👼 Set your curiosity free with richer, more connected information.

Theodore Roosevelt

26th president of the United States

Top 10 Theodore Roosevelt related articles

Theodore Roosevelt
Roosevelt around 1904
26th President of the United States
In office
September 14, 1901 – March 4, 1909
Vice PresidentNone (1901–1905)[a]
Charles W. Fairbanks
(1905–1909)
Preceded byWilliam McKinley
Succeeded byWilliam Howard Taft
25th Vice President of the United States
In office
March 4, 1901 – September 14, 1901
PresidentWilliam McKinley
Preceded byGarret Hobart
Succeeded byCharles W. Fairbanks
33rd Governor of New York
In office
January 1, 1899 – December 31, 1900
LieutenantTimothy L. Woodruff
Preceded byFrank S. Black
Succeeded byBenjamin Barker Odell Jr.
Assistant Secretary of the Navy
In office
April 19, 1897 – May 10, 1898
PresidentWilliam McKinley
Preceded byWilliam McAdoo
Succeeded byCharles Herbert Allen
President of the New York City Board of Police Commissioners
In office
May 6, 1895 – April 19, 1897[1]
Preceded byJames J. Martin
Succeeded byFrank Moss
Minority Leader of the New York State Assembly
In office
January 1, 1883 – December 31, 1883
Preceded byThomas G. Alvord
Succeeded byFrank Rice
Member of the New York State Assembly
from the 21st district
In office
January 1, 1882 – December 31, 1884
Preceded byWilliam J. Trimble
Succeeded byHenry A. Barnum
Personal details
Born
Theodore Roosevelt Jr.

(1858-10-27)October 27, 1858
Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S.
DiedJanuary 6, 1919(1919-01-06) (aged 60)
Oyster Bay, New York, U.S.
Resting placeYoungs Memorial Cemetery, Oyster Bay, New York, U.S.
Political partyRepublican (1880–1911, 1916–1919)
Other political
affiliations
Progressive "Bull Moose" (1912–1916)
Spouse(s)
RelationsRoosevelt family
Children
ParentsTheodore Roosevelt Sr.
Martha Stewart Bulloch
EducationHarvard University (AB)
Profession
  • Author
  • conservationist
  • explorer
  • historian
  • naturalist
  • police commissioner
  • politician
  • soldier
  • sportsman
Civilian awards Nobel Peace Prize (1906)
Signature
Military service
Branch/service New York Army National Guard
Years of service1882–1886, 1898
RankColonel
Commands1st United States Volunteer Cavalry
Battles/warsSpanish–American War
 • Battle of Las Guasimas
 • Battle of San Juan Hill
Military awards Medal of Honor
(posthumously; 2001)

Theodore Roosevelt Jr. (/ˈrzəvɛlt/ ROH-zə-velt;[b] October 27, 1858 – January 6, 1919), often referred to as Teddy Roosevelt or his initials T. R., was an American statesman, politician, conservationist, naturalist, and writer who served as the 26th president of the United States from 1901 to 1909. He served as the 25th vice president from March to September 1901 and as the 33rd governor of New York from 1899 to 1900. Roosevelt emerged as a leader of the Republican Party and became a driving force for the anti-trust policy while supporting Progressive Era policies in the early 20th century. His face is depicted on Mount Rushmore alongside George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln.

Roosevelt was a sickly child with debilitating asthma, but he overcame his health problems by embracing a strenuous lifestyle, as well as growing out of his asthma naturally in his young adult years. He integrated his exuberant personality, a vast range of interests and world-famous achievements into a "cowboy" persona defined by robust masculinity. He was home-schooled and began a lifelong naturalist avocation before attending Harvard College. His book The Naval War of 1812 (1882) established his reputation as a learned historian and as a popular writer. Upon entering politics, he became the leader of the reform faction of Republicans in New York's state legislature. His wife and his mother both died in rapid succession, and he escaped to a cattle ranch in the Dakotas. He served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy under President William McKinley, but he resigned from that post to lead the Rough Riders during the Spanish–American War, returning a war hero. He was elected governor of New York in 1898. After Vice President Garret Hobart died in 1899, the New York state party leadership convinced McKinley to accept Roosevelt as his running mate in the 1900 election. Roosevelt campaigned vigorously, and the McKinley–Roosevelt ticket won a landslide victory based on a platform of peace, prosperity, and conservation.

