Of a prosperous and distinguished family, Theodore Roosevelt was educated by private tutors and traveled widely. He was a delicate youth, and his determined efforts to overcome this had a marked effect on his character. After graduating (1880) from Harvard, he studied law at Columbia.
Roosevelt's interest was drawn to politics, and while serving (1882-84) in the New York state legislature as a Republican, he strongly opposed the nomination of James G. Blaine for the U.S. presidency. After Blaine's nomination, however, Roosevelt supported him, and that lost him much of his political backing. Discouraged by this turn of events, and bereaved by the deaths (1884) of his mother and his wife, Alice Hathaway Lee, Roosevelt retired to his ranch in the Dakota Territory.
He returned (1886) to New York City and ran as the Republican candidate for mayor against Henry George and Abram S. Hewitt; he came in third. He became increasingly important in Republican party politics. Appointed (1889) by President Benjamin Harrison as a member of the Civil Service Commission, he was noted for his vigor in the post until he resigned in 1895. As head (1895-97) of the New York City police board, Roosevelt accomplished little but nevertheless gained public notice by his advocacy of reform.
In 1897 he returned to federal office as Assistant Secretary of the Navy under President McKinley. An ardent supporter of U.S. expansion, he worked toward putting the U.S. navy on a war basis for the coming war with Spain. After the outbreak of the Spanish-American war, he resigned to organize, with Leonard Wood, the volunteer regiment that won fame as the Rough Riders. Returning from Cuba a popular hero, Roosevelt ran (1898) for the governorship of New York state, winning by a small margin. Republican "boss" Thomas C. Platt had supported him in his candidacy, but after Roosevelt's inauguration the two differed when Roosevelt imposed taxes on corporation franchises. It was at least partially to shelve Roosevelt that Platt backed his nomination as Vice President in 1900. The McKinley-Roosevelt slate was elected, but Roosevelt served as Vice President only a few months. McKinley was assassinated, and Roosevelt became (Sept. 14, 1901) President shortly before his 43d birthday, making him the youngest person to hold that office. (John F. Kennedy was the youngest person to be elected President.)
Roosevelt's inexhaustible vitality and enthusiasm, aided by his ability to dramatize himself and to coin vivid phrases, made him a popular president. His intellectual interests did much to elevate the tone of American politics. On the other hand, he drew considerable criticism for his glorification of military strength and his patriotic fervor.
He recognized, from the outset of his first administration, the growing demand for reform that was expressed in the writings of the muckrakers. From 1902 he set about "trust busting" under terms of the moribund Sherman Antitrust Act, ordered the successful antitrust suit against the Northern Securities Company, and led the attack on a number of other large trusts. Altogether, his administration began some 40 suits against trusts. Roosevelt's threat to intervene in the anthracite coal strike of 1902 induced the operators to accept arbitration.
In his first term he also fathered important legislation, including the Reclamation Act of 1902 (the Newlands Act), which made possible federal irrigation projects; the bill (1903) establishing the U.S. Department of Commerce and Labor; and the Elkins Act of 1903, which put an end to freight rebates by railroads. Roosevelt's vigorous championship of the rights of the "little man" captured the American imagination, and when he ran for reelection in 1904 he defeated Alton B. Parker, the Democratic presidential candidate, by 196 electoral votes.
In his second administration Roosevelt directed the passage (1906) of the Hepburn Act, which revitalized the Interstate Commerce Commission and authorized greater governmental authority over railroads. In 1906 he backed the passage of the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act. A firm believer in conservation of national resources, he sought to halt exhaustion of timber and mineral supplies by private interests and added many millions of acres of land to public ownership. His progressive reforms were directed not at the abolition of big business but at its regulation—an attitude shown by his tacit approval of the absorption of the Tennessee Coal and Iron Company by United States Steel in the panic of 1907. By his aggressive domestic policy, Roosevelt decisively increased the power of the President.Foreign Policy
Roosevelt's forcefulness was equally manifest in his foreign policy. Ably backed by John Hay and Elihu Root, he set out to solidify the world position won by the United States in the Spanish-American War. His efforts to enhance U.S. prestige and influence won him the hatred of anti-imperialist groups. Most notable, perhaps, was his Caribbean policy. In the Venezuela Claims dispute, Roosevelt, fearing German intervention in Venezuela, worked for a peaceful settlement that would maintain Venezuela's territorial integrity.
Later (1904), when the Dominican Republic—which was deeply in debt to European bond holders—was threatened with intervention by European powers, the President enunciated a new U.S. policy that would forestall such action. In what came to be known as the Roosevelt corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, the President claimed that the United States had direct interest and the obligation to impose order in the affairs of Latin American countries. The Dominican Republic was forced to accept the appointment of a U.S. customs receiver. This policy aroused great indignation in Latin America.
Even more drastic was Roosevelt's action regarding the Panama Canal. After the Colombian senate refused to ratify the proposed Hay-Herrán Treaty, a U.S. navy warship, the Nashville, prevented the landing of additional Colombian troops in Panama, thus contributing to the success of the Panamanian revolution (1903). Roosevelt immediately recognized the new republic of Panama, and the Panama Canal was begun. Roosevelt's policy in Latin America prepared the way for "dollar diplomacy" in that area.
Roosevelt was also active generally in world affairs. With Hay, he endeavored to maintain the Open Door in China. In 1904, as mediator, he brought about the peace conference at Portsmouth, N.H., to end the Russo-Japanese War; and he was awarded the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize. He was an ardent advocate of the Hague Tribunal, and it was through his offices that the Algeciras Conference was called in 1906 to settle the Morocco question. In 1907 his gentleman's agreement with Japan to discourage emigration of Japanese laborers to the United States eased the tensions caused by California's anti-Japanese legislation.
Roosevelt virtually dictated the nomination of his presidential successor, William Howard Taft; after an African big-game expedition and a triumphal tour of European cities, Roosevelt returned (1910) to the United States and joined the campaign for the direct primary in New York. President Taft alienated the progressive Republicans headed by Robert M. La Follette, and the Republican party in 1912 was threatened with a split over the presidential nomination. The conservatives, however, controlled the Republican convention of 1912, and Taft was nominated for reelection.
