Can you imagine a president of the United States fighting a wrestling match in the White House? One president in the early 1900s did just that. His name was Theodore Roosevelt. The country loved this colorful president. Americans knew him as “Teddy.”
AN EXCITING LIFE
Teddy Roosevelt was born in 1858. He was often sick as a child, and he had bad eyesight. But he worked fiercely to overcome his weaknesses. He took up boxing, wrestling, swimming, riding, and other tough sports. As a young man, he lived the life of a cowboy for two years. He even captured some bandits.
After entering politics, Roosevelt quickly rose to hold a powerful post in the government. He became assistant secretary of the U.S. Navy. Then war broke out between the United States and Spain. Roosevelt quit his job and called some cowboy friends together. They formed a fighting force called the Rough Riders to help fight Spain. The Rough Riders went to Cuba, which was then a Spanish colony. Much of the fighting took place there. Roosevelt led a famous charge on horseback up San Juan Hill.
HOW TEDDY ROOSEVELT BECAME PRESIDENT
Roosevelt came home a war hero. He easily won an election to become governor of the state of New York. In 1900, he became vice president, serving under President William McKinley. One year later, an assassin killed McKinley, and Roosevelt became the 26th president of the United States. At age 42, Roosevelt was the youngest U.S. president ever.
WHAT ROOSEVELT DID AS PRESIDENT
In Roosevelt’s time, big businesses had enormous power. Roosevelt worked to limit this power. He made big businesses follow some rules. For example, he got laws passed that kept businesses from selling unsafe foods. Roosevelt also took a great interest in conserving nature. He created 5 national parks and 150 national forests.
Roosevelt made American power felt abroad. In Central America, he helped Panama break free of Columbia and gain independence. Then he made a deal with Panama. Panama agreed to let the United States build the Panama Canal. This canal lets ships sail directly from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.
When war broke out between Russia and Japan in 1904, Roosevelt stepped in and organized peace talks. For this, he won the Nobel Peace Prize.
ROOSEVELT STEPS DOWN
In 1904, Roosevelt easily won election to a second term as president. After that term, he stepped down. He let his friend William Howard Taft run for president in 1908. Roosevelt went traveling around the world.
When Roosevelt came back to America, he didn’t like what Taft had done. By this time, however, Taft controlled the Republican Party. So Roosevelt started a new party, the Progressive Party. When he was asked about his health, Roosevelt said, “I’m as fit as a bull moose.” After that, his party was called the Bull Moose Party.
In 1912, Roosevelt ran against both Taft and the candidate of the Democratic Party, Woodrow Wilson. Roosevelt won more votes than Taft but fewer than Wilson. Woodrow Wilson became president, and Teddy Roosevelt’s career ended. In 1919, Roosevelt died.