The Legacy of Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt with his horse in the badlands.
Theodore Roosevelt ranching in the Dakota Territory, circa 1885.

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Roosevelt the Rancher

Before he returned to Dakota, a tragic thing happened to Theodore Roosevelt. Both his wife and mother died on Valentine's Day in 1884. Heart-broken, he left New York in the spring for Dakota. He worked as a rancher and earned the respect of the people there. Over the next few years, Roosevelt traveled between New York and Dakota. He thought of leaving politics to become a full-time rancher.

Theodore was getting older, but he still loved the same things from when he was a boy. He went hunting, studied animals, and wrote many stories. He noticed many animals became hard to find. He saw how people destroyed habitats and killed animals like bison for no good reason. Roosevelt liked hunting, but only for sport or food. Hunting was a way for him to be outside and learn about nature. He wrote books about the trips he took. He began to build what we now call his "conservation ethic."

An ethic is what a person believes. It helps them make decisions about what is right or wrong. Conservation means to conserve or save. His time as a rancher helped Roosevelt develop his ideas about saving nature and wildlife. When Theodore went back into politics, conservation was an important goal for him. He wanted to save forests and rivers not just for animals, but for people too.

Roosevelt delivering a speech from the back of a train.
Theodore Roosevelt making a speech. He was president from 1901-1909.

Theodore Roosevelt Digital Library, Dickinson State University

Our Conservation President

While Theodore Roosevelt was president he helped conserve many areas. These included national forests, monuments, parks and wildlife reserves. A total of 230 million acres were protected while he was president. That is about 10% of the United States! His goal was to protect the resources people need which we get from nature. Roosevelt's conservation ethic has become his legacy. A legacy is a thing given to us from the past.

After his death, people wanted to honor Theodore Roosevelt's legacy. They decided to make a national park area. Now you know why the national park was created. Keep reading to learn how Theodore Roosevelt National Park was created!

You can also return to the main Learn About the Park page.

Go to the vocabulary page to review the blue words you learned on this page.

Last updated: August 19, 2015

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