Roosevelt led his followers out of the convention, organized the Progressive party—also called the Bull Moose party—and was nominated for President on this third-party slate. In the resulting three-cornered election he ran second to the Democratic candidate, Woodrow Wilson. Forced into retirement, Roosevelt denounced the policies of Wilson—whose attempt to secure a treaty awarding Colombia damages for the loss of Panama particularly enraged him. After the outbreak of World War I he attacked Wilson's neutrality policy; and when the United States entered the war he pleaded vainly to be allowed to raise and command a volunteer force. He died soon after the end of World War I.
During his busy career he had found time not only for hunting and exploring expeditions—including exploration (1913) of the River of Doubt (now called the Roosevelt River or Rio Teodoro) in the Amazon jungle—but also for writing a great number of books. They deal with history, hunting, wildlife, and politics. Among them are The Naval War of 1812 (1882), biographies of Thomas H. Benton (1887) and Gouverneur Morris (1888), The Winning of the West (4 vol., 1889-96), African Game Trails (1910), The New Nationalism (1910), Progressive Principles (1913), Through the Brazilian Wilderness (1914), and his important autobiography (1913).
Alice, his daughter by his first wife, married Nicholas Longworth in the White House; "Princess Alice" attracted much notice by her forthright personality, unconventional ways, and able tongue (see Longworth, Alice Lee Roosevelt). There were five children of his second marriage (1886) to Edith Kermit Carow—Theodore, Jr., Kermit, Archibald Bullock, Ethel Carow (Mrs. Richard Derby), and Quentin. Quentin was killed in World War I; Theodore, Jr., and Kermit both died in active service in World War II.
See biographies by H. F. Pringle (rev. ed. 1956, 1992), N. F. Busch (1963), D. W. Grantham, ed. (1971), H. W. Brands (repr. 1998), S. A. Cordery (2002), and K. Dalton (2002); G. E. Mowry, Theodore Roosevelt and the Progressive Movement (1946, repr. 1960); J. M. Blum, The Republican Roosevelt (1954, repr. 1962); H. K. Beale, Theodore Roosevelt and the Rise of America to World Power (1956, repr. 1989); W. H. Harbaugh, The Life and Times of Theodore Roosevelt (1963); G. W. Chessman, Theodore Roosevelt and the Politics of Power (1969); E. Morris, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt (1979) and Theodore Rex (2001); D. McCullough, Mornings on Horseback (1980); M. L. Collins, That Damned Cowboy (1989); C. Millard, The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey (2005); P. O'Toole, When Trumpets Call: Theodore Roosevelt after the White House (2005); D. Brinkley, The Wilderness Warrior (2009).
Theodore Roosevelt (October 27, 1858 January 6, 1919), also known as T.R., and to the public (but never to friends and intimates) as Teddy, was the twenty-sixth President of the United States. A leader of the Republican Party and of the Progressive Party, he was a Governor of New York and a professional historian, naturalist, explorer, hunter, author, and soldier. He is most famous for his personality: his energy, his vast range of interests and achievements, his model of masculinity, and his "cowboy" personality. Originating from a story from one of Roosevelt's hunting expeditions, Teddy bears are named after him.
As Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Roosevelt prepared for and advocated war with Spain in 1898. He organized and helped command the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment the Rough Riders during the Spanish-American War. Returning to New York as a war hero, he was elected governor. An avid writer, his 35 books include works on outdoor life, natural history, the American frontier, political history, naval history, and his autobiography.
In 1901, as Vice President, the 42-year-old Roosevelt succeeded President William McKinley after McKinley's assassination by anarchist Leon Czolgosz. He is the youngest person to become President. He was a Progressive reformer who sought to move the dominant Republican Party into the Progressive camp. He distrusted wealthy businessmen and dissolved forty monopolistic corporations as a "trust buster". He was clear, however, to show he did not disagree with trusts and capitalism in principle but was only against corrupt, illegal practices. His "Square Deal" promised a fair shake for both the average citizen (through regulation of railroad rates and pure food and drugs) and the businessmen. He was the first U.S. president to call for universal health care and national health insurance. As an outdoorsman, he promoted the conservation movement, emphasizing efficient use of natural resources. After 1906 he attacked big business and suggested the courts were biased against labor unions. In 1910, he broke with his friend and anointed successor William Howard Taft, but lost the Republican nomination to Taft and ran in the 1912 election on his own one-time Bull Moose ticket. He beat Taft in the popular vote and pulled so many Progressives out of the Republican Party that Democrat Woodrow Wilson won in 1912, and the conservative faction took control of the Republican Party for the next two decades.
Roosevelt negotiated for the U.S. to take control of the Panama Canal and its construction in 1904; he felt the Canal's completion was his most important and historically significant international achievement. He was the first American to be awarded the Nobel Prize, winning its Peace Prize in 1906, for negotiating the peace in the Russo-Japanese War.
Historian Thomas Bailey, who disagreed with Roosevelt's policies, nevertheless concluded, "Roosevelt was a great personality, a great activist, a great preacher of the moralities, a great controversialist, a great showman. He dominated his era as he dominated conversations....the masses loved him; he proved to be a great popular idol and a great vote getter. His image stands alongside Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln on Mount Rushmore. Surveys of scholars have consistently ranked him from third to seventh on the list of greatest American presidents.
Theodore Roosevelt was born in a four-story brownstone at 28 East 20th Street, in the modern-day Gramercy section of New York City, the second of four children of Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. (1831–1877) and Mittie Bulloch (1834–1884). He had an elder sister Anna, nicknamed "Bamie" as a child and "Bye" as an adult for being always on the go, and two younger siblings—his brother Elliott (the father of Eleanor Roosevelt) and his sister Corinne (grandmother of newspaper columnists Joseph and Stewart Alsop).
