Theodore Roosevelt Jr. (October 27, 1858 January 6, 1919), also known as "Teddy"note or "T.R.", was the 26th President of the United States (190109), following William McKinley and preceding William Howard Taft, and the eighth from the Republican Party. He is known for, among other things, having fought for his country as a cavalry officer during the Spanish-American War (most famously leading the Rough Riders' charge on San Juan Hill), conserving loads of public land,note commissioning the Panama Canal,note and popularizing the phrase "Speak softly and Carry a Big Stick."note (The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is called "the big stick" by its crew.) Prior to becoming President, Roosevelt was a governor, historian, adventurer, cavalryman, police chief, cowboy, hunter, explorer, naturalist, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, author of 35 books, conservationist, etc. He was, in short, a larger-than-life figure with a bombastic personality and a well-earned 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 unbelievably overdressed grandstanding as a Governor of New York and appointed him Vice President, where it was assumed that he'd be powerless.note Less than a year later, President McKinley was assassinated,note 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 American to win a Nobel Prize in anything), sent a battleship fleet known as the Great White Fleetnote on a peacetime 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 yes there were such things as Liberal Republicans and Conservative Democrats at the time; both parties started off as "Big Tent" groups that encompassed people across the political spectrum who simply had common interests before eventually whittling down to one side of the spectrum in the second half of the 20th century). Thus, Roosevelt 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 Republican vote and allowing Democratic candidate 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 ) Roosevelt eventually made his peace with the Republican Party and had mended his fences with the party bosses to such an extent that he was their presumptive nominee for the 1920 election, which he almost certainly would have won... had he not died in 1919. The Republican nomination eventually went to Warren Harding, who won the 1920 election, died in office, and became remembered for a hugely corrupt administration directly antithetical to Roosevelt's reformist philosophy. As for the Bull Moose Party, that somewhat quickly dissolved after their failed election bid; two attempts at trying to revive it would occur in the following decades, but neither got anywhere near half as far as the Teddy-led incarnation did, galvanizing the belief that third party candidates held no real weight in the American political system (this being in spite of the fact that both the Republican and Democratic parties started off as third-party alternatives to a prior binary).
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)note and 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, Roosevelt was very much a product of the racist progressivism of the early 20th century and therefore deeply stuck in his own time on some issues. For instance, there was Brownsville affair where a unit of Black soldiers were falsely accused of shooting up Brownsville, Texas: even though the evidence favored their innocence, Roosevelt had them all dishonorably discharged at the racist urging of the Army's Inspector General. He was incredibly racist towards 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," demonstrated by his imperialistic foreign policy which included a bloody military crushing of resistance in the newly acquired American territory of the Philippines.
Ironically enough, the other president to share his last name was a Democrat, whereas Teddy was a Republican (they were fifth cousins, and 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.note 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, even though it nearly killed him and took a lot out of him regardless. 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!
Roosevelt is noted for being the youngest person ever to assume the US Presidency, at age 42. (He was not, however, the youngest US President to be elected. That would be John F. Kennedy, who was 43. Teddy was elected as president on his own behalf at 46 for a second term in 1904.) He was also the first president to have been born during the Industrial Revolution in America, and — fittingly enough, given that era's accompanying migration to cities — the first to have been born in a big city (as well as one of only two to have born in New York City; Donald Trump being the other). He is also widely considered to be the first truly modern US President.
In case it wasn't clear before now, he was made of pure, condensed badassery, and is often depicted as being even more so than he already was. Within his own lifetime, in fact, historian Henry Adams explicitly compared him to God. In fiction, he's frequently portrayed as a Large Ham, in keeping with his boisterous nature and public persona. As his daughter Alice observed, "My father always wanted 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 and 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 and served in both World Wars. His grandson, Kermit Jr., would also have adventures, but since he was a CIA officer these tended to be rather more Cloak and Dagger affairs that involved, among other things, helping overthrow the democratically-elected government of Iran and install the Shah there as an absolute monarch. Hey, it was the Cold War!
T.R.'s first son and namesake, Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt Jr. was the only general officer to land with the first wave at the Battle of Normandy, and Omar Bradley said that his taking command at Utah Beach and salvaging a landing in the wrong spot was the most heroic thing he'd ever seen, all this despite having arthritis that forced him to use a cane and a heart condition that would kill him only months later. For this, he was also awarded the Medal of Honor, becoming the second father-and-son duo so honored, the first being some guy named MacArthur. Ted's own son, Captain Quentin Roosevelt II went up Omaha Beach that day, and when Ted died, the body of his younger brother, Second Lieutenant Quentin Roosevelt (a pilot shot down by the Germans in World War I) was later moved to join him at the cemetery at Normandy.
