Theodore Roosevelt

Champion of the Downtrodden

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Upbringing, Influences, and Motivation

  • Born on October 27, 1858, in New York City to Martha Bulloch Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt Sr.- he had an older sister and two younger
  • He had a very loving and rich upbringing- doted on by both his father and mother- his father only hit him once
  • He was part of the wealthy Dutch patriarchal family, the Roosevelts- money never a problem for him
  • Civil War was raging in early part of his childhood- this had a profound effect on him
  • His mother was a Confederate sympathizer- she never adjusted to living in the North- while his father was very pro-Union
  • This tore the house apart in some years- Teddy's father worked with Lincoln to better the condition of Union soldiers and families while his mother, aunt, and maternal grandmother sent care packages behind enemy lines
  • Even Teddy got into some of the enmity- he prayed for the success of the Union in front of his mother when he was angry with her
  • Teddy was really on both sides of this conflict- he liked the secrecy of the packages but also dreamed of glory as a Union soldier
  • He was severely asthmatic as a child- to the point where his father would take him for carriage rides in order to force air into his lungs
  • He worked extremely hard to overcome his physical limitations- his father told him he had the mind but not the body so his father had a gym installed in the house
  • He became interested in the natural sciences while seeing a seal being slaughtered in New York Harbor
  • He would collect specimens and would painstakingly label them- he even collected specimens in Egypt- this would fuel his later conservation acts as president
  • Roosevelt overcame his physical difficulties then entered Harvard University to study natural history and was considering a career in teaching until his father died and then he switched to government
  • Roosevelt had previously only been taught at home
  • He believed he would honor his father by going into public service even though this was considered beneath gentlemen at the time
  • He met Alice Hathaway Lee in 1879 and became absolutely obsessed- they married in 1880

Political Career

  • Roosevelt was elected to the New York House of Representatives in 1881 and served three one-year terms; he began developing his progressive mindset here
  • In 1884, his wife and mother both died on Valentine's Day, he was devastated and went to live on his ranch in South Dakota for two years before returning to New York in 1886
  • In 1889, he became part of the Civil Service Commission where he pushed through several important reforms- basing appointments on merit- something he brought to New York when he was made the Police Commissioner in 1895
  • His loyalty to McKinley paid off when he was made Assistant Secretary of the Navy in 1897
  • In 1898, he quit to raise the Rough Riders to fight in the Spanish-American war- he gained notoriety in the Battle of San Juan Hill
  • He returned in 1898 and used his popularity to run for governor and won
  • In 1900, conservative party bosses put Roosevelt for VP to stop him from running for the governorship
  • In 1901, McKinley was killed by an assassin and TR became president
  • Roosevelt would prove to be a reformer and tried to get everybody (in his terms) "a square deal"
  • His first order of business was to break up bad trusts- the Supreme Court upheld his methods when Northern Securities Company tried to have the Sherman Anti-Trust Act struck down
  • Other reforms included the Pure Food and Drug Act in the aftermath of The Jungle and the Reclamation Act which set aside much land as sanctuaries
  • He also clamped down on large shippers pushing smaller companies into ruin with the Hepburn Act
  • Roosevelt also improved the rights of labor in trying to give them a "square deal"- he got the bosses of United Mine Workers to agree to arbitration- usually government on management side
  • Extended the same policy internationally with Roosevelt Corollary- US would serve as West policeman- stopped Great Britain and Germany from threatening Venezuela
  • He also had the Panama Canal built to have a two ocean navy- even going to the point of supporting a rebellion in Panama
  • After negotiating a peace treaty between Japan and Russia in 1905, ending the Russo-Japanese war, Roosevelt won the Nobel Peace Prize
  • Roosevelt left the presidency to his successor, Taft in 1908
  • He ran again in 1912 as a Bull Moose, angry at Taft- he lost which was his last political move
  • Roosevelt died on January 6, 1919 of a blood clot and was buried in Oyster Bay

Defining Quote

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt

Teddy Roosevelt in Great Depression and WWII

If Theodore Roosevelt had been President from 1928-1944, the world and his reputation would be drastically different and he would be more successful

  • He would not have waited to enact government assistance like Hoover did- he would have been very appreciated
  • Would have put needed reforms in place prior to the crash- he pursued anti-trust legislation even though there was no crisis
  • His progressive reforms would have been accepted by scared members of Congress as opposed to the conservative Republicans who opposed him in his actual presidency
  • He would have been much more impactful with his square deal and his overarching economic reforms
  • Due to the quick response of Roosevelt, the Great Depression's effect may have been lessened
  • As Hitler rose in Germany, Roosevelt would have been quicker to declare war- he wanted to enter World War I in 1914
  • The war in Europe may have been over quicker as France might have never been conquered- Pearl Harbor would have less likely happened because the US would declare war first
  • He would have been well respected not just in America, but across the world for lessening the war

Me If I Had His Skills

If I had the same skills as my figure I would run for President and if elected I would institute a variety of Progressive reforms. I would raise the minimum wage and permanently tie it to inflation and I would also eliminate the wage gap disparity between men and women. I would also pass legislation reforming tax codes and removing many tax loopholes while lowering the overall tax rate and reform campaign finance- getting rid of Super PACs. As for foreign policy, I would try to intimidate world dictators like Kim Jong Un. I would also use diplomacy skills he demonstrated when he ended the Russo-Japanese war to help find a two-state solution to the Palestinian conflict.


