Theodore Roosevelt

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Roosevelt, Theodore (1858-1919), 26th president of the United States (1901-09), the first president to exploit the public dimensions of his office in an age of mass communications, a reform leader at home and a skilled diplomat abroad. In his lifetime Roosevelt became a personal model, particularly for the country's youth, in a way that no public figure has matched. He was one of the most popular presidents in American history.

The son of a wealthy, socially prominent merchant, Roosevelt was born in New York City on October 27, 1858. He was educated by private tutors and studied at Harvard University, graduating in 1880 as a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the most prestigious social clubs. Ill health marred his boyhood, and he suffered poor eyesight, attacks of asthma, and nervous digestion, before teenage body-building efforts transformed him into a strong, vigorous young man. After his father's sudden death in 1878, Roosevelt forsook scientific ambitions, developed political interests, and became engaged to Alice Lee of Boston, whom he married in 1880. Alice Roosevelt died in 1884, just after the birth of their only child. Their daughter, also named Alice, as Alice Roosevelt Longworth became a well-known Washington personality in later years. In 1886 Roosevelt married Edith Carow of New York, who became his most valued adviser. They had a daughter and four sons, the oldest of whom, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., was a decorated hero in the two world wars.

Early Political Career

After graduation from college, Roosevelt entered politics and abandoned the study of law when, as a Republican, he was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1881. He attracted immediate attention in the press with his upper-class background, colorful ...

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...llowed to raise a division to fight in France after the United States entered the war in 1917. Although he continued to advocate domestic reforms, he increasingly devoted himself to calling for a strong pro-Allied foreign policy and greater military preparedness. Roosevelt was gradually reconciled with his former party opponents, including Taft. He disbanded the Progressives in 1916 to back the Republican nominee against Wilson, and it seemed certain that he would be the party's candidate in 1920. His four sons all fought in World War I, and the death of the youngest, Quentin, in combat as an aviator in August 1918, was a heavy blow. Roosevelt's health deteriorated during the final years of his life, partly as a result of tropical fevers contracted on an expedition to the Amazon region of Brazil in 1914. He died at his home in Oyster Bay, New York, on January 6, 1919.

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