The Roosevelts had been in New York since the mid-17th century. Roosevelt was born into a wealthy family; by the 19th century, the family had grown in wealth, power and influence from the profits of several businesses including hardware and plate-glass importing. The family was strongly Democratic in its political affiliation until the mid-1850s, then joined the new Republican Party. Theodore's father, known in the family as "Thee", was a New York City philanthropist, merchant, and partner in the family glass-importing firm Roosevelt and Son. He was a prominent supporter of Abraham Lincoln and the Union effort during the American Civil War. His mother Mittie Bulloch was a Southern belle from a slave-owning family in Roswell, Georgia and had quiet Confederate sympathies. Mittie's brother, Theodore's uncle, James Dunwoody Bulloch, was a United States Navy officer who became a Confederate admiral and naval procurement agent in Britain. Another uncle, Irvine Bulloch, was a midshipman on the Confederate raider CSS Alabama; both remained in England after the war. From his grandparents' home, a young Roosevelt witnessed Abraham Lincoln's funeral procession in New York.
Sickly and asthmatic as a youngster, Roosevelt had to sleep propped up in bed or slouching in a chair during much of his early childhood, and had frequent ailments. Despite his illnesses, he was a hyperactive and often mischievous boy. His lifelong interest in zoology was formed at age seven upon seeing a dead seal at a local market. After obtaining the seal's head, the young Roosevelt and two of his cousins formed what they called the "Roosevelt Museum of Natural History". Learning the rudiments of taxidermy, he filled his makeshift museum with many animals that he killed or caught, studied, and prepared for display. At age nine, he codified his observation of insects with a paper titled "The Natural History of Insects".
To combat his poor physical condition, his father compelled the young Roosevelt to take up exercise. To deal with bullies, Roosevelt started boxing lessons. Two trips abroad had a permanent impact: family tours of Europe in 1869 and 1870, and of the Middle East 1872 to 1873.
Theodore, Sr. had a tremendous influence on his son. Of him 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. Roosevelt's sister, Corinne, later wrote, "He told me frequently that he never took any serious step or made any vital decision for his country without thinking first what position his father would have taken.
Young "Teedie", as he was nicknamed as a child, (the nickname "Teddy" was from his first wife, Alice Hathaway Lee, and he later harbored an intense dislike for it) was mostly home schooled by tutors and his parents. A leading biographer says: "The most obvious drawback to the home schooling Roosevelt received was uneven coverage of the various areas of human knowledge." He was solid in geography (thanks to his careful observations on all his travels) and very well read in history, strong in biology, French and German, but deficient in mathematics, Latin and Greek. He matriculated at Harvard College in 1876. His father's death in 1878 was a tremendous blow, but Roosevelt redoubled his activities. He did well in science, philosophy and rhetoric courses but fared poorly in Latin and Greek. He studied biology with great interest and indeed was already an accomplished naturalist and published ornithologist. He had a photographic memory and developed a life-long habit of devouring books, memorizing every detail. He was an eloquent conversationalist who, throughout his life, sought out the company of the smartest people. He could multitask in extraordinary fashion, dictating letters to one secretary and memoranda to another, while browsing through a new book.
While at Harvard, Roosevelt was active in rowing, boxing, the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, and was a member of the Porcellian Club. He also edited a student magazine. He was runner-up in the Harvard boxing championship, losing to C.S. Hanks. Upon graduating, he underwent a physical examination and his doctor advised him that due to serious heart problems, he should find a desk job and avoid strenuous activity. He chose to embrace strenuous life instead.
He graduated Phi Beta Kappa(22nd of 177) from Harvard in 1880, and entered Columbia Law School. When offered a chance to run for New York Assemblyman in 1881, he dropped out of law school to pursue his new goal of entering public life.
Roosevelt built a second ranch, which he 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, rope, and hunt. He rebuilt his life and began writing about frontier life for Eastern magazines. As a deputy sheriff, Roosevelt hunted down three outlaws who stole his river boat and were escaping north with it up the Little Missouri. Capturing them, he decided against hanging them, and sending his foreman back by boat, he took the thieves back overland for trial in Dickinson, guarding them forty hours without sleep and reading 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. . While working on a tough project aimed at hunting down a group of relentless horse thieves, Roosevelt came across the famous Deadwood Sheriff, Seth Bullock. The two would remain friends for life.
After the uniquely severe U.S. winter of 1886-1887 wiped out his herd of cattle and his $60,000 investment (together with those of his competitors), he returned to the East, where in 1885 he had built Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay, New York. It would be his home and estate until his death. Roosevelt ran as the Republican candidate for mayor of New York City in 1886 as "The Cowboy of the Dakotas"; he came in third.
Roosevelt argued the frontier conditions created a new race: the American people that replaced the "scattered savage tribes, whose life was but a few degrees less meaningless, squalid, and ferocious than that of the wild beasts with whom they held joint ownership." He believed, "the conquest and settlement by the whites of the Indian lands was necessary to the greatness of the race and to the well-being of civilized mankind." His many articles in upscale magazines provided a much-needed income. He was later chosen president of the American Historical Association.
On August 13 and 14, 1906, Brownsville, Texas was the site of what has come to be known as the Brownsville Affair. Racial tensions were high between white townsfolk and black infantrymen stationed at Fort Brown. On the night of August 13th, one white bartender was killed and a white police officer was wounded by rifle shots in the street. Townsfolk, including the mayor, accused the infantrymen as the murderers. Without a chance to defend themselves in a hearing, President Roosevelt dishonorably discharged the entire 167 member regiment due to their accused "conspiracy of silence". Further investigations in the 1970s found that the black infantrymen were not at fault, and the Nixon Administration reversed all of the dishonorable discharges.
In the 1888 presidential election, Roosevelt campaigned in the Midwest for Benjamin Harrison. President Harrison appointed Roosevelt to the United States Civil Service Commission, where he served until 1895. In his term, he vigorously fought the spoilsmen and demanded the enforcement of civil service laws. In spite of 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.
Roosevelt became president of the board of New York City Police Commissioners in 1895. During the two years he held this post, Roosevelt radically reformed the police department. The police force 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. Roosevelt and his fellow commissioners established new disciplinary rules, created a bicycle squad to police New York's traffic problems and standardized the use of pistols by officers. Roosevelt implemented regular inspections of firearms, annual physical exams, appointed 1,600 new recruits based on their physical and mental qualifications and not on political affiliation, established meritorious service medals, and shut down 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. Always an energetic man, he made a habit of walking officers' beats late at night and early in the morning to make sure they were on duty. He became caught up in public disagreements with commissioner Parker, who sought to negate or delay the promotion of many officers put forward by Roosevelt. 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.
Upon the 1898 Declaration of War launching the Spanish-American War, Roosevelt resigned from the Navy Department. With the aid of U.S. Army Colonel Leonard Wood, Roosevelt found volunteers from cowboys from the Western territories to Ivy League friends from New York, forming the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment. The newspapers called them the "Rough Riders."
Originally Roosevelt held the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and served under Colonel Wood. In Roosevelt's own account, The Rough Riders, "after General Young was struck down with the fever, and Wood took charge of the brigade. This left me in command of the regiment, of which I was very glad, for such experience as we had had is a quick teacher. Accordingly, Wood was promoted to Brigadier General of Volunteer Forces, Roosevelt was promoted to Colonel and given command of the Regiment.
Under his leadership, the Rough Riders became famous for dual charges up Kettle Hill and San Juan Hill on July 1, 1898 (the battle was named after the latter "hill," which was the shoulder of a ridge known as San Juan Heights). Out of all the Rough Riders, Roosevelt was the only one with a horse, and used it to ride back and forth between rifle pits at the forefront of the advance up Kettle Hill; an advance which he urged in absence of any orders from superiors. However, he was forced to walk up the last part of Kettle Hill on foot, due to barbed wire entanglement and after his horse, Little Texas, became tired.
For his actions, Roosevelt was nominated for the Medal of Honor which was subsequently disapproved. It has been widely speculated this disapproval was because of Roosevelt's outspoken comments on the handling of the war. In September 1997, Congressman Rick Lazio, representing the 2nd District of New York, sent two award recommendations to the U.S. Army Military Awards Branch. These recommendations, addressed to Brigadier General Earl Simms, the Army's Adjutant General, and Master Sergeant Gary Soots, Chief of Authorizations, would prove successful in garnering the much sought after award. Roosevelt was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 2001 for his actions. He was the first and, as of 2008, the only President of the United States to be awarded with America's highest military honor, and the only person in history to receive both his nation's highest honor for military valor and the world's foremost prize for peace. (His oldest son Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. would also posthumously be awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at Normandy on June 6, 1944.)
After his return to civilian life, Roosevelt preferred to be known as "Colonel Roosevelt" or "The Colonel." As a moniker, "Teddy" remained much more popular with the general public; however, political friends and others working closely with Roosevelt customarily addressed him by his rank.
On leaving the Army, Roosevelt was elected governor of New York in 1898 as a Republican. He made such a concerted effort to root out corruption and "machine politics" that Republican boss Thomas Collier Platt forced him on McKinley as a running mate in the 1900 election, against the wishes of McKinley's manager, Senator Mark Hanna. Roosevelt was a powerful campaign asset for the Republican ticket, which defeated William Jennings Bryan in a landslide based on restoration of prosperity at home and a successful war and new prestige abroad. Bryan stumped for Free Silver again, but McKinley's promise of prosperity through the gold standard, high tariffs, and the restoration of business confidence enlarged his margin of victory. Bryan had strongly supported the war against Spain, but denounced the annexation of the Philippines as imperialism that would spoil America's innocence. Roosevelt countered with many speeches that argued it was best for the Filipinos to have stability, and the Americans to have a proud place in the world. Roosevelt's six months as Vice President (March to September 1901) were uneventful. On September 2, 1901, at the Minnesota State Fair, Roosevelt first used in a public speech a saying that would later be universally associated with him: "Speak softly and carry a big stick, and you will go far."
At the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, on September 6, 1901, President McKinley was shot by Leon Czolgosz (Zol-gash). Roosevelt had been at a luncheon of the Vermont Fish and Game League on Lake Champlain when he learned the news. He rushed to Buffalo, but after being assured the President would recover, he went on a planned family camping and hiking trip to Mount Marcyin the Adirondacks. In the mountains, a runner notified him McKinley was on his death bed. Roosevelt pondered with his wife, Edith, how best to respond, not wanting to show up in Buffalo and wait on McKinley's death. Roosevelt was rushed by a series of stagecoaches to North Creek train station. At the station, Roosevelt was handed a telegram that said President McKinley died at 2:30 AM that morning. Roosevelt continued by train from North Creek to Buffalo. He arrived in Buffalo later that day, accepting an invitation to stay at the home of Ansley Wilcox, a prominent lawyer and friend since the early 1880s when they had both worked closely with New York State Governor Grover Cleveland on civil service reform.
Roosevelt took the oath of office in the Ansley Wilcox House at Buffalo, borrowing Wilcox's morning coat. Roosevelt did not swear on a Bible, in contrast to the usual tradition of US presidents. Expressing the fears of many old-line Republicans, Mark Hanna lamented "that damned cowboy is president now." Roosevelt was the youngest person to assume the presidency, at 42, and he promised to continue McKinley's cabinet and his basic policies. Roosevelt did so, but after winning election in 1904, he moved to the political left, stretching his ties to the Republican Party's conservative leaders.
A national emergency was averted in 1902 when Roosevelt found a compromise to the anthracite coal strike by the United Mine Workers of America that threatened the heating supplies of most urban homes. Roosevelt sent the Army in to secure the mine and work it until he could call the mine owners and the labor leaders to the White House and negotiate a compromise. Miners were on strike for 163 days before it ended; they were granted a 10% pay increase and a 9-hour day (from the previous 10 hours), but the union was not officially recognized, and the price of coal went up.
Roosevelt promised to continue McKinley's program, and at first he worked closely with McKinley's men. His 20,000-word address to the Congress in December 1901 asked Congress to curb the power of trusts "within reasonable limits." They did not act but Roosevelt did, issuing 44 lawsuits against major corporations; he was called the "trust-buster".
Roosevelt firmly believed: "The Government must in increasing degree supervise and regulate the workings of the railways engaged in interstate commerce." Inaction was a danger, he argued: "Such increased supervision is the only alternative to an increase of the present evils on the one hand or a still more radical policy on the other.
