Dead Presidents

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

By Anthony Bergen
Posts tagged "TR"

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..

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

If it had been I who had been shot, he wouldn’t have got away so easily…I’d have guzzled him first.

Vice President Theodore Roosevelt, on how he would have responded if Leon Czolgosz had shot him instead of President William McKinley.

Roosevelt was explaining this to the wagon driver racing to help him get to Buffalo on September 14, 1901 as McKinley was dying.

If [William Jennings] Bryan wins, we have before us some years of social misery, not markedly different from that of any South American republic…Bryan closely resembles Thomas Jefferson, whose ascension to the Presidency was a terrible blow to this nation.

Theodore Roosevelt, in a letter to Cecil Spring Rice, expressing his worries about a William Jennings Bryan victory in the 1896 Presidential election.

Roosevelt was obviously not a big fan of his Mount Rushmore colleague, Thomas Jefferson. On another occasion, TR said that Jefferson was “Perhaps the most incapable Executive that ever filled the Presidential chair…It would be difficult to imagine a man less fit to guide the state with honor and safety through the stormy times that marked the opening of the present century.”

Asker robofsydney Asks:
In reading "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt" I see that he campaigned for the Governorship of New York in 1899 by barnstorming the state in "whistle-stop" mode. I always thought that the whistle stop campaigns came a little later, so was this one one of the first? If that worked for him in 1899, presumably Teddy used the same method when he ran for president in 1904.
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

While Presidential candidates didn’t campaign as openly or actively for themselves during the 19th Century, there were examples of candidates campaigning from trains at that time.  It’s not clear how similar they were to Truman’s 1948 campaign or whistle stop campaigns as we know it today. Now, they probably weren’t as extensive as later whistle stop campaigns, and in some cases where it says that candidates campaigned by train, they may have simply traveled to an event or speech by train, but they did happen.

There are indications that William Henry Harrison campaigned by train as early as 1836 — his unsuccessful bid for the Presidency four years before he unseated Martin Van Buren.  Again, I’m not positive that he campaigned in the whistle stop method that we think of when we hear the term.  In 1836, the railroad network in the United States was very young and incomplete, so Harrison probably just used the train to travel to a speech, instead of stopping at various stations and speaking from the rear platform.

As for Theodore Roosevelt’s 1904 campaign for President, not only did he not campaign by train, but he didn’t campaign at all.  His opponent was the least impressive major party nominee in American History, Alton B. Parker, whose highlight on his resume was being Chief