Roosevelt took office as vice president in March 1901 and assumed the presidency at age 42 after McKinley was assassinated the following September. He remains the youngest person to become President of the United States. Roosevelt was a leader of the progressive movement, and he championed his "Square Deal" domestic policies, promising the average citizen fairness, breaking of trusts, regulation of railroads, and pure food and drugs. He made conservation a top priority and established many new national parks, forests, and monuments intended to preserve the nation's natural resources. In foreign policy, he focused on Central America where he began construction of the Panama Canal. He expanded the Navy and sent the Great White Fleet on a world tour to project the United States' naval power around the globe. His successful efforts to broker the end of the Russo-Japanese War won him the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize. He avoided controversial tariff and money issues. Roosevelt was elected to a full term in 1904 and continued to promote progressive policies, many of which were passed in Congress. He groomed his close friend William Howard Taft to successfully succeed him in the 1908 presidential election.

Roosevelt grew frustrated with Taft's brand of conservatism and belatedly tried to win the 1912 Republican nomination for president. He failed, walked out, and founded the so-called "Bull Moose" Party which called for wide-ranging progressive reforms. He ran in the 1912 election and the split allowed the Democratic nominee Woodrow Wilson to win the election. Following the defeat, Roosevelt led a two-year expedition to the Amazon basin where he nearly died of tropical disease. During World War I, he criticized Wilson for keeping the country out of the war with Germany, and his offer to lead volunteers to France was rejected. He considered running for president again in 1920, but his health continued to deteriorate and he died in 1919. He is generally ranked in polls of historians and political scientists as one of the five best presidents.[3]

Theodore Roosevelt Intro articles: 37

Early life and family

Theodore Roosevelt at age 11
The Roosevelt coat of arms as displayed on Theodore Roosevelt's bookplate, featuring three roses in a meadow (in reference to the family name, which means "rose field" in Dutch).[4]

Theodore Roosevelt Jr. was born on October 27, 1858, at 28 East 20th Street in Manhattan, New York City.[5] He was the second of four children born to socialite Martha Stewart "Mittie" Bulloch and businessman and philanthropist Theodore Roosevelt Sr. (brother of Robert Roosevelt and James A. Roosevelt, all sons of Cornelius Roosevelt). He had an older sister (Anna, nicknamed "Bamie"), a younger brother (Elliott) and a younger sister (Corinne). Elliott was later the father of First Lady Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of Theodore's distant cousin, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. His paternal grandfather was of Dutch descent;[6] his other ancestry included primarily Scottish and Scots-Irish, English[7] and smaller amounts of German, Welsh and French.[8] Theodore Sr. was the fifth son of businessman Cornelius Van Schaack "C.V.S." Roosevelt and Margaret Barnhill. Theodore's fourth cousin, James Roosevelt I, who was also a businessman, was the father of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Mittie was the younger daughter of Major James Stephens Bulloch and Martha P. "Patsy" Stewart.[9] Through the Van Schaacks, Roosevelt was a descendant of the Schuyler family.[10]

Roosevelt's youth was largely shaped by his poor health and debilitating asthma. He repeatedly experienced sudden nighttime asthma attacks that caused the experience of being smothered to death, which terrified both Theodore and his parents. Doctors had no cure.[11] Nevertheless, he was energetic and mischievously inquisitive.[12] His lifelong interest in zoology began at age seven when he saw a dead seal at a local market; after obtaining the seal's head, Roosevelt and two cousins formed what they called the "Roosevelt Museum of Natural History". Having learned the rudiments of taxidermy, he filled his makeshift museum with animals that he killed or caught; he then studied the animals and prepared them for exhibition. At age nine, he recorded his observation of insects in a paper entitled "The Natural History of Insects".[13]

Roosevelt's father significantly influenced him. His father was a prominent leader in New York's cultural affairs; he helped to found the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and had been especially active in mobilizing support for the Union during the Civil War, even though his in-laws included Confederate leaders. Roosevelt said, "My father, Theodore Roosevelt, was the best man I ever knew. He combined strength and courage with gentleness, tenderness, and great unselfishness. He would not tolerate in us children selfishness or cruelty, idleness, cowardice, or untruthfulness." Family trips abroad, including tours of Europe in 1869 and 1870, and Egypt in 1872, shaped his cosmopolitan perspective.[14] Hiking with his family in the Alps in 1869, Roosevelt found that he could keep pace with his father. He had discovered the significant benefits of physical exertion to minimize his asthma and bolster his spirits.[15] Roosevelt began a heavy regime of exercise. After being manhandled by two older boys on a camping trip, he found a boxing coach to teach him to fight and strengthen his body.[16][17]

6-year-old Theodore and 5-year-old Elliott watch Lincoln's funeral procession from the second-floor window of their grandfather's mansion (at top left, facing the camera), Manhattan, 25 April 1865

A 6-year-old Roosevelt witnessed the funeral procession of Abraham Lincoln from his grandfather's mansion in Union Square, New York City where he was photographed in the window along with his brother Elliott, as confirmed by wife Edith who was also present.[18]

Theodore Roosevelt Early life and family articles: 25

Education

Roosevelt's taxidermy kit[19]

Roosevelt was mostly homeschooled by tutors and his parents. Biographer H. W. Brands argued that "The most obvious drawback to his home schooling was uneven coverage of the various areas of human knowledge".[20] He was solid in geography and bright in history, biology, French, and German; however, he struggled in mathematics and the classical languages. When he entered Harvard College on September 27, 1876, his father advised: "Take care of your morals first, your health next, and finally your studies."[21] His father's sudden death on February 9, 1878, devastated Roosevelt, but he eventually recovered and doubled his activities.[22]

He did well in science, philosophy, and rhetoric courses but continued to struggle in Latin and Greek. He studied biology intently and was already an accomplished naturalist and a published ornithologist. He read prodigiously with an almost photographic memory.[23] While at Harvard, Roosevelt participated in rowing and boxing; he was once runner-up in a Harvard boxing tournament.[24] Roosevelt was a member of the Alpha Delta Phi literary society (later the Fly Club), the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, and the prestigious Porcellian Club; he was also an editor of The Harvard Advocate. In 1880, Roosevelt graduated Phi Beta Kappa (22nd of 177) from Harvard with an A.B. magna cum laude. Biographer Henry Pringle states:

Roosevelt, attempting to analyze his college career and weigh the benefits he had received, felt that he had obtained little from Harvard. He had been depressed by the formalistic treatment of many subjects, by the rigidity, the attention to minutiae that were important in themselves, but which somehow were never linked up with the whole.[25]

After his father's death, Roosevelt had inherited $125,000 (equivalent to $3.3 million in 2019), enough to live comfortably for the rest of his life. Roosevelt gave up his earlier plan of studying natural science and instead decided to attend Columbia Law School, moving back into his family's home in New York City. Roosevelt was an able law student, but he often found law to be irrational. He spent much of his time writing a book on the War of 1812.[26]

Determined to enter politics, Roosevelt began attending meetings at Morton Hall, the 59th Street headquarters of New York's 21st District Republican Association. Though Roosevelt's father had been a prominent member of the Republican Party, the younger Roosevelt made an unorthodox career choice for someone of his class, as most of Roosevelt's peers refrained from becoming too closely involved in politics. Roosevelt found allies in the local Republican Party, and he defeated an incumbent Republican state assemblyman closely tied to the political machine of Senator Roscoe Conkling. After his election victory, Roosevelt decided to drop out of law school, later saying, "I intended to be one of the governing class."[26]

Naval history and strategy

While at Harvard, Roosevelt began a systematic study of the role played by the young United States Navy in the War of 1812.[27][28] Assisted by two uncles, he scrutinized original source materials and official U.S. Navy records, ultimately publishing The Naval War of 1812 in 1882. The book contained drawings of individual and combined ship maneuvers, charts depicting the differences in iron throw weights of cannon shot between rival forces, and analyses of the differences and similarities between British and American leadership down to the ship-to-ship level. Upon release, The Naval War of 1812 was praised for its scholarship and style, and it remains a standard study of the war.[29]

With the publication of The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660–1783 in 1890, Navy Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan was immediately hailed as the world's outstanding naval theorist by the leaders of Europe. Roosevelt paid very close attention to Mahan's emphasis that only a nation with the world's most powerful fleet could dominate the world's oceans, exert its diplomacy to the fullest, and defend its own borders.[30][31] He incorporated Mahan's ideas into his views on naval strategy for the remainder of his career.[32][33]

Theodore Roosevelt Education articles: 19

First marriage and widowerhood

On his 22nd birthday in 1880, Roosevelt married socialite Alice Hathaway Lee.[34][35] Their daughter, Alice Lee Roosevelt, was born on February 12, 1884. Two days after giving birth, Roosevelt's wife died due to an undiagnosed case of kidney failure (called Bright's disease at the time), which had been masked by the pregnancy. In his diary, Roosevelt wrote a large 'X' on the page and then, "The light has gone out of my life." His mother, Mittie, had died of typhoid fever eleven hours earlier at 3:00 a.m., in the same house. Distraught, Roosevelt left baby Alice in the care of his sister Bamie in New York City while he grieved. He assumed custody of his daughter when she was three.[36]

After the death of his wife and mother, Roosevelt focused on his work, specifically by re-energizing a legislative investigation into corruption of the New York City government, which arose from a concurrent bill proposing that power be centralized in the mayor's office.[37] For the rest of his life, he rarely spoke about his wife Alice and did not write about her in his autobiography. While working with Joseph Bucklin Bishop on a biography that included a collection of his letters, Roosevelt did not mention his marriage to Alice nor his second marriage to Edith Kermit Carow.[38]

Theodore Roosevelt First marriage and widowerhood articles: 6

Early political career

State Assemblyman

Roosevelt as New York State Assemblyman, 1883

Roosevelt was a member of the New York State Assembly (New York Co., 21st D.) in 1882, 1883 and 1884. He immediately began making his mark, specifically in corporate corruption issues.[39] He blocked a corrupt effort by financier Jay Gould to lower his taxes. Roosevelt exposed suspected collusion in the matter by Judge Theodore Westbrook, and argued for and received approval for an investigation to proceed, aiming for the impeachment of the judge. The investigation committee rejected impeachment, but Roosevelt had exposed the potential corruption in Albany, and thus assumed a high and positive political profile in multiple New York publications.[40]

Roosevelt's anti-corruption efforts helped him win re-election in 1882 by a margin greater than two-to-one, an achievement made even more impressive by the fact that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Grover Cleveland won Roosevelt's district.[41] With Conkling's Stalwart faction of the Republican Party in disarray following the assassination of President James Garfield, Roosevelt won election as the Republican party leader in the state assembly. He allied with Governor Cleveland to win passage of a civil service reform bill.[42] Roosevelt won re-election a second time, and sought the office of Speaker of the New York State Assembly, but was defeated by Titus Sheard in a 41 to 29 vote of the GOP caucus.[43][44] In his final term, Roosevelt served as Chairman of the Committee on Affairs of Cities; he wrote more bills than any other legislator.[45]

Presidential election of 1884

With numerous presidential hopefuls to choose from, Roosevelt supported Senator George F. Edmunds of Vermont, a colorless reformer. The state GOP preferred the incumbent president, New York City's Chester Arthur, who was known for passing the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act. Arthur, at the time, was suffering from Bright's disease, unknown to the public, and out of duty he did not contest his own nomination. Roosevelt fought hard and succeeded in influencing the Manhattan delegates at the state convention in Utica. He then took control of the state convention, bargaining through the night and outmaneuvering the supporters of Arthur and James G. Blaine; he gained a national reputation as a key person in New York State.[46]

Roosevelt attended the 1884 GOP National Convention in Chicago and gave a speech convincing delegates to nominate African American John R. Lynch, an Edmunds supporter, to be temporary chair. Roosevelt fought alongside the Mugwump reformers; however, Blaine, having gained support from Arthur's and Edmunds's delegates, won the nomination by 541 votes on the fourth ballot. In a crucial moment of his budding political career, Roosevelt resisted the demand of the Mugwumps that he bolt from Blaine. He bragged about his one small success: "We achieved a victory in getting up a combination to beat the Blaine nominee for temporary chairman... To do this needed a mixture of skill, boldness and energy... to get the different factions to come in... to defeat the common foe."[47] He was also impressed by an invitation to speak before an audience of ten thousand, the largest crowd he had addressed up to that date. Having gotten a taste of national politics, Roosevelt felt less aspiration for advocacy on the state level; he then retired to his new "Chimney Butte Ranch" on the Little Missouri River.[48] Roosevelt refused to join other Mugwumps in supporting Grover Cleveland, the governor of New York and the Democratic nominee in the general election. He debated the pros and cons of staying loyal with his political friend, Henry Cabot Lodge. After Blaine won the nomination, Roosevelt had carelessly said that he would give "hearty support to any decent Democrat". He distanced himself from the promise, saying that it had not been meant "for publication".[49] When a reporter asked if he would support Blaine, Roosevelt replied, "That question I decline to answer. It is a subject I do not care to talk about."[50] In the end, he realized that he had to support Blaine to maintain his role in the GOP, and he did so in a press release on July 19.[51] Having lost the support of many reformers, Roosevelt decided to retire from politics and move to North Dakota.[52]

Theodore Roosevelt Early political career articles: 25

Cowboy in Dakota

Theodore Roosevelt as Badlands hunter in 1885. New York studio photo.

