Dead Presidents

Historical facts, thoughts, ramblings and collections on the Presidency and about the Presidents of the United States.

By Anthony Bergen
E-Mail: bergen.anthony@gmail.com
Posts tagged "TR"
Asker Anonymous Asks:
Which Roosevelt's other then TR and FDR do you think had the best chances, and the best skills, to be President?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

If it had been a different time, I’d say Eleanor Roosevelt would probably be the one, but as a woman in the male-dominated political world of the mid-20th Century, Eleanor would had trouble breaking through the glass ceiling that female political leaders are still trying to shatter today.

Several of FDR’s sons had political careers, but they were also scandal-ridden and couldn’t rise to the level of their father or distant cousin. So, the Roosevelt with the best chance would have been Theodore “Ted” Roosevelt, Jr., who was a highly-decorated soldier in both World Wars, New York State Assemblyman, Assistant Secretary of the Navy (like his father and FDR), Governor-General of the Philippines, and Governor of Puerto Rico. Ted Roosevelt was also the Republican candidate for Governor of New York in 1924, but lost the election during a nasty campaign where he faced attacks from Franklin and Eleanor. Ted’s military career could have helped him in future elections, but he died young (he was only 56) while serving during World War II.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Watching The Roosevelts and I'm confused about why TR stepped aside after one term. If he was so popular and effective why leave the Oval Office at the age of 50?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

When he won the 1904 election, TR said that he wouldn’t run again, and he instantly regretted it. Why did he do it? He probably got caught up in his victory and believed that the honorable thing to do was to say he’d stick to George Washington’s two-term tradition. Technically, Roosevelt was elected to only one term of his own (1905-1909), but since President McKinley was assassinated so soon into his own second term, Roosevelt’s succession felt like a full term. That’s the only reason that we can think of for why he refused to run in 1908; everyone has been scratching their head since he made the statement. As the second episode of The Roosevelts noted, when he made the statement, Alice Roosevelt cringed because she knew it was a mistake. It haunted him for the rest of his life because he loved being President and could probably stayed in office for at least two more terms. It especially haunted him once World War I rolled around and he grew disgusted by a lack of American preparation and the foreign policy of the Administration of President Wilson and Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan.

I don’t know about you, but beginning on tonight I’ll be spending every night of the next week glued to PBS while watching the latest documentary from Ken Burns and Florentine Films: "The Roosevelts".

Focusing on the three most significant and impactful members of one of America’s great political dynasties — Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Eleanor Roosevelt — "The Roosevelts" is a seven-part, 14-hour-long documentary, and I can’t imagine it being a disappointment to history-lovers.

Here’s the schedule for "The Roosevelts" on your local PBS affiliate. Encore performances of each episode immediately follow the new episodes each night. The schedule below is for Pacific Daylight Time (PDT), so be sure to check your local listings for the air time and PBS affiliate in your area:

Get Action (1858-1901): Sunday, September 14th, 8:00 PM
In the Arena (1901-1910): Monday, September 15th, 8:00 PM
The Fire of Life (1910-1916): Tuesday, September 16th, 8:00 PM
The Storm (1920-1933): Wednesday, September 17th, 8:00 PM
The Rising Road (1933-1939): Thursday, September 18th, 8:00 PM
The Common Cause (1939-1944): Friday, September 19th, 8:00 PM
A Strong and Active Faith (1944-1962): Saturday, September 20th, 8:00 PM

Word? Word.

Thanks, Theodore Roosevelt Association!

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In August 1876, 48-year-old James Roosevelt was absolutely devastated when his 45-year-old first wife, Rebecca, suffered a massive heart attack and died at their home in Hyde Park, New York.  James mourned Rebecca’s death for nearly three years before deciding to try to end his loneliness and attempt to fill the void left by Rebecca’s passing.  The widower — now north of 50 years old — even had a a particular woman in mind, and she happened to be a distant cousin.  James, a member of the Hudson Valley branch of the Roosevelt family, began visiting the Long Island branch of the Roosevelt family, hoping to win the interest of 23-year-old Anna Roosevelt — better known as “Bamie” — Theodore Roosevelt’s older sister.

James’s efforts were unsuccessful.  Bamie was not interested.  However, his visits to Long Island were not entirely fruitless.  The mother of Theodore and Bamie, Mittie, felt sorry for James and decided to play matchmaker.  At a dinner party that Mittie hosted, she introduced James to 26-year-old Sara Delano and the two quickly hit it off.   They married on October 7, 1880, and on January 30, 1882, Sara gave birth to their only child, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the future President of the United States.