Despite their popularity, the Roosevelts, like the Kennedys after them, endured more than their share of tragedy. Theodore lost his father Theodore Sr. to a gastrointestinal tumor and his mother Martha "Mittie" to typhoid, both in their forties. His beloved first wife, Alice, passed away on the same day as his mother (cruelly enough, on Valentine's Day 1884) after giving birth to the daughter who was named for her, which would strain Theodore's relationship with his daughter for the rest of his life. Theodore's younger brother, Elliot, despite his good looks and charming personality, battled alcoholism and mental illness which escalated after the death of his wife Anna, and passed away in 1894 at age 34, leaving his three children — including future First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt — orphaned. Despite his advocacy of war, TR was devastated by the death of his son Quentin in World War I. And TR's son Kermit, who battled depression all his life, never recovered from his father's death and took his own life at the age of 53. Thus, Theodore Roosevelt's wife Edith, like Rose Kennedy, ended up surviving not only her husband but three of her four sons.
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.
He is also an influential figure in the early history of American Football. In fact, without his intervention, it's likely that the sport never would have survived the first decade of the 20th century. Though his near-sightedness prevented him from playing while a student at Harvard, he was an avowed fan of Collegiate American Football. As more and more institutions banned the sport due to its violence (including spinal cord injuries, fractured skulls, and outright fatalities), Roosevelt looked to save it by making it safer. After 19 collegiate players died in 1905 and Roosevelt's own son (a freshman at Harvard) suffered a broken nose in a game, Roosevelt brought together prominent head coaches (including Walter "the Father of Football" Camp) to establish rules for making it safer. Rule changes that were instituted included limiting teams to 11 players on the field at a time, the creation of a "neutral zone" between the offense and defense, the easing of restrictions on the forward pass. By 1909, fatalities were almost nonexistent and injuries had dropped significantly. The contributions of coaches like Camp, Amos Alonzo Stagg, John Heisman, and Knute Rockne in the years that followed would go on to make college football America's second most popular sport (behind baseball) in the early half of the 20th century and pave the way for the National Football League's rise to dominance in the latter half.
Compare Andrew Jackson, a president similarly portrayed as a badass but with a much shakier political reputation.
Theodore Roosevelt in fiction:
- 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.
- 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 know 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!
- He appeared in Deadpool: Dead Presidents alongside every other dead president, as an Ax-Crazy 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.
- In the comic strip Peanuts, Sally Brown repurposes TR's quote, "Speak softly and carry a big stick," into "Speak softly and carry a beagle," in a story arc in which she uses Snoopy to defend herself from bullies at the playground. Speak Softly, and Carry a Beagle also became the title of the published strip compilation that included this story arc.
- Led by a young Theodore Roosevelt, a motley crew of soon-to-be American legends must work together to solve a mystery that threatens life itself. Harry Houdini street magician and master of misdirection. Annie Oakley a washed-up entertainer, eager for a chance to prove herself in a real war. Jack Johnson an undefeated brawler and the son of ex-slaves, determined to get his shot at the heavyweight championship...When a terrifying alien technology destroys the USS Maine, these unlikely allies set sail for bloody Cuba, into the heart of a brewing conflict, to wage a shadow war against the greatest threat mankind has ever known. Before they were famous, they were... Rough Riders!
- T.R. was played by Robin Williams in the Ben Stiller vehicle Night at the Museum and its sequel. The president is here portrayed as a wax figure that comes to life like everything else in the museum when night falls. 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.
- Martin Scorsese has had a biopic of Roosevelt in Development Hell for years now, with the intention of TR being played by Leonardo DiCaprio. It will likely film in 2021.
- At the end of Newsies, then New York Governor T.R. shows up at the end to aid the newsboys.
- He attended the clock inauguration ceremony in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Like the clockmaker, T.R. also lost a son in World War I.
- 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 is 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."
- Teddy, the Rough Rider is an absurdly compressed biopic that attempts to cram Roosevelt's whole career into a 19-minute short film.