Roosevelt first visited the Dakota Territory in 1883 to hunt bison. Exhilarated by the cowboy life, and with the cattle business booming in the territory, Roosevelt invested $14,000 in hopes of becoming a prosperous cattle rancher. For the next several years, he shuttled between his home in New York and his ranch in Dakota.[53]

Following the 1884 presidential election, Roosevelt built a ranch named Elkhorn, which was 35 mi (56 km) north of the boomtown of Medora, North Dakota. Roosevelt learned to ride western style, rope, and hunt on the banks of the Little Missouri. Though he earned the respect of the authentic cowboys, they were not overly impressed.[54] However, he identified with the herdsman of history, a man he said possesses, "few of the emasculated, milk-and-water moralities admired by the pseudo-philanthropists; but he does possess, to a very high degree, the stern, manly qualities that are invaluable to a nation".[55][56] He reoriented, and began writing about frontier life for national magazines; he also published three books – Hunting Trips of a Ranchman, Ranch Life and the Hunting-Trail, and The Wilderness Hunter.[57]

Roosevelt brought his desire to address the common interests of citizens to the West. He successfully led efforts to organize ranchers to address problems of overgrazing and other shared concerns; his work resulted in the formation of the Little Missouri Stockmen's Association. He felt compelled to promote conservation and was able to form the Boone and Crockett Club, whose primary goal was the conservation of large game animals and their habitats.[58] After the uniquely severe US winter of 1886–87 wiped out his herd of cattle and those of his competitors, and with it over half of his $80,000 investment, Roosevelt returned to the East.[59][60] Though his finances suffered from the experience, Roosevelt's time in the West made it impossible to peg him as an ineffectual intellectual, a characterization that could have hampered his political career.[61]

Theodore Roosevelt Cowboy in Dakota articles: 5

Second marriage

Cartoon by Marguerite Martyn of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch portrays Edith Roosevelt keeping people away from the president's room after he was shot in October 1912.

On December 2, 1886, Roosevelt married his childhood and family friend, Edith Kermit Carow.[62] Roosevelt was deeply troubled that his second marriage had taken place so soon after the death of his first wife, and he faced resistance from his sisters.[63] Nonetheless, the couple married at St George's, Hanover Square in London, England.[64] The couple had five children: Theodore "Ted" III in 1887, Kermit in 1889, Ethel in 1891, Archibald in 1894, and Quentin in 1897. The couple also raised Roosevelt's daughter from his first marriage, Alice, who often clashed with her stepmother.[65]

Theodore Roosevelt Second marriage articles: 6

Reentering public life

Upon Roosevelt's return to New York in 1886, Republican leaders quickly approached him about running for mayor of New York City in the city's mayoral election. Roosevelt accepted the nomination despite having little hope of winning the race against United Labor Party candidate Henry George and Democratic candidate Abram Hewitt.[66] Roosevelt campaigned hard for the position, but Hewitt won with 41% (90,552 votes), taking the votes of many Republicans who feared George's radical policies.[67][66] George was held to 31% (68,110 votes), and Roosevelt took third place with 27% (60,435 votes).[67] Fearing that his political career might never recover, Roosevelt turned his attention to writing The Winning of the West, a historical work tracking the westward movement of Americans; the book was a great success for Roosevelt, earning favorable reviews and selling numerous copies.[68]

Civil Service Commission

After Benjamin Harrison unexpectedly defeated Blaine for the presidential nomination at the 1888 Republican National Convention, Roosevelt gave stump speeches in the Midwest in support of Harrison.[69] On the insistence of Henry Cabot Lodge, President Harrison appointed Roosevelt to the United States Civil Service Commission, where he served until 1895.[70] While many of his predecessors had approached the office as a sinecure,[71] Roosevelt vigorously fought the spoilsmen and demanded enforcement of civil service laws.[72] The New York Sun then described Roosevelt as "irrepressible, belligerent, and enthusiastic".[73] Roosevelt frequently clashed with Postmaster General John Wanamaker, who handed out numerous patronage positions to Harrison supporters, and Roosevelt's attempt to force out several postal workers damaged Harrison politically.[74] Despite Roosevelt's support for Harrison's reelection bid in the presidential election of 1892, the eventual winner, Grover Cleveland, reappointed him to the same post.[75] Roosevelt's close friend and biographer, Joseph Bucklin Bishop, described his assault on the spoils system:

The very citadel of spoils politics, the hitherto impregnable fortress that had existed unshaken since it was erected on the foundation laid by Andrew Jackson, was tottering to its fall under the assaults of this audacious and irrepressible young man... Whatever may have been the feelings of the (fellow Republican party) President (Harrison)—and there is little doubt that he had no idea when he appointed Roosevelt that he would prove to be so veritable a bull in a china shop—he refused to remove him and stood by him firmly till the end of his term.[73]

New York City Police Commissioner

In 1894, a group of reform Republicans approached Roosevelt about running for Mayor of New York again; he declined, mostly due to his wife's resistance to being removed from the Washington social set. Soon after he declined, he realized that he had missed an opportunity to reinvigorate a dormant political career. He retreated to the Dakotas for a time; his wife Edith regretted her role in the decision and vowed that there would be no repeat of it.[76]

NYC Police Commissioner Roosevelt walks the beat with journalist Jacob Riis in 1894—Illustration from Riis's autobiography.

