*** President Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919)

Theodore Roosevelt
Figure 1.--Theodore was called "Teedie". As a boy and not very robust. His father helped him with a body-building program. We are not sure how old he is here, perhapas about 9 years old which would mean it was taken in 1867. He is wearing a dark cut-away jacket with piping.

American statesman, author, and editor, the 24th President of the United States. He was the first significant president of the 20th century. Roosevelt was elected vice-president in 1900 and became president upon the assassination of President McKinley in 1901. He established the key principle of an active Federal Government with a responsibility to intervene in the in the economy to ensure the welfare of the common man--leading some historians to call him the first modern president. His daughter referred to his presidency as "a short bright morning". Roosevelt was born in New York City. His first marriage ended sadly in the death of his wife. Their only child Alice (1884-1980) is a case study on her own. The President once said that a President can manage the country or manage Alice, but it was impossible to do both at the same time. His second family included: Theodore Jr. (1887-1944), Kermit (1889-1943), Ethel (1891-1977), Archibald (1894-1979), and Quintin (1897-1918).


Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., often called "Thee" or "Teedie" by his family to distinguish him from his father, was a seventh generation Roosevelt of Dutch blood. Klaes Martenszen van Rosenvelt, a farmer, was one of the early settlers of New Amsterdam and arrived sometime in 1649. In little time the family would climb the social stratum of New York. One of its own would even be elected to the New York State Senate and help Alexander Hamilton to get the United States Constitution ratified in New York on July 26, 1788. It was Theodore's grandfather, Cornelius Van Schaack Roosevelt, who accumulated much of the family's wealth. During the Panic of 1837 when land prices fell off, he purchased large tracks of land in Manhattan. After the recovery when Manhattan began to boom, so did the Roosevelt fortune. A magazine once listed Cornelius Roosevelt as one of Manhattan's ten genuine millionaires. Theodore's paternal grandmother, a Pennsylvanian, could also trace her roots back to colonial times having forefathers who arrived in the New World with William Penn.


Theodore's parents were Theodore ("Thee" or "Greatheart") and Martha ("Mittie") Bulloch Roosevelt. His father died on February 9, 1878, from stomach cancer at the family's new home, 6 West 57th Street, NYC. Both parents were kind and affectionate.


His father, after whom he was named, came from an old New York Dutch family of moderate wealth and high social position. His son idolized him. Later writing that he "was the finest man I ever knew." Many of Roosevelt's forefathers on both sides of the family fought in the American Revolution and served in the Continental Congress or in local legislatures. These descendants included his great-great-grandfather, Archibald Bulloch, who was the first Revolutionary "President" of Georgia. Even in his tender years, Theodore would feel the effects of the great Civil War for his very family was divided in their loyalties North and South. Although a strong Lincoln Republican, Theodore, Sr. vowed to his wife at the outset of hostilities he would not raise a hand against her family who valiantly fought for the South. Instead, he did what many well-to-do men of the North did and hired a substitute to take his place in the ranks. His reason was that his wife was a southerner. He did not, however, abandon the cause but instead he lobbied for legislation which would enable part of a soldier's pay to be sent home to the family to ease their hardships. Once this legislation was passed, Theodore Sr. volunteered as one of New York's commissioners to get the soldiers to enlist in the program. In the long run he probably did more for the Union cause in this respect than he could have done as a soldier. Theodore, Sr., according to accounts from his oldest daughter Bamie, "always afterward felt that he had done a very wrong thing" in not ignoring every other sentiment and joining the fighting forces. It may have been his father's feelings of failure in this area that drove Theodore, Jr. to so strongly desire to prove himself in battle. Despite his father's failure to fight, Theodore was not denied family stories of gallantry and adventure during the war. Two of his uncles, Admiral James Bulloch and Irvine Bulloch, fought valiantly on the Confederate ship Alabama until it was sunk by the Kearsage. As the story is told, Irvine Bulloch fired the last two shots from the Alabama before it went down. Both men were rescued by a yacht watching the battle and were taken safely to England.


Not all of the wealth and fame in his ancestry rested on the Roosevelt family. His mother, Martha Bulloch ("Mittie"), belonged to a prominent family from Georgia. She was a remarkable woman. Theodore Senior was impressed with her wit and she was very beautiful. They were married before the Civil War. Her family owned slaves and fought for the Confederacy. His mother Martha Bulloch Roosevelt , a true southern belle from a Georgia plantation, was mostly of Scotch descent. Her exquisite beauty may have only been exceeded by her taste in art and fine furniture, which could even strain the Roosevelt purse. By the outset of the war on April 12, 1861, the Roosevelt family was well on its way to having its fourth and final addition. Mittie was expecting her last child Corinne ("Connie") to join in ascending order Elliot, Theodore, Jr., and Anna ("Bamie"). By this time Theodore had noticed that there was disunity in the family when it came to loyalties in the war. As Theodore himself once commented, "My mother, Martha Bulloch, was a sweet, gracious, beautiful Southern woman, a delightful companion and beloved by everybody. She was entirely 'unreconstructed' to the day of her death." Along with her mother and sister Annie who were living in the Roosevelt home, Mittie would often send relief packages, unbeknownst to her husband, to their relatives by way of the Bahamas and then by blockade-runners to Georgia. Theodore, sensing the rift in the family's positions on the war, would at times use it to play on the heartstrings of a family member. He said, "Once when I felt I had been wronged by maternal discipline during the day, I attempted a partial vengeance by praying with loud fervor for the success of Union arms, when we all came to say our prayers before my mother in the evening." [Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt An Autobiography, p. 17] This same ploy was later used against his aunt and she commented she would never forget "the fury in the childish voice when he would plead with Divine Providence to 'grind the Southern troops to powder.'" [Brands, "T.R. The Last Romantic", p. 18.]


There were four children in all:
Anna: "Bamie" or "Bye"
Theodore: The future president was "Teedie" to his family and very close friends. As an adult, however, he hated to be called "Teddy".
Elliott (18??-94): "Ellie" is best known as the father of future First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Theodore after Elliott's death gave Eleanor to Franklin in 1905. Elliott had at first been considered the most promising of the Roosevelt children. But as his brother developed, Elliott almost wilted, unable to compete. He died a drunk, leaving his daughter who adored him, bereft. She of course wasenor the future First Lady.
Corinne: "Coney" wrote a fascinating book about her famous brother. She went on to write and give lectures on political issues. Interestingly this bright, strong-willed woman opposed the vote for women.


Theodore was born in New York City at 28 East 20th Street. His youth differed sharply from that of the log cabin Presidents. He was born in New York City in 1858 into a wealthy family, but he too struggled-- against ill health--and in his triumph became an advocate of the strenuous life. Theodore as a boy in 1865 remembers watching Abraham Lincoln's funeral procession from an upstairs window of his grandfather's house on Union Square, New York City. With him are his younger brother Elliott and a friend named Edith Kermit Carow. Theodore was a weak, sickly boy. He had poor eye sight and suffered from asthma. He was deeply affected by an experience with two bullies. A biographer believes that the experience helps explain his character as a adult. [O'Toole] He worked hard to build his body through an exercise program his father devised. He developed a special love of natural history.


Theodore Roosevelt only rarely attended school, and never attended public school. Because of his sickly nature, much of Theodore's time was spent sitting in a chair in the family library reading. He read adventure stories and books on Natural History, and it was here that he developed a voracious appetite for literature and learning. The children as was the fashion of the day were schooled at home. Aunt Annie, who lived with the family, educated the children. A neighbor girl took her lessons with the Roosevelt children and would one day marry Theodore. They were school by Anna, a southern aunt that came north to live with the family. Theodore's father arranged for his son to be educated by excellent private tutors until it was time to enter college. His father, most important of all, taught Theodore the difference between right and wrong and gave him an unusually strong sense of responsibility. On the return trip from Europe Teedie celebrated his fifteenth birthday. He had aspirations of attending Harvard in the fall of 1876. From his reading, studies, and natural interests he had a strong background in science, history, and geography. He was fluent in French and German due to time spent in a boarding school in Europe. He was, however, weak in the ancient languages of Latin and Greek which were essential and his mathematics skills were not up to par. Driven as he was with every challenge that he took on, Teedie completed three years of college preparation studies in less than 2 years. In his preliminary entrance exams at Harvard in July of 1875, Teedie passed in each of the eight subjects in which he tried. Roosevelt from 1876-1880 attended Harvard College. When Theodore entered Harvard College in 1876, he was healthy in body and mind, except for a trace of snobbishness, which he later lost. He graduated from Harvard, magna cum laude, on June 30, 1880. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. At Harvard, Roosevelt wrote a senior honors thesis and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, the student honor society. He graduated 21st in a class of 158. He probably would have done even better, for his intelligence was high and his memory keen, but he spent much of his time in outside activities. He played tennis and boxed, read hundreds of books not related to his courses, and wrote the first two chapters of a quite good book, The Naval War of 1812, published after he graduated. He also became interested in politics and government. Roosevelt entered Columbia Law School in October 1880; but discontinued study of law in 1882 without taking a degree or becoming a lawyer.