- Claude Akins played the man twice, first in The Gambler Returns The Luck Of The Draw in 1991 and the second time in Sherlock Holmes Incidcent At Victoria Falls.
- 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 I 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.
- 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 the Alternate History work Fight and Be Right, he becomes Governor of the American-protected Congo Free State.
- A young Teddy Roosevelt is a major character in The Twilight's Last Gleaming, leading a large group of survivors out of Montana to escape the eruption of Yellowstone. He later helps bring down the Chicago Commune... by leading a small team to infiltrate the Commune's headquarters, then uses a fire hose to subdue and arrest the enemy leadership.
- In Cure the Texas Fever by J.T. Edson, Waxahachie Smith is aided by a young man calling himself 'Frank Smith'. At the end of the novel, it is revealed that this 'Frank' is an impersonator who has been posing as Frank Smith to allow the real Frank Smith to travel to Texas unhindered. The impersonator's real name? Teddy Roosevelt.
- Appears as a minor character in E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime, most notably a chapter where Coalhouse Walker's fiancee Sarah tries to enlist his help in freeing Coalhouse from prison.
- The "Theodore Roosevelt Mysteries" historical fiction trilogy by Lawrence Alexander, consisting of The Big Stick (1986), Speak Softly (1987) and The Strenuous Life (1992), is set during Roosevelt's time as Police Commissioner of New York and features him taking a personal interest in solving a couple of more perplexing cases.
- T.R. was played by Tom Berenger in the 1997 miniseries The Rough Riders, which was also written and directed by John Milius.
- 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.
- Teddy went up against T.E. Lawrence in the third season of Deadliest Warrior. He won.
- In the Ken Burns PBS documentary The Roosevelts: An Intimate History (2015), TR's lines were read by Paul Giamatti.
- Is featured in an episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles when, on a lecture tour with his father, the young Henry Jones Jr. meets the then-current President while they are both on safari in Africa.
- Our Miss Brooks: In "Madame Brooks Dubarry", Mrs. Davis dons a Theodore Roosevelt costume for a party.
- T.R., and his role in the Spanish-American War, is discussed in an episode of Dan Carlin's Hardcore History, The American Peril.
- In the play Arsenic and Old Lace, Teddy Brewster believes that he is Theodore Roosevelt and behaves accordingly.
- Newsies: Governor Roosevelt turns up near the end to ensure that Pulitzer gives the Newsies a fair deal to end the strike.
- One of the five characters in Tintypes is Roosevelt, listed in the script and playbill as "T.R."
- There is a musical called Teddy and Alice, which depicts Roosevelt's attempt through his presidency (and up to the 1912 election) to manage the country and handle his daughter.
- 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".
- Doctor Robotnik/Eggman of the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise began life as a caricature of T.R. wearing pajamas. His appearance and Large Ham tendencies are about all the good doctor shares with Roosevelt.
- 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. A later update introduced a second version of him that emphasizes his conservationist side, getting science and culture bonuses to high-appeal tiles and seeking to establish national parks.
- Shows up in the first mission of the American campaign of Empire Earth II, set during the Spanish-American War. It is entirely possible for his very first line to be "MY BLOOD BOILS!".
- Hark! A Vagrant: 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?"
- Questionable Content: Faye erroneously quotes Roosevelt when talking about facing fears in "Sanitary Conditions".
- 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.
- Is a regular host/anchor of Epic Rap Battles of History News. He finally got his own battle in Season 5, against Winston Churchill.
Roosevelt: I'm into fitness, digging ditches through an isthmus, rough riding down to Cuba like What's up, bitches?!
- In the legendary post which predicted which president would win in a massive battle royale knife fight, Roosevelt is one of the "Holy Trinity" of the three best combatants, along with Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln. He's predicted to win.
- He appears in the SCP Foundation tale Lord Blackwood and the Great Tarasque Hunt of '83 as one of four hunters hired by the French Government to hunt down the titular monster (AKA SCP-682). He ends up surviving the whole ordeal and at the end of the story decides to enter politics like in history.
- If Death HADN'T caught Teddy sleeping.
- 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."
- 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.
- 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. The episode also implies he beat up Monty Burns at some point. The episode actually managed to get access to actual recordings of Roosevelt, and he was credited as a guest star, making him the only president to voice himself in the series.
- 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.
- 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.
- He appeared in an episode of Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum, where he teaches Brad about how nature needs space to live and grow.
- 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.