Our 26th President: 1901-1909
Just the Facts:
- Teddy bears were named after him.
- He was our youngest president ever – sworn in at age 42.
- His nickname was “TR.” When he was a child, his nickname was “Teedie.”
- He was the first “modern president.”
- He loved the great outdoors and needed strenuous activity each day.
- He is our only president to come from New York City.
- The Roosevelt children had more pets in the White House than any other family.
- Roosevelt was quoted as saying “No President has ever enjoyed himself as much as I” – he loved the job!
Theodore Roosevelt was born into a wealthy family in New York City. He was prone to illness as a child, and his father tried to help him get stronger with a rigorous physical activity program. Teddy remained physically active the rest of his life and grew to love all kinds of sports. He was sent to the best schools, graduating from Harvard and Columbia Universities. He received a law degree and knew that he wanted to go into politics. He also loved history and wrote quite a few books.
Teddy served in the New York state legislature and was elected Governor of New York. He was also police commissioner for New York City and worked hard to change the corruption that was common in politics at the time. He serve in the Spanish American War, as part of the Rough Riders calvary regiment. He became a national hero. In between his public positions, Roosevelt spent some time out west working on a ranch that he owned in the Dakota Territory.
Theodore Roosevelt became president when McKinley died from his gunshot wounds. He was considered a “progressive” and brought a lot of energy and new ideas into the White House. His domestic policies were called the “Square Deal” – he used the power of the government to deal with the problems of the new industrial society. For example, he broke up companies that had become so big they controlled an industry (therefore charged consumers any price they wanted). He also helped to resolve labor strikes. Because of his love for the outdoors, Roosevelt worked hard to grow our national park system, preserving millions of acres and creating our first wildlife refuge.
Roosevelt helped to establish America as a world power. He received a Nobel Peace Prize for his foreign policy work as president – he helped to negotiate peace between Japan and Russia. He was the first statesman to receive the famous honor. His foreign policy motto was “speak softly and carry a big stick” – which meant to use diplomacy that is backed up with our military might. He was also instrumental in building the Panama Canal.
He married Ann when he was 26 years old She died shortly after giving birth to their daughter, Alice. Years later, he married his childhood friend, Edith. They had a happy marriage and had six children (Theodore Jr, Archibald, Alice, Ethel, Kermit and Quentin).
While Edith was First Lady, she oversaw a large renovation of the White House – the West Wing was built and the living quarters were updated. Edith also created the portrait gallery of First Ladies.
The Roosevelt family brought laughter and energy into the White House – kids roller-skated down the hallways, had pillow fights, and played football on the White House lawn. They had so many pets that he White House looked like a zoo – dogs, cats, parrots, guinea pigs, snakes, mice, raccoons, badgers, and a Shetland pony. They even brought their pony, Algonquin, up the elevator and into their brother’s room to cheer him up when he was sick.
“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”
“Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”
“Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.”
“With self-discipline most anything is possible.”
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
“I care not what others think of what I do, but I care very much about what I think of what I do! That is character!”
“It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.”