When he was 23 years old, Franklin D. Roosevelt did what his father was unable to do years earlier — he joined the Hudson Valley Roosevelts and the Long Island Roosevelts by marriage.  On March 17, 1905, Franklin married Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, the niece of Bamie and Theodore.  Since Eleanor’s father had died in 1894, the bride was escorted down the aisle and given away by her uncle Theodore, who just happened to be President of the United States at the time.  At the wedding, the first President Roosevelt congratulated the future President Roosevelt on the marriage between the two distant cousins by telling FDR “Well, Franklin, there’s nothing like keeping the name in the family.”

Theodore Roosevelt’s youngest son, Quentin, playing with his friend, Rosewell Flower Pinckney, 1902.

Theodore Roosevelt’s youngest son, Quentin, playing with his friend, Rosewell Flower Pinckney, 1902.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Have you read The Alienist by Caleb Carr?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

No, I haven’t read The Alienist (BOOK | KINDLE). I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, but that’s solely because I simply don’t have enough time to read all of the non-fiction books that I want and need to read, so it’s hard to squeeze in a genre that isn’t at the top of my list. The premise of the book sounds interesting, though, set during Theodore Roosevelt’s time as Police Commissioner in New York City.

There is a great non-fiction book on that subject and era, however, that I would highly recommend: Island of Vice: Theodore Roosevelt’s Quest to Clean Up Sin-Loving New York by Richard Zacks (BOOK | KINDLE). Anyone interested on TR’s time as NYC’s Police Commissioner (or those of you who might have read the The Alienist and found the idea to be fascinating) should check out Island of Vice.

Richard Nixon’s Farewell Address to White House Staff, East Room of of the White House, August 9, 1974.

As Richard Nixon was preparing to head out the doors of the White House and climb aboard a helicopter taking him into exile, he gave the most personal and honest speech of his life, particularly when speaking about himself and his family. It might be a farewell, but it’s not a confession, it’s not a concession speech, and it isn’t an apology. It’s a rambling good-bye, built up with various emotional ingredients — sadness, pride, bitterness, anger, resentment, disappointment, appreciation, even a bit of hope and humor — and a recognition that his legacy would be shaped by failures that were largely a result of his own paranoia and personal weaknesses. But it is an undeniably intimate speech, with an odd eloquence to it as Nixon closed with perhaps the most fascinatingly introspective and candid peroration from ANY President in history.:

Well, members of the Cabinet, members of the White House Staff, all of our friends here,

I think the record should show that this is one of those spontaneous things that we always arrange whenever the President comes in to speak, and it will be so reported in the press, and we don’t mind because they’ve got to call it as they see it. But on our part, believe me, it is spontaneous. You are here to say good-bye to us, and we don’t have a good word for it in English. The best is au revoir. (“We’ll see you again.”)

I just met with the members of the White House staff, you know, those that serve here in the White House day in and day out, and I asked them to do what I ask all of you to do to the extent that you can and are, of course, are requested to do so: to serve our next President as you have served me and previous Presidents — because many of you have been here for many years with devotion and dedication — because this Office, great as it is, can only be as great as the men and women who work for and with the President.

This House, for example — I was thinking of it as we walked down this hall, and I was comparing it to some of the great Houses of the world that I’ve been in. This isn’t the biggest House. Many, and most, in even smaller countries are much bigger. This isn’t the finest House. Many in Europe, particularly, and in China, Asia, have paintings of great, great value, things that we just don’t have here, and probably will never have until we are a thousand years old or older.

But this is the best House. It’s the best House because it has something far more important than numbers of people who serve, far more important than numbers of rooms or how big it is, far more important than numbers of magnificent pieces of art. This House has a great heart, and that heart comes from those who serve. I was rather sorry they didn’t come down. We said good-bye to them upstairs. But they’re really great. And I recall after so many times I have made speeches, and some of them pretty tough, yet, I always come back, or after a hard day — and my days usually have run rather long — I’d always get a lift from them because I might be a little down, but they always smiled.

And so it is with you. I look around here, and I see so many in this staff that, you know, I should have been by your offices and shaken hands, and I’d loved to have talked to you and found out how to run the world. Everybody wants to tell the President what to do, and boy he needs to be told many times — but I just haven’t had the time. But I want to know — I want you to know that each and everyone of you, I know, is indispensable to this Government. I’m proud of this Cabinet. I’m proud of our — all the members who have served in our Cabinet. I’m proud of our sub-cabinet. I am proud of our White House staff. As I pointed out last night, sure we’ve done some things wrong in this Administration, and the top man always takes the responsibility, and I’ve never ducked it.

But I want to say one thing: We can be proud of it — five-and-a-half years. No man or no woman came into this Administration and left it with more of this world’s goods than when he came in. No man or no woman ever profited at the public expense or the public till. That tells something about you. Mistakes, yes; but for personal gain, never. You did what you believed in. Sometimes right, sometimes wrong. And I only wish that I were a — a wealthy man — At the present time I’ve got to find a way to pay my taxes — and if I were, I’d like to recompense you for the sacrifices that all of you’ve made to serve in Government.

But you are getting something in Government — and I want you to tell this to your children, and I hope the nation’s children will hear it, too — something in Government service that is far more important than money. It’s a cause bigger than yourself. It’s the cause of making this the greatest nation in the world, the leader of the world, because without our leadership the world will know nothing but war, possibly starvation, or worse, in the years ahead. With our leadership it will know peace; it will know plenty.

We have been generous, and we will be more generous in the future as we are able to. But most important, we must be strong here, strong in our hearts, strong in our souls, strong in our belief, and strong in our willingness to sacrifice, as you have been willing to sacrifice, in a pecuniary way, to serve in Government.

Something else I’d like for you to tell your young people. You know, people often come in and say, “What will I tell my kids?” (You know?) They look at government and — sort of a rugged life, and they see the mistakes that are made. They get the impression that everybody is here for the purpose of feathering his nest. That’s why I made this earlier point — not in this Administration, not one single man or woman.

And I say to them, “There are many fine careers. This country needs good farmers, good businessmen, good plumbers, good carpenters.”

I remember my old man. I think that they would have called him sort of — sort of a little man, common man. He didn’t consider himself that way. You know what he was? He was a streetcar motorman first, and then he was a farmer, and then he had a lemon ranch. It was the poorest lemon ranch in California, I can assure you. He sold it before they found oil on it. And then he was a grocer. But he was a great man because he did his job, and every job counts up to the hilt, regardless of what happened.

Nobody will ever write a book, probably, about my mother. Well, I guess all of you would say this about your mother: My mother was a saint. And I think of her, two boys dying to tuberculosis, nursing four others in order that she could take care of my older brother for 3 years in Arizona, and seeing each of them die, and when they died, it was like one of her own. Yes, she will have no books written about her. But, she was a saint.

Now, however, we look to the future. Had a little quote in the speech last night from T.R. As you know, I kind of like to read books. I’m not educated, but I do read books and the T.R. quote was a pretty good one. Here is another one I found as I was reading — my last night in the White House — and this quote is about a young man. He was a young lawyer in New York. He’d married a beautiful girl, and they had a lovely daughter, and then suddenly she died, and this is what he wrote. This was in his diary.

He said:

She was beautiful in face and form and lovelier still in spirit. As a flower she grew and as a fair young flower she died. Her life had been always in the sunshine. There had never come to her a single great sorrow. None ever knew her who did not love and revere her for her bright and sunny temper and her saintly unselfishness. Fair, pure, and joyous as a maiden; loving, tender, and happy as a young wife. When she had just become a mother, when her life seemed to be just begun, and then the years seemed so bright before her, then by a strange and terrible fate death came to her. And when my heart’s dearest died — died, the light went from my life forever.

That was T.R. in his twenties. He thought the light had gone from his life forever — but he went on. And he not only became President but, as an ex-President, he served his country always in the arena, tempestuous, strong, sometimes wrong, sometimes right, but he was a man.

And as I leave, let me say, that’s an example I think all of us should remember. We think sometimes when things happen that don’t go the right way, we think that when you don’t pass the bar exam the first time — I happened to, but I was just lucky; I mean my writing was so poor the bar examiner said, “We have just gotta let the guy through.” We think that when someone dear to us dies, we think that when we lose an election, we think that when we suffer a defeat, that all is ended. We think, as T.R. said, that the light had left his life forever.

Not true. It’s only a beginning — always. The young must know it; the old must know it. It must always sustain us because the greatness comes not when things go always good for you, but the greatness comes when you are really tested, when you take some knocks, some disappointments, when sadness comes; because only if you’ve been in the deepest valley can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain.

