Theodore Roosevelt ( October 27, 1858 - January 6, 1919 ) was the twenty-fifth ( 1901 ) Vice President and the twenty-sixth ( 1901 - 1909 ) President of the United States, succeeding to the office upon the assassination of William McKinley.
Roosevelt was born in New York City, October 27, 1858. He graduated from Harvard University in 1880. He was a member of New York State Assembly from 1882 - 1884. He moved to North Dakota after the death of his wife, where lived on his ranch, then returned to New York City in 1886, where he was appointed by President Benjamin Harrison as a member of the United States Civil Service Commission 1889 - 1895, when he resigned to become president of the New York Board of Police Commissioners. He resigned this position upon his appointment by President William McKinley as Assistant Secretary of the Navy. He held that post from 1897 to 1898, when he resigned to fight in the Spanish-American War.
Roosevelt rose to national prominence during the Spanish-American War as commander of the " Rough Riders ". Before and after the war, he distinguished himself in New York City and State politics, as police commissioner and state governor. He made such a concerted effort to root out corruption and "machine" politics that, it is said, Republican leaders in New York advanced him as a running mate for William McKinley in the 1900 election simply to get rid of him.
William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt won the presidential election of 1900, against William Jennings Bryan and Adlai E. Stevenson . Roosevelt is one of the youngest vice presidents in the nation's history ( John C. Breckinridge is youger than him.)
Roosevelt assumed the presidency after the assassination of McKinley, and then in 1904 ran for office in his own right. Vice presidents had assumed the presidency due to the death of a president in the past, but Roosevelt became the first to win election to a second term on his own. One of his first notable acts as President was to deliver a 20,000-word speech to the House of Representatives on December 3, 1901 asking Congress to curb the power of trusts "within reasonable limits". For this and subsequent actions he has been called a "trust buster". Later in his presidency he gave tacit support to rebels in Panama to form a nation independent from Colombia in order to ensure that the United States could build the Panama Canal. Roosevelt felt that a passage through the Isthmus of Panama was vital to create a strong and cohesive United States Navy. He also worked on conserving environmental wonders and resources, even visiting famed preservationist John Muir in Yosemite Valley in 1903. Showing his interest in foreign policy, he helped mediate an end to the Russo-Japanese War which, in 1906, earned him the Nobel Peace Prize, the first American to win the prize in any of the categories. Then on November 9, 1906 he made history by becoming the first sitting US President to make an official trip outside of the United States when he left for a trip to Panama to inspect the construction progress of the canal there. He was noted for other presidential "firsts", such as: first president to fly in an airplane (together with Arch Hoxsey on October 11, 1910 ), first to submerge in a submarine (aboard the USS Plunger in 1905 ), etc.
In spite of his popularity, he decided not to run for reelection in 1908 (a move that he would later regret for the rest of his life). Instead he backed longtime friend William Howard Taft who he thought would carry on his policies. After Taft won, however, Roosevelt became increasingly annoyed as Taft proved to be his own man with his own policy agenda (which often ran counter to what Roosevelt would have liked).
As a result in 1912, Roosevelt ran for president on the United States Progressive Party ("Bull Moose") ticket, thus undermining popular support for Taft. While campaigning in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he was shot by saloonkeeper John Schrank in a failed assassination attempt on October 14, 1912. With a fresh flesh wound and the bullet still in him, Roosevelt still delivered his scheduled speech. (He was not seriously wounded although his doctors thought it too dangerous to attempt to remove the bullet lodged in his chest and he carried it with him until he died. The gun used was a Colt Police Positive revolver in .38 S&W caliber, serial number 58714.) In spite of this he not only lost the race but split the Republican vote, thus ensuring a win by Democrat Woodrow Wilson . Roosevelt disliked Wilson even more than his former friend Taft and ran again in 1916 in an effort to prevent Wilson from being reelected. He lost that election as well.
He died at Oyster Bay, Nassau County, New York on January 6, 1919, and was buried in Young's Memorial Cemetery.
