Friday, April 18, 2014

The Amazing Theodore Roosevelt

Sarah J. McNeal is a multi-published author of time travel, paranormal, western, contemporary and historical fiction. Her stories may be found at Publishing by Rebecca Vickery and Prairie Rose Publications. Her website:   

                                               THE AMAZING THEODORE ROOSEVELT

There have been quite a few good presidents of the United States, but my favorite is Teddy Roosevelt. I love him and consider him one of my heroes up there with Stephen Hawking, Carl Sagan, Walter Cronkite, Jane Goodall and Louis May Alcott.

He was born a rather sickly child with health issues and asthma on October 17, 1858 in New York City. His father, whom he adored, advised him to box, lift weights and work his intellect. During those early years, Teddy enjoyed ornithology, taxidermy and natural history.
                                                                  (Badlands Hunter)
He graduated Harvard College, magna cum laude, and then attended Columbia Law School. He didn’t stay long in law school, opting to join the New York Assembly representing New York City.
He married Alice Hathaway Lee who died two days after delivering their first child. His wife and his mother died on the same day (February 14, 1884). He was so distraught he left New York for the Dakota Territory for two years. There, he lived as a cowboy and cattle rancher, leaving his infant daughter in the care of his elder sister. I think this part of his life is what I admire about him—flushing out sorrow with hard work. He returned to New York and political life, serving in different positions until he joined the service as Col. Theodore Roosevelt to fight in the Spanish-American War. We all have read his part in leading his men up San Juan Hill in the Battle of San Juan Heights, in 1898.
                                             (Theodore as New York City Assemblyman)

He married his second wife, Edith Kermit (love her last name) soon after his return to New York. He regained custody of his daughter and then had 5 more children with his second wife. He was a devoted father.

Once he returned to political life, his own Republican party, wanted to silence him concerning his progressive ideas and chose him to run in the thankless job as vice president with William McKinley. Well, most of us recall that McKinley was assassinated soon after he took office and “that damn cowboy” as one reporter remarked, became the 26th president of the United States. He won a second term in 1904.Among his greatest achievements in office was his polices geared toward breaking up monopolies, the “Square Deal” under the Sherman Antitrust Act—a domestic program that embraced reform of the American workplace, government regulation of industry and consumer protection, with the overall aim of helping the middle class. Roosevelt had a charismatic personality and impassioned combination of fist pounding and emphatic rhetoric undoubtedly helped in pushing his agenda.

In 1905, Teddy Roosevelt walked his niece, Eleanor Roosevelt, down the aisle (Theodore's brother, Elliott, had died in 1894) during the wedding ceremony for Eleanor and her fifth cousin once removed, Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Around the same time, Roosevelt initiated a massive public relations effort. He bulked up the U.S. Navy and created the "Great White Fleet," sending it on a world tour as a testament to U.S. military power. He also helped expedite completion of the Panama Canal, allowing ships to pass between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in half the time previously required. President Roosevelt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906 for his role in negotiating the end of the Russo-Japanese War. (Roosevelt believed that diplomacy rather than war was the best way to handle international disputes.)
                                                                  (Rough Rider)

Roosevelt's anti-war stance spurred the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, which claims the right to intervene in cases of "wrongdoing by a Latin American Nation." Some critics assert that the doctrine designates the United States as the "policeman" of the western world.

His civil rights record is notable, and he supported desegregation and women's suffrage. He also defended Minnie Cox, who experienced racial discrimination in the South while working as a postmaster, and was the first to entertain an African-American, Booker T. Washington, as a guest at the White House.
Roosevelt has also been deemed the country's first environmentalist president. In 1906, he signed the National Monuments Act, protecting sites like the Grand Canyon and preserving countless wildlife sanctuaries, national forests and federal game reserves. He also made headway with the nation’s infrastructure, instigating 21 federal irrigation projects.

The presidential manse officially became called the White House when Roosevelt had the name emblazoned on his stationery. During his presidential term, the White House—although he hired the most illustrious architects of the time to renovate the decrepit mansion—it also served as a lively playground for the Roosevelts' six children; due in no small part to the president's passion for sports and books, each room of the home was enlivened with activity, from crawl space to library. "Giving the pony a ride in the elevator was but one of many stunts" of the Roosevelt White House, according to memoirs published in 1934 by Ike Hoover, the White House's chief usher.

Roosevelt left office in 1909 and felt he had left the office in good standing with his old friend, Howard Taft. He went on a few adventures including an African safari, but returned home disgruntled over what he felt was weakness in Taft’s presidency and decided to take another run for president under his newly formed “Bull Moose Party”. While Roosevelt was campaigning in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on October 14, 1912, a saloonkeeper shot him, but the bullet lodged in his chest only after penetrating his steel eyeglass case and passing through a thick (50 pages) single-folded copy of the speech he was carrying in his jacket. Roosevelt, decided, since he wasn’t coughing blood, the bullet had not hit his lungs, and he declined suggestions to go to the hospital immediately. He delivered his speech with blood seeping into his shirt. He spoke for 90 minutes. His opening comments to the gathered crowd were, "Ladies and gentlemen, 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, he learned the bullet would be less dangerous if left in place. Roosevelt carried it with him for the rest of his life. The bullet lodged in his chest exacerbated his rheumatoid arthritis and prevented him from doing his daily stint of exercises; Roosevelt would soon become obese. Roosevelt, for many reasons, failed to move enough Republicans in his direction and lost the election.

