U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt Little-Known Facts & Psychohistory

About the U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, history, trivia, and little-known facts, and psychohistory.


26th President




Roosevelt never escaped the trauma caused by his sickly childhood. He was haunted throughout his life by the need to prove himself, to establish his strength and virility. "Owing to my asthma I was not able to go to school, and I was nervous and self-conscious," he recalled. "I felt great admiration for men who were fearless and could hold their own in the world, and I had a great desire to be like them." Roosevelt worshiped his father, and the sudden death of Theodore Senior when TR was only 19 intensified the young man's need to make his mark and play a "man's role." In his autobiography, Roosevelt wrote: "In public as in private life a bold front tends to insure peace and not strife." TR always used this bold front to cover his basic insecurity.


Roosevelt disliked the nickname Teddy. None of his friends or relatives dared to address him that way.

While working as a rancher in the Dakotas, TR served for a time as a deputy sheriff in Billings County.

TR's vision was so bad that he was not able to function without his eyeglasses. When he went away to war in 1898, he had several extra pairs of spectacles stitched into the lining of his uniform.

While president, Roosevelt used to spar several rounds in the White House gym. (He had been on the boxing team at Harvard.) Once, he even went a few rounds with John L. Sullivan, the heavyweight champion. On one unfortunate occasion, the President's sparring partner scored with a hard blow to the left eye. As a result of the blow, TR permanently lost the use of this eye. The injury, however, remained a well-kept secret for years, simply because TR feared the humiliation that would result from the news that the President had been blinded in one eye during a sparring session in the White House gym.

The term "teddy bear" stems from one of the President's well-publicized hunting expeditions, in which he refused to shoot a cornered bear because it was too small. Instead, he insisted that the cub be turned loose unharmed. Shortly after this touching incident took place, teddy bears became a national fad.

TR almost died on his Brazilian expedition of 1913. He suffered intermittent attacks of malaria and dysentery, gashed a leg that became infected, and lost a total of 57 lb. Three members of Roosevelt's party never returned to civilization; one drowned, another went insane and killed a member of the expedition before disappearing into the jungle. At times the former President's fever rose to 105 deg, and according to his son Kermit, "father was out of his mind."

He originated such familiar phrases as "the lunatic fringe," "muckrakers," and "my hat is in the ring."

The executive mansion was called the President's House until TR called it the White House on his stationery.

Roosevelt was the first president to

--leave the U.S. during his term of office

--ride in an automobile for state purposes

--ride in an airplane

--ride in a submarine

--publish a book while president: a scholarly volume, The Deer Family.

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