The Wikipedia page for Theodore Roosevelt is far too long to thoroughly recap in this space, especially while I’m here in Buffalo and out of my normal routine. Plus it contains lots of politics, obviously, and I don’t want to open the door for a comments-section Ron Paul flame-war. So these are bits and pieces of Roosevelt’s Wikipedia page that seem worth highlighting.
From the Wikipedia: Theodore Roosevelt.
Theodore Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States of America. He held the office from 1901-1909, then ran for it again in 1912 (more on that in a bit). He is known, per the Wikipedia, for his “exuberant personality” and “robust masculinity.”
(Is there a better adjective to pair with “masculinity” than “robust?” Vigorous? Potent? Hulking? I’ll take robust. Good work by the Wikipedia there.)
Here are some highlights from Roosevelt’s Wikipedia page:
– Roosevelt was born to a wealthy Manhattan family in 1858. But unlike the uppity pencil-necks the city produces these days, Roosevelt took an early interest in killing and collecting wild animals after obtaining the head of a dead seal from a local market when he was 7. The young Roosevelt learned rudimentary taxidermy and began displaying the animals he had caught, killed, stuffed and studied at what he then called “The Roosevelt Museum of Natural History.” The Wikipedia doesn’t say where exactly this was or how it smelt, or why no one thought it was weird.
– While studying at Harvard, Roosevelt competitively boxed and rowed, edited the school’s literary magazine, and began work on a study of the U.S. Navy’s role in the War of 1812 that is still considered a seminal research work on that war.
– In February, 1884, Roosevelt’s wife and mother died on the same day due to unrelated illnesses. Later that year, he grew frustrated in his political career and moved to a ranch in the Badlands he had purchased on a buffalo-hunting expedition a year earlier. There, he learned to be a cowboy and wrote books about it, and became a deputy sheriff. Three outlaws made the mistake of stealing Roosevelt’s riverboat and escaping with it, so he hunted them down, caught them and stayed awake for 40 straight hours to guard them en route to Dickinson for a fair trial.
– Roosevelt found the name “Teddy” vulgar and called it “an outrageous impertinence.” He preferred to be addressed as “Colonel Roosevelt” or simply “The Colonel.” He achieved that rank during his time with the Rough Riders in the Spanish-American War, during which time, presumably, he developed the military tactic known as “Stop, drop, shut ’em down, open up shop.” That’s how Rough Riders roll.
– After his presidency, Roosevelt went on a safari in Africa with some game-hunting luminaries. They killed or trapped 11,400 animals, including 512 big-game animals. They ate 262 of them.
– During his second campaign for presidential election in 1912, Roosevelt was shot in the chest by a criminally insane New York bartender named John Schrank. Schrank had stalked Roosevelt for three weeks because William McKinley’s ghost came to him in a dream and told him to kill the presidential hopeful. He did not; the bullet went through Roosevelt’s eyeglass case and a folded copy of the 50-page speech he was about to give then lodged in Roosevelt’s chest. Roosevelt knew from his hunting and zoological studies that if he was not coughing blood the bullet had not reached his lung, so he declined suggestions that he go to the hospital and spoke for 90 minutes with blood all over his shirt. The bullet stayed in Roosevelt’s chest for the rest of his life.
– In 1913, Roosevelt — bullet still in chest — was commissioned by the Museum of Natural History to expedition through the Brazilian jungle to bring back uncharted animal specimens and seek the headwaters of the River of Doubt. (Seeking the Headwaters of the River of Doubt, by the way, is almost certainly the title of a forthcoming Sufjan Stevens song.) During the trip, Roosevelt jumped into the river to stop two canoes from crashing and suffered a minor flesh wound. The wound became so infected that Roosevelt grew delirious and at times would endlessly repeat the first line from Samuel Coleridge’s poem “Kubla Khan.” Roosevelt even asked to be left behind so the expedition could continue on schedule, but his son Kermit convinced him to remain with the group. He made it home, and after his return the River of Doubt was renamed Rio Roosevelt.
– Roosevelt said a lot of things that were implicitly or explicitly racist and endorsed the forced sterilization of criminals and “the feeble-minded.”
– During his presidency, Roosevelt liked to skinny-dip in the Potomac River in the Winter.