Theodore Roosevelt was born in 1858 and became the youngest United States President. Born into an affluent family, his ill health as a child prompted him to become an advocate of a strenuous life and avid game hunter. Roosevelt was home-schooled until he entered Harvard at age 18. While at Harvard, Roosevelt rowed and boxed, in addition to being involved in the Alpha Delta Phi literary club, the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, and the Porcelain Club. After graduating from Harvard, Roosevelt married Alice Hathaway Lee and entered Columbia Law School.
In 1881, Roosevelt dropped out of law school and was elected to the New York State Assembly. Within a few years, Roosevelt suffered through the death of his wife, the passing of his mother, and a severe disillusionment with party politics, prompting him to retreat to be a cowboy on his ranch in North Dakota.
After losing an election for New York City mayor in 1886, Roosevelt went to London and married Edith Kermit Carow. He soon re-entered politics and was appointed to the United States Civil Service Commission, where he actively assaulted the spoils system and encouraged a meritocracy to develop. He was later appointed to be the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, playing a vital role in preparations for the Spanish-American War. Upon the declaration of war, Roosevelt formed the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, more popularly known as the “Rough Riders.” Roosevelt bravely lead several of their assaults in Cuba and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his conduct during the war.
Roosevelt returned to the United States as a rising star in politics, getting elected as governor of New York in 1898 before being selected by William McKinley for his Vice Presidential running mate. After McKinley’s assassination in 1901, Roosevelt was sworn in as president of the United States. Roosevelt promoted progressive policies that included trust-busting, consumer protection, and conservationism. Notorious for his commitment to American military might, Roosevelt developed a corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, encouraged the completion of the Panama Canal, and sent the Great White Fleet on a tour around the globe. His policy was characterized by the popular saying “speak softly and carry a big stick.” Roosevelt also won the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating an end to the Russo-Japanese War.
While on a hunt in 1902, Roosevelt encouraged the mercy killing of a wounded bear, prompting a toymaker to name a stuffed bear after him. Children continue to receive “teddy” bears named after Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt to this day. After leaving the White House, Roosevelt continued to be an avid lover of nature, hunting in Africa and exploring up the Amazon River.
Though he initially supported William Taft’s presidency, Roosevelt soon came to disagree with his protégé and encouraged progressive Republicans to join him in the creation of a new Bull Moose party. In the 1912 election, Taft and Roosevelt split the conservative vote, both losing to Woodrow Wilson. Roosevelt died of a heart attack seven years later, proving that the bull moose was not – in fact – invincible.