His biggest success was passage of the Hepburn Act of 1906, the provisions of which were to be regulated by the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC). The most important provision of the Act gave the ICC the power to replace existing rates with "just-and-reasonable" maximum rates, with the ICC to define what was just and reasonable. Anti-rebate provisions were toughened, free passes were outlawed, and the penalties for violation were increased. Finally, the ICC gained the power to prescribe a uniform system of accounting, require standardized reports, and inspect railroad accounts. The Act made ICC orders binding; that is, the railroads had to either obey or contest the ICC orders in federal court. To speed the process, appeals from the district courts would go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In response to public clamor (and due to the uproar cause by Upton Sinclair's book The Jungle), Roosevelt pushed Congress to pass the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, as well as the Meat Inspection Act of 1906. These laws provided for labeling of foods and drugs, inspection of livestock and mandated sanitary conditions at meatpacking plants. Congress replaced Roosevelt's proposals with a version supported by the major meatpackers who worried about the overseas markets, and did not want small unsanitary plants undercutting their domestic market.
Roosevelt was the first American president to consider the long-term needs for efficient conservation of national resources, winning the support of fellow hunters and fishermen to bolster his political base. He was the last trained observer to ever see a passenger pigeon, and on March 14, 1903, Roosevelt created the first National Bird Preserve, (the beginning of the Wildlife Refuge system) on Pelican Island, Florida. He recognized the imminent extinction of the American Bison and co-founded the American Bison Society (with William Temple Hornaday) in 1905. Roosevelt worked with the major figures of the conservation movement, especially his chief adviser on the matter, Gifford Pinchot. Roosevelt urged Congress to establish the United States Forest Service (1905), to manage government forest lands, and he appointed Gifford Pinchot to head the service. Roosevelt set aside more land for national parks and nature preserves than all of his predecessors combined, 194 million acres (785,000 km²). In all, by 1909, the Roosevelt administration had created an unprecedented 42 million acres (170,000 km²) of national forests, 53 national wildlife refuges and 18 areas of "special interest", including the Grand Canyon. The Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the Badlands commemorates his conservationist philosophy. In 1903, Roosevelt toured the Yosemite Valley with John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club, but, unlike Muir, Roosevelt believed in the more efficient use of natural resources by corporations such as lumber companies. In 1907, with Congress about to block him, Roosevelt hurried to designate 16 million acres (65,000 km²) of new national forests. In May 1908, he sponsored the Conference of Governors held in the White House, with a focus on the most efficient planning, analysis and use of water, forests and other natural resources. Roosevelt explained, "There is an intimate relation between our streams and the development and conservation of all the other great permanent sources of wealth." During his presidency, Roosevelt promoted the nascent conservation movement in essays for Outdoor Life magazine. To Roosevelt, conservation meant more and better usage and less waste, and a long-term perspective.
Roosevelt's conservationist leanings also impelled him to preserve national sites of scientific, particularly archaeological, interest. The 1906 passage of the Antiquities Act gave him a tool for creating national monuments by presidential proclamation, without requiring Congressional approval for each monument on an item-by-item basis. The language of the Antiquities Act specifically called for the preservation of "historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest," and was primarily construed by its creator, Congressman James F. Lacey (assisted by the prominent archaeologist Edgar Lee Hewett), as targeting the prehistoric ruins of the American Southwest. Roosevelt, however, applied a typically broad interpretation to the Act, and the first national monument he proclaimed, Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming, was preserved for reasons tied more to geology than archaeology.
Roosevelt dramatically increased the size of the navy, forming the Great White Fleet, which toured the world in 1907. This display was designed to impress the Japanese. However, the ships were almost forced to return because of the inadequacy of American ports in the Pacific. Roosevelt also added the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, which stated that the United States and only the United States could intervene in Latin American affairs when corruption of governments made it necessary. Roosevelt's foreign policy is often referred to as the "Big Stick" policy which was mainly in respect to Roosevelt's ideas of negotiation. He also created the Roosevelt Reservation, a sixty foot wide strip of land along the United States-Mexico Border to prevent smuggling.
Roosevelt gained international praise for helping negotiate the end of the Russo-Japanese War, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Roosevelt later arbitrated a dispute between France and Germany over the division of Morocco. Some historians have argued these latter two actions helped in a small way to avert a world war.
Colombia first proposed the canal in their country as opposed to rival Nicaragua, and Colombia signed a treaty for an agreed-upon sum. At the time, Panama was a province of Colombia. According to the treaty, in 1902, the U.S. was to buy out the equipment and excavations from France, which had been attempting to build a canal since 1881. While the Colombian negotiating team had signed the treaty, ratification by the Colombian Senate became problematic. The Colombian Senate balked at the price and asked for ten million dollars over the original agreed upon price. When the U.S. refused to re-negotiate the price, the Colombian politicians proposed cutting the original French company that started the project out of the deal and giving that difference to Colombia.
Roosevelt decided in 1903 to support Panamanian separation from Colombia. On November 3, the Republic of Panama was created, with its constitution written in advance by the United States. Shortly thereafter, the U.S. signed a protection treaty with Panama. And after the signing of the treaty, a man named Nathan Johnson Forest assisted Panama with the initial planning phases for the canal. The U.S. then paid ten million to secure rights to build on, and control, the Canal Zone. Construction began in 1904 and was completed in 1914.
It took a long time to build the Panama Canal because of the rampant spread of tropical diseases. Over 200 workers died of yellow fever and malaria, spread by mosquitoes. Roosevelt initiated work on clearing swamps and other areas in which the insects bred. As the health threat finally receded, this greatly facilitated the construction of the Canal.
As Roosevelt's administration drew to a close, the president dispatched a fleet consisting of four US Navy battleship squadrons and their escorts, on a worldwide voyage of circumnavigation from December 16, 1907 to February 22, 1909. With their hulls painted white (except for the beautiful gilded scrollwork) and red, white, and blue banners on their bows, these ships would come to be known as the Great White Fleet. Roosevelt wanted to demonstrate to his country and the world that the US Navy was capable of operating in a global theater, particularly in the Pacific. This was extraordinarily important at a time when tensions were slowly growing between the United States and Japan. The latter had recently shown its navy's competence in defeating the Russians in the Russo-Japanese War, and the US Navy fleet in the west was relatively small. As a mark of the mission's success, the Atlantic Fleet battleships only later came to be known as the "Great White Fleet."
