Useful Notes / Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt (October 27, 1858 — January 6, 1919), also known as "Teddy" or "T.R.", was the president from 1901 to 1909, who followed William McKinley and was followed by William Howard Taft, is known for having been in the cavalry, leading the Rough Riders' charge on San Juan Hill, commissioning the Panama Canal, preserving loads and loads of landnote , and saying "speak softly, but carry a big stick" (the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is called "the big stick" by its crew). Before he became the 26th President of the United States, he was a governor, historian, adventurer, police chief, cavalryman, cowboy, explorer, hunter, naturalist, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, author of 35 books, conservationist, etc. He was a larger-than-life figure with a bombastic reputation as a total badass.

He was a Real Life example of Reassignment Backfire; the Republican Party (specifically, the corrupt political machines that grafted votes from immigrants) became sick of his grandstanding as a Governor of New York and appointed him Vice President, where it was assumed that he'd be powerless. Less than a year later, President McKinley was assassinatednote , making Teddy President, and stirring several comments along the lines of "That damn cowboy is gonna be the president?!" Teddy went on to be elected in his own right in 1904 (the first "Accidental President" to do so), won the Nobel Peace Prize (while still in office) for brokering a peace deal between the warring Japanese and Russian Empires (becoming the first US President to win the award), sent a US fleet on a nonviolent global cruise (which was more of a global series of parties really) to show the naval strength of the US, then stepped aside at the end of his second term so that William Howard Taft could be elected President.

Over the next four years, however, Roosevelt grew to dislike Taft and his governing (Taft drifted towards the conservative wing of the Republicans, while Teddy was of the liberal, Progressive wing), and decided to challenge him for the Republican nomination. When that didn't work, Roosevelt actually formed his own political party (the Progressive Party, also known by the more badass name of the Bull Moose Party) so that he could run against Taft in the 1912 election. This wound up splitting the vote and allowing Woodrow Wilson to win the election (thus showing why third parties don't last long on the national stage), but Teddy did end up getting more votes than Taft — the second and last time (not counting the spectacularly messed-up election of 1860) that a third-party candidate placed second or higher in a US Presidential election. (Abraham Lincoln was elected in 1864 on the Union Party ticket, although that is also kinda messed up.note )

Teddy was way ahead of his time when it came to a lot of social issues. While running for the presidency in 1912, he became the first major presidential nominee to support full suffrage for women, and he had supported equality for women since at least 1880. He also defended three minority groups facing major discrimination during his time: Catholics, Jews, and blacks, and he appointed several men from those groups to federal offices. Roosevelt nominated the first Jew to the Cabinet, Oscar Straus as Secretary of Commerce and Labor. Booker T. Washington, the most important black leader of the time, met with Teddy in the White House in 1901, becoming the first African American invited to dinner at the White House. Sadly, the South did not take too kindly to this, and a lot of blacks were attacked by racist whites in the weeks after the dinner. However, he was deeply stuck in his own time on some issues, such as his racism for Native Americans (but he improved as time went by, if only because he used to hate them so much that any change of opinion was an improvement) and his vocal support of eugenics and the concept of the "White Man's Burden".

Ironically enough, the other president to have that last name was a Democrat, whereas Teddy was a Republican (they were fifth-cousins, but Franklin's wife Eleanor was actually TR's niece). Franklin, in fact, went with the Democratic Party in order to avoid being drowned out by his distant cousin's reputation in the Republicans (well, that, and the fact that TR's Oyster Bay branch of the family had long been Republicans, while FDR's Hyde Park branch had long been Democrats). Despite being from different parties, both of them were generally liberal in their policies - remember, both parties had strong liberal and conservative wings until at least the 1940s, and the identification of the GOP with the Right and the Dems with the Left wasn't that close to 100% until the Reagan years.

Teddy was also a real-life example of a Gentleman Adventurer and Egomaniac Hunter. He was a big conservationist, eager to make sure he'd always have something to hunt. The "teddy bear" is named after him, because he refused to shoot a black bear cub just for the sake of it. The bear was put down — the rest of his family had been already shot. Foreign ambassadors dreaded meeting him, as it usually meant that they would have to accompany him on his strenuous daily jog, with him making fun of them when they inevitably ran short of breath and started lagging behind. Edith Roosevelt, Teddy's second wife, was a real-life example of a Victorious Childhood Friend — she had been a childhood playmate of his.

He was also a famed adventurer, famously taking a big game hunt to Africa shortly after leaving the White House and later exploring an uncharted tributary of the Amazon River. Words alone can not describe the impressiveness of this later feat. This is chronicled in the book River of Doubt. After he was through with it, it had to be renamed the River of UNQUESTIONABLE CERTAINTY!

Notable for being the youngest US President at 42 years old and the only President born in New York City. (He is not, however, the youngest US President to be elected. That's John F. Kennedy, who was 43. Teddy was elected at 46.)