Political Career

Roosevelt joined the Republican Party (1880). He had a legal career. He and served in the New York Assembly (1881-83). He was a member of the United States Civil Service Commission (1889-95), president of the police board of New York City (1895-97) and Assistant Secretary of the Navy (1897-98).

Police Commissioner (1895-97)

Perhaps Roosevelt's most fascinating political position before becoming president was a stint as police commission of New York City. Here the straight-laced Roosevelt took on vice and sin in America's largest city. It is an episode worthy of a Hollywood film. New York City was in the 1890s America's largest city and its undisputed financial, manufacturing, publishing, and entertainment capital. And some of the entertainment was far from the legitimate theater. New York had some 40,000 prostitutes to meet the entertainment needs of every class of male resident. There were also casinos and every kind of all night drinking establishments. Some of these establishments were legal. Many were not. Reformers demanded action to clean up the city. The police taking in lucrative bribes were hardly anxious to cooperate. Enter the righteous, idealistic young Roosevelt, determined to clean up the rollicking city. He immediately started to close brothels, gambling establishments, and late-night saloons. The result was a rollicking 2 years. The police were astonished by their new boss. Roosevelt being Roosevelt, he was not content with staying behind his desk issuing orders. He took to the streets of New York to personally take on vice. One author writes, "Roosevelt, in a kind of racing tiptoe, sped across the street reached the policeman, and tapped him roughly on the shoulder, sternly saying, 'Officer, give me that beer.' the startled blue coat, in mid gulp, spritzed a geyser of foam and looked at the squat bespectacled man accosting him. Just then, a hand emerged from inside the bar, yanked the glass, and slammed the door shut. The patrolman took one look at Roosevelt, teeth and spectacles gleaming in the moon light ... and sprinted off without saying a word." [Zacks] Roosevelt unlike previous Commissioners made a real effort to clean up the city and convince New Yorkers to turn to more wholesome family entertainment. Sin and vice proved to be a more formidable foe than the Spanish on San Juan Hill. He made some progress, but many New Yorkers turned on him as did Tammany Hall. In the end, sin won and Roosevelt lost.

Assistant-Secretary of the Navy

Military Service

When the Spanish-American War began he organized the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry, popularly known as the "Rough Riders". He was not a young man at the time, bu 40 years old. As as colonel, he led a famous charge under heavy fire up San Juan Hill near Santiago and into American history, His exploits capture the imagination of the American people. He was one of the most conspicuous American heroes of the war.

Back to Politics

Mustered out in the summer of 1898, he was nominated by the Republican Party and elected Governor of New York by an 18,079 plurality. His progressive administration angered many in his own party. His political opponents in New York in an effort to get him out of New York politics helped him get the Vice Presidential nomination in 1900 which meant an almost automatic election. He assumed the presidency When President McKinley was assassinated in 1901. This came as a shock to conservative elements in the Republican Party which though they had shelved the progressive Roosevelt's political career.

Election of 1900

The 1900 election was a rematch between President McKinley and former Congressman William Jennings Bryan. Bryan had an unimpressive political history. He had served two terms in Congress (the second with a narrow victory) and had been defeated in a senate race. McKinley has soundly defeated Bryan in 1896, but Bryan with his oratorical skills retained control over the Democratic Party. He had traveled the country giving speeches in support of Democratic candidates. While Bryan inveighed against imperialism, McKinley quietly stood for "the full dinner pail." The election was important because New York Governor Theodore Roosevelt obtained the Republican vice presidential election--largely because Republican Party stalwart Mark Hannah and New York Senator Conklin wanted him out of New York. The election was also notable because Bryan had begun his campaign within weeks of losing the 1896 election. Bryan and his wife and political confident, Mary, published an impassioned account of their losing campaign. The title, The First Battle left no doubt how Bryan viewed politics and his plans for 1900. Their book proved to be a run-away best seller. Thousand of people wrote to Bryan. Mary and his brother made a list of the correspondents to build an index card (the principal data organizing system before computers) list of supporters throughout the country. Bryan began approaching important figures in the state Democratic organization in 1897. The outcome was another stunning defeat for Bryan. The Democrats were becoming a largely sectional party. Bryan carried a few Western states, but only the solid South voted strongly for Bryan. This was true in most post-Civil war elections, but rarely had a Democratic candidate carried so few states outside the South.