When the real Great White Fleet sailed into Yokohama, Japan, the Japanese went to extraordinary lengths to show that their country desired peace with the US. Thousands of Japanese school children waved American flags, purchased by the government, as they greeted the Navy brass coming ashore. In February 1909, the fleet returned home to Hampton Roads, Virginia, and Roosevelt was there to witness the triumphant return. His appearance indicated that he saw the fleet's long voyage as a fitting finish for his administration. Roosevelt said to the officers of the Fleet, "Other nations may do what you have done, but they'll have to follow you." This parting act of grand strategy by Roosevelt greatly expanded the respect for, as well as the role of, the United States in the international arena. However, the visit of the Great White Fleet to Tokyo also encouraged Japanese militarists. They had always argued for an even more aggressive Japanese ship building and naval expansion program, and the recent show of force by the U.S. convinced enough of their countrymen that they were right. In a real sense, this set in motion the chain of events leading to the U.S. and Japan confronting each other 30 years later - during World War II.
Roosevelt thought American coins and currency were common and uninspiring. He had the opportunity to pose for a young Lithuanian-born sculptor, Victor David Brenner, who since arriving nineteen years earlier in the United States had become one of the nation's premier medalists. Roosevelt had learned of Brenner's talents in a settlement house on New York City's Lower East Side and was immediately impressed with a bas-relief that Brenner had made of Lincoln, based on the early Civil War era photographer Mathew Brady's photograph. Roosevelt, who considered Lincoln the savior of the Union and the greatest Republican President and who also considered himself Lincoln's political heir, ordered the new Lincoln cent to be based on Brenner's work and that it be ready just in time to commemorate Lincoln’s 100th birthday in 1909. The likeness of President Lincoln on the obverse of the coin is an adaptation of a plaque Brenner executed several years earlier and which had come to the attention of President Roosevelt in New York. The new Lincoln cent replaced the Indian Head cent.
During his presidency, Roosevelt tried but did not succeed to advance the cause of spelling reform as advocated by the Simplified Spelling Board. He issued an executive order requiring the use of the reformed spelling system in August 1906. Roosevelt tried to force the federal government to adopt the system, sending an order to the Public Printer to use the system in all public federal documents. The order was obeyed, and among the documents thus printed was the President's special message regarding the Panama Canal.
The reform annoyed the public, forcing him to rescind the order. Literary critic Brander Matthews, a friend of Roosevelt and one of the chief advocates of the reform as Chairman of the Spelling Reform Board, remonstrated with him for abandoning the effort. Roosevelt replied on December 16: "I could not by fighting have kept the new spelling in, and it was evidently worse than useless to go into an undignified contest when I was beaten. Do you know that the one word as to which I thought the new spelling was wrong thru was more responsible than anything else for our discomfiture?" Next summer Roosevelt was watching a naval review when a newspaper launch marked "Pres Bot" chugged ostentatiously by. The President waved and laughed with delight.
Roosevelt's oldest daughter, Alice, was a controversial character during his stay in the White House. When friends asked if he could rein in his elder daughter, Roosevelt said, "I can be President of the United States, or I can control Alice. I cannot possibly do both." In turn, Alice said of him that he always wanted to be "the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral.
Roosevelt's contribution to the White House was the construction of the original West Wing, which he had built to free up the second floor rooms in the residence that formerly housed the president's staff. He and Edith also had the entire house renovated and restored to the federal style, tearing out the Victorian furnishings and details (including Tiffany windows) that had been installed over the previous three decades.
|Charles W. Fairbanks||1905–1909|
|Secretary of State||John M. Hay||1901–1905|
|Secretary of the Treasury||Lyman J. Gage||1901–1902|
|Leslie M. Shaw||1902–1907|
|George B. Cortelyou||1907–1909|
|Secretary of War||Elihu Root||1901–1904|
|William H. Taft||1904–1908|
|Luke E. Wright||1908–1909|
|Attorney General||Philander C. Knox||1901–1904|
|William H. Moody||1904–1906|
|Charles J. Bonaparte||1906–1909|
|Postmaster General||Charles E. Smith||1901–1902|
|Henry C. Payne||1902–1904|
|Robert J. Wynne||1904–1905|
|George B. Cortelyou||1905–1907|
|George von L. Meyer||1907–1909|
|Secretary of the Navy||John D. Long||1901–1902|
|William H. Moody||1902–1904|
|Charles J. Bonaparte||1905–1906|
|Victor H. Metcalf||1906–1908|
|Truman H. Newberry||1908–1909|
|Secretary of the Interior||Ethan A. Hitchcock||1901–1907|
|James R. Garfield||1907–1909|
|Secretary of Agriculture||James Wilson||1901–1909|
|Secretary of Commerce & Labor||George B. Cortelyou||1903–1904|
|Victor H. Metcalf||1904–1906|
|Oscar S. Straus||1906–1909|
In March 1909, shortly after the end of his second term, Roosevelt left New York for a safari in east and central Africa. 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 up to Khartoum in modern Sudan. Financed by Andrew Carnegie and by his own proposed writings, Roosevelt's party hunted for specimens for the Smithsonian Institution and for the American Museum of Natural History in New York. The group included scientists from the Smithsonian and was led by the legendary hunter-tracker R.J. Cunninghame 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, an elephant-rifle donated by a group of 56 admiring Britons, and the famous Pigskin Library, a collection of classics bound in pig leather and transported in a single reinforced trunk.
All told, Roosevelt and his companions killed or trapped over 11,397 animals, from insects and moles to hippopotamuses and elephants. 512 of the animals were big game animals, including six rare white rhinos. 262 of these were consumed by the expedition. Tons of salted animals and their skins were shipped to Washington; the quantity was so large that it took years to mount them all, and the Smithsonian was able to share many duplicate animals 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. However, although the safari was ostensibly conducted in the name of science, there was another, quite large element to it as well. In addition to many native peoples and local leaders, interaction with renowned professional hunters and land owning families made the safari as much a political and social event, as it was a hunting excursion. Roosevelt wrote a detailed account of the adventure in the book "African Game Trails", where he describes the excitement of the chase, the people he met, and the flora and fauna he collected in the name of science.
