10 Interesting Facts About Theodore Roosevelt 

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Theodore Roosevelt laughing
Theodore Roosevelt, 1910.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Theodore Roosevelt was the 26th President, and previously the 25th Vice-President, of the United States of America. Theodore Roosevelt did not get elected into the Presidential position by traditional means but was instead forced into the role. After sufferings through many trying times, he persevered and became one of the most memorable Presidents in U.S. history. Countless books, movies, and cartoons have documented and highlighted his history; but here are 10 interesting facts about Theodore Roosevelt you may not have known.  

1. Theodore Roosevelt Lost His First Wife and Mother on the Same Day

Theodore Roosevelts mother Martha Bulloch
Martha Bulloch, mother of Theodore Roosevelt
Credit: Wikimedia Commons// Public Domain

Theodore Roosevelt was born in 1858 into a wealthy New York City family. Growing up, he was a very frail and sickly child with frequent asthma attacks. Theodore adopted a rigorous training schedule and an extensive study program with the help of tutors to eventually graduate from Harvard College in 1880; where he married his first wife Alice Hathaway and started his political career. A few years later tragedy struck when both his mother and wife died on the same day only hours apart. His mother died from typhoid fever and his wife died from a type of kidney disease; sending him into a deep depression.

2. He Started His Political Career Unsuccessfully 

Theodore Roosevelt in 1902
Theodore Roosevelt, circa 1902.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Needing an escape, Theodore Roosevelt halted his political career and went into the Badlands in Dakota to work as a true cowboy. Here he also ended up finding a new wife in 1886 named Edith Carow. After his return from the Badlands, Theodore attempted to resume his political career by running for Mayor of New York; placing third in the election. Not deterred by this failed attempt, he got a job in the U.S Civil Service Commission; then worked his way up the ladder to the position of Assistant Secretary of the U.S Navy in 1897.  

3. He Fought in the Spanish-American War  

Colonel Roosevelt and his Rough Riders at the top of the hill which they captured, Battle of San Juan
Theodore Roosevelt (center) with the Rough Riders regiment during the Spanish–American War, July 1898.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

When the Spanish-American War broke out, Theodore left his position and joined the 1st U.S Calvary Unit known as the Rough Riders. This unit was comprised of soldiers from all walks of life, and soon became known as an elite company. The Rough Riders were an eccentric group of soldiers that showed no fear and received considerable publicity for their exploits. The most notable achievement was the battle of San Juan Ridge where Theodore led a charge up the San Juan Hill to secure victory. He became a War Hero for his actions during the war and used that title to further his political career.

4. Theodore Roosevelt Was Youngest President in US History

Theodore Roosevelt in an automobile holding a hat in Washington, DC in 1914.
Theodore Roosevelt in Washington, D.C, 26 May 1914.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Theodore Roosevelt was greeted with enthusiastic support after the war and was elected as Governor of New York in 1989. As Governor, Theodore led many reforms to regulate corporations and remove corrupt officials. Party bosses like Thomas Platt and Mark Hanna did not care for this and colluded to get Theodore out of office by naming him as William McKinley’s running mate for president. William McKinley ended up winning the election in 1900, and Theodore Roosevelt became the 25th Vice President of the United States. A few months later McKinley fell victim to an assassination attempt and Roosevelt, at the age of 42, became the youngest president in U.S history.

5. He Spearheaded the Square Deal Program

Theodore Roosevelt Sitting
Theodore Roosevelt.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Quickly after taking office, Theodore Roosevelt became known as a trust buster. He received this nickname for the actions he took against large industrial combinations, otherwise known as trusts. Roosevelt fought these large industrial combinations by reviving the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 with the Square Deal program mitigated powerful companies from influencing trade and decreasing competition. This plan was successful and Theodore broke up a railroad conglomerate called the Northern Securities Company as well as over forty other companies over the next few years. His work as a trust buster was only a few of his many impressive achievements.