And so I say to you on this occasion we leave, we leave proud of the people who have stood by us and worked for us and served this country. We want you to be proud of what you’ve done. We want you to continue to serve in Government, if that is your wish. Always give your best; never get discouraged; never be petty. Always remember others may hate you, but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself.

And so, we leave with high hopes, in good spirit and with deep humility, and with very much gratefulness in our hearts. I can only say to each and every one of you, we come from many faiths, we pray perhaps to different gods, but really the same God in a sense, but I want to say for each and every one of you, not only will we always remember you, not only will we always be grateful to you, but always you will be in our hearts and you will be in our prayers.

Thank you very much.
I was looking through the Internet Archive's copy of Henry L. Stoddard's "As I Knew Them" and came on an odd passage concerning Theodore Roosevelt. Stoddard reports that Roosevelt had no desire to succeed Taft in 1911. Is Stoddard wrong, or did TR have a change of heart?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

Stoddard was very, very close to Theodore Roosevelt. People today frequently talk about how certain media members are too cozy with certain political officials or way too easy on them. Well, Henry L. Stoddard was basically TR’s mouthpiece after leaving office. If TR wanted a message sent or a story written, Stoddard was the vessel through which that message traveled. Stoddard published As I Knew Them during the Coolidge Administration (around 1926 or 1927, I think), and with Roosevelt dead, Stoddard didn’t hesitate to take it upon himself to try to shape TR’s legacy and make it look like Roosevelt was drafted into the 1912 Presidential campaign, or that TR had to be dragged kicking-and-screaming into a fight for the Republican nomination in 1912 against President Taft.

If that was true, Theodore Roosevelt would have happily went home to Sagamore Hill when his challenge of Taft at the 1912 Republican National Convention failed, and supported his party’s candidate for the re-election as President — the incumbent President that TR had hand-picked to succeed him. Instead, when Taft walked out of the 1912 Republican National Convention with the GOP nomination, Roosevelt and many high-level Progressive Republicans (including Henry L. Stoddard) bolted from the party and formed their Progressive/Bull Moose Party and ran for President anyway, ensuring a split in the traditional Republican vote and virtually guaranteeing the Democratic candidate, Woodrow Wilson, a victory.

Theodore Roosevelt regretted his pledge that he would not seek re-election in 1908 as soon as he made that declaration in 1904. He felt strongly that he couldn’t go back on his word about 1908 and he positioned Taft to succeed him, but he hovered over the Taft Presidency like a vulture for most of Taft’s term. After Taft was inaugurated, TR went on an African safari, so the fact that he was out of the country gave President Taft some breathing room, but once TR returned, he set his eyes on the Presidency again for the 1912 election. Roosevelt probably had his eyes on the 1912 election since 1904 and he probably should have just gone back on his 1904 pledge because he really hurt Taft and the Republican Party with what happened in 1912. Taft wasn’t a great President, but he deserved better, especially since he had always remained so loyal to Roosevelt and turned down several appointments to his dream job — the Supreme Court — to follow through on positions that Roosevelt had appointed him to within his Administration. And despite the fact that Taft deserved better, the biggest disappointment is that Roosevelt probably would have been re-elected in 1908 and again in 1912 and probably as long as he wanted to run, and he certainly would have done a better job than Taft and Wilson from 1909-1921.

Asker emt4com Asks:
The other day you mentioned you thought LBJ might have lived through another term as president. I've thought the same about TR. He loved the presidency so much, even though he thought he had someone to carry on his policies for him, why did he step aside in 1908? If he had run in 1908, he would have won, right? Do you think he could have been like his cousin & served 11, 15, or even 19 years? Maybe even more as the job seemed to give him life?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

Theodore Roosevelt stepped aside in 1908 because immediately after winning the 1904 election, he announced that he wouldn’t run for President in ‘08. It was one of those situations where he probably wanted to grab the words out of the air and take them back as he was saying them. TR loved being President and he regretted his 1904 declaration to not run in 1908 for the rest of his life. But Roosevelt also strongly believed that a person’s word is their honor and he couldn’t bring himself to break the promise he made in 1904, even if the electorate would have not only forgiven him for it, but would have preferred that he run again. 

