He was only 42 years old when he was sworn in as President of the United States in 1901, making TR the youngest president ever. But did you know that he was also the first sitting president to win the Nobel Peace Prize? The first to ride in a car? The first to fly in an airplane? Theodore Roosevelt’s achievements as a naturalist, hunter, explorer, author, and soldier are as much a part of his fame as any office he held as a politician. Find out more about The Bull Moose, the Progressive, the Rough Rider, the Trust Buster, and the Great Hunter who was our larger-than-life 26th president in
Who Was Theodore Roosevelt?
Michael Burgan specializes in books for children and young adults and has written biographies of scientists, explorers, and world leaders. A graduate of the University of Connecticut with a degree in history, Burgan is also the editor of
The Biographer''s Craft, the newsletter for Biographers International Organization.
For all the history teachers who have inspired me—MB
On October 14, 1912, a Milwaukee, Wisconsin, crowd eagerly waited to hear Theodore Roosevelt speak. Roosevelt had served as president of the United States several years before, and he was campaigning once again for his old job.
His speech was written on fifty pages of paper that he had folded and stuck in his upper jacket pocket. Outside his hotel, Roosevelt never saw the saloonkeeper who approached him with a gun drawn. Someone in the crowd did see the gun and pushed the would-be assassin’s arm away, just as the trigger was pulled. The shooter fired once and Roosevelt fell to the ground, but quickly rose. He did not know he had been hit until someone noticed a hole in his overcoat. When he reached inside his coat, he realized he had been wounded. The bulky, folded speech in his pocket, along with the steel case for his glasses, saved his life.
Although he was bleeding, Roosevelt insisted that he give the speech. The crowd could not believe that he would continue to speak rather than go to the hospital after being shot. But Roosevelt told them, “It takes more than that to kill a bull moose.”
“Bull Moose” was just one of the nicknames Theodore Roosevelt earned during his long career in politics. Some of the others were Teedie, TR, Teddy (a nickname he hated), and the Trust Buster. But Bull Moose was a good choice for a man who was physically strong and who was always determined to do things his way.
“I care not what others think of what I do, but I care very much about what I think of what I do! That is character!” he famously said. The Bull Moose was certainly a man of great character.
New York Boyhood
In 1858, New York City was the largest city in the United States. Almost eight hundred thousand people lived there! Ships arrived at its port carrying a wide variety of goods, including fabric, clothing, and food, along with people from many countries. Horse-drawn carriages rumbled down crowded streets. And on October 27 of that year, Theodore Roosevelt Jr. was born there.
His father, Theodore Sr., thought the newborn was a pretty baby, but his mother, Martha, nicknamed Mittie, wasn’t so sure. She thought her new son looked like a turtle. The Roosevelts already had a daughter named Anna. She and young Theodore were later joined by a little brother, Elliott, and then baby Corinne. For a time Mrs. Roosevelt’s sister, Annie Bulloch, also lived with the family.
Teedie, as his parents soon called Theodore, was part of a family that had deep roots in America. The first Roosevelt had come to New York from the Netherlands in 1644. The family bought plate glass in Europe and sold it in America. Teedie’s family was quite wealthy. Mr. Roosevelt believed in using his time and his money to help others. One of his concerns was helping orphaned children in New York City to find homes.
ROOSEVELT HOME IN NEW YORK CITY