Theodore Roosevelt – Life, Accomplishments & Presidency

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Theodore Roosevelt is a well-known figure in history who made major impacts in America that are still discussed today. People recognize him as being the 26th president of the United States and for his nickname Teddy. William McKinley originally served as president in 1901 while Theodore Roosevelt was elected vice president.

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This all changed when McKinley was assassinated on September 6th, 1901, which resulted in Roosevelt taking office. Most refer to Theodore Roosevelt as being a strong president who was the first to stretch the boundaries of politics, and for being the first modern president. Known for his enthusiasm and vision, Roosevelt was able to transform the nation and guide it into a more contemporary era. Theodore Roosevelt is known as being one of the greatest presidents in history and this can be seen when discussing his early years before becoming president, his political and military background, and his accomplishments during his presidency.

Born on October 27, 1858, Theodore Roosevelt was one of four siblings who grew up in a wealthy family from New York City. During his early childhood years, Roosevelt was often sick and diagnosed with asthma. In order to improve his immune system, Teddy became an advocate for fitness and would incorporate nature into his exercises, such as hiking, horseback riding, swimming, etc. When growing up, Roosevelt was homeschooled by private teachers because his family traveled during most of his childhood throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Germany. Later in life, Teddy decided to attend Harvard College in 1876, where he studied a variety of subjects, including German, natural history, zoology, forensics, and composition (Milkis, 1). After graduation, Roosevelt completed one year at Columbia Law School and then began a profession in public service where he served on the New York Assembly from 1882 to 1884. In 1884 both Roosevelt’s mother and wife died within hours of each other with unexpected illnesses. This devastation led Theodore Roosevelt to focus on his political career as an attempt to escape his suffering.

Although the reason for Roosevelt’s decision to center his life in politics is unfortunate, he demonstrated a renewed spirit in the field. Before becoming president, Roosevelt was just a republican reformer in politics who later became a progressive crusader for his innovative ideas and actions. Theodore Roosevelt’s work in the New York State Assembly established his reputation in politics and social awareness. After taking a break from politics for two years to grieve, Teddy held a succession of appointive and elective offices including the chairmanship of the U.S. Civil Service Commission (1889-1895) and the presidency of the New York City Police Board (1894-1896) (Department of History of The George Washington University, 1). Roosevelt was selected to U.S. Civil Service Commission after his involvement in the presidential campaign for republican nominee Benjamin Harrison. Based on his success as commissioner, Roosevelt was then elected to presidency of the New York City Police Board where he displayed honesty and loyalty to the office. Once William McKinley was nominated president in 1897, he launched Roosevelt’s military career by selecting him for assistant secretary of the Navy.

Prior to receiving this title, Theodore Roosevelt was always a strong believer for the armed forces, specifically the Navy. Although Roosevelt was against entering the Spanish-American War, he warned Commodore George Dewey to prepare for it. When the war began on May 6, 1898, Theodore Roosevelt resigned as Assistant Secretary of the Navy and volunteered to head a cavalry unit destined to fight in Cuba against Spain (Theodore Roosevelt Association 1). This unit became the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry and consisted of cowboys, officers, miners, hunters, and Native Americans. They later referred to themselves as the Rough Riders and Roosevelt was named the unit’s Lieutenant Colonel. Leading the Rough Riders to victory in the Battle of San Juan Hill in Santiago, Cuba, Roosevelt and the unit returned to America as heroes. Most people believe it was Theodore Roosevelt’s leadership and ambition that led the Rough Rider’s to victory. As a result, Roosevelt was voted governor of New York in 1898 and is the only president in history to receive the medal of honor.

As mentioned before, Theodore Roosevelt was vice president and took office in 1901 after president McKinley was assassinated and remained there for a second term until 1909. People were excited for Roosevelt to be president because of his previous accomplishments and his outgoing personality. When Teddy took office, the United States was experiencing major industrial developments and changes in economics and politics. Unlike previous presidents, Roosevelt held the ideal that the Government should be the great arbiter of the conflicting economic forces in the Nation, especially between capital and labor, guaranteeing justice to each and dispensing favors to none (Freide1). During the settlement of the coal strike in 1902, Teddy described his approach to give Americans a more fair and equal society through federal government intervention as a Square Deal. Roosevelt was also an active conservationist who provided land for reserves of national parks and wildlife refuges. Another accomplishment Roosevelt made during his presidency was receiving the Nobel Peace Prize after his attempts of resolving the Russo-Japanese War and establishing the construction of the Panama Canal.

Theodore Roosevelt’s energy and vision led America to more growth that would continue across the 20th Century. Some people were initially worried when Roosevelt entered office because he would be the youngest president in history at the time and because of his lack of experience. These opinions changed once Teddy proved himself as being a successful leader by his involvement in foreign affairs and getting the federal government to take-action in equality for American citizens. Progressivism was a major political movement Roosevelt applied during his presidency in order to provide more social and economic equalities for people and was one of the main reasons for his success. People recognize Theodore Roosevelt as being a successful president based on his early life, his political and military experience, and his achievements during presidency.

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