Roosevelt certified William Howard Taft to be a genuine "progressive" in 1908, when Roosevelt pushed through the nomination of his Secretary of War for the Presidency. Taft easily defeated three-time candidate William Jennings Bryan. Taft had 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 a less adroit politician than Roosevelt and lacked the energy and personal magnetism, not to mention 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 severe tensions inside the Republican Party—pitting producers (manufacturers and farmers) against merchants and consumers—he stopped talking about the issue. Taft ignored the risks and tackled the tariff boldly, on the one hand 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 Aldrich and big business, Taft took credit, calling it the best tariff ever. Again he had managed to alienate all sides. While the crisis was building inside the Party, Roosevelt was touring Africa and Europe, so as to allow Taft to be his own man.
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, U.S. 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. The left wing of the Republican Party began agitating against Taft. Senator Robert LaFollette of Wisconsin created the National Progressive Republican League (precursor to the Progressive Party (United States, 1924)) to defeat the power of political bossism at the state level and to replace Taft at the national level. More trouble came when Taft fired Gifford Pinchot, a leading conservationist and close ally of Roosevelt. Pinchot alleged that Taft's Secretary of Interior Richard Ballinger was in league with big timber interests. Conservationists sided with Pinchot, and Taft alienated yet another vocal constituency.
Roosevelt, back from Europe, unexpectedly launched an attack on the federal courts, which deeply upset Taft. Roosevelt was attacking both the judiciary and the deep faith Republicans had in their judges (most of whom had been appointed by McKinley, Roosevelt or Taft.) In the 1910 Congressional elections, Democrats swept to power, and Taft's reelection in 1912 was increasingly in doubt. In 1911, Taft responded with a vigorous stumping tour that allowed him to sign up most of the party leaders long before Roosevelt announced.
Roosevelt, stepping up his attack on judges, carried nine of the states with preferential primaries, LaFollette took two, and Taft only one. The 1912 Primaries represented the first extensive use of the Presidential Primary, a reform achievement of the progressive movement. However, these primary elections, while demonstrating Roosevelt's popularity with the electorate, were in no ways as important as primaries are today. First of all, there were fewer states where the common voter was given a forum to express himself, such as a primary. Many more states selected convention delegates either at party conventions, or in caucuses, which were not as open as today's caucuses. So while the man in the street still adored Roosevelt, most professional Republican politicians were supporting Taft, and they proved difficult to upset in non-primary states.
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." - 1912 Progressive Party Platform, attributed to him and quoted again in his autobiography where he continues "'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 Steel Trust, the Harvester Trust, the Standard Oil Trust, the Tobacco Trust, or any other. ... Ours was the only programme to which they objected, and they supported either Mr. Wilson or Mr. Taft...
While Roosevelt was campaigning in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on October 14, 1912, a saloonkeeper named John Schrank shot him, but the bullet lodged in his chest only after penetrating both his steel eyeglass case and passing through a thick (50 pages) single-folded copy of the speech he was carrying in his jacket. Roosevelt, as an experienced hunter and anatomist, correctly concluded that since he wasn't coughing blood the bullet had not completely penetrated the chest wall to his lung, and so declined suggestions he go to the hospital immediately. Instead, he delivered his scheduled speech with blood seeping into his shirt. He spoke for ninety minutes. His opening comments to the gathered crowd were, "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. Afterwards, probes and X-ray showed that the bullet had traversed three inches (76 mm) of tissue and lodged in Roosevelt's chest muscle but did not penetrate the pleura, and it would be more dangerous to attempt to remove the bullet than to leave it in place. Roosevelt carried it with him until he died.
Due to the bullet wound, Roosevelt was taken off the campaign trail in the final weeks of the race (which ended election day, November 5). Though the other two campaigners stopped their own campaigns in the week Roosevelt was in the hospital, they resumed it once he was released. The overall effect of the shooting was uncertain. Roosevelt for many reasons failed to move enough Republicans in his direction. 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 to Taft's 8 electoral votes. (This meant that Taft became the only incumbent President in history to actually come in third place in an attempt to be re-elected.) But 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. Although he lost, he won more votes than former presidents Martin Van Buren and Millard Fillmore who also ran again and also lost. More important, he pulled so many progressives out of the Republican party that it took on a much more conservative cast for the next generation.
Roosevelt's popular book Through the Brazilian Wilderness 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 all of the scientific discovery, scenic tropical vistas and exotic flora, fauna and wild life experienced on the expedition. A friend, Father John Augustine Zahm, had searched for new adventures and found them in the forests of South America. After a briefing of several of his own expeditions, he convinced Roosevelt to commit to 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. 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 Rio Roosevelt (Rio Teodoro today, 640 km long) in honor of the former President. Roosevelt's crew consisted of his 24-year-old son Kermit, Colonel Cândido Rondon, a naturalist sent by the American Museum of Natural History named George K. Cherrie, Brazilian Lieutenant Joao Lyra, team physician Dr. José Antonio Cajazeira, and sixteen highly skilled paddlers (called camaradas in Portuguese). The initial expedition started, probably unwisely, on December 9, 1913, at the height of the rainy season. The trip down the River of Doubt started on February 27, 1914.
During the trip down the river, Roosevelt contracted malaria and a serious infection resulting from a minor leg wound. These illnesses so weakened Roosevelt that, by six weeks into the expedition, he had to be attended day and night by the expedition's physician, Dr. Cajazeira, and his son, Kermit. By this time, Roosevelt considered his own condition a threat to the survival of the others. At one point, Kermit had to talk him out of his wish to be left behind so as not to slow down the expedition, now with only a few weeks rations left. Roosevelt was having chest pains when he tried to walk, his temperature soared to 103 °F (39 °C), and at times he was delirious. He had lost over fifty pounds (20 kg). Without the constant support of his son, Kermit, Dr. Cajazeira, and the continued leadership of Colonel Rondon, Roosevelt would likely have perished. Despite his concern for Roosevelt, Rondon had been slowing down the pace of the expedition by his dedication to his own map-making and other geographical goals that demanded regular stops to fix the expedition's position via sun-based survey.
Upon his return to New York, friends and family were startled by Roosevelt's physical appearance and fatigue. Roosevelt wrote to a friend that the trip had cut his life short by ten years. He might not have really known just how accurate that analysis would prove to be, because the effects of the South America expedition had so greatly weakened him that they significantly contributed to his declining health. For the rest of his life, he would be plagued by flareups of malaria and leg inflammations so severe that they would require hospitalization.
