Theodore Roosevelt Jr., better known as Teddy or T.R, was the 26th and youngest President in the history of the United States. He served his time in the Oval Office from 1901 to 1909, after the unexpected assassination of William McKinley (R-Ohio).
When he was merely 43 years old, T.R had made quite an impact, not only as the President but as an ordinary human who brought fresh energy to the office. Let us go over the legendary facts about the man who was a writer, politician, naturalist, historian, and everything else you could imagine.
His Strenuous Life as a Sickly Child
Teddy Roosevelt Jr. was born in 1858 in Manhattan, New York, into a prominent Dutch and English ancestry. His father, Theodore Roosevelt Sr., was a businessman, and his mother a socialite. Teddy, one of four siblings, was an incredibly frail child and comparatively weak in the family.
Growing up, he was a sickly kid who suffered from asthma attacks. Teddy also struggled with bad eyesight, which made his father gift him glasses that became his iconic accessory. But none of it stopped the young boy from reaching the heights of success.
Despite not having the ideal body, the little Teddy had the mind of a genius. He dedicated himself to a “strenuous life” by engaging in numerous athletic activities. Teddy spent his youth developing an endless love for adventure and doing out of the box. He would horse ride with his father and go on hunting and hiking trips to adopt the physically tough lifestyle.
In spite of being homeschooled, Teddy was a bright child in most subjects. He even attended Harvard, where he was an avid boxer. After the sudden death of his father in 1878, Teddy inherited enough money to live a comfortable lifestyle. He later studied briefly at the Columbia Law School.
A Grieving Cowboy and Strict Policeman
Around the same time, he began working on a book about the War of 1812. He was an incredible writer and took a liking to history. In 1880, Teddy married his first wife, Alice Lee, who unfortunately died only a few years later on the same day as his mother, in 1884.
Struck by a tragedy, Teddy decided to mourn differently and moved to South Dakota. He had left behind his city life and became a cowboy by operating a cattle ranch in the Dakota Territory. According to Teddy, his time in the wildlife played the most significant part in becoming the future president.
His adventures were not only leisure time activities or hobbies that he adored, but they also had a purpose. Teddy remained active in politics to end corruption and find solutions for the damaged parts of nature.
Teddy served on the U.S. Civil Service Commission from 1889 to 1895. He served as a police commissioner for two years, combating corruption and establishing decorum. It is no surprise that his groundbreaking work became the foundation of today’s police academy in the U.S.
Average Politician Turned War Hero
Intrigued by war history and the urge to do something for the country, Teddy set his political interests aside and took part in the Battle of San Juan Hill. There, he led the charge of Kettle Hill during the notoriously bloody war by organizing the 1st Volunteer Cavalry, the Rough Riders.
Throughout the battle, he was fighting against all odds on his horse, back and forth. And when it was injured, he continued on foot. Hence, the American-Spanish war found its national war hero in Teddy Roosevelt.
Teddy’s return to politics followed pretty much the same stance. His intentions as an active reformer against corruption and in favor of civil services bothered his own party, who wanted to get rid of him. However, his fate had something else written.
While for years Teddy remained in his powerless office under McKinley, his sudden assassination made Teddy fill his shoes. Immediately after taking the stand as 26th President of the U.S, Teddy began to change the policies. He renamed the execution mansion the White House and brought his fearless energy to the office.
Boxing Blinded His One Eye Forever
If you think something as big as the seat of the President stopped Teddy from continuing his favorite sport, you are wrong.
While he wrote books and went on exploration trips, he also took time for boxing. He would invite young military men to the Oval office to play against them, and on one occasion, his fancy for the sport partially blinded him.
The young man hit Teddy so hard in one eye, detaching his retina, resulting in lifelong blindness. Remarkably, Teddy understood how fatal sports were during that time. A sport as enjoyable as football was also considered a deadly one.
Hence, he made sure to convince the coaches to reconsider the game rules, and he was successful in his goal. Throughout his time in office, Teddy encouraged the nation to live a life similar to his. He guided them about the strenuous life and how maintaining peace and order was nations’ responsibility as well.
Nonetheless, as soon as his presidency was over in 1909, Teddy embarked on a journey to East Africa. He and his team collected over 20,000 specimens of wildlife animals, including lions, zebras, and hyenas.
When America’s Real Teddy Bear Survived an Attack
During his new campaign speech in 1912, Teddy Roosevelt was shot in his chest by John Schrank. Miraculously, he survived the shooting as the bullet was slowed by the rolled-up speech and metal eyeglasses case in his pocket. Despite being shot, Teddy continued his speech and said to the audience,
“I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot.”
The entire auditorium was filled with horror when the ex-president revealed his bloodstained shirt and assured,
“It takes more than that to kill a bull moose.”
Unfortunately, the bullet remained inside his chest for the rest of his life.
It was also him who became the true inspiration behind one of the most adorable toys, the Teddy Bear. While hunting in Mississippi in 1902, Theodore refused to shoot a bear, which inspired Brooklyn storekeepers Morris Michtom and his wife, Rose. The couple took Teddy’s permission to use his name and displayed a fabric stuffed bear labeled “Teddy’s Bear.”