-Theodore Roosevelt, (1858-1919), was the youngest man ever to become president of the United States. He took office at the age of 42. Roosevelt had been vice president for only six months when President William McKinley was assassinated in September 1901.
-Boyhood and education. Theodore Roosevelt was born in New York City on Oct. 27, 1858. He was the second of the four children of Theodore and Martha Bulloch Roosevelt. "Teedie," as the family called him, was younger than his sister Anna, and older than his brother Elliott and his sister Corinne.
-First marriage. In October 1879, Roosevelt met Alice Hathaway Lee (1861-1884). She was the daughter of a wealthy official of a Boston investment firm. Roosevelt courted Alice during his senior year at Harvard. They were married on his 22nd birthday.
A double tragedy struck on Feb. 14, 1884. Alice Roosevelt died two days after the birth of a daughter, also named Alice (1884-1980). On the same day, Roosevelt's mother died of typhoid fever.
-State legislator. In the fall of 1881, at the age of 23, Roosevelt won election to the New York State Assembly. He wore sideburns and dressed elegantly. The other legislators thought he looked like a "dude." But his intelligence, courage, and energy won their respect. He was reelected twice, in 1882 and 1883.
-Rancher and writer. After the death of his wife and mother in 1884, Roosevelt left politics. He ran two cattle ranches on the Little Missouri River in the Dakota Territory. The hard life and endless activity of a rancher helped him recover from his sorrow. Wearing cowboy clothes, Roosevelt often spent 14 to 16 hours a day in the saddle. He hunted buffalo and other wild animals, tended cattle, and even helped law officers capture a band of outlaws.
-Second marriage. During several trips home from his ranches, Roosevelt had visited a childhood friend, Edith Kermit Carow (1861-1948). They were married on Dec. 2, 1886, and lived in Sagamore Hill, Roosevelt's home in Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York. Edith Roosevelt had a strong influence on her husband. He came to depend on her advice. "Whenever I go against her judgment, I regret it," he said.
-Police commissioner. In 1895, Roosevelt gladly accepted the post of president of the Board of Police Commissioners in New York City.
-Assistant secretary of the Navy. Roosevelt campaigned vigorously for William McKinley, the Republican candidate for president in 1896. McKinley won, and Roosevelt asked him for a government appointment. McKinley did not want this brash young man in Washington, but Roosevelt had powerful support. The president finally made him an assistant secretary of the Navy.
-The Rough Riders. On April 25, 1898, the United States declared war on Spain. Roosevelt immediately resigned as assistant secretary of the Navy so he could fight. Even before resigning, he had started to recruit men for a cavalry regiment. This unit became the First Volunteer Cavalry Regiment. Under Roosevelt's command, it won fame as the Rough Riders. Most of the men were former college athletes and Western cowboys.
On July 1, 1898, American troops attacked a ring of fortified hills surrounding Santiago, Cuba. Colonel Roosevelt led his men in a charge up Kettle Hill, which flanked the Spanish blockhouse on San Juan Hill. He and the Rough Riders became nationally famous. Twenty years later he declared: "San Juan was the great day of my life."
-Governor of New York. The Republicans faced defeat in New York in 1898 because of a scandal over state canal contracts. The state party leader, Senator Thomas C. Platt, did not like Roosevelt. But Platt knew that Roosevelt's reputation might save the Republicans. Roosevelt agreed to run for governor. He won, largely because of his war record.
-Vice president. McKinley's renomination in 1900 seemed certain. Roosevelt had no wish to oppose the president, who he knew had nationwide support. But Roosevelt wondered whether he himself might get the nomination in 1904. As the Republican National Convention drew near, a movement began to nominate him for vice president.
-Roosevelt's first administration (1901-1905) Roosevelt became president just six weeks before his 43rd birthday. He kept all the members of McKinley's Cabinet. He said he would continue McKinley's policies "absolutely unbroken." But Roosevelt had too much originality to follow another person's plans.
-"Trust buster." Many Americans had become worried about the trusts, or large business monopolies. These trusts were increasing rapidly in both number and power. The trusts had increased productivity and had raised the standard of living. But prices had also risen, and the people blamed the trusts. In his first message to Congress, in December 1901, Roosevelt expressed this feeling. "Captains of industry ... have on the whole done great good to our people," he said. But he also pointed to "real and grave evils." Roosevelt recommended that "combination and concentration should be, not prohibited, but supervised and, within reasonable limits, controlled."
-Friend of labor. Roosevelt wanted the government to act justly toward labor unions as well as toward business. Government intervention in labor disputes was not new. But it had usually favored management.
-Foreign policy. Roosevelt believed that the government needed a "big stick," or threat of force, to carry out its foreign policies. He used this policy in relations with Europe and Latin America.
-Conservation. Roosevelt made notable achievements in conservation. He added about 150 million acres (61 million hectares) to the national forests and in 1905 established the United States Forest Service.
-Life in the White House was never dull during Roosevelt's presidency. The Roosevelt children and their friends became known as the "White House Gang." The president sometimes joined in the children's games. One day, he heard that the gang was preparing an "attack" on the White House. He sent a message to the children through the War Department, ordering them to call off the "attack." Once Roosevelt scolded his sons for decorating a portrait of President Andrew Jackson with spitballs. But he allowed the boys to bring their pets, including a pony and snakes, into the White House.
-Election of 1904. During the election campaign, Roosevelt called on the voters to support his "square deal" policies. Parker appealed for an end to what he called "rule of individual caprice" and "usurpation of authority" by the president. Roosevelt won the election by more than 21/2 million popular votes. No earlier president had won by so large a margin.
-Friction with Japan. In 1905, Roosevelt helped end the Russo-Japanese War. He brought representatives of Russia and Japan together in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Then the president served as mediator in the peace talks that led to the Treaty of Portsmouth. In 1906, Roosevelt received the Nobel Peace Prize. He was the first American to win a Nobel Prize.
-A party split developed among the Republicans as Roosevelt neared the end of his presidency. Conservative Republicans put up increased resistance to Roosevelt's progressive policies. Roosevelt fought harder for "political, social, and industrial reform." But during his last year in office, he got little congressional action. His Republican opponents dared to resist him because they believed he would leave office in 1909.
-Later years. After leaving the presidency in March 1909, Roosevelt sailed for Africa to hunt big game. Some conservative congressmen wished "health to the lions." But Roosevelt and his party brought down 296 big-game animals, including 9 lions. When Roosevelt arrived home in June 1910, he found himself the center of national attention. Progressive Republicans felt that Taft had betrayed them. They turned to Roosevelt.
-"Bull Moose" candidate. Roosevelt tried to bring together the progressive and conservative wings of the Republican Party. But he failed. He had become identified too closely with the progressives. In 1912, Roosevelt gave in to pleas that he run for a third term as president. He said that his statement in 1904 had meant not running for a third consecutive term. He won many victories in primary elections. These victories indicated he was the popular choice of the party. But President Taft controlled the party machinery and was renominated by the Republican National Convention. Roosevelt and his followers formed the Progressive Party, or Bull Moose party. The name came from Roosevelt's reply when a reporter asked how he felt. "I feel as strong as a bull moose," he said.
-Death. Roosevelt died unexpectedly of a blood clot in the heart on Jan. 6, 1919. He was buried in Youngs Memorial Cemetery, near Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay, New York. His second wife died in 1948 and was buried beside him.
Gable, John A. "Roosevelt, Theodore." World Book Student. World Book, 2012. Web. 22 Jan. 2012.
Has any president not liked living in the White House?