When Roosevelt had recovered enough of his strength, he found that he had a new battle on his hands. In professional circles, there was doubt about his claims of having discovered and navigated a completely uncharted river over 625 miles (1,000 km) long. Roosevelt would have to defend himself and win international recognition of the expedition's newly-named Rio Roosevelt. Toward this end, Roosevelt went to Washington, D.C., and spoke at a standing-room-only convention to defend his claims. His official report and its defense silenced the critics, and he was able to triumphantly return to his home in Oyster Bay.
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 son Quentin, a daring pilot with the American forces in France, was shot down behind German lines in 1918. Quentin was his youngest son and probably his favorite. It is said the death of his son distressed him so much that Roosevelt never recovered from his loss.
Despite his debilitating diseases, Roosevelt remained active to the end of his life. He was an enthusiastic proponent of the Scouting movement. The Boy Scouts of America gave him the title of Chief Scout Citizen, the only person to hold such title. One early Scout leader said, "The two things that gave Scouting great impetus and made it very popular were the uniform and Teddy Roosevelt's jingoism.
On January 6, 1919, Roosevelt died in his sleep at Oyster Bay of a coronary embolism, preceded by a 2 1/2-month illness described as inflammatory rheumatism, and was buried in nearby Youngs Memorial Cemetery. Upon receiving word of his death, his son, Archie, telegraphed his siblings simply, "The old lion is dead. Woodrow Wilson's vice president at the time Thomas R. Marshall said of his death "Death had to take Roosevelt sleeping, for if he had been awake, there would have been a fight.
Roosevelt intensely disliked being called "Teddy," and was quick to point out this fact to those who used the nickname, though it would become widely used by newspapers during his political career. He attended the Madison Square Presbyterian Church until the age of 16. Later in life, when Roosevelt lived at Oyster Bay he attended an Episcopal church with his wife. While in Washington he attended services at Grace Reformed Church. As President he firmly believed in the separation of church and state and thought it unwise to have In God We Trust on currency, because he thought it sacrilegious to put the name of the Deity on something so common as money. He was also a Freemason, and regularly attended the Matinecock Lodge's meetings. He once said that "One of the things that so greatly attracted me to Masonry that I hailed the chance of becoming a Mason was that it really did act up to what we, as a government, are pledged to namely to treat each man on his merit as a man.
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 a week, a practice he regularly continued as President until one blow detached his left retina, leaving him blind in that eye (a fact not made public until many years later). Thereafter, he practiced jujutsu and continued his habit of skinny-dipping in the Potomac River during winter.
He was an enthusiastic singlestick player and, according to Harper's Weekly, in 1905 showed up at a White House reception with his arm bandaged after a bout with General Leonard Wood. Roosevelt was also an avid reader, reading tens of thousands of books, at a rate of several a day in multiple languages. Along with Thomas Jefferson, Roosevelt is often considered the most well read of any American politician.
For his gallantry at San Juan Hill, Roosevelt's commanders recommended him for the Medal of Honor, but his subsequent telegrams to the War Department complaining about the delays in returning American troops from Cuba doomed his chances. In the late 1990s, Roosevelt's supporters again took up the flag on his behalf and overcame opposition from elements within the U.S. Army and the National Archives. On January 16, 2001, President Bill Clinton awarded Theodore Roosevelt the Medal of Honor posthumously for his charge up San Juan Hill, Cuba, during the Spanish-American War. Roosevelt's eldest son, Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., received the Medal of Honor for heroism at the Battle of Normandy in 1944. The Roosevelts thus became one of only two father-son pairs to receive this honor.
Roosevelt's legacy includes several other important commemorations. Roosevelt was included with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln at the Mount Rushmore Memorial, designed in 1927. The United States Navy named two ships for Roosevelt: the USS Theodore Roosevelt (SSBN-600), a submarine 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.
The Roosevelt Memorial Association (later the Theodore Roosevelt Association) or "TRA", was founded in 1920 to preserve Roosevelt's legacy. The Association preserved TR's birthplace, "Sagamore Hill" home, papers, and video film.
Among the schools, neighborhoods, and streets named in Roosevelt's honor are Roosevelt High School in Seattle, Washington, the surrounding Roosevelt neighborhood, the district's main arterial, Roosevelt Way N.E., and Roosevelt Middle School in Eugene, Oregon.
Overall, 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. However, he has been criticized for his interventionist and imperialist approach to nations he considered "uncivilized". Even so, history and legend have been kind to him. His friend, historian Henry Adams, proclaimed, "Roosevelt, more than any other living man ....showed the singular primitive quality that belongs to ultimate matter the quality that mediaeval theology assigned to God he was pure act." Historians typically rank Roosevelt among the top five presidents.
The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles is named after him.
As a charismatic President often considered larger than life, Roosevelt has appeared in numerous fiction books, television shows, films, and other media of popular culture. Roosevelt was played by Robin Williams in the box office hit Night at the Museum (2006) and its upcoming sequel Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian.
Filmmaker John Milius also directed two films in which Roosevelt was a central character: The Wind and the Lion (1975) in which he was played by Brian Keith; and Rough Riders (1997) in which he was played by Tom Berenger. Keith's performance is widely considered to be the definitive screen depiction of Roosevelt.
Roosevelt's lasting popular legacy, however, is the stuffed toy bears—teddy bears—named after him following an incident on a hunting trip in 1902. Roosevelt famously refused to kill a captured black bear simply for the sake of making a kill. Bears and later bear cubs became closely associated with Roosevelt in political cartoons thereafter.
On June 26, 2006, Roosevelt, once again, made 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."
The Washington Nationals major league baseball team has a fan tradition called the Presidents Race. In it four caricatures of presidents Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt race against each other. A running gag has been Theodore Roosevelt's inability to win a single Presidents Race.
Roosevelt, referred to therein as "T.R." or "Rovevelt", was a recurring character in Don Rosa's The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck. Making his first appearance in The Buckaroo of the Badlands as a rancher who taught Scrooge the glory and value of hard work and square deals, he much later returned in The Invader of Fort Duckburg and The Sharpie of the Culebra Cut, then as the President of the U.S.