-formed Progressive Party. Woodrow Wilson, the Democrat, won.

Roosevelt spent the next few years actively pursuing life. He toured South America, got dysentery and malaria, and barelry survived. But in 1919, while he was working, he died of an embolism.

Other Books by Theodore Roosevelt

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