Teddy Roosevelt’s Beginnings
Teddy Roosevelt came from a prominent socialite family in New York State, and one of two Roosevelts who became U.S. President. Teddy Roosevelt our 26th U.S. President was related to our 32nd U.S. President (Franklin Delano Roosevelt) through family lineage. His niece was Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, FDR’s wife. FDR was also Teddy Roosevelt’s fifth cousin.
The Roosevelt’s lived on Long Island. He was born in 1858, but became a sickly child and hence was home schooled. As a teen-ager he went about gymnastics and weightlifting to improve his health. On his father’s side was a history of Dutch Reformed beliefs, on his mother’s side was a long history of Scottish Presbyterianism. He, himself was raised in the Madison Square Presbyterian Church and became a Christian believer at an early age. The moral and ethical beliefs he acquired from Christianity was to carry him through many trials in his life which would include the death of his mother and wife on the same day.
When he became President, the American people nicknamed him, ‘the preacher of righteousness.’
College Days, Early Days in Politics
Teddy graduated from Harvard College in 1880. In 1882 he was elected to be a New York State Assemblyman and served for two years. In 1884 is when both his mother and first wife died. He was overwhelmed with such grief that he left NY State and traveled to the Dakotas where he hunted game, and did cattle drives on a ranch he owned. Finally, after two years he returned to New York State where he married his childhood sweetheart, Edith. They would raise six children.
He would serve in the federal government, first working for the U.S. Civil Service Commission, and then as assistant secretary of the U.S. Navy. When the Spanish-American war broke out in 1898, he left his Navy post and traveled south to Cuba to head up the ‘Rough Riders’ who became known for winning the Battle of San Juan. Teddy became a war hero, and he used this as his step up in state politics, winning the NY State Governorship in 1898. He served for two years at which time he was put on the national ticket as McKinley’s Vice Presidential candidate. The two of them won in a landslide.
Unfortunately, McKinley was assassinated about 1 year later. Teddy was climbing in the Adirondacks when he was informed of McKinley’s death. At the age of 42, he became the youngest U.S. President we have ever had.
26th U.S. President
As President, he was fiercely independent and believed strongly that government must protect nature and natural resources against the rapacious forces of self-interested avarice. He believed conservation was a great moral issue of his time. The natural resources of the U.S. could not be monopolized for the benefit of the few.
Due to his staunch conservationalism, he added five National Parks, quadrupled the acreage of National Forests, and established the first 51 bird refuges. In so doing, he set aside 200 million acres as natural preserves for eternity.
Teddy was also an astute businessman and mediator. He used these skills to elevate the U.S. as a world power and became the negotiator between the Japanese and Russians to prevent their increasing aggression which had already led to war. This is what led to his receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.
In 1908 he did not run for re-election and his replacement William Howard Taft became President. Teddy meanwhile took off for a world tour beginning in Africa for 10 months. When he returned two years later he realized Taft had not done what he promised so Teddy ran against him in 1912 and they both lost to Woodrow Wilson.
In 1919, Teddy died at the age of 60 at his home on Long Island. When FDR became U.S. President the work of conservation continued with the adding of additional national parks and marking some of them as permanent ‘undeveloped wilderness.’
Questions to Ponder:
- Despite being a sickly child, he didn’t let this stop him from becoming educated. He spent time improving his health through his weightlifting and gymnastics routines. So this gave him strength of character. Can you recall an episode where you have done the same?
- Coming from a high society family such as the Roosevelts were, he could have just laid around in luxury and done nothing with his life. Yet, he didn’t. People around him never believed he would become President. He used his family background, his education, his tenacity for righteousness and morality to make something of his life. Have you used the resources God has given to you to do the same?
- Teddy used the Presidency to become known as the ‘conservationist.’ He fought for setting aside U.S. lands for future generations. What can you do now or in the near future to help forward the cause of conservation of our natural lands?
below is a short video on President Roosevelt: