On October 27, 1858, in New York Martha Bulloch Roosevelt gave birth to Theodore
Roosevelt, her second child and first son. He was named after his father, Theodore Sr., and was
sometimes called Thee or Teedie as a nickname. He was a seventh generation Roosevelt. As a
child and throughout his lifetime, Theodore suffered from severe asthma, becoming so bad that
they would nearly suffocate him. His father, who refused to have a sickly child, would constantly
carry him around, hoping that Theodore’s lungs would become stronger. Because of this,
Theodore always admired his father that would protect him. He would follow the strenuous
exercise regiments that his father set on him to become stronger. He would do weightlifting,
gymnastics, and any other activity that would give him endurance. Slowly, his asthma decreased
Theodore hardly ever went to school because of his sickly nature, so he was instructed by
his Aunt Annie, that lived with the family. He spent much time reading, and is there where he
became obsessed with natural history, a passion that stayed with him throughout his lifetime. He
would even kill animals and stuff them himself when he was a teenager. Theodore wanted to
attend Harvard in the fall of 1876, but did not have all the preparation necessary. Nevertheless,
he completed three years of college preparation in less than two years. He also passed all of his
preliminary exams. He entered Harvard in late September 1876. During the summer of 1877
Theodore published his first work entitled The Summer Bird of the Adirondacks in Franklin
County, NY. While he was away at college, his father died at the young age of 46 from stomach
cancer. Theodore made it home only hours after his father had died. The loss of his father would
have a profound effect on Theodore as seen later in his life. Yet, he returned to Harvard the
following year, and was during this time that he met Alice Lee. He fell madly in love with, and
After moving to New York, Teddy decided to go into the field of politics. With the help
of Jack Hess and Joe Murray, Roosevelt was elected to his first political office in 1881 as a
representative for the New York Assembly. At the age of 23, he was the youngest man on the
floor. He would not be bound by the political machine and would fight for what he believed in.
He was soon appointed as a member of the Committee of the City. Soon afterwards, his
reputation as a reformer began to build. He introduced four reform bills immediately after
entering office. Because of his strong personality Roosevelt was elected for two more terms. He
introduced a bill that became known as the Roosevelt Bill which wanted to pass more power to
the elected officials such as the mayor. Then on February 12 his first child, Alice was born. But
with the happiness, tragedy was not far behind. On February 14, Roosevelt lost his mother to
typhoid, and within hours, his wife died of Bright’s disease. This completely destroyed
Roosevelt. He never spoke of Alice again, and decided to move to the Badlands of North Dakota.
He left the care of his newborn Alice, under the supervision of Theodore’s sister Bamie.
In North Dakota, Theodore would rebuild himself from his losses, and sort out his
emotions. Because he was able to carry his own weight, Roosevelt won the respect of many
cowboys, that would help him in his future career. He started two cattle ranches, and became a
man of the West. But because he was losing money in the cattle business, Roosevelt returned
When he returned to New York, Roosevelt was offered, the Republican nomination for
Mayor of New York. He accepted although he knew that there was not much chance in him
winning. But through his speeches, he was able to receive much attention. Yet despite all his
work, he did not win. Also during this time Roosevelt had married his childhood friend Edith
Carrow in England on December 2, 1886.
Then in the Presidential campaign of 1888, the Republican nominee, Harrison, needed
somebody that would give speeches to catch the listeners attention. When he won, Roosevelt
hoped for a political appointment as compensation, such as Assistant Secretary of State, but was
only given the job as a Civil Service Commission. But this proved to be a no-win situation for
Roosevelt, because if he did a good job then he would lose favor of his party, but if he did not do
anything then he would receive severe criticism. Then in the election of 1892, the Democratic
candidate Cleveland won, Roosevelt decided to leave his job.
He Took the job as Board of Police Commissioners. He quickly made headlines as he
tried to clean the police department of all its corruption. He would be undercover throughout the
streets catching policemen who were not doing their job. He also bought the standardization of
firearms, and had officers use bicycles. When Senator Platt felt that he would be overtaken by
Roosevelt, he threatened to bring down the police commission. But the elections of McKinley in
1896 Roosevelt was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy. As Assistant Secretary of the
Navy under he fought for a stronger Navy, adding cruisers and battleships. Fearing the danger of
Spanish control of Cuba, Teddy strongly advocated war against Spain; but McKinley was
doubtful of starting the war, waiting for public opinion to lead him what to do. Then when the
US battleship Maine exploded in Havana Harbor, killing 250 Americans, Roosevelt placed the
blame on Spain, and the public was agreeing with it. Left in charge of the Navy for a day while
his boss, Secretary of the Navy John Long, was away because of his health, the hawkish
Assistant Secretary telegrammed squadron commanders in the Pacific and put them on high alert
against Spain’s Pacific fleet–a brazen usurpation of power.
