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   Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909)

26th President of the United States

Vice President
: Charles Warren Fairbanks (1905-09)

Born: October 27, 1858, New York, New York

Nickname: "TR", "Trust-Buster", "Teddy"

Education: Harvard College (graduated 1880)

Religion: Dutch Reformed

Marriage: October 27, 1880, to Alice Hathaway Lee (1861-1884), December 2, 1886, to Edith Kermit Carow (1861-1948)

Children: Alice Lee Roosevelt (1884-1980), Theodore Roosevelt (1887-1944), Kermit Roosevelt (1889-1943), Ethel Carow Roosevelt (1891-1977), Archibald Bulloch Roosevelt (1894-1979), Quentin Roosevelt (1897-1918)

Career: Author, Lawyer, Public Official

Political Party: Republican

Writings: The Naval War of 1812 (1882), The Winning of the West (1889-96), African Game Trails (1910), Autobiography (1913), America and the World War (1915)

Died: January 6, 1919, Oyster Bay, New York

Buried: Young's Memorial Cemetery, Oyster Bay, New York

Consulting Editor

Biography: Impact and Legacy


Historians rank Theodore Roosevelt high among the Presidents -- usually fifth or sixth, depending on where they place Woodrow Wilson. He is universally judged to have been the first modern President in both his domestic and foreign policy. His most enthusiastic supporters credit him with establishing the basis upon which every President from Franklin D. Roosevelt onward (except perhaps for Ronald Reagan) stood and operated. His presidency made credible the progressive movement by lending the prestige of the White House to welfare legislation, to the regulation of industry by government, and to calls for an informed and responsible constituency not obligated to boss politics. The New Nationalism of his third party, the "Bull Moose" revolt in 1912, launched a drive for protective federal regulation that looked forward to the great progressive movements of the 1930s and the 1960s. Indeed, Roosevelt's progressive platform encompassed nearly every progressive ideal enshrined by the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Fair Deal of Harry S. Truman, the New Frontier of John F. Kennedy, and the Great Society of Lyndon Baines Johnson (with the important exception of civil rights for African Americans).

In foreign policy, Roosevelt's internationalism positioned America as the leader of a western alliance that eventually would engage totalitarian, colonialism (Kaiser's Germany),

  Theodore Roosevelt wearing a white suit. 

fascism (Hitler's Germany), and communism (the cold war) in a struggle for world order. Behind his warlike, "big stick" jingoism and pompous diplomacy stood a foreign policy that emphasized arbitration and world courts over war, the free movement of American goods and capital anywhere in the world, and the link between a powerful and reliable defense (rather than weak agreements and bloodless leagues) and domestic prosperity. His "new imperialism" became the hallmark of American foreign policy in the new century. It was the anvil upon which the United States attempted to forge all of Western Europe in its own image and likeness (a United States of Europe) after World War II.

Roosevelt's critics point out that his commitment to a new world order lowered nonwhites to the status of uncivilized dependents to be disciplined and supervised. Furthermore, his critics argue that his domestic policies assumed that eastern European immigrants, African Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Americans were burdens upon the social fabric rather than equal citizens with equal rights. In this regard, Roosevelt's Victorian elitism and provincial values on race and gender counter balanced his liberal progressivism on the economic front. Indeed, from one perspective his actions in the Philippines and Cuba set the stage -- in the sense of precedents established -- for the tragic and unwinnable wars in Korea and Vietnam fought fifty years after his presidency.

In terms of presidential style, Roosevelt's confident assertion of himself in the public's face, his humor, and his joy for life introduced the factor of "charisma" into the political equation. For example, the story about his refusal to kill a mother bear while hunting because of the small cub at her side launched a national craze for the "Teddy" Bear. The most popular President up to his time, Roosevelt used his enthusiasm to

  Theodore Roosevelt relaxing outdoors. 

win votes, to shape issues, and to mold opinions. He wanted to lead, expected people to follow, and stormed at them when they refused to see the world as he represented it.

He was perhaps the last President who could get away with saying: "I don't know what the people think, I only know what they should think." And no President, with the exceptions of George Washington and Andrew Jackson, had been immortalized as a popular hero while in office. Roosevelt was bigger than life. Henry Adams said of him: "Roosevelt, more than any other living man . . . showed the singular primitive quality that belongs to ultimate matter -- the quality that mediaeval theology assigned to God -- he was pure act." Most Americans thought so, too.



Campaign Poster


Theodore Roosevelt Association


Kunhardt, "Rough Rider"

The Public Papers of Theodore Roosevelt

Roosevelt Selected Bibliography

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last updated on 01/19/2005 - 08:46