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Theodore Roosevelt Biography

26th President of the United States

Years Served as President: 1901-1909

Vice President: Charles Warren Fairbanks

Party: Republican

Theodore Roosevelt laughing

Age at Inauguration: 42

Home State: New York

Date of Birth: October 27, 1858

Died: January 6, 1919

Married: Alice Hathaway Lee, Edith Kermit Carow

Children: Alice, Theodore, Ethel, Kermit, Archibald, Quentin

Nickname: Teddy, TR, Colonel, The Trust Buster

What is Theodore Roosevelt known for?

Theodore Roosevelt is known as one of the most famous heroes of the Spanish-American War. He was the leader of the calvary known as “the Rough Riders.”

The Rough Riders
The Rough Riders

As president, Roosevelt was known for fighting against government corruption and breaking up large companies called monopolies.

His most famous quote is, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

Early Life

Theodore Roosevelt was born in 1858 to a wealthy family in New York City. As a young boy, he was nicknamed “Teedie” and later “Teddy.”

Teddy the Wrestler

He was sickly and weak growing up, but he soon began building his strength with activities like weightlifting and gymnastics.

In 1880, Roosevelt graduated from Harvard College. He married Alice Hathaway Lee. The couple would have one child. After getting married, he enrolled at Columbia University Law School.

However, Roosevelt dropped out of Columbia after one year to enter public service. At age 23, he was elected to the New York State Assembly, where he served two terms.

Harvard College
Harvard College

Family Life

In 1884, Roosevelt’s mother and his wife, Alice Hathaway Lee, died on the same day. For the next two years, Roosevelt spent his time on a ranch he owned in the Badlands of the Dakota Territory.

On the ranch, he hunted, drove cattle, and worked as a frontier sheriff while grieving his mother and wife.

cows

Roosevelt eventually returned to New York and married his childhood sweetheart, Edith Kermit Carow. The couple had five children and raised Roosevelt’s daughter from his first marriage, Alice.

Political and Military Career

After remarrying, Roosevelt returned to his budding career in politics. He ran for mayor of New York City in 1886 but didn’t win.

new york statue of liberty

In 1888, he was awarded a job with the U.S. Civil Service Commission by President Benjamin Harrison. He was later reappointed by the next president, Grover Cleveland.

Roosevelt served as the president of the New York City Board of Police Commissioners, and then the assistant secretary of the United States Navy.

When the Spanish-American War started in 1898, Roosevelt became the colonel of the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry, nicknamed “the Rough Riders.”

Roosevelt led the Rough Riders in the famous Battle of San Juan. He returned home as one of the major heroes of the war.

Grover Cleveland bio
Grover Cleveland

With his newfound popularity, Roosevelt was elected the governor of New York. He became known for fighting government corruption and stubbornly standing for his beliefs and opinions.

In 1900, Roosevelt was named the vice-presidential running mate to William McKinley. McKinley and Roosevelt won the election in a landslide.

Presidency

In September of 1901, President McKinley was shot by a man named Leon Czolgosz. McKinley died from his injury eight days later, and the young Roosevelt was sworn in as president.

Harvard College
Leon Czolgosz

Roosevelt was known for his youth, energy, and progressive beliefs. He launched a “Square Deal” domestic program to battle large trusts, or industrial combinations, that restricted trade.

These trusts allowed large corporations to pay low wages and charge high prices. By breaking up these trusts, Roosevelt earned the nickname “The Trust Buster.”

His other presidential accomplishments included:

Signing the National Reclamation Act, dedicated to irrigation projects in the West.

Setting aside about 200 million acres of land for reserves, wildlife refuges, and national forests.

forest

Helping Panama secede from Colombia and beginning construction on the Panama Canal.

Signing the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act to increase safety standards and government regulation of medicine and food.

Transforming the U.S. Navy into a major international force.

Winning the Nobel Peace Prize for leading negotiations to end war between Russia and Japan.

After serving for two terms, Roosevelt retired from the presidency, offering his support to candidate William Howard Taft.

alfred-nobel-facts
Alfred Nobel (Nobel Prize named for him)

After the Presidency

When Roosevelt left office in 1909, he immediately embarked on a 10-month African safari and tour of Europe. He was greeted by adoring crowds all over the world.

After returning to the United States, Roosevelt discovered that Taft had not followed through on his promises of progressive reform. Instead, he was siding with the more conservative members of the Republican Party.

Roosevelt was furious and formed his own party, the Progressive Party. It was popularly nicknamed “the Bull Moose Party,” because Roosevelt once said that he was “as strong as a bull moose.”

bull-bulldozer

All four of Roosevelt’s sons joined the war effort when World War I broke out. His youngest son, Quentin, was shot down and killed while flying in a mission over Germany.

Roosevelt’s health was never quite the same after Quentin’s death. He died in his sleep on January 6, 1919 at the age of 60.

Fun Facts About Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt is still the youngest president in history. He took office at the age of 42 years, 10 months, and 18 days.

During his vice-presidential campaign, Roosevelt spoke in 24 states and traveled by train more than 21,000 miles.

vice president elect

Roosevelt was not the first man to become president because of the death of his predecessor. However, he was the first of these men to win re-election.

After sitting out a term, Roosevelt ran for president again in 1912 (as the Bull Moose Party candidate) but was unsuccessful.

While campaigning in Milwaukee for the 1912 election, Roosevelt was shot in the chest but soon recovered.

Theodore Roosevelt circa 1902
Theodore Roosevelt circa 1902

Despite losing the 1912 election, Roosevelt’s run was the most successful third-party effort in American history.

US Presidents