Theodore Roosevelt: As Strong as a Bull Moose
Born in 1858, Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States, was not blessed with strength—at least not physical strength. He was an asthmatic and sickly child, who had to be home schooled and was frequently confined. However, he would not let his physical limitations hinder his thirst for knowledge. He became an enthusiastic student of nature, including taking up taxidermy at the age of 7.
Encouraged by his father, he began a determined search to improve his strength and health. As a result, Roosevelt transformed himself from a weak child into a strong, manly adult; his body finally followed the might and intelligence of his mind.
As Teddy Roosevelt grew so did the number of activities he engaged in: he was a hunter, a naturalist, a conservationist, an explorer, a soldier and, of course, a politician. Prior to becoming president, Roosevelt formed the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, more commonly known as the Rough Riders at the beginning of the Spanish-American War. The Rough Riders consisted of cowboys and Ivy League friends of Roosevelt from when he attended college and law school.
While campaigning in Milwaukee, an assassination attempt was made on Roosevelt. He was shot in the chest, but the bullet was slowed down after passing through his eyeglass case and a copy of a speech he was about to deliver...
Upon leaving the Army, Roosevelt was elected governor of New York in 1898. Because of his desire to eradicate corruption in politics he was chosen as William McKinley’s vice-presidential running mate for the 1901 presidential election.
However, Roosevelt was thrown into presidency much sooner than expected. On Sept. 6, 1901, President McKinley was shot. Eight days later he died and Roosevelt became the youngest president in United States history, at the age of 42. In 1904, he was elected president in his own right.
While in office, Roosevelt helped complete the Panama Canal and negotiate an end to the Russo-Japanese War, for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize. Four presidents have won the award, three while in office—Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Barack Obama—and one who was not, Jimmy Carter, who won the award in 2002.
...whether it was related to his job or leisure activities. He would often read more than a book every day—even as president—and wrote an estimated 150,000 letters.
At the conclusion of his second term, Roosevelt left to tour Africa and Europe. Part of his goal was to bring back specimens for the American Museum of Natural History (one of the elephants he shot remains on display to this day).
Upon his return, Roosevelt tried to instill more progressive ideas into the Republican party, including women’s suffrage and social insurance. His friend, William Howard Taft, who he had promoted for the Republican nomination differed in the direction he believed the party should head. After failing to block Taft’s nomination, Roosevelt launched the Progressive party (nicknamed “the Bull Moose Party”) to have a platform to run for president. Presidents were not limited to serve two terms until the passage of the 22nd Amendment in 1947.
While campaigning in Milwaukee, Wis., an assassination attempt was made on Roosevelt. He was shot in the chest, but the bullet was slowed down after passing through his eyeglass case and a copy of a speech he was about to deliver and did not puncture his lung. Instead of allowing himself to be taken to a doctor, he went on to give his speech that day. Ultimately, however, he lost his bid for a third term to Woodrow Wilson.
Roosevelt is depicted on Mount Rushmore, meaning that at least half of the presidents—Lincoln being the other—featured on the iconic memorial lived with a mental illness.
Theodore Roosevelt’s days were routinely jammed with undertakings, whether it was related to his job or leisure activities. He would often read more than a book every day—even as president—and wrote an estimated 150,000 letters. It is this, along with his extreme high energy that some historians believed that Roosevelt exhibited signs of hypomania and may have had bipolar disorder. However, unlike the majority of individuals with bipolar disorder, Roosevelt may not have experienced the other end of bipolar disorder: depression. In her book Exuberance: The Passion for Life, Kay Redfield Jamison suggests that 15 percent of individuals with bipolar disorder do not become depressed.
Theodore Roosevelt was able to channel his bipolar disorder and as a consequence, the nation prospered. Historians credit Roosevelt with changing the way the office of president is viewed by making character as important as the issues. Along with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, Roosevelt is depicted on Mount Rushmore, meaning that at least half of the presidents—Lincoln being the other—featured on the iconic memorial lived with a mental illness. Roosevelt died on Jan. 6, 1919 from a heart attack.