Monday, June 28, 2010
Why I love Theodore Roosevelt
Anybody that knows me, knows that I love Theodore Roosevelt. In my opinion, he is up there with Lincoln, Washington, and the other Roosevelt as greatest President. Why so much love for this guy? Because Theodore Roosevelt knew how to live. He lived everyday like an adventure. He overcame huge obstacles in his life and achieved more than most presidents. Here is a short bio of Roosevelt.
Born in 1858 to a wealthy family, Roosevelt was a very sickly child suffering from severe asthma who could not leave the house often. He spent his early childhood reading about natural history. After being told by his father that if he (Theodore) didn't do something, he would be this way forever. Theodore then started living a strenuous life. He worked out and built his body up until he ultimately was rid of his asthma. He took up boxing and other forms of fighting to keep his active life going. One of his first playmates as a child was a girl named Edith Carow. They had a long friendship that later blossomed into a relationship that unfortunately didn't last long for unknown reasons. Attending Harvard, he became an avid historian, writing a book on the naval history in the War of 1812, that is still used as a textbook today in naval academies. While in college he met Alice Lee whom he was instantly smitten with and the two were shortly married thereafter. The two were married for four years until her death two days after their daughter Alice was born, and on the day of their fourth wedding anniversary from Brights disease. Hours earlier, Roosevelt's mother had passed away from Typhoid fever.
Roosevelt gave his new daughter to his sister and traveled to the Dakotas to deal with his immense grief. In his time on the western frontier, Roosevelt became a deputy sheriff and basically learned how to be a cowboy. Roosevelt would later track down and apprehend a whole gang of thieves and bring them back to justice.
After a severe winter wiped out all his cattle and his 60,000 dollars of investment, he decided to go back home to New York. There he met his old childhood friend Edith Carow, whom he had still had feelings for. After courting her for some time, they were married. They would eventually having five children, one being named Kermit, which by the way is awesome. Roosevelt then became active in politics. He would campaign for New York city mayor, but came in third place. Roosevelt became New York City Police Commissioner where he got rid of the infamous amount of corruption in the city police force. Roosevelt also campaigned for Benjamin Harrison and fought the spoils system. Roosevelt later became Assistant Secretary of the Navy, one of his dreams since he had a strong love for Naval history. Roosevelt left the post when the Spanish-American War broke out and he got together a band of "rough riders." They consisted of cowboys he had known from the Dakotas and various riff-raff. Though Roosevelt did not charge up San Juan Hill, but the hill next to it, he became famous for the supposed exploits of his rough riders. In truth, they had to leave their horses in the U.S., so they weren't really rough riders anymore.
Roosevelt rode the fame to become Governor of New York. Roosevelt was a thorn in many politicians sides since he was seen as an outsider that fought corruption. To get him out of that area of power, the politicians pushed him into the vice-presidency, which they and Roosevelt saw as a dead end job. Only one man realized what could happen when he commented that there was only one bullet between that madman and the presidency. He proved to be right when an anarchist shot then president McKinley.
Theodore Roosevelt was now president. His two terms were marked by reforms in the meat packing industry due to Roosevelt's reading of "The Jungle" by Upton Sinclair, and the creation of the FDA. Roosevelt was known as a trust buster during his terms for his role in breaking up companies that held monopolies that he felt were damaging to the U.S. Roosevelt teamed with naturalist John Muir to set aside more land for national parks. Roosevelt was also a deeply religious man who wanted to get rid of "In God We Trust" on money. Doesn't sound right does it? Well, the reason he didn't want the phrase on there was because he felt that they shouldn't put the Lord's name on something as filthy as money. Roosevelt was the first president to invite an African American into the White House, namely Booker T. Washington. Roosevelt though would be considered, like most people at that time, a racist. He felt that white men were superior than minorities. Also controversial about Roosevelt were his views on imperialism. This actually goes hand in hand with the white supremacy thing. America, being the superior power, should be the kind of police of the frailer countries. This is shown in the Roosevelt Corollary, where Roosevelt told Europe not to bug Latin America about repaying debts. Speaking of Latin America, Roosevelt also had the Panama Canal built. He had to make Panama a country to do it, but he did do it. Roosevelt would be the first president to leave the U.S. after visiting the canal.
Roosevelt, though appearing imperialistic and extremely jingoist, presided over America in the most peaceful time in it's existence. Roosevelt also helped create a treaty between Russia and Japan during the Russo-Japanese War and became the first President to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
Roosevelt was eccentric to say the least. He climbed mountains, traveled through jungles, and fought people. One famous incident was when Roosevelt lost the sight in his left eye after a boxing match. Foreign dignitaries were often confused and left speechless after Roosevelt's tours of the White House and surrounding area led them through lakes and climbing over walls. Roosevelt would walk in a straight line and go over or through anything in the way.
He left the presidency in the hands of Howard Taft. After leaving the presidency, Roosevelt went to Africa and killed a large amount of animals for the Smithsonian. Having found when he got back that Taft had not done things the exact way Roosevelt wanted, Roosevelt tried to get back into the presidency. Taft won the Republican primary after some back door dealings by Republicans to keep the controversial figure out of the White House. Roosevelt decided to start his own party. The Progressive Party, or nicknamed the Bull Moose Party, he ran against Taft and democrat Woodrow Wilson.
In a scenario that speaks of Roosevelt's toughness, Roosevelt was campaigning for the 1912 election when someone pushed through the crowd and shot him in the chest. Seeing that someone had shot the universally loved Theodore Roosevelt, the crowd preceded to tear the man limb from limb before the police interjected. Roosevelt noticed that he was not coughing up blood, so the bullet did not pierce his lungs. Had it not been for the bullet hitting his steel eyeglass case and his 50 page speech in his pocket, he might of died right there. But, he refused to be taken to the hospital and decided to deliver his speech. He got through it, then collapsed and was taken to the hospital. Now that's tough.
Due to the split in the Republican ticket, Wilson won the election. Roosevelt and his third party came in second, being the only time a third party trounced one of the two candidates. Roosevelt later traveled to South America to the River of Doubt, where he almost died from malaria and an infection on his leg. Physically worn from the trip and as a result of his huge and unhealthy appetite, Roosevelt died in 1919 while sleeping of most likely a heart attack.
Was Roosevelt perfect? No. But no president has been. They all have had their odd views and questionable orders. Roosevelt embodied strength, determination, and love for his country and people. He, like Lincoln and Jackson, was a president for the people, someone who had the common people's opinion at heart. I think what we need right now is another Theodore Roosevelt.