TR definitely would have won in 1908, and if he had been re-elected that year, he would have probably implemented a progressive agenda and neuter the basis for Woodrow Wilson’s successful 1912 campaign for the Presidency. Plus, Roosevelt wouldn’t have had to torpedo poor William Howard Taft and split the Republican Party, which likely would have helped him win re-election again in 1912 because the electoral landscape would have been very different. TR probably could have been elected again-and-again if he had run in 1908 and held on to the job. Roosevelt was still popular and even though he kept his promise in 1908, many Republicans urged him to reconsider — including Roosevelt’s handpicked successor, Taft. Unfortunately for TR, keeping his promise in 1908 complicated his political future, especially because of the break with establishment Republicans and President Taft.

As it was, TR had a remarkable showing in 1912 considering his party split into separate factions and he had to run as a third-party candidate for a party that was basically just thrown together at the last minute when Taft was renominated by the GOP. TR didn’t run in 1916 because he still had to heal some wounds within the Republican Party and wanted to show solidarity by staying out of that race and supporting the GOP nominee, Charles Evans Hughes. Hughes lost that 1916 race to Wilson with one of the narrowest Electoral College margins in American history (Wilson 277, Hughes 254), so even with the lingering intraparty bad blood, Roosevelt probably could have won the 1916 election. He was not going to sit out the 1920 election and he was the clear frontrunner for 1920 basically from Election Day 1916. Roosevelt would have won the 1920 election — and won big considering the fact that the comparatively unknown (and exceedingly unqualified) Warren G. Harding ended up winning over 400 Electoral votes.

Roosevelt died on January 6, 1919, and that shook up every projection of the 1920 Presidential election. We mention Roosevelt’s popularity as one of the reasons he could have been elected President on several occasions, but another important factor was his age. When TR assumed the Presidency upon the assassination of President McKinley, he was just 42 years, 322 days old; he was the youngest President in history. He’s still the youngest President in history. In fact, Roosevelt was younger when he LEFT office after 7 1/2 years as President (50 years, 128 days old) than most Presidents have been upon their inauguration! TR was 60 years, 71 days old when he died, meaning TEN Presidents were older on the day of their inauguration than Roosevelt was on the day that he died.

I imagine that you’re probably right and that Roosevelt’s health — like LBJ;s — would have benefited from TR staying active and engaged through the important work that he was doing everyday. There are a couple of differences, though. Roosevelt remained a lot more active than LBJ did after leaving office. TR was very involved in politics nationally and in New York; he continued his amazingly prolific output as a writer; he dedicated significant amounts of time and energy on his expeditions as a naturalist and hunter; and let’s not forget that he actually did run for President again (and was so active during that campaign that he was shot in the chest in an assassination attempt and then gave an hour-long speech before heading to the hospital). LBJ let himself go in a way, but TR couldn’t stop going full-steam ahead on multiple projects.

But in Theodore Roosevelt’s case, that active and adventurous lifestyle probably contributed to his death. In 1914, TR spent nearly eight months on a scientific expedition in Brazil exploring a destination so remote that it was called the River of Doubt since few explorers had ever successfully reached it (Brazil later renamed it “Rio Roosevelt” in TR’s honor). During the Brazilian expedition, Roosevelt suffered a nasty cut on his leg that became so infected that there were worries it might have to be amputated in the field. Even more worrisome was the fact that Roosevelt was stricken with malaria so severe that he was hallucinating and had a dangerously high fever which reached 106 degrees. Roosevelt was convinced that he was dying and urged the other members of his expedition, which included his son, Kermit, to carry on without him because he worried that he would hold the party back and expose all of them to further danger. The rest of the expedition refused and eventually got Roosevelt out of the Amazon and back home to New York.

TR had recurring bouts of malaria for the rest of his life and never fully recovered from that or the serious infection which nearly cost him his leg. Roosevelt was famously energetic and physically active — his exercise regiments in the White House often included boxing, wrestling, and jiujitsu (TR basically the first American mixed martial artist). But he was weakened by the illnesses from Brazil and was hospitalized for weeks at a time when he had relapses, even though he was not quite 60 years old. Roosevelt still had his eye on a run for the White House in 1920 despite his health problems, but he really began to decline rapidly after July 14, 1918. All four of his sons saw combat in World War I and made their father immensely proud; his three oldest sons, Theodore Jr., Kermit, and Archibald had been wounded in action. But on July 14th, the former President’s youngest son, 20-year-old Quentin Roosevelt, a fighter pilot in the early American Army Air Force was shot down by a German fighter in a dogfight over France.

