Background/Early Life

• Theodore Roosevelt overcame a childhood marked with sickness. Growing up in New York City he suffered from asthma, and because of his asthma as a teenager worked extra hard to improve his health. He did this through gymnastics and weightlifting, and as a result became a lifelong advocate of the importance of exercise.

• In 1884 Roosevelt lost his mother and his wife on the same day. He moved to the Western frontier for about two years to overcome his grief. He spent his days hunting, riding and acting as a frontier sheriff. As president he was an advocate of conservation, believing in the power of woodlands and mountain ranges as places of refuge, and identifying the character of the nation with America’s wilderness regions.

• After stints as assistant secretary of the Navy, leader of the Rough Riders during the Spanish-American War, and governor of New York, Roosevelt served as vice president under William McKinley.

How he defined the office

• Roosevelt became president after McKinley was assassinated in 1901, making him, at 42, the youngest person to hold the office.

• Roosevelt is considered the first modern president because he significantly expanded the influence and power of the office.

• He believed the government had the right to regulate big business in order to protect the interests of the people.

Successes and failures

• Roosevelt used his presidential authority in many ways while in office: He issued executive orders to create national forests, and he stepped in to settle a coal strike in Pennsylvania, leading to the term “Square Deal,” which became the term to describe his domestic policy.

• He also used the media as a “bully pulpit” to influence the American people.

• Roosevelt became the first president to leave the country during his term in office when he visited Panama in 1906 to see the construction of the Panama Canal. Though the canal wasn’t finished until 1914, the negotiations for its placement and construction happened during Roosevelt’s presidency.

• Roosevelt issued the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, which says the United States would police the Western Hemisphere, and he built the Navy into one of the largest in the world.

notable quote

• On foreign policy: “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”