Theodore Roosevelt has been called the first modern president because of his willingness to use the power of the presidency to intervene in the economy to promote the general good. American history, with a few exceptions, was until Roosevelt dominated by Congress. Roosevelt's was an activist and his view of the presidency was that he could act as long as it was not prohibited by the Constitution or law. He saw his most powerful tool as what he called the "bully pulpit". He achieved a range of accomplishments, but is probably best known for trust busting and building the Panama Canal. Also important but often less noted is major expansion of the U.S. Navy.

First term

Roosevelt initially followed McKinley's policies of supporting the trust legislation plans and the movement for reciprocal trade treaties. Notable in Roosevelt's first term were his personal mediation in the anthracite coal strike (1902); the securing of rights and territory for the construction of the Panama Canal (following his recognition of Panama as a republic) (1903); legislation identified with him dealt with the revision of the country's financial system; the expansion of the Navy; and the establishment of a permanent Census Bureau and a Department of Commerce and Labor. Roosevelt is probably known more than anything else for "trust busting". Some historians see this as a major example of presidential leadership. [Beschloss] Breaking up the large conglomerates was popular with the public at large, but important elements in the Republican Party saw it as inappropriate government intervention in the economy. The effort was actually begun by President McKinley who created the U.S. Industrial Commission on Trusts. They publicly interrogated Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Charles M. Schwab, and others who had created industrial giants that were seen as restricting competition. President Roosevelt seized on the Commission's report and initiated a program of trust busting. He manage to dissolve 44 trusts during his two terms. Although much criticized, his successor President Taft dissolved even more. Roosevelt began a major naval building program, a continuation of his efforts as Assistant Secretary of the Navy. America when Roosevelt became president already had a creditable fleet--but it was the only about the world's fifth largest fleet. By the time that Roosevelt retired from the presidency, America had supplanted Germany as the world's second most important naval power. Only the British Royal Navy had a more powerful fleet. This was a major shift in the balance of power that went relatively unnoticed at the time, even in Germany.

Election of 1904

President Theodore Roosevelt was enormously popular and had no opposition at at the Republican convention (June 1904). The Democrats at their convention nominated Alton Parker of New York on the first ballot. The two nominee did not have major policy differences to contest on the major issues. The election thus turned largely on personality. And here few candidates could hold a candle to the larger-than-life Rough Rider. Roosevelt was elected President on his own in 1904 by a majority of nearly 2 million votes, the largest heretofore accorded a candidate. Parker failed to carry a single state outside the South. The Electoral College vote was 336 to 140. Despite the festering conditions in the inner cities, Socialist Candidate Eugene Debbs polled only 0.4 million votes. In a foretaste of the future, Prohibition candidate Silan Swallow polled 0.3 million votes. While polling less than 5 percent of the vote, these two campaigns would affect the American political agenda. Measures advocated by both would be adopted by the two major political parties. In the exuberance of victory, President Roosevelt blurted out that the would honor the two term precedence and not seek a third term. Edith knew right away that this was a serious mistake.

Second term

Roosevelt was re-elected President in 1904 by a majority of nearly 2 million votes, the largest heretofore accorded a candidate. In the exuberance of victory he stated that he would honor the two term precedence and not seek a third term. Edith knew right away that this was a serious mistake. Roosevelt assumed that his sweeping electoral victory would enable to purse a progressive political agenda. Before his second term had even begun, he had made himself a lame-duck president. This seriously compromised his efforts to push major reforms though a conservative Congress. [Dalton] Roosevelt was the first American to receive a Nobel Prize. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize of $40,000 for his part in bringing to an end the Russo-Japanese War (1905), and used part of the amount in endowing the Foundation for the Promotion of Industrial Peace. He helped to bring about the second Hague Peace Conference, influenced Congress to pass bills directed against unfair discrimination in railway rates and to secure the purity of food products (1906), and in the great panic of 1907 supported the absorption of the Tennessee Coal and Iron Company, which was about to fail, by the United States Steel Corporation.