Theodore Roosevelt had spent his life seeking military glory and praising the heroic action of “the man in the arena”, but when his son was killed in action, the horror of war truly came home for him. Roosevelt was devastated by Quentin’s death and his already-declining health seemed to fail even more quickly. The chronic health problems stemming from the expedition in Brazil, constant physical pain from a life filled with dynamic exercise of his body and mind, and a broken heart from the death of his youngest son sapped him of his strength and stripped him of two things that Theodore Roosevelt always had in abundance — endless energy and iron will. TR was only 60 years old when he died, but he was the oldest 60-year-old man who had ever lived.     

Asker plumberryjam Asks:
Which dead president had the best pets?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

Does the President have to be dead? Because I was always a big fan of President Clinton’s dog, Buddy, who passed away not too long after Clinton left the White House.

Theodore Roosevelt’s menagerie was pretty impressive, too, and I think that it should be a misdemeanor if any conversation about Presidents and their pets fails to include Calvin Coolidge’s raccoon, Rebecca. Yes, you read that sentence correctly: President Coolidge had a pet raccoon named Rebecca. Seeing our more recent Presidents walking their dogs around the White House grounds is a familiar sight to us today, but if we had been around during the Coolidge Administration, we probably would have seen “Silent Cal” roaming the halls of the White House with Rebecca the raccoon hitching a ride by hugging the President’s neck.

(Incidentally, there is a fantastic website which focuses solely on Presidents and their pets — the Presidential Pet Museum! The website is a fun virtual destination for the history and stories of Presidential pets, but the curators are also in the process of building an actual Presidential Pet Museum in Virginia which is slated to open sometime in 2015.)  

THEODORE ROOSEVELT

26th President of the United States (1901-1909)

Full Name: Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.
Born: October 27, 1858, 28 East 20th Street, New York City, New York
Political Party: Republican
State Represented: New York
Term: September 14, 1901-March 4, 1901 (Assumed the office upon the death of William McKinley)
Age at Inauguration: 42 years, 322 days
Administration: 29th (Completed the term of President McKinley) and 30th
Congresses: 57th, 58th, 59th, and 60th
Vice President: Charles Warren Fairbanks (1905-1909)
Died: January 6, 1919, Sagamore Hill estate, Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York
Buried: Young’s Memorial Cemetery, Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York

2012 Dead Presidents Ranking: 5 of 43 [↓1]

Theodore Roosevelt is one of those Presidents that you know is great, but very few people can name specific accomplishments that occurred during the Roosevelt Administration.  TR, despite being a bombastic leader, guided the country through a relatively peaceful, prosperous time and helped calm the country in the wake of President McKinley’s assassination even though he was the youngest President in history.  Because of his personality, Roosevelt helped expand American influence and power, and was something like a promoter for the American brand as this country became the great power of the 20th Century.  TR’s Progressive shift modernized industry, politics, civil rights, and immediately made the 20th Century seem like an advanced time, even in comparison to the 1890s.  Building the Panama Canal and mediating the peace talks between Japan and Russia (which earned him the Nobel Peace Prize) expanded American influence just as much as the Great White Fleet.  Where would TR be on this list if he had never made the pledge not to run in 1908?  It would have changed a lot of things, and possibly put TR in office as World War I broke out rather than Woodrow Wilson, which would have been good for the war effort and might have even improved his already-impressive position in the rankings..

PREVIOUS RANKINGS:
1948: Schlesinger Sr./Life Magazine:  7 of 29
1962: Schlesinger Sr./New York Times Magazine:  7 of 31
1982: Neal/Chicago Tribune Magazine:  4 of 38
1990: Siena Institute:  5 of 40
1996: Schlesinger Jr./New York Times Magazine:  6 of 39
2000: C-SPAN Survey of Historians:  4 of 41
2000: C-SPAN Public Opinion Poll:  3 of 41
2005: Wall Street Journal/Presidential Leadership:  5 of 40
2009: C-SPAN Survey of Historians:  4 of 42
2010: Siena Institute:  2 of 43
2011: University of London’s U.S. Presidency Centre:  5 of 40

McKinley has no more backbone than a chocolate eclair.

Theodore Roosevelt on new President William McKinley, 1897.

In 1900, Roosevelt was elected as McKinley’s running mate, replacing Vice President Garret A. Hobart who had died in office in 1899