Theodore Roosevelt

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Roosevelt sighs and prepares to go kick ass, 1902.
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Speak softly and carry a big stick, you will go far.
—Teddy, quoting an ancient African proverb
Death had to take him sleeping, for if he was awake there'd have been a fight.
—Vice President Thomas R. Marshall, when Teddy died

Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt (27 October 1858–6 January 1919) ("The good Roosevelt. The one who shot bears--not the cripple." - P.J. O'Rourke) was the 26th President of the United States (September 14, 1901–March 4, 1909), and before that a New York State Assemblyman, Governor of New York, deputy sheriff in the Dakota Territory, Police Commissioner of New York City, U.S. Civil Service Commissioner, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army, and Vice President of the United States. Whew!

He also drank a gallon of coffee a day and got in a knife fight with a cougar. He had the knife, not the cougar.

In his time[edit]

One of TR's significant accomplishments was the Antiquities Act's passage and the creation of the United States Forest Service, which allowed the National Park System to work. It should be noted that Roosevelt's view of conservation meant saving the land for efficient use, rather than saving it for its own sake. This, along with the Hetch Hetchy dispute, led to a significant gulf between Roosevelt and the Sierra Club. This is a pity because he was one of the best allies that they have ever had in the Oval Office.

Roosevelt was an avowed imperialist, often locking rhetorical horns with Mark Twain in the national media concerning the American presence in the Philippines.

In 1912, Roosevelt was angry about the direction that his successor, William Howard Taft, had taken the Republican Party and the nation in. The main point of argument between them was that Roosevelt was of the liberal progressive wing of the Republicans, while Taft was of the conservative wing. The progressive Republicans were something of an assortment of ideologies consisting of reformist economic centrism, which was essentially welfare capitalism, stronger regulations on social issues, and strong support for civic nationalism ("Americanism"), with some light-populism and conservatism thrown in for good measure. Consequently, he ran as a third-party candidate for President under the Progressive Party ticket (commonly known as the "Bull Moose" party) to oppose Taft. His 1912 run remains the only third-party Presidential run of the 20th century to beat one of the established "first parties" (in this case, the Republicans), mostly due to the fact it was simply his wing of the Republican Party under a new name, which also meant that Taft became the first (and only) incumbent President to place third in an election, winning 23.2% of the vote and only two states (Vermont and Utah), and proving why viable third parties never last long in American politics, TR's Bull Moose run split the GOP and allowed Democrat Woodrow Wilson to get elected President with 41.8% of the vote.

Modern views[edit]

In modern times, especially in online circles,[1] TR has been transformed into a memetic badass and archetype of manliness on the scale of Chuck Norris, only minus the radical right-wing politics. One of his most famous moments was when, on his way to giving a speech, he was shot in the chest by a would-be assassin (the bullet was slowed to well-short-of-deadly velocity by his eyeglass case and the folded-up speech in his shirt pocket). Instead of looking for a doctor immediately (that he wasn't spitting blood told him he could afford to delay, and he didn't want to risk suffering the same fate James Garfield and William McKinley had[2]), he delivered the ninety-minute speech first, with the opening line of:

Ladies and gentlemen, I don't know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.

As it would have been more dangerous to remove, the bullet stayed lodged in his chest over the rest of his life. JFK was such a wimp; a real man would shove his brains back in and keep on going.

TR was a firm believer in practicing what he called the Strenuous LifeWikipedia to stay healthy, taking up boxing, tennis, hiking, rowing, polo, and horseback riding. After his presidency, he went on a questionable safari trip in Africa, and in 1913 he charted the Amazon tributary known as the River of Doubt (now known as the RIVER OF UNQUESTIONABLE CERTAINTY Roosevelt River). Roosevelt's leg became infected, which unfortunately compounded with the damage caused by the impacted bullet, ruining his health.

Teddy the evil socialist[edit]

Teddy the evil socialist exists in the same realm as Alternate Universe Woodrow Wilson, which means he doesn't actually exist unless it's in the minds of the rabidly right-wing. This version of Theodore Roosevelt wanted to destroy capitalism, establish an anti-democratic proto-fascist state, and somehow contributed to both democratic socialism and Nazism. Teddy, the evil socialist, is a prevalent character among the usual suspects Heritage Foundation,[3] Glenn Beck, and other wingnut Republicans/libertarians who demonstrate how far the Republican Party has drifted to the right in modern times.

External links[edit]

See also[edit]

Icon fun.svg For those of you in the mood, RationalWiki has a fun article about Teddy Roosevelt.


  1. such as
  2. Dying from infection caused by attempts to remove a bullet that likely would've been harmless if left alone, sort of. In Garfield's case, several doctors inserted their (unwashed) fingers into the wound to try and find the bullet (as was standard practice), more or less guaranteeing a nasty infection.
  3. Although returned to the Republican fold, Roosevelt continued until his death in January 1919 to press for Progressive reforms that would move the country closer to the social democracies of Europe. That was his goal, and it has remained the goal of Progressives ever since.