Third term

Roosevelt declined to be a candidate end of his second term, primarily because of his spur of the moment promise after his 1904 electoral victory. He supported the nomination of his vice president, William Howard Taft with whom he was on friendly terms.

The Press

The Press loved President Roosevelt. He was a larger than life figure that was always good for an interesting story. The press tends to like charismatic figures and Roosevelt was just the kind of figure that appealed to a young, boisterous country. And the President was alert enough to take advantage of this. President McKinley effectively used the press. Roosevelt was a good student and made the White House the center of news every day. He provided both interviews and photo opportunities. He noticed the White House reporters standing outside in the rain. He decided to make a room available for them in the White House. In doing so he invented the presidential press room and briefing. [Rouse] This only further endeared the press to the press. Not all Americas were interested in affairs of state. Here the President had a trump card. It was his large and equally appealing family. The public loved to read about them and their goings on. This of course meant that the press was always nosing about for a good story. Edith was reticent and rather difficult to draw out. But there were always kids about the White house who were easy to talk with and could often come up with a good story about the family. And the two most accessible were Archie and Quentin--the two youngest boys. They were like little secret agents. And they became stars in their own right. They were the two most popular Presidential kids since Willie and Tad Lincoln, although Edith kept them a little more under control.


Theodore Roosevelt perhaps more than any other president symbolized the vitality and energy that Americans like to see in public figures. [Dalton] Only John Kennedy had a comparable public image among contemporaries. Roosevelt also exemplified a spirit of self improvement. He was clearly a romantic at heart. [Brand] Roosevelt even viewed war as a romantic adventure. This was on display during his Cuban adventure. This romanticized of war is surely the most disagreeable aspect of his principles. One biographer sees his romanticism as an element that impeded his ability to bring about needed reforms. Roosevelt had progressive attitudes toward public service, social welfare, and conservation. His romantic yearning for grand gestures and heroic posturing caused him to often dismiss constitutional constraints, causing problems with both the Congress and the courts--both centers of conservatism at the time. [Yarborough]


Roosevelt's philosophy of government was an interesting mixture of the main streams in American political thought, the beliefs first espoused by Jefferson and Hamilton. Roosevelt was a strong believer in aggressive nationalism, a strong military, and the use of executive power. He spoke about the presidency as the Bully Pulpit. [Goodwin] This was a major departure from the 19th century when Congress rather than the presidency (with a few fortunate exceptions) tended to dominate national politics. Roosevelt was also a strong believer in what he called Jeffersonian democracy, although Jacksonian democracy is probably a better description. He strongly promoted primaries, for example, to choose political candidates. He became a leader in the progressive wing of the Republican Party.

Peace Efforts

Most accounts of Roosevelt stress his more belligerent aspects of his foreign policy (the Rough Riders, role in the Spanish American War, building the Navy, creating Panama, and support for entering World War I). It should be remembered that Roosevelt's best known quotation was "Speak softly and carry a big stick". This is in contrast to the other upcoming power--Germany whose Kaiser could not be induced under any circumstances to speak softly. Roosevelt actually played a major role in promoting the peaceful settlement of international conflicts. He helped make America the first country to submit an international issue to the new Hague Court. He helped set up the Central American Court of Justice. His support for the Drago doctrine helped to prevent further European intervention in the Americas. And of course he helped end the Russo-Japanese War.


Alice Hathaway Lee

Roosevelt's first wife, Alice Lee Roosevelt, and his mother died on the same day (1884). It was a huge shock.


Roosevelt spent much of the next 2 years on his ranch in the Badlands of Dakota Territory. There he mastered his sorrow as he lived in the saddle, driving cattle, hunting big game--he even captured an outlaw. On a visit to London, he married Edith Carow (December 1886).