William Lafayette Strong, a reform-minded Republican, won the 1894 mayoral election and offered Roosevelt a position on the board of the New York City Police Commissioners.[69] Roosevelt became president of the board of commissioners and radically reformed the police force. Roosevelt implemented regular inspections of firearms and annual physical exams, appointed recruits based on their physical and mental qualifications rather than political affiliation, established Meritorious Service Medals, and closed corrupt police hostelries. During his tenure, a Municipal Lodging House was established by the Board of Charities, and Roosevelt required officers to register with the Board; he also had telephones installed in station houses.[77]

In 1894, Roosevelt met Jacob Riis, the muckraking Evening Sun newspaper journalist who was opening the eyes of New Yorkers to the terrible conditions of the city's millions of poor immigrants with such books as How the Other Half Lives. Riis described how his book affected Roosevelt:

When Roosevelt read [my] book, he came... No one ever helped as he did. For two years we were brothers in (New York City's crime-ridden) Mulberry Street. When he left I had seen its golden age... There is very little ease where Theodore Roosevelt leads, as we all of us found out. The lawbreaker found it out who predicted scornfully that he would "knuckle down to politics the way they all did", and lived to respect him, though he swore at him, as the one of them all who was stronger than pull... that was what made the age golden, that for the first time a moral purpose came into the street. In the light of it everything was transformed.[78]

Roosevelt made a habit of walking officers' beats late at night and early in the morning to make sure that they were on duty.[79] He made a concerted effort to uniformly enforce New York's Sunday closing law; in this, he ran up against boss Tom Platt as well as Tammany Hall—he was notified that the Police Commission was being legislated out of existence. His crackdowns led to protests and demonstrations. Invited to one large demonstration, not only did he surprisingly accept, he delighted in the insults, caricatures and lampoons directed at him, and earned some surprising good will.[80] Roosevelt chose to defer rather than split with his party.[81] As Governor of New York State, he would later sign an act replacing the Police Commission with a single Police Commissioner.[82]

Theodore Roosevelt Reentering public life articles: 24

Emergence as a national figure

Assistant Secretary of the Navy

The Asiatic Squadron destroying the Spanish fleet in the Battle of Manila Bay on May 1, 1898.

In the 1896 presidential election, Roosevelt backed Speaker of the House Thomas Brackett Reed for the Republican nomination, but William McKinley won the nomination and defeated William Jennings Bryan in the general election.[83] Roosevelt opposed Bryan's free silver platform, viewing many of Bryan's followers as dangerous fanatics, and Roosevelt gave campaign speeches for McKinley.[84] Urged by Congressman Henry Cabot Lodge, President McKinley appointed Roosevelt as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy in 1897.[85] Secretary of the Navy John D. Long was more concerned about formalities than functions, was in poor health, and left many major decisions to Roosevelt. Influenced by Alfred Thayer Mahan, Roosevelt called for a build-up in the country's naval strength, particularly the construction of battleships.[86] Roosevelt also began pressing his national security views regarding the Pacific and the Caribbean on McKinley, and was particularly adamant that Spain be ejected from Cuba.[87] He explained his priorities to one of the Navy's planners in late 1897:

I would regard war with Spain from two viewpoints: first, the advisability on the grounds both of humanity and self-interest of interfering on behalf of the Cubans, and of taking one more step toward the complete freeing of America from European dominion; second, the benefit done our people by giving them something to think of which is not material gain, and especially the benefit done our military forces by trying both the Navy and Army in actual practice.[88]

On February 15, 1898, USS Maine, an armored cruiser, exploded in the harbor of Havana, Cuba, killing hundreds of crew members. While Roosevelt and many other Americans blamed Spain for the explosion, McKinley sought a diplomatic solution.[89] Without approval from Long or McKinley, Roosevelt sent out orders to several naval vessels, directing them to prepare for war.[89][90] George Dewey, who had received an appointment to lead the Asiatic Squadron with the backing of Roosevelt, later credited his victory at the Battle of Manila Bay to Roosevelt's orders.[91] After finally giving up hope of a peaceful solution, McKinley asked Congress to declare war upon Spain, beginning the Spanish–American War.[92]

War in Cuba

Colonel Theodore Roosevelt

With the beginning of the Spanish–American War in late April 1898, Roosevelt resigned from his post as Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Along with Army Colonel Leonard Wood, he formed the First US Volunteer Cavalry Regiment.[93] His wife and many of his friends begged Roosevelt to remain in his post in Washington, but Roosevelt was determined to see battle. When the newspapers reported the formation of the new regiment, Roosevelt and Wood were flooded with applications from all over the country.[94] Referred to by the press as the "Rough Riders", the regiment was one of many temporary units active only for the duration of the war.[95]

The regiment trained for several weeks in San Antonio, Texas, and in his autobiography, Roosevelt wrote that his prior experience with the New York National Guard had been invaluable, in that it enabled him to immediately begin teaching his men basic soldiering skills.[96] The Rough Riders used some standard issue gear and some of their own design, purchased with gift money. Diversity characterized the regiment, which included Ivy Leaguers, professional and amateur athletes, upscale gentlemen, cowboys, frontiersmen, Native Americans, hunters, miners, prospectors, former soldiers, tradesmen, and sheriffs. The Rough Riders were part of the cavalry division commanded by former Confederate general Joseph Wheeler, which itself was one of three divisions in the V Corps under Lieutenant General William Rufus Shafter. Roosevelt and his men landed in Daiquirí, Cuba, on June 23, 1898, and marched to Siboney. Wheeler sent parts of the 1st and 10th Regular Cavalry on the lower road northwest and sent the "Rough Riders" on the parallel road running along a ridge up from the beach. To throw off his infantry rival, Wheeler left one regiment of his Cavalry Division, the 9th, at Siboney so that he could claim that his move north was only a limited reconnaissance if things went wrong. Roosevelt was promoted to colonel and took command of the regiment when Wood was put in command of the brigade. The Rough Riders had a short, minor skirmish known as the Battle of Las Guasimas; they fought their way through Spanish resistance and, together with the Regulars, forced the Spaniards to abandon their positions.[97]

Colonel Roosevelt and the Rough Riders after capturing Kettle Hill along with members of the 3rd Volunteers and the regular Army black 10th Cavalry

Under his leadership, the Rough Riders became famous for the charge up Kettle Hill on July 1, 1898, while supporting the regulars. Roosevelt had the only horse, and rode back and forth between rifle pits at the forefront of the advance up Kettle Hill, an advance that he urged despite the absence of any orders from superiors. He was forced to walk up the last part of Kettle Hill, because his horse had been entangled in barbed wire. The victories came at a cost of 200 killed and 1,000 wounded.[98]

Roosevelt commented on his role in the battles: "On the day of the big fight I had to ask my men to do a deed that European military writers consider utterly impossible of performance, that is, to attack over open ground an unshaken infantry armed with the best modern repeating rifles behind a formidable system of entrenchments. The only way to get them to do it in the way it had to be done was to lead them myself."[99]

In August, Roosevelt and other officers demanded that the soldiers be returned home. Roosevelt always recalled the Battle of Kettle Hill (part of the San Juan Heights) as "the great day of my life" and "my crowded hour". In 2001, Roosevelt was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions;[100] he had been nominated during the war, but Army officials, annoyed at his grabbing the headlines, blocked it.[101] After returning to civilian life, Roosevelt preferred to be known as "Colonel Roosevelt" or "The Colonel", though "Teddy" remained much more popular with the public, even though Roosevelt openly despised that moniker. Men working closely with Roosevelt customarily called him "Colonel" or "Theodore".[102] Henceforth, political cartoons of Roosevelt usually depicted him in his Rough Rider garb.

Governor of New York

After leaving Cuba in August 1898, the Rough Riders were transported to a camp at Montauk Point, Long Island, where Roosevelt and his men were briefly quarantined due to the War Department's fear of spreading yellow fever.[103] Shortly after Roosevelt's return to the United States, Republican Congressman Lemuel E. Quigg, a lieutenant of party boss Tom Platt, asked Roosevelt to run in the 1898 gubernatorial election. Platt disliked Roosevelt personally, feared that Roosevelt would oppose Platt's interests in office, and was reluctant to propel Roosevelt to the forefront of national politics. However, Platt also needed a strong candidate due to the unpopularity of the incumbent Republican governor, Frank S. Black, and Roosevelt agreed to become the nominee and to try not to "make war" with the Republican establishment once in office.[104] Roosevelt defeated Black in the Republican caucus by a vote of 753 to 218, and faced Democrat Augustus Van Wyck, a well-respected judge, in the general election.[105] Roosevelt campaigned vigorously on his war record, winning the election by a margin of just one percent.[106]

As governor, Roosevelt learned much about ongoing economic issues and political techniques that later proved valuable in his presidency. He was exposed to the problems of trusts, monopolies, labor relations, and conservation. Chessman argues that Roosevelt's program "rested firmly upon the concept of the square deal by a neutral state". The rules for the Square Deal were "honesty in public affairs, an equitable sharing of privilege and responsibility, and subordination of party and local concerns to the interests of the state at large".[107]

By holding twice-daily press conferences—which was an innovation—Roosevelt remained connected with his middle-class political base.[108] Roosevelt successfully pushed the Ford Franchise-Tax bill, which taxed public franchises granted by the state and controlled by corporations, declaring that "a corporation which derives its powers from the State, should pay to the State a just percentage of its earnings as a return for the privileges it enjoys".[109] He rejected "boss" Thomas C. Platt's worries that this approached Bryanite Socialism, explaining that without it, New York voters might get angry and adopt public ownership of streetcar lines and other franchises.[110]

The New York state government affected many interests, and the power to make appointments to policy-making positions was a key role for the governor. Platt insisted that he be consulted on major appointments; Roosevelt appeared to comply, but then made his own decisions. Historians marvel that Roosevelt managed to appoint so many first-rate men with Platt's approval. He even enlisted Platt's help in securing reform, such as in the spring of 1899, when Platt pressured state senators to vote for a civil service bill that the secretary of the Civil Service Reform Association called "superior to any civil service statute heretofore secured in America".[111]

Chessman argues that as governor, Roosevelt developed the principles that shaped his presidency, especially insistence upon the public responsibility of large corporations, publicity as a first remedy for trusts, regulation of railroad rates, mediation of the conflict of capital and labor, conservation of natural resources and protection of the less fortunate members of society.[107] Roosevelt sought to position himself against the excesses of large corporations on the one hand and radical movements on the other.[112]

As the chief executive of the most populous state in the union, Roosevelt was widely considered a potential future presidential candidate, and supporters such as William Allen White encouraged him to run for president.[113] Roosevelt had no interest in challenging McKinley for the Republican nomination in 1900, and was denied his preferred post of Secretary of War. As his term progressed, Roosevelt pondered a 1904 presidential run, but was uncertain about whether he should seek re-election as governor in 1900.[114]

Vice President

In November 1899, Vice President Garret Hobart died of heart failure, leaving an open spot on the 1900 Republican national ticket. Though Henry Cabot Lodge and others urged him to run for vice president in 1900, Roosevelt was reluctant to take the powerless position and issued a public statement saying that he would not accept the nomination.[115] Additionally, Roosevelt was informed by President McKinley and campaign manager Mark Hanna that he was not being considered for the role of vice president due to his actions prior to the Spanish–American War. Eager to be rid of Roosevelt, Platt nonetheless began a newspaper campaign in favor of Roosevelt's nomination for the vice presidency.[116] Roosevelt attended the 1900 Republican National Convention as a state delegate and struck a bargain with Platt: Roosevelt would accept the nomination for vice president if the convention offered it to him, but would otherwise serve another term as governor. Platt asked Pennsylvania party boss Matthew Quay to lead the campaign for Roosevelt's nomination, and Quay outmaneuvered Hanna at the convention to put Roosevelt on the ticket.[117] Roosevelt won the nomination unanimously.[118]

Roosevelt's vice-presidential campaigning proved highly energetic and an equal match for Democratic presidential nominee William Jennings Bryan's famous barnstorming style of campaigning. In a whirlwind campaign that displayed his energy to the public, Roosevelt made 480 stops in 23 states. He denounced the radicalism of Bryan, contrasting it with the heroism of the soldiers and sailors who fought and won the war against Spain. Bryan had strongly supported the war itself, but he denounced the annexation of the Philippines as imperialism, which would spoil America's innocence. Roosevelt countered that it was best for the Filipinos to have stability and the Americans to have a proud place in the world. With the nation basking in peace and prosperity, the voters gave McKinley an even larger victory than that which he had achieved in 1896.[119][120]

After the campaign, Roosevelt took office as vice president in March 1901. The office of vice president was a powerless sinecure and did not suit Roosevelt's aggressive temperament.[121] Roosevelt's six months as vice president were uneventful, and Roosevelt presided over the Senate for a mere four days before it adjourned.[122] On September 2, 1901, Roosevelt first publicized an aphorism that thrilled his supporters at the Minnesota State Fair: "Speak softly and carry a big stick, and you will go far."[123]

Theodore Roosevelt Emergence as a national figure articles: 38