Theodore Roosevelt or Teddy as he is affectionately known is one of the most fascinating American presidents in history. Roosevelt’s exploits are legendary and his legacy stands resolute through notable poems, quotes and monuments. He is after all the first American president to fly in an airplane in 1910. If one sought to capture all of Teddy Roosevelt’s accomplishments and persona in a single article they would finish with a book. Therefore we will explore important and even some lesser known aspects that define Teddy Roosevelt.
Teddy Roosevelt was the epitome of masculinity. He was a celebrated intellectual publishing nearly twenty books and pioneering philosophy that still permeate through society today. Teddy published his book in 1882 at 24 years old titled, The Naval War of 1812 an in depth analysis of naval tactics, warfare, and strategy utilized during the conflict. This work is regarded by historians to be a staple account of the war.
Teddy Roosevelt was not born strong. In fact, his youth was defined by his poor health and aggressive debilitating asthma attacks for which doctors could not find a cure. In his adulthood, Teddy is regarded as an accomplished warrior and admired for his physical fitness and strength.
Roosevelt was a man of action. He conditioned his body with regular exercise in the form of practiced martial arts, tennis, hiking, rowing, polo, and horseback riding and even subjecting himself to skinny-dipping in the mighty Potomac River throughout the winter months. In his April 1900 speech Roosevelt coined the phrase “The Strenuous Life” to define the effort that he exerted to overcome hardship in his own life as illustrative of the ideals to be practiced by the American people for the advancement of the nation and the world order. In his speech “The Strenuous Life”, Roosevelt asserts:
“I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph”.
In addition to his physical development, Teddy was a decorated combat veteran in the Spanish American War serving in the U.S. Army. He organized and led the storied 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment more widely known as the “Rough Riders”. By the end of his active military service Roosevelt rose to the rank of colonel and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his successful and daring charge up San Juan Hill in the face of certain death that turned the tide of the battle.
An avid environmentalist and conservationist from his early youth. Despite his many notable achievements and decorations Teddy is proudest of work to protect natural resources. Roosevelt’s efforts culminated with the establishment of the United States Forest Service and eventually the National Park System which expanded federal protection to land, resources and wildlife of significant importance to society and the nation. In total Roosevelt is responsible for the federal protection of monuments, land, resources and wildlife totaling approximately 230 million acres. Despite his political rivals' perception that his Presidential Executive Orders encroached on too much public land Teddy was unapologetic. His commitment was not to political popularity but to environmental conservation and preservations for generations to come.
Teddy Roosevelt, although a historical figure from generations past, is an example for all time; he fully embodies the Hadley Rille spirit of adventure, exploration and excellence.
Library of Congress
National Park Service