Edith Kermit Carow Roosevelt (1861-1948)

Edith was born in Connecticut in 1861, a few years after Teddy. The family moved to New York and Edith grew up in an old New York brownstone on Union Square--an environment of comfort and tradition. The Roosevelt's were neighbors. Edith knew Theodore virtually from infancy; as a toddler she became a playmate of his younger sister Corinne. Her relationship as a youth with Theodore was more than just that of good friends. Attending Miss Comstock's school, she acquired the proper finishing touch for a young lady of that era. After Theodore's first wife died, putting tragedy behind him, he and Edith were married in London in December 1886. Theodore and Edith settled down in a house on Sagamore Hill, at Oyster Bay, headquarters for a family that added five children in 10 years: Theodore, Kermit, Ethel, Archibald, and Quentin. Throughout Roosevelt's intensely active career, family life remained close and entirely delightful. Mrs. Roosevelt meant to guard the privacy of a family that attracted everyone's interest, and she tried to keep reporters outside her domain. The public, in consequence, heard little of the vigor of her character, her sound judgment, her efficient household management. Edith was perhaps the President's most reliable and certainly most trusted adviser. After Roosevelt's death in 1919, Edith traveled abroad but always returned to Sagamore Hill as her home.

Figure 2.--President Roosevelt is pictured with his family about 1906. Quentin is the only boy not yet in long trousers. Note his Eton collar, double breasted jacket, and patent leather pumps.


The Roosevelt children fascinated America. The press was fascinated by their father and his large nuclear family made for great press copy and photographs just when the technology for printing photographs became available. America soon began to follow the new, energetic president and his young family in the White House. One child Alice resulted from his first marriage and five children (four boys and a girl) from the second marriage. Roosevelt was a wonderful father, the kind of father most boys would have wanted. And unlike many presidential children, thy all turned out well. He was a great father with Alice as well once he regained his footing, although she proved to be a real handful. Edith idealized him.

Family Life

The Roosevelt family was a strong close=knit group. The President took a great interest in his children and was fascinating in watching them grow up. His letters are full of comments about the children and many letters to them. The children for their part adored their parents, except perhaps Alice, and were very close to each other. A fascinating view of Roosevelt family life can be seen in this letter written by the President at Oyster Bay, Aug. 6, 1903.

After the Presidency

Roosevelt could have ran for a third term and almost certainly would have won. He decided, however, to honor the pledge that he had impetuously made. Instead he saw to it that his friend Bill William H. Taft was nominated. There was a spree of almost frenetic activity. The former president in 1909 hunted big game in Africa with Kermit who was not to fond of hunting. The tally has rather the look of a great slaughter. Afterward he presented much of the impressive collection to the National Museum, Washington. His rampant elephant stood for years in the central hall of the National History Museum. When he returned to America he launched an extensive lecture tour of the West. He was, however, unhappy. He missed the presidency and being at the center of events. He also became increasingly estranged from President Taft who he felt had not taken up the progressive cause. He wrote that Taft as president was "indolent, irresolute, dependent, and undone by opposition and criticism--a dooming combination." It is difficult to assess to what extent Roosevelt truly object to Taft's performance as opposed to simply wanting HIS job back.

Another Campaign

Although former President Roosevelt supported President Taft on the Canadian reciprocity measure and stood with him in the Lorimer scandal, Roosevelt became identified with the progressive section of the Republican Party. Taft increasingly alienated the progressives and sided with the conservative wing of the party, although this is sometimes over emphasized. The progressives in 1912 induced Roosevelt, who actually needed little inducement, to become a candidate for the Republican nomination, despite his close relationship with Taft. This surprised many Republicans as they did not think that he would risk his standing in the party by running again. It is difficult to determine just why Roosevelt decided to run. Certainly he missed the office. And he did feel Taft was abandoning the presidency. Perhaps more than anything else, he still wanted to be a great national hero and he looked on the 1912 election as a critical election. Here he was correct, it would later prove to be one of the pivotal elections in American history. [O'Toole] Roosevelt did well in primaries, but only a few states in 1912 had primaries. It was the Party bosses who chose the candidate and Taft was their man. The almost religious zealotry with which Roosevelt conducted his campaign caused some Republicans to believe that he was drinking heavily. Some even questioned his sanity.