6. Theodore Roosevelt Won the Nobel Peace Prize

Nobel Peace Prize
The Nobel Peace Prize Medal
Credit: ProtoplasmaKid // Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

One of Theodore Roosevelt’s greatest accomplishments was when he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in multiple peace treaties. Theodore helped end the Russo-Japanese War in 1905 by acting as a mediator between Russia and Japan in their dispute over land rights. Eventually, both Russia and Japan compromised with both countries getting only part of what they originally wanted. Although he was given the award, it was not without objections from other countries. Sweden and a few political parties in Norway argued that Roosevelt only focused on war and did not deserve the award.

7. Theodore Roosevelt Survived an Assassination Attempt

Theodore Roosevelt Presidential portrait
President Theodore Roosevelt, circa 1904.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

A few years after winning the Nobel Peace Prize, Theodore Roosevelt wanted to run for president again, but he did not because of a pledge he gave in 1904. Instead, he trusted the Republican nomination to William Taft and took a vacation in Europe and Africa. Once Theodore returned, he discovered that Taft was not honoring the promises he made him, so Roosevelt sought after the Republican nomination again in 1912. He lost the Republican nomination to Taft and instead of giving up, he created the Progressive party, otherwise known as the Bull Moose Party. While campaigning with the Bull Moose party, a fanatic attempted to kill Roosevelt by shooting him in the chest, but he recovered and continued his campaign. Theodore Roosevelt eventually lost the election, and decided to focus on something else he loved; the outdoors.

8. He was a passionate Conservationist

U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt (left) and nature preservationist John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club, on Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park. In the background: Upper and lower Yosemite Falls.
President Theodore Roosevelt (left) and naturalist John Muir (right) on Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park, California, 1906.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Throughout all of Theodore Roosevelt’s life, he has had a passion for nature. At a young age, he kept small animals in his room to study and even kept these animals after they had died to study them further. He chose to live his life as a cowboy to escape from the grief he felt after losing his mother and wife. Roosevelt once described that the wilderness was the driving force behind Americans’ love of liberty and freedom. Wanting to protect the wilderness he loved and valued, Roosevelt designated about 194 million acres of land as national parks to protect them from corporations and founded the Forest Service in 1905 to manage the lands. Roosevelt was honored for his conservationist efforts by having multiple national parks named after him.

9. He has a Popular Children’s Toy Named after Him

Drawing the line in Mississippi, This political cartoon by Clifford Berryman's depicts President Theodore Roosevelt's bear hunting trip to Mississippi. The cartoon gave the 'Teddy' Bear it's name. It was published in the Washington Post in 1902.
Political cartoon by Clifford K Berryman published in 1902 which gave the “Teddy” bear its name.
Credit: Clifford K. Berryman // Public Domain

Another way Theodore Roosevelt was honored for his love of nature and wildlife was by having a beloved child’s toy named after him. During a big game hunting trip in 1902, Theodore was struggling to find a bear, so some other hunters found one for Theodore and tied it up to a tree. Roosevelt refused to shoot the bear stating that it was unsportsmanlike to shoot a defenseless animal. News quickly spread of his refusal and inspired a craftsman and his wife to create a stuffed Teddy’s Bear in honor of the President. The Popularity of the stuffed bear spread like wildfire and has continued to this day. Although he refused to shoot the bear, Roosevelt was not becoming a pacifist in his growing age.

10. He was a Supporter of the U.S. Joining World War I

Last photograph taken of Theodore Roosevelt outside his Sagamore Hill house. Photo taken days before his death.
The Last Photograph taken of Theodore Roosevelt just days before his death, January 1919.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Right at the start of World War I, Theodore Roosevelt was an avid supporter of joining the Allies. He even offered to form another volunteer group like the Rough Riders but was turned down. He then used his energy to influence the nation towards preparing the military and joining the war. It took a few years, but Woodrow Wilson finally ended his neutral stance in 1917 and the U.S joined the war. All four of Theodore Roosevelt’s sons volunteered to fight, but only one made it out unscathed. Two of his sons were wounded while fighting and his youngest son was shot down in a dogfight above France and died. After hearing the news, Theodore Roosevelt became depressed and eventually passed away in his sleep in 1919 inside of his house in New York. 

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