CAMPAIGN 2016: Looking for a little wisdom from past leaders
This country will not be a good place
for any of us to live in
unless we make it a good place
for all of us to live in.
— Theodore Roosevelt, President, Statesman and Naturalist
Powerful... What do you suppose Teddy would think of our election this year?
THEODORE ROOSEVELT JR. (1858 – 1919) WAS AN AMERICAN STATESMAN, AUTHOR, EXPLORER, SOLDIER, NATURALIST, AND POLITICAL REFORMER who served as the 26th President of the United States, as a leader of the Republican Party, and who became a driving force for the Progressive Era in the United States in the early 20th century.
Born a sickly child with debilitating asthma, Roosevelt overcame his health problems by embracing a strenuous lifestyle. He integrated his exuberant personality, vast range of interests, and world-famous achievements into a cowboy persona. Home-schooled, he became a lifelong naturalist before attending Harvard College.
Following the deaths of his wife and mother, he took time to grieve by escaping to the American wilderness. Later, he served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy under William McKinley, resigning after one year to serve with the Rough Riders, where he gained national fame for courage during the Spanish–American War.
Returning a war hero, he was elected governor of New York in 1898. The state party leadership distrusted him, so they took the lead in moving him to the prestigious but powerless role of vice president as McKinley's running mate in the election of 1900. Roosevelt campaigned vigorously across the country, helping McKinley's re-election in a landslide victory based on a platform of peace, prosperity, and conservatism.
Following the assassination of President McKinley in September 1901, Roosevelt, at age 42, succeeded to the office, becoming the youngest President in history. Leading his party and country into the Progressive Era, he championed his "Square Deal" domestic policies, promising the average citizen fairness, breaking of trusts, regulation of railroads, and pure food and drugs. Making conservation a top priority, he established a myriad of new national parks, forests, and monuments intended to preserve the nation's natural resources.
In foreign policy, Roosevelt focused on Central America, where he began construction of the Panama Canal. He greatly expanded the United States Navy, and sent the Great White Fleet on a world tour to project the United States' naval power around the globe. His successful efforts to end the Russo-Japanese War won him the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize.
Elected in 1904 to a full term, Roosevelt continued to promote progressive policies, but many of his efforts and much of his legislative agenda were blocked in Congress. Roosevelt successfully groomed his close friend, William Howard Taft, to succeed him in the presidency.
Roosevelt later led a two-year expedition in the Amazon Basin, nearly dying of tropical disease.
Roosevelt has consistently been ranked by scholars as one of the greatest U.S. presidents. His face was carved into Mount Rushmore alongside those of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln.