Theodore Roosevelt

President Theodore Roosevelt, half length portrait 1904
Theodore Roosevelt, 1904

Library of Congress

Quick Facts

Significance:
26th President of the United States
Place of Birth:
Manhattan, New York City, NY
Date of Birth:
October 27, 1858
Place of Death:
Sagamore Hill, Oyster Bay, NY
Date of Death:
January 6, 1919
Place of Burial:
Oyster Bay Cove, New York
Cemetery Name:
Youngs Memorial Cemetery

"I never would have been President if it had not been for my experiences in North Dakota." -Theodore Roosevelt

The iconic titles Naturalist, Explorer, Author, Hunter, Cowboy, Family Man, Statesman, Rough Rider, War Hero, and President of the United States must all be invoked to accurately describe the life of Theodore Roosevelt.

Though a frail asthmatic boy, Roosevelt traveled widely and used strenuous physical activity to overcome these health problems. His first wife, Alice Hathaway Lee, died soon after giving birth to their first child. Following this tragedy, Roosevelt retreated to the Dakota Territory to grieve and challenge himself by living the cowboy life. There, Roosevelt learned “the value of instant decision”, brought thieves to justice, hunted wild game, and observed the last vestiges of the bison that once dominated the plains.

Invigorated by his western experience, Roosevelt returned to his political life in New York City and remarried to a childhood sweetheart, Edith Kermit Carow. They raised five children together as Roosevelt continued his life of public service.

In 1898, resigning from Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Roosevelt organized a volunteer cavalry, the Rough Riders, and led them to legendary victories at the Battle of Santiago in Cuba during the Spanish American War. Roosevelt went on to hold many public office positions including Governor of New York and Vice President of the United States in the McKinley administration.

In September 1901, Roosevelt unexpectedly ascended to the presidency when McKinley was assassinated. He was elected in his own right in 1904. President Roosevelt secured Panamanian rights from Colombia, facilitating continued construction on the Panama Canal, ultimately connecting two oceans.

Memories of hunting and ranching in the badlands of Dakota Territory greatly influenced President Theodore Roosevelt’s conservation ethic. At a time when technological advances, booming industries, and growing human demand threatened destruction of vast stretches the North American landscape, Roosevelt enacted policy to conserve natural resources and designated more than 230 million acres of public lands for enjoyment by all Americans. His legacy of conservation is memorialized in Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Last updated: February 14, 2017