A Soldier's Story: Colonel Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt Jr.

Colonel Theodore Roosevelt Jr was born on October 27, 1858, in New York City, New York. While young, he had health issues, including severe asthma, which he conquered when he began hiking in the Alps in 1869.   After learning the benefits of exercise, Colonel Roosevelt was an avid fitness buff for the rest of his life.

Another lifelong love of Colonel Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was zoology, and at seven, he began, with cousins, a natural history museum featuring animals he had found or trapped and taxidermied. He also wrote "The Natural History of Insects" at age nine.

He was primarily educated at home until he entered Harvard in September 1876. Graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1880, he also participated in rowing, boxing, Alpha Delta Phi Literary Society, the Delta Kappa Epsilon Fraternity, the Harvard Advocate. In addition, he was a member of the Porcellian Club.

After Harvard, Colonel Theodore Roosevelt began law school at Columbia University, but when he was nominated for state assembly, he became more interested in politics and dropped out.

He served as a New York State Assemblymember in 1882, 1883 & 1884. He also served in the New York National Guard from 1882 to 1886 and wrote, in 1882, "The Naval War of 1812".

In 1884 he tried to secure the Republican nomination for President but was beaten by James Blaine.

Regrouping, Colonel Teddy Roosevelt moved to North Dakota and built a ranch, where he remained until after the Winter of 1886-1887, which devastated most Western farms, also took his herd.

Returning to the East, Colonel Theodore Roosevelt wrote "The Winning of the West" about his ranching experience and unsuccessfully ran for mayor of New York City. Instead, he was appointed by President Harrison to the United States Civil Service Commission, where he remained until William Strong appointed him to the New York City Police Commissioner in 1895.

In 1897, President William McKinley appointed him Assistant Secretary of the Navy. When the USS Maine exploded outside of Havana, Cuba, he ordered the Navy to prepare for war and then, when the Spanish-American War began, promptly resigned. With US Army Colonel Leonard Wood, he formed the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, known as the "Roughriders." After training at San Antonio, Texas, the unit deployed to Daiquiri, Cuba, and fought in the Battle of Las Guasimas and in the casualty-heavy charge up Kettle Hill on July 1, 1898.

Returning to the states, he was elected Governor of New York in 1899, serving until 1900 when, after the death of Vice President Garret Hobart, he was added as the Vice President candidate.

He campaigned heavily for President McKinley and had a brief and uneventful Vice Presidency until September 6, 1901, when President McKinley was shot. On September 14, 1901, after President McKinley had passed, Colonel Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in as President of the United States.

He was an incredibly active president. He focused on Anti Trust / Anti Monopoly policies, food safety, labor, railroads, and conservation, including establishing the US Forest Service. He issued approximately 1,080 executive orders. Colonel Theodore Roosevelt was also very vocal, giving daily press briefings.

When President Taft became President in 1909, Colonel Theodore Roosevelt organized the Smithsonian - Roosevelt African Expedition, where he went hunting for specimens for both the Smithsonian Institute and the American Museum of Natural History. He wrote "African Game Trails" about his experience.   After Africa, he toured Europe.

When Colonel Roosevelt returned to the U.S., he was displeased with President Taft's presidency and tried to secure the Republican presidential nomination. When that proved unsuccessful, he ran under the Progressive or "Bull Moose" party and survived as an assassination attempt during a campaign speech on October 14, 1912 (he continued his speech and wasn't treated until later).

Woodrow Wilson won the election.

After the campaign, he went on a South American expedition sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History. Unfortunately, Colonel Theodore Roosevelt hurt his leg during this expedition and suffered from malaria relapse. His health would decline because of this trip. He also wrote about his experiences in the book "Through the Brazilian Wilderness."

He briefly thought about another presidential run before he was authorized to reman the Roughriders in preparation for a European deployment when WWI began. However, President Wilson ultimately decided against sending the Roughrider division. Instead, he sent American Expeditionary Forces with General Pershing.

Disagreeing with President Wilson, Colonel Teddy Roosevelt wrote "The Foes of Our Own Household," attacking the President's policies. His attacks were enough to flip Congress to Republican control. It was during this time his son Lieutenant Quentin Roosevelt was killed.

Although continually encouraged to seek public office, Colonel Roosevelt's health (and grief) were taking its toll. Finally, on January 6, 1919, he died of a blood clot and rests in Youngs Memorial Cemetery.

Colonel Theodore Roosevelt was a busy man in life. He wrote 18 books, was a Free Mason, a member of the Sons of the American Revolution. In addition, he boxed, played tennis, hiked, rowed, played polo, was an active horseman, practiced judo, and was caught skinny dipping in the Potomac more than once.


a.d. elliott is a wanderer, writer, and photographer currently living in Salem, Virginia. 

In addition to the travel writings at www.takethebackroads.com, you can also read her book reviews at www.riteoffancy.com and US military biographies at www.everydaypatriot.com

Her online photography gallery can be found at shop.takethebackroads.com


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