How much do you know about Teddy Roosevelt?

Published 5:45 pm Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Theodore Roosevelt, also known as Teddy Roosevelt and TR, was born October 27, 1858, New York, New York, and died January 6, 1919, at Oyster Bay, New York. He was the 26th president of the United States (1901–09) and a writer, naturalist, and soldier. He expanded the powers of the presidency and of the federal government in support of the public interest in conflicts between big business and labor and steered the nation toward an active role in world politics, particularly in Europe and Asia. He won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1906 for mediating an end to the Russo-Japanese War (1904–05), and he secured the route and began construction of the Panama Canal (1904–14).

Elected as a Republican to the New York State Assembly at 23, Roosevelt quickly made a name for himself as a foe of corrupt machine politics. In 1884, overcome by grief by the deaths of both his mother and his wife on the same day, he left politics to spend two years on his cattle ranch in the badlands of the Dakota Territory, where he became increasingly concerned about environmental damage to the West and its wildlife. Nonetheless, he did participate as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1884. His attempt to reenter public life in 1886 was unsuccessful; he was defeated in a bid to become mayor of New York City. Roosevelt remained active in politics and again battled corruption as a member of the U.S. Civil Service Commission (1889–95) and as president of the New York City Board of Police Commissioners. Appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy by President William McKinley, he vociferously championed a bigger navy and agitated for war with Spain. When war was declared in 1898, TR resigned his post and organized the 1st Volunteer Cavalry, known as the Rough Riders, who were sent to fight in Cuba. Roosevelt was a brave and well-publicized military leader. The charge of the Rough Riders (on foot) up Kettle Hill during the Battle of Santiago made him the biggest national hero to come out of the Spanish-American War. Ironically, TR rode the only horse in the battle.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt aka FDR, (1933–1945), was a fifth cousin to Theodore.  FDR’s wife, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, was Theodore’s niece. With the advent of World War II, Theodore Roosevelt Jr., son of then President Roosevelt, was initially told that, because of a heart condition and arthritis, he would not participate in the actual D-Day invasion. Roosevelt, armed with only a pistol and a cane – insisted and came ashore with the first wave of troops at Utah Beach, the only general officer to do so. Landing a mile away from his intended location, Roosevelt improvised a route inland after personally reconnoitering the area behind the beach. He would remain on the beach for the rest of the day, directing subsequent waves of troops to their improvised locations.

Ignoring bullets and explosions, Roosevelt remained a calming influence on the apprehensive soldiers who came ashore. In a twist of fate, Roosevelt died of a heart attack one month after D-Day and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. He is buried in the American cemetery near the Normandy beachhead. 

 

Public Domain. Gene Hays is an author and historian with books available at Amazon.com. Email: rghays47@gmail.com.