People Who Kick Buts: With Theodore Roosevelt
It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things.
- Born on October 27, 1858 and passed away on January 6, 1919
- Was the 26th President of the United States of America (1901–1909).
- He is noted for his exuberant personality, range of interests and achievements, and his leadership of the Progressive Movement, as well as his “cowboy” persona and robust masculinity.
- Before becoming President, he held offices at the city, state, and federal levels. Roosevelt’s achievements as a naturalist, explorer, hunter, author, and soldier are as much a part of his fame as any office he held as a politician.
- Roosevelt was 42 years old when sworn in as President of the United States in 1901, making him the youngest president ever; he beat out the youngest elected president, John F. Kennedy, by only one year.
- Roosevelt was also one of only three sitting presidents to have won the Nobel Peace Prize, the other two being Woodrow Wilson and Barack Obama.
- Born into a wealthy family in New York City, Roosevelt was a sickly child who suffered from asthma and stayed at home studying natural history. To compensate for his physical weakness, he embraced a strenuous life. Home-schooled, he became an eager student of nature. He attended Harvard University, where he studied biology, boxed and developed an interest in naval affairs.
- Roosevelt often described his ancestry as “half Irish and half Dutch.” His patrilineal Roosevelt family, colonists of Dutch origin, had been in New York since the mid-17th century. Roosevelt was born into considerable wealth, for the family by the 19th century had grown in wealth, power, and influence from the profits of several businesses, including hardware and plate-glass importing. The family was strongly Democratic in its political affiliation until the mid-1850s, and then joined the new Republican Party.
- Theodore Roosevelt was distantly related by birth to the 32nd president of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (they were fifth cousins), and he was the uncle of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s wife, Eleanor Roosevelt.
- Theodore, Sr., had a tremendous influence on his son, who wrote of him, “My father, Theodore Roosevelt, was the best man I ever knew. He combined strength and courage with gentleness, tenderness, and great unselfishness. He would not tolerate in us children selfishness or cruelty, idleness, cowardice, or untruthfulness.”
- In 1880, Roosevelt married Alice Hathaway Lee (July 29, 1861 – February 14, 1884) of Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. She died young of an undiagnosed case of kidney failure (in those days called Bright’s disease) two days after their infant Alice was born.
Theodore Roosevelt’s mother Mittie died of typhoid fever on the same day, at 3 am, some eleven hours earlier, in the same house.
- After the nearly simultaneous deaths of his mother and wife, Roosevelt left his daughter in the care of his sister, Anna “Bamie/Bye” in New York City. In his diary, he wrote a large ‘X’ on the page and then, “The light has gone out of my life.”
- For the rest of his life, Roosevelt never spoke of his wife Alice publicly or privately and did not write about her in his autobiography. As late as 1919, when Roosevelt was working with Joseph Bucklin Bishop on a biography that included a collection of his letters, Roosevelt did not mention either his first or second marriage, which took place in London.
- On January 6, 1919, Roosevelt died in his sleep at Oyster Bay of a coronary thrombosis (heart attack), preceded by a 2½-month illness described as inflammatory rheumatism, and was buried in nearby Youngs Memorial Cemetery. Upon receiving word of his death, his son Archie telegraphed his siblings simply, “The old lion is dead”.