In case it wasn't clear by now, he was made of pure, condensed badassery, and is often portrayed as even more so than he already was. Within his own lifetime, historian Henry Adams explicitly compared him to God. In fiction, he is frequently portrayed as a Large Ham, in keeping with his boisterous nature and public persona. At her wedding, his daughter Alice stated that "My father wants to be the bride at every wedding, the corpse at every funeral, and the baby at every christening." But she was giving as good as she got; Alice was a notorious handful: rambunctious, mischievous, and known to the press as "Princess Alice" due to her beauty and outgoing nature. Her father had once snarked, "I can either run the country, or attend to Alice. I cannot possibly do both." She would go on to become a Washington socialite/lobbyist whose razor wit, political savvy, and connections could build up or destroy any politician she set her sights on. Teddy also had a son whom he named Kermit (THAT SHOWED HIM) who joined him on some of his expeditions. Teddy's grandson, Kermit Jr., would also have adventures, but as he was a CIA officer these tended to be rather more Cloak & Dagger affairs that involved, among other things, overthrowing the democratically elected government of Iran and installing the Shah as an absolute monarch. Hey, it was the Cold War!

Film of President Roosevelt can be found here as he was the first President to have most of his professional career documented on film, from the Rough Riders to his death. He is also one of the first Presidents of whom we have voice recordings; his accent and somewhat high-pitched voice take some people off-guard.

Teddy was the first President to visit another country while in office - he took a trip to Panama in 1906 to see how the completion of the Panama Canal was coming along.

Compare Andrew Jackson.

Theodore Roosevelt in fiction:

  • T.R. was played by Robin Williams in the Ben Stiller vehicle Night at the Museum and its sequel. His appearance in the third film of the series is believed to have been the last mainstream film Williams made before his death. (A less-known fact of T.R.'s life is that he reformed the New York Police Department, which is why his statue is in the Natural History Museum there.)
  • Brian Keith gave a very true-to-life portrayal in John Milius' The Wind and the Lion.
  • T.R. was played by Tom Berenger in the 1997 miniseries The Rough Riders, which was also written and directed by John Milius.
  • In the play Arsenic and Old Lace, Teddy Brewster believes that he is Theodore Roosevelt and behaves accordingly.
  • Teddy is the star of Tales from the Bully Pulpit, widely considered one of the most awesome graphic novels ever written. He and the ghost of Thomas Edison steal H.G. Wells' time machine to slaughter Nazis on Mars in the future. And considering Teddy's strength and machismo, the concept works.
  • The Amazon Trail II: You get to rescue Teddy and his son Kermit in a portion of this Edutainment Game. He helpfully introduces himself as "Teddy Roosevelt, explorer and former President of the United States". It's implied he rescued himself after the player gives him some medicine. He had a pretty badly hurt leg and it was badly infected during his Amazon River voyage and most of his companions thought he wouldn't make it home, but he did, though he was never in the same health again. The inaccuracy here is that he would never introduce himself as "Teddy".
  • In the Timeline-191 Alternate History series by Harry Turtledove, Roosevelt is a main character in the original novel How Few Remain and in the subsequent Great War trilogy. In How Few Remain, he funds and leads his own militia regiment (The Unauthorized Regiment) in rural Montana fighting against Canada in the Second Mexican War (Canada being allied to the Confederacy). In the Great War trilogy he is the (Democratic) President during World War One and he leads the Union to victory against the Confederacy (the Union fighting on the side of the Central Powers, and the Confederacy on the side of the Entente).
    • After having finally led the United States to victory over their long-time enemies in the Confederacy, the US reannexed certain parts of territory from the CSA...including one little portion in Virginia where Robert E. Lee's house lies. Roosevelt's dying request is to be buried in front of Lee's house, spiting the Confederates one last time by soiling the memory of their hero. General Custer also gets buried in the same plot of land, and it was his strategies that led to the Confederacy's defeat. Theodore is hailed as the greatest Union president in (alternate) history.
      • Truth in Television: You know what that little plot of land is called in our current history? Arlington National Cemetery!
  • Mike Resnick wrote a series of short stories about Theodore Roosevelt called The Other Teddy Roosevelts. Among his adventures, Teddy goes after Jack the Ripper ("Redchapel"), takes on a vampire lord in New York ("Two Hunters in Manhattan"), and leads the resurrected Rough Riders into WWI and gets slaughtered. ("Over There")
  • More Information Than You Require grants T.R. full Memetic Badass status.
    Theodore Roosevelt and his son Kermit explored Brazil's legendary River of Doubt. After they were done, it was renamed THE RIVER OF UNQUESTIONABLE CERTAINTY.
  • In Don Rosa's The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, Scrooge meets Theodore Roosevelt a number of times on the road to making his fortune. TR is nearly as badass as Scrooge himself. Before you get confused, this is Don Rosa's young Scrooge McDuck, who, in a fit of rage, tore an entire steamship in half and threw a grand piano through a window, and regularly took on the most badass men in the world. The fact that TR came close to beating him in a one-on-one brawl is a mark of honor.
    • They meet three times: In "The Buckaroo Of The Badlands", when Scrooge is a cowboy protecting a prize steer, Scrooge meets Theodore and his group of cowboys, and recommends Theodore to return to politics, after a great adventure (though Scrooge had received the name Buck McDuck and he didn't knew the name of the Future Badass). Then fourteen years later, when Scrooge buys the Duckburg hill where his money bin will be built. To do that, Scrooge deals at the same time with the Beagle Boys and Theodore, his group of Rough Riders and the freakin' NAVY! When they face off (almost destroying themselves in what would have been the greatest fight of ALL TIME), they recognize each other and make peace. All this because Theodore thought the "Scottish billionaire" was a foreign invader. And finally, four years later, in "The Sharpie of Culebra Cut", which is basically about the Panama Canal and a deal made by Scrooge's sisters involving a... teddy bear. Oh, and Scrooge and T.R. finally fight!
  • The Looney Tunes short "Ballot Box Bunny" (1951), Bugs dresses up as Teddy and uses his motto "I speak softly, but I carry a BIG stick," to which Yosemite Sam replies, "Well, I speak LOOOUUUD, and I carry a BIIIIIGGER stick! And I use it, too!"
  • Another Looney Tunes short, "Hillbilly Hare", references him: "And just who might you be?" "Well, ah might be Teddy Roosevelt, but ah ain't."
  • The Atlantis: The Lost Empire spinoff travel guide book, "Atlantis: Subterranean Tours" says Teddy was invited to Atlantis after the events of the film by Whitmore, who had established top secret trips to the lost city for celebrities, staff and colleagues of his.
  • Doctor Robotnik/Eggman of the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise began life as a parody drawing of T.R. His appearance and Large Ham are about all the good doctor shares with Roosevelt .
  • TR was featured in an episode of The Legend of Tarzan. He was portrayed as a squat, obese hothead who was taught by the cast that hunting animals is wrong.
  • Likely would have appeared in Deadwood had it not been canceled - the show's Historical-Domain Character protagonist, Seth Bullock, was one of Teddy's closest friends.
  • In the Alternate History work Fight And Be Right, he becomes Governor of the American-protected Congo Free State.
  • Russia, Japan, must you kill each other so? We can negotiate! Or, if you want to, we can safari! FUCK IT LET'S DO BOTH
    • "Mr. President, your efforts have earned you the Nobel Peace Prize!" "They have? You know, sometimes I like a good war though don't you?"
  • Martin Scorsese has had a biopic of Roosevelt in Development Hell for years now, with the intention of TR being played by Leonardo DiCaprio.
  • Subnormality features a strip where two time-traveling neo-Nazis, intending to kill the other Roosevelt, go after T.R. by mistake. They fail, not because of Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act, but because Teddy is about to chuck their car at them.
  • At the end of Newsies, then New York Governor T.R. shows up at the end to aid the newsboys.
  • Teddy went up against T.E. Lawrence in the third season of Deadliest Warrior. He won.
  • An oil lobbyist wanted to drill in his statue's head for oil in The Simpsons episode "Mr. Lisa Wants to Go to Washington".
    • Later decapitated in Itchy's gruesome tirade in "Itchy the Lucky Mouse in Manhattan Madness" in episode "The Day The Violence Died". Quite unfortunate for the Old Knickerbocker! But all in good humor!
    • After so brutally beating up Teddy, the writers give him the proper respect he deserves in the episode "Bart Stops to Smell the Roosevelts" where Bart gets inspired by T.R. to dabble in his own badassery.
  • His head in a jar appears several times in Futurama in the presidential section of the Head Museum. He's also the founder of the New New York Museum of Natural History, and was attacked by an evil crab during a supervillain heist. He lost, but in his defense he was somewhat handicapped in that fight due to lacking everything below the neck.
  • He attended the clock inauguration ceremony in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
  • He appeared in Deadpool as a super zombie summoned by a kilt-wearing American patriot necromancer. He proceeded to get into fist fights with bears and get shot through the head. It took an elephant impaling him upon its tusk and being connected to an electricity main to kill him.
  • Is a regular host/anchor of Epic Rap Battles of History News. Even though he only appears and speaks via still photographs/statues, he's in full-on Memetic Badass form.
  • Teddy appears in the animated movie War of the Worlds: Goliath, in which he's the general secretary of a multi-national organization that fights the Martians. He gets to be shown as a badass during the movie, And gives a Rousing Speech about taking the war to the Martians someday.
  • His Long Island home was robbed of one of the first teddy bears by Carmen in one Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego? episode.
  • An expy of him, Bull Moose, appears for some reason as a Villain of the Week in the 1970s animated series The Super Globetrotters.
  • Teddy gets mentioned in North By Northwest in a scene where Roger Thornhill(impersonating George Kaplan) and the Professor are waiting for Vandamm at an observation lounge by Mount Rushmore:
    Thornhill: I don't like the way Teddy Roosevelt iis looking at me.
    Professor: Perhaps he's trying to give you one last word of caution, Mr. Kaplan. "Speak softly, and carry a big stick."
  • In Civilization VI, Teddy Roosevelt is featured as the representative leader for the Americans. True to his real-life policy, his "Big Stick Policy" agenda makes an AI Roosevelt like players that never declare war or bully city-states on the same continent as him. Doesn't seem to stop him from bulldozing the city-states himself if he feels like it.