Election of 1912

President Taft with the bosses support won the nomination, where-upon Roosevelt who thought he had been treated unfairly, formed the Progressive Party which became known as the Bull Moose Party. The Progressives nominated Roosevelt and California governor Hiram Johnson. Roosevelt was wrong in his depiction of the election as a grave national crisis. Even so it was certainly a critical election. There was massive and growing support for progressive policies. The still male electorate did not want to dismantle the Republican party, but they supported a range of progressive measures. The Democratic candidate, Governor Woodrow Wilson, sensing the national mood led the Democratic Party, which had a strong conservative wing, into the progressive camp. This was possible as long as Wilson did not challenge segregation in the South. And he did not. Wilson himself would be, in modern terms and for good reason, judged a racist. In fact, until the 1912 election the Democratic Party had been the more conservative of the two parties. This shift was begun during the energetic, but ultimately failed, Bryan Campaigns. This was the direction that would be later confirmed by Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal. The Roosevelt candidacy divided the Republican Party in all the states. Roosevelt in 28 states had a majority over Taft. The successful Democratic candidate, Woodrow Wilson, received only a minority of the total popular vote--but won the election. The hapless Taft received only 8 electoral votes--the worst performance of any incumbent president. Wilson almost certainly would not have won the election had Roosevelt's Bull Moose campaign not have divided the Republican vote. He must have realized this. No one has ever determined his calculation. We suspect that his desire to be president again and treatment by the Republican establishment seems to have clouded his political judgement. Many key progressive measures would be enacted into law during the Wilson presidency, a range of actions on child labor, workman's compensation, farm credit, fiscal reform (Federal Reserve Board), tariff reform, stronger anti-monopoly laws, and commercial legislation (Federal Trade Commission). [O'Toole] The election resulted in a major political shift. Not only was the progressive wing of the Democratic Party strengthened, but the progressive wing of the Republican Party strengthened. [Goodwin]


Roosevelt during 1909-14 he was contributing editor to the Outlook. He participated during 1914 in an expedition to Brazil which discovered a new river, the Rio Teodoro. It was a demanding trip. He became sick and almost died. Only his son's presence saved his life. His health was permanently affected.

World War I (1917-18)

At the outbreak of World War I he expressed sympathy with the Allies. He was one of the few American politicians of any stature that advocated American entry into the War. He denounced the neutrality policy of President Wilson, calling Wilson a 'coward' among oter derisive names. The former President denied the opportunity to participate in the World War I effort had to watch his four sons, Theodore Jr. Kermit, Archibald and Quentin, head off to war in his stead. One day T.R. wrote Quentin sadly: "I putter around like the other old frumps, trying to help with the Liberty Loan and Red Cross and such like." Another day word came back to Sagamore Hill that Quentin, a pilot, aged 21 had been shot down over the trenches and killed. The father. grievously afflicted, wrote this tribute to his son: "Only those are fit to live who do not fear to die, and none are fit to die who have shrunk from the joys of life and the duty of life. Both life and death are part of the same Great Adventure."


Roosevelt died unexpectedly in his sleep on January 6, 1919. He was only 60 years old.


Two volumes of his letters, edited by J.B. Bishop, were published in 1920, while in 1921 there appeared My Brother, Theodore Roosevelt, by Mrs. Corinne Roosevelt Robinson. Roosevelt Himself published many books, including The Naval War of 1812 (1882) ; The Winning of the West. (4 vols., 1889 -96); The Rough Riders (1899); Life of Oliver Cromwell (1900); African Game Trails (1910); The New Nationalism (1910); Realizable Ideals (1912) ; Fifty Years of My Life (1913); and A Book Lover's Holiday in the Open (1916); also lectures and various works in collaboration.

The Teddy Bear

Any discussion of Theodore Roosevelt would be incomplete without mentioning that one of the classic children's toy, the "Teddy Bear," is named after him. On one of his hunting trips, a bear was brought to him and tied to a tree so he could shoot it. Roosevelt refused to shoot an animal in that manner. Soon cartoonists were drawing Roosevelt with a bear cub. A toy manufacturer asked and received the President's permission to make stuffed bears and the "Teddy Bear" was born. For years it was one of the few dolls or stuffed toys deemed suitable for boys. To this date in remains a favorite with boys and girls.


Beschloss, Michael. Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America, 1789-1889 (Simon & Schuster, 2007), 430p.

Brand, H.W. The Last Romantic (1997).

Dalton, Kathleen. Theodore Roosevelt: A Strenous Life (Knopf: 2002), 708p.

Goodwin, Doris Kearns. The Bully POulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism (2014), 928p.

Moris, Edmund.

O'Toole, Patricia. When Trumpets Call: Theodore Roosevelt After the White House (Simon & Schuster), 494p.

Rouse, Robert. "Happy Anniversary to the first scheduled presidential press conference - 93 years young!" American Chronicle (March 15, 2006).

Yarborough, Jean.

Zacks, Richard. Island of Vice: Theodore Roosevelt's Doomed Quest to Clean up Sin Loving New York (2012), 448p.


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