Theodore Roosevelt is depicted fictionally in Gore Vidal 's novel "Empire," Harry Turtledove 's How Few Remain , and the movie The Wind and the Lion written and directed by John Milius.
Theodore Roosevelt assumed the Presidency upon the death of Ohio President William McKinley, a beloved President who prosecuted the Spanish-American War and who launched the trust-busting era when he appointed the U.S. Industrial Commission (of 1898). This Commission, which included distinguished Senators and statesmen, including Andrew L. Harris of Ohio, investigated Rockefeller, Carnegie, Schwab, and other trust and corporate titans of industry. Roosevelt, once he became President, took the advice of the Industrial Commission and became McKinley's trust-buster heir, and ultimately, the most famous 'Trust-buster' in history.
Theodore Roosevelt is considered by many to be the nation's first Conservation President. "There can be nothing in the world more beautiful than the Yosemite, the groves of the giant sequoias and redwoods, the Canyon of the Colorado, the Canyon of the Yellowstone, the Three Tetons; and our people should see to it that they are preserved for their children and their children's children forever, with their majestic beauty all unmarred," he said.
During his presidency, Roosevelt established the United States Forest Service , signed into law the creation of five National Parks, and signed the 1906 Antiquities Act under which he proclaimed 18 national monuments. He also established the first 51 Bird Reserves, 4 Game Preserves, and 150 National Forests . The area of the United States placed under public protection by Theodore Roosevelt totals approximately 230,000,000 acres.
Roosevelt's concern for conservation grew out of his experiences in North Dakota. Roosevelt first came to the badlands in September 1883 on a hunting trip. The 24-year-old Roosevelt was bursting with anticipation about shooting a bison. This feat took him 10 days to accomplish since by the time he arrived the last large herds of bison were gone, having been decimated by hide hunters and disease.
Before returning to New York, just two weeks after he arrived, Roosevelt became interested in the cattle business and entered into a partnership to raise cattle on the Maltese Cross Ranch. Five months later his wife, a Boston heiress named Alice Hathaway Lee, and his mother, Minnie Bulloch Roosevelt, died on the same day. Grief-stricken, Roosevelt decided to leave the East and increase his interests in the cattle business. He returned to North Dakota in 1884 and established the Elkhorn Ranch . (Years later, Roosevelt's childhood friend and second wife, Edith Carow, reportedly told her stepdaughter, Alice Lee Roosevelt , that it was probably a blessing that Roosevelt's first wife had died young, because she would have "bored him to death.")
During his years in North Dakota, Roosevelt thrived on the vigorous outdoor lifestyle and actively participated in the life of a working cowboy. Of this time he said, "I do not believe there ever was any life more attractive to a vigorous young fellow than life on a cattle ranch in those days. It was a fine, healthy life, too; it taught a man self-reliance, hardihood, and the value of instant decision...I enjoyed the life to the full." This was an important time in his development, and in fact, he once remarked that, "I never would have been President if it had not been for my experiences in North Dakota." Roosevelt actively ranched in the badlands until 1887 but maintained ranching interest in the area until 1898.
Whenever he managed to spend time in North Dakota, Roosevelt became more and more alarmed by the damage that was being done to the land and its wildlife. He witnessed the virtual destruction of some big game species, such as bison and bighorn sheep . Overgrazing destroyed the grasslands and with them the habitats for small mammals and songbirds. Conservation increasingly became one of his major concerns. "We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune."
Today, Roosevelt's dedication to conservation is remembered with a national park that bears his name in the colorful North Dakota badlands. Theodore Roosevelt National Park is home to a variety of plants and animals, including bison, prairie dogs, and elk.
Teddy bears are named after him. His nickname was Teddy, and toy bear manufactures took to naming them after him because once on a hunting trip he refused to kill a bear cub.
On March 23, 1909, shortly after the end of his second term as President, Roosevelt left New York for a post-presidency safari in Africa . The trip was sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution and National Geographic Society and received world-wide media attention.