After his failed attempts at election, he went to South America with his son, Kermit on another adventure to explore and map the Amazon. He suffered a severe wound to his leg in an attempt to keep 2 canoes from crashing on the rocks. He also contracted malaria. Upon his return to New York, he had lost 50 pounds and his health was failing.

Despite his health issues, 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. On the night of January 5, 1919 at 11:00 PM, he experienced breathing problems. He felt better after treatment from his family physician Dr. George W. Faller and went to bed. Theodore's last words were "Please put out that light, James." to his family servant James Amos. Between 4:00 AM and 4:15 AM the next morning, Roosevelt died unexpectedly in his sleep at his home, Sagamore Hill from a blood clot detaching itself from a vein and entering his lungs. Upon receiving word of his death, his son Archie telegraphed his siblings simply, "The old lion is dead." Woodrow Wilson's vice president, Thomas R. Marshall, said that "Death had to take Roosevelt sleeping, for if he had been awake, there would have been a fight." In addition to sisters Corinne and Bamie and his wife Edith, Theodore was survived by five children and eight grandchildren.

The first “teddy bear” was named for Teddy Roosevelt (he hated the nickname Teddy, by the way) and that term still exists today.

Here are a few famous and amusing quotes from Theodore Roosevelt. (Just a note: his was the first presidential voice ever recorded.)

"Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds."
- Theodore Roosevelt, 1901
"Don't hit at all if it is honorable possible to avoid hitting; but never hit soft!"
- Theodore Roosevelt.
"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."
- Theodore Roosevelt.
"When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer 'Present' or 'Not guilty'."
- Theodore Roosevelt.
"When you play, play hard; when you work, don't play at all."
- Theodore Roosevelt.
"Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell 'em, 'Certainly I can!' Then get busy and find out how to do it."
- Theodore Roosevelt
"No man is justified in doing evil on the ground of expediency."
- Theodore Roosevelt, 'The Strenuous Life,' 1900.
"There is a homely old adage which runs: "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far." If the American nation will speak softly, and yet build and keep at a pitch of the highest training a thoroughly efficient navy, the Monroe Doctrine will go far."
- Theodore Roosevelt, Speech in Chicago, 3 Apr. 1903.
"Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing."
- Theodore Roosevelt, Speech in New York, September 7, 1903

                                        (Theodore Roosevelt Memorialized at Mount Rushmore)

Theodore Roosevelt Jr.. (2014). The website. from
All photos are from Wikipedia


  1. Sarah, what a fascinating post! I am most definitely NOT fond of any of the Roosevelts, but Teddy was definitely the best of the bunch. One of my favorite places in the world is the Menger Hotel in San Antonio, and it was in the bar there (now named the Rough Rider Bar) that Teddy raised the first company of Rough Riders in (I believe) 1897. It is just as it was in 1897 - electric lights and modern bar equipment, mostly hidden excepted - and is absolutely fascinating. Having a drink there is just like stepping back in time.

  2. Sarah, what a wonderful profile of Teddy Roosevelt. I almost feel like I've met the man in person. As a human being, Roosevelt was an inspiration, wasn't he? Thanks for sharing his story with us this morning. :-)

  3. I enjoyed this, Sarah. I don't know much about Teddy Roosevelt--my dad really admired him. I did a blog post about two young boys from Indian Territory, the Abernathy brothers, who rode on horseback from I.T. to NYC and then on to Washington and met him. Their father was a U.S. Deputy Marshal here in I.T., and was good friends with Roosevelt, who also came out here to watch the Marshal catch wolves with his bare hands. He was such an interesting guy, and you really gave a great look into his life!

  4. Great post, Sarah! Roosevelt had a very forceful personality, didn't he. Fascinating details of his life!

  5. Sarah, very nice post. Roosevelt was also the Chief of Police for NY and tried very hard to stop corruption there.

  6. Sarah,
    What a great man. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Susan, I love the sound of the bar you described, and that's some nice history you shared, too. Unlike his distant cousin, Franklin, Theodore was a Republican. I thought that was odd that they didn't share political ideals. I loved that he was behind the movement for women's suffrage. The only thing I didn't like about Teddy's ideas was his negative attitude toward Native Americans.
    Thank you so much for coming by today, Susan. I really appreciate it.

  8. Hey Kathleen! Thank you so much for commenting. I liked that Teddy Roosevelt never gave up. He just popped up to the surface of his troubles like the cork on a fishing line. Such resilience. I truly admire that about him.

  9. I remember that story about the two boys, Cheryl. My heart would have been in my throat if I had been their mother until they came home. You can't even feel comfortable letting a boy deliver newspapers these days without worrying that some weirdo will kidnap them.
    Thank you so much for your comments, Cheryl.

  10. Thank you so much for your comment, Lyn. He certainly spoke with confidence according to the research. His is the first presidential voice recorded for posterity. Hard to imagine they could do that back then.

  11. He was very successful and quite the man, wasn't he? Thanks for the re-cap of his amazing accomplishments. I was always intrigued by the Rough Riders. I recall a romance I read years ago about a soldier who was with TR in Cuba (?)and a young woman, a nurse, and somehow they got together. Or maybe it was set in the Everglades--Did Teddy Roosevelt lead a battle there for some reason?
    Anyway, thanks for more about him to admire.

  12. I did read that, Caroline. He was like a jack of all trades. He did just about everything you could imagine. I didn't put everything he did in this post because I didn't want it to end up too big. I'm glad you mentioned that time he spent as a NYC Chief of Police.

  13. Thank you for coming by, Kristy. That's so nice of you.


Thank you for visiting Sweethearts of the West! We are very sad to require comment moderation now due to the actions of a few spam comments. Thank you for your patience.