Theodore “Ted” Roosevelt Jr. was born on September 13, 1887 and was the first child born to Theodore and Edith. He was brother to Alice, Kermit, Ethel, Archibald, and Quentin.
Being his father’s namesake did not come lightly and throughout his youth, Ted was pushed by both his father and the reputation of his father’s name. Ted was the first born at the family estate at Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay, NY. Like all the Roosevelt children, Ted was greatly influenced by his father, but built his own impressive life, especially in terms of his military career.
Throughout his youth, Ted was educated in both public and private schools including the prestigious Groton School in Massachusetts. While attending school, his father would write him letters encouraging Ted to push himself, especially in sports and specifically in football. As time came for him to choose a university, Ted looked towards West Point or Annapolis in pursuit of a military career, while his father preferred Ted attended his own alma mater, Harvard University, and serve his country in the military as a volunteer if the need arose.
Ted chose Harvard over a military school and found success upon graduation in banking and business. He married Eleanor Alexander in 1910 and they settled close to Sagamore Hill. Still interested in serving in the military, he found his initial opportunity to serve during World War I. In 1915, he joined a camp in Plattsburgh, New York which prepared young men for war as officers. Doing his best to “practice what father preaches,” as his youngest sibling Quentin put it, Ted was commissioned along with his brother Archibald, to serve as officers in June 1917.
Ted’s initial post was in France and about a month after he traveled there, his wife Eleanor followed him to work with the YMCA. Her presence and their Parisian home became a respite for Ted, Archie, Quentin, and Ethel’s husband Dr. Richard Derby as they were all sent overseas. This was especially important because at one point during the conflict, Ted had been shot in the leg and it was Dr. Derby’s care that saved both his leg as well as his life. During his service in World War I he received the Croix de Guerre among other medals.
After returning home, Ted and Eleanor continued to make a name for themselves. Ted, following in his father’s footsteps, decided to run for political office in New York State. In 1919, he was elected to the New York Assembly and in 1924 was the Republican nominee but lost the race for New York Governor. He was appointed as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy in 1921 as a part of the Harding administration. In 1929, he served as Governor of Puerto Rico and by 1932 he was appointed as the Governor General of the Philippines.
In 1938 he built a residence at Sagamore Hill on 5 acres of an apple orchard that he purchased from his mother. He and his wife, along with his children Grace, Theodore IV, Cornelius, and Quentin II spent many summers here. In 1960 his wife donated the estate to the National Park Service, and it is now known as the Theodore Roosevelt Museum at Old Orchard at Sagamore Hill.
Ted’s final act of service came in World War II, where he reached his highest military rank of Brigadier General. He served under General George S. Patton in the African theatre and was later reassigned to the western front. Ted was 56 years old when he famously became the highest ranking officer on the beaches during the Invasion of Normandy, personally escorting soldiers on Utah beach under heavy fire. Ted suffered a heart attack and died less than 5 weeks later on July 12, 1944. For his bravery and service at Normandy, Ted was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
Ted is buried in the Normandy American Cemetery.