Briefly summarizing the life of Theodore Roosevelt is like trying to whistle the entirety of Madama Butterfly in three bars. To truly appreciate so godlike a man, we advise you read the Theodore Roosevelt Trilogy by Edmund Morris. So complete was Roosevelt’s life that he doesn’t even become president until Morris’s second book.
Teddy, as he was affectionately called (although seldom to his face) was the 26th president of the United States, and considered by more than a few to have been the greatest. He was also a statesman, writer, conservationist, naturalist, hunter, ornithologist, taxidermist, cowboy, and war veteran – he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 2001.
Roosevelt was born in 1858 to an affluent family in New York City. Racked by asthma throughout his childhood, he spent a enormous amount of time reading about a world which he wished to adventure throughout. Prodigious exercise improved Roosevelt’s health to the point where he could one day keep pace with even the most rugged outdoorsmen.
Roosevelt’s father died while he was attending Harvard. Although his inheritance meant he would never have to work, he nevertheless set out to become a politician. A series of setbacks including the simultaneous yet unrelated deaths of his wife and mother drove Roosevelt to seek solace as a rancher in the Dakota Territory. There he defied anyone who tried to treat him like some wet behind the ears poseur.
Having healed spiritually on the frontier, Roosevelt remarried and returned to public life. As New York City police commissioner he struck fear into the hearts of cops who might sleep on their beats – let alone fail to uphold the law. As Assistant Secretary of the Navy for William McKinley, Roosevelt pushed to improve the country’s then infant Navy. Never content to take a back seat to things, Roosevelt led the Rough Riders to victory at the Battle of San Juan Hill. He easily became governor of New York on his return, followed by a brief vice presidency. McKinley’s assassination in 1901 created our youngest president in history.
As president Roosevelt aggressively regulated trusts, arbitrated a resolution to the crippling coal strike of 1902, pushed Congress to pass the Pure Food and Drug Act, established the United States Forest Service, began construction of the Panama Canal, and defused the Venezuelan crisis of 1902-1903. Upon the completion of his second term Roosevelt set out on safari, during which he stocked the American Museum of Natural History with many fine specimens which you can see today. It is a wonder there are any animals left in Africa.
Roosevelt unsuccessfully ran for a third term in office in 1912, although he he did succeed where McKinley couldn’t by surviving his own assassination attempt. His poor eyesight and loquacity teamed up to save him, as the bullet was slowed by both his eyeglass case and folded 50 page speech. Following his defeat Roosevelt went on expedition to South America, which unfortunately exposed him to tropical diseases that would exacerbate his already poor respiratory health. He died in 1919. You can see him today in South Dakota, just to the right of Thomas Jefferson.
Who is Ayn Rand? Born to a middle class Russian-Jewish family in 1905, Rand was treated to a front row seat to the wonders of communism in action. Rand fled with her family to the Crimea following the “liberation” of her father’s pharmacy but ultimately returned to Saint Petersburg where she could attend university when she wasn’t busy starving. Due to her life experiences, Ayn Rand quotes are some of the most thought-provoking in the world.