  • Roosevelt became quite Progressive as a result of the time period that he grew up in- he first began concerned with improving the plight of the working class when he took a tour of a cigar factory in New York and saw the terrible slum factories-two families worked and lived in a single factory for a total salary of one dollar a day- he realized how naïve he had been
  • The fascination with the West in America at this time (Buffalo Bill's Wild West Shows were happening) shaped him immensely- he went to South Dakota to work on his ranch and learned how to rope and ride- he adopted that sense of rugged individualism of the West
  • Growing up in the Civil War time period impacted him- he wanted glory as a soldier and found it in the Spanish-American war
  • At this time an image of strong masculinity was expected of men which is why he became so tough in spite of his childhood health issues

Political Cartoon

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Histriography (Summation)

What I Summated:

In the section about new perspectives on the West about Teddy Roosevelt, PBS writers attempt to piece together Theodore Roosevelt’s contribution to the West through discussion about his writings, lifestyle, and action as President of the Unites States. Starting with his action after becoming a member of the New York State Assembly (Participial Phrase), the writers discuss how Roosevelt’s infatuation with the West began when he tried to bag a buffalo for his trophy collection. The selection discusses how Roosevelt went back to his ranch to experience the typical Western feelings of isolation and immensity which helped him escape the sadness of his mother and wife dying. Roosevelt also began to write books of the West, which would lead to its greater popularization. After returning to New York with his new wife, he wrote more (Periodic Sentence). According to PBS writers, Roosevelt wrote a series of articles on Western life which would intrigue well-to-do Americans who would be welcomed onto dude ranches. The article then goes on to portray how Roosevelt came into a more powerful position to where he could influence policy for the West as President. The article talks about how Roosevelt’s main influence on the West as President came in terms of foreign policy and conservation. In foreign policy, the article relates how Roosevelt fostered economic development in the West- he brought back stability in Asia by ending the Russo-Japanese War, and he threatened China to force it to end its trade restriction with the United States. As for conservation, he ensured the wise use of forest reserves through the Forest Reserves Act. He also regulated dam building and irrigation through the Newlands Act- bringing further stability. This article seeks to show that Teddy Roosevelt was an important part of the development of the West while at the same time being attracted to its loneliness as the rugged individual that Theodore Roosevelt was.

Modern Day Slogan

Prosperity and Security The World Over

Impactful Speech

Portion To Be Read:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. Shame on the man of cultivated taste who permits refinement to develop into fastidiousness that unfits him for doing the rough work of a workaday world. Among the free peoples who govern themselves there is but a small field of usefulness open for the men of cloistered life who shrink from contact with their fellows. Still less room is there for those who deride of slight what is done by those who actually bear the brunt of the day; nor yet for those others who always profess that they would like to take action, if only the conditions of life were not exactly what they actually are. The man who does nothing cuts the same sordid figure in the pages of history, whether he be a cynic, or fop, or voluptuary. There is little use for the being whose tepid soul knows nothing of great and generous emotion, of the high pride, the stern belief, the lofty enthusiasm, of the men who quell the storm and ride the thunder. Well for these men if they succeed; well also, though not so well, if they fail, given only that they have nobly ventured, and have put forth all their heart and strength. It is war-worn Hotspur, spent with hard fighting, he of the many errors and valiant end, over whose memory we love to linger, not over the memory of the young lord who "but for the vile guns would have been a valiant soldier."

S: Theodore Roosevelt

O: Speaking at the Sorbonne in the Grand Amphitheatre in the University of Paris

A: Students who attended the university as well as teachers and diplomats

P: To emphasize what qualities he believed were necessary for a successful country- hard work and not merely success and brilliance

S: What virtues good citizens of a republic possessed

Tone: He is quite firm and mater-of-fact- he leaves no room for doubt of any of what he is saying- he is assertive and convinces the reader that hard work is what holds up a republic

Rhetorical Strategies: He uses ethos quite effectively throughout the entire speech- h plays on a common history of all nations to forge a common bond which he then uses to make his point. He also uses juxtaposition quite effectively by juxtaposing honor and failure to show what can happen if the citizens in a republic aren't of the highest caliber and art and physical labor to show that both need to be cultivated. He also uses logos to logically explain why citizens of all stripes are needed- drawing on Frances's rich history to support his examples.

Works Cited

"Miller Center." American President: Theodore Roosevelt: Life Before the Presidency. Miller Center, n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2015. <>.

Roosevelt, Theodore. The Autobiography of Theodore Roosevelt. Condensed from the Original Ed., Supplemented by Letters, Speeches, and Other Writings. New York: Scribner, 1958. Print.

"The Man in the Arena - April 23, 1910 - Theodore Roosevelt Speeches- Roosevelt Almanac." The Man in the Arena - April 23, 1910 - Theodore Roosevelt Speeches- Roosevelt Almanac. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2015. <>.

"Theodore Roosevelt." PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2015.

United States. National Park Service. "The Life of Theodore Roosevelt." National Parks Service. U.S. Department of the Interior, 01 Apr. 2015. Web. 10 Apr. 2015.