Theodore wanted to start the first Voluntary cavalry regiment that would be sent to Cuba
to fight. Under the direction of Leonard Wood, Theodore chose 1000 men, out of the over
23,000 that applied, to be part of the regiment. Training in San Antonio, the group came to be
known as the Rough Riders. They were one of the first regiments to land in Cuba, and their
greatest victory was the taking over of San Juan Hill, that would later lead them to Santiago.
Their victory made the Rough Riders famous, and made Roosevelt a national hero.
His popularity allowed him to become the candidate for Governor of New York, and he
won by landslide. As Governor, he once again distanced himself from the political machines, the
same ones that got him elected. Senator Platt thought that he could control Roosevelt, since he
did help him keep the Democrats from wining office. But Roosevelt had no intentions of being
his puppet. Platt wanted to find a way to get Roosevelt away from him and decided to do so with
the presidential elections of 1900. McKinley was looking for a running mate, and Platt saw this
as the opportunity to make Roosevelt Vice President, since they really did not do much in
As a vice-presidential candidate in 1900, Roosevelt talked endlessly for his Republican
running mate, William McKinley. He traveled thousands of miles to speak out against Democrat
William Jennings Bryan’s international isolationism and to laud traditional Republican virtues
such as personal responsibility. McKinley won by a landslide.
On September 14, 1901, William McKinley died of bullet wounds inflicted by an
assassin, Theodore Roosevelt suddenly became the nation’s 26th president. For the sake of
national stability, Roosevelt continued McKinley’s conservative policies until early 1902, when
he began a campaign to regulate corporate interests and protect the interest of the average
citizen. Unlike other Presidents felt that he should do anything as long as it helped the people,
unless it was strictly forbidden by the Constitution.
His first major issue was to attack trusts. Especially Northern Securities whose owner, JP
Morgan, was one of the richest men in the world. He convinced Congress to create a Bureau of
Corporations to regulate big business. Morgan condemned the president, not just for what he had
done, for publicly announcing it and without warning. Roosevelt would go on to file suit against
more than 40 major corporations during his presidency, even though he lost most cases.
Roosevelt was also very adamant about building a canal that would link the Pacific to
the Atlantic. In 1903, when negotiations with Colombia for a canal zone lease broke down,
Roosevelt quietly supported a revolution in that country. The US recognized it independence and
Panama rapidly agreed to American terms on a canal zone lease, and the US Army Corps of
Engineers began digging the following year.
Then when Japan went to war with Russia over control of Manchuria and Korea in 1905,
Roosevelt arbitrated the dispute. He secretly agreed to Japanese control of Korea; in return the
Japanese promised to keep their hands off China, Hawaii, and the Philippines. The combatants
laid down their arms, Roosevelt won the Nobel Peace Prize, the first American to win the award,
and the US strengthened its position in Asia and the Pacific.
Once Roosevelt’s popularity was an all-time high during the election of 1904, he publicly
announced that he would not be running again in 1908. This decision would stay with him his
whole life. He won again the Presidency in 1904, and continued doing the same thing. He passed
laws to ensure the safety of food and drugs sold in the American marketplace. He placed
millions of acres of land under federal protection, preserving America’s natural resources. He
regulated interstate commerce and helped laborers to get a fair shake at the negotiating table.
The Hepburn Act gave the government power to set freight rates. The Bureau of Corporations
took action against unscrupulous monopolies. The Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat
Inspection Act ushered in a new era of consumer protections.
After leaving office in 1909, Howard Taft became his predecessor. In order to not have
the press constantly bothering him, he decided to take a year long trip for an African safari with
his son Kermit. The animals he killed, he would send them to the Smithsonian Museum for
display. He also wrote a series of articles that he would sell to lower the cost of his trip. When he
returned in 1910, a greater national figure than when he came back from Spanish American War,
Teddy could not keep his promise. In 1912 he tried to gain the nomination for presidency. But
when the nomination went to Taft, Roosevelt decided to start his own party, the Bull Moose
Party, splitting the party and guaranteeing a Republican defeat. The election quickly became a
two-man race between the popular Roosevelt, running as the Progressive Party candidate and
Woodrow Wilson, the Democrat. Taft, the incumbent Republican President was never in
contention. In the end Wilson won by a landslide.
Yet Roosevelt decided to go on another exploratory trip to South America with Kermit.
But complications arose such as food shortage difficulty managing the boats, and Teddy’s leg
was reinjured and infected. When he returned to the United States, he continued opposing
Wilson for his decisions during World War I. His four sons went to serve in the army and all but
one, Quentin the youngest, returned. By 1918 Roosevelt was suffering from inflammatory
rheumatism, and the infections from his leg. He died in his sleep on January 5, 1919, as people