Theodore Roosevelt was born on October 27, 1858, in New York City to parents Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. , and Martha Bulloch Roosevelt. In 1876 young Roosevelt moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and enrolled in Harvard University. Teddy graduated from Harvard in 1880. Roosevelt and his love Alice married on October 27, 1880. In 1882, Roosevelt also published his first book, A History of the Naval War of 1812, which was an instant success. Roosevelt served three year-long terms as a New York legislator. On February 12, 1884, Roosevelt’s first child, baby Alice, was born. The double loss stunned Roosevelt.
To recover from his loss, Roosevelt left the New York State Assembly after his third term ended in 1884, moving to the Dakota Territory in the West, where he built Elkhorn Ranch and entered the cattle ranching business. While visiting his sister Anna in New York in 1885, Theodore became reacquainted with his childhood sweetheart, Edith Carrow. Upon returning to New York, Roosevelt decided to reenter politics. As commissioner he initiated programs to reform the spoils system, which he found repugnant. As Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Roosevelt worked towards strengthening the U. S.
Navy to prepare for any possible threat, particularly from the Spanish Empire. When war did break out between Spain and the United States in 1898, Roosevelt was ready. Under Roosevelt’s leadership, the Rough Riders defeated the Spanish garrison in the Battle of San Juan Hill in Cuba in July of 1898. With his newfound fame as a war hero, Roosevelt became the obvious candidate for the gubernatorial office of New York in the fall of 1898. Senator Thomas Platt, the boss of New York’s Republican political machine, engineered the election in hopes that Roosevelt would be easily under his control.
To get rid of him, Boss Platt nominated Roosevelt for the Vice Presidency at the Republican national convention of 1900. His scheme worked, and Roosevelt was nominated. With the guidance of Mark Hanna, McKinley and Roosevelt defeated opponent William Jennings Bryan in the Presidential election of 1900. Roosevelt’s Vice Presidential duties were not taxing, especially since he only served a six-month term as Vice President. On September 6, 1901, President McKinley was assassinated, instantly making Theodore Roosevelt President of the United States.
Roosevelt’s tenure as President was not unlike the rest of his political career; he was a true Progressive and reformer. Roosevelt hated the growing plutocracy in the nation and aimed many of his programs at reducing their power. The fall of these trusts encouraged the Roosevelt administrations to file a total of forty-three lawsuits against the trusts. Roosevelt was also an ardent conservationist. Roosevelt was no less active in foreign policy. A strong advocate of imperialism, he supported the annexation of Puerto Rico and the Philippine Islands and the Open Door Policy in China during McKinley’s Presidency.
President Roosevelt was infamous for his foreign policy style of coercing other countries to act as he desired. In 1904 Roosevelt issued the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine which declared the United States the sole protector and policeman of the Western Hemisphere. Roosevelt also used the Big Stick when he tricked Colombia out of Panama and began building the Panama Canal in 1903. To uphold George Washington’s precedent of serving only two terms as President (Roosevelt had been reelected in 1904), Roosevelt refused to serve a third term.
After leaving office, Roosevelt left to hunt big game on an African safari and to deliver speeches throughout the capitols of Europe. Roosevelt returned from his travels to find his Progressive reformers alienated by many of Taft’s policies. Taft and Roosevelt split the Republican Party in the 1912 elections. When Taft eventually received the official party nomination, Roosevelt and his allies deserted to form the Progressive Party, often called the Bull Moose Party. Roosevelt nearly died shortly before the election when a crazed gunman shot him in the chest during a speech.
Fortunately, Roosevelt survived and continued the campaign. He and Taft ran against Democrat Woodrow Wilson who won easily against a week reform party and a shattered Republican Party. When World War I broke out in Europe in 1914, Theodore Roosevelt advocated joining England and France immediately to fight against Germany. When war was eventually declared, the old Rough Rider colonel volunteered to ride again and create a new volunteer Army regiment to fight in Europe; however, Wilson did not accept his proposal. When Theodore’s son, Quentin, died in 1918 while serving in France, he was utterly crushed and lost his fighting spirit.