U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt Early Life and Physical Description

About the U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, early life and career before the presidency, history and biography, physical description.


26th President


On the Way to the White House: After his marriage, Roosevelt settled in at Sagamore Hill and devoted his time to writing, but he yearned to return to politics. His close friend Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts persuaded Pres. Benjamin Harrison to appoint Roosevelt to the National Civil Service Commission. Once more TR attracted headlines with his attacks on corruption in his own party. When a reform mayor was swept into office in New York City, Roosevelt was chosen as president of the Board of Police Commissioners. He had a "bully time" cracking down on graft in the Police Dept.

In 1897, when the Republicans returned to the White House, Lodge once more intervened on Roosevelt's behalf, this time winning the gentleman reformer an appointment as assistant secretary of the navy. When the Spanish-American War loomed on the horizon in February, 1898, TR managed one of the most audacious strokes of his career. Without any authorization from his superiors, Roosevelt gave Commodore (later Admiral) Dewey the orders that set up the great naval victory of Manila Bay. Roosevelt, however, was not content to watch the war from the Navy Dept. in Washington. He resigned his post and quickly organized a volunteer cavalry regiment, "the Rough Riders," which included high society Ivy League equestrians along with illiterate cowboys from the western plains. On July 1, 1898, came Roosevelt's "crowded hour." He led his men in a daring charge up the San Juan Heights in Cuba. For his bravery, Colonel Roosevelt was nominated for the Congressional Medal of Honor and returned to the U.S. as one of the greatest heroes of "the Splendid Little War."

For the first time, Roosevelt had emerged as a national figure, and the Republican bosses of New York State lost no time in using his fame for their own purposes. They needed a candidate for governor in the election of 1898 who would distract the voters from the recent scandals in Albany, and who could be better suited for this purpose than the colorful hero of San Juan Hill? Roosevelt was elected governor by a narrow margin after a whirlwind campaign, but once in office he challenged the Establishment on a wide range of patronage and social welfare issues. The solution was to "kick Roosevelt upstairs" into the vice-presidential nomination, where he would be unable to cause any trouble. At the Republican convention of 1900, an unwilling Roosevelt was placed on the ticket with William McKinley. When the Republicans won and TR took office as vice-president, he feared that his political career was ended.

His Person: The new vice-president was 5 ft. 10 in. tall. He had brown hair and a heavy brown mustache. He wore pince-nez eyeglasses with thick lenses to correct vision that had been poor since his boyhood. He habitually gritted his teeth when smiling, and his flashing incisors became one of his trademarks. Roosevelt had an unusually high-pitched voice and spoke in the clipped, aristocratic cadences of a true Harvard man. His most notable personal characteristic was his enormous vitality, his nervous energy; he was always in motion, and whenever he entered a room, people always felt an "electric current."

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