Ranked #4: We can all thank Roosevelt for the clean water we drink and the safe food we eat. He even imposed regulations on huge corporations so that the economy could become a level playing field for all people in business. He was responsible for protecting much of the land that makes up our national parks, being the conservationist that he was. Fought corruption in government. He was a strong leader that was supported by Americans.
Summary: Roosevelt was fearless, proud, decisive, ambitious and most of all, charming. He loved to tell stories. There is no doubt that when it came to being the center of attention, “Teddy” was right up there with the best of them. In his own time, people described him as the guy who wanted to be “the bride at every wedding” and “the corpse at every funeral.” He seemed to have boundless energy.
Bio: Despite being a Governor of New York, the US Vice President and finally the US President, I think his proudest moment was when he lead the Rough Riders into battle during the Spanish-American War. Especially during the Battle of San Juan Hill. On the stump, he was forceful and confident when speaking to a crowd. He was known to command a room just by simply standing in the middle of one. He was sort of an action figure. Had there been beer commercials in his time, he probably would had been in all of them. He really loved being President.
Roosevelt was a sickly child. However, by sheer will and heavy-duty exercise, he grew into a robust man. He was 5’ 8” and weighed 200 pounds. He had a great barrel chest, thick neck, wide-set blue eyes, a bushy, droopy mustache and a large nose. Roosevelt read a great deal and was known to have a photographic memory. He also loved to ride horse back, play tennis, hike over rough terrain and in winter, skinny-dipped in icy waters. As President, he often played tennis and even boxed with a sparring partner. One time, he got clocked on the left side of his head so hard that it resulted in blindness in one eye. While most sane people would have thought this to be a setback, I think this was the type of thing that motivated him more. One amazing story about Roosevelt was when he was campaigning for President in 1912, while delivering a speech, he got shot in the chest while at the podium. In true Teddy fashion, Roosevelt finished his speech with a bullet 3 inches inside him before seeking any medical attention. According to eye witnesses, he hardly knew he was injured. He was certainly lucky, as the bullet had passed through a 50 page document folded in half and a steel glasses case.
Roosevelt was an interesting mix of conservative and progressive ideals. He was admired by both the left and the right during his time in office. He loved animals, yet took pleasure in hunting them. He was a highly educated man who came from money, yet he sought out the approval of cattlemen and hooligans. He excelled in war, yet was known for making peace. He believed in individualism, yet felt that government was supposed to help people who were underprivileged. One of his biggest accomplishments in foreign affairs was the establishment of the Panama Canal. He was also responsible for making the US Navy one of the largest in the world.
Roosevelt will go down in history as the first modern President of the United States. He was largely responsible for bringing back power to the executive branch that had been slowly eroding since the Lincoln administration. He made his own office. He was in no way going to be led by Congress. Through the sheer force of his personality, he willed as much as he could into law that was possible. He had charisma and knew exactly how to use the media to do his own bidding. He really felt strongly that his first obligation as President was to the people of the United States above everything else. He was always ready for instant action and his mental speed ran faster than most any other person in his time.
Roosevelt died in his sleep at the age of 60 in January 1919. The way things were going, he was likely going to be the winner of the 1920 election. At the time of his death, Woodrow Wilson’s Vice President remarked, “Death had to take him sleeping, for if Roosevelt had been awake there would have been a fight.”
Pros: Strongly believed in separation of church and state. Signed the Pure Food and Drub Act. Established the Department of Commerce and Labor. Set aside 150 million acres of forest to be preserved. First president to invite an African American to the White House, (Booker T. Washington).
Cons: Expanded the Monroe Doctrine to the entire Western Hemisphere. Overthrew the Columbian government in Panama and reinstated a puppet government for American business interests. Built the Panama Canal going way over budget.
Born: October 27, 1858, New York, NY
Died: January 6, 1919 (aged 60) Oyster Bay, NY
Term: September 14, 1901 to March 3, 1909 (two terms)
Political Party: Republican
Religion: Dutch Reformed
Education: Harvard College (graduated 1880)
Marriage: October 27, 1880, to Alice Hathaway Lee (1861–1884), December 2, 1886, to Edith Kermit Carow (1861–1948)
Children: Alice Lee (1884–1980), Theodore (1887–1944), Kermit (1889–1943), Ethel Carow (1891–1977), Archibald Bulloch (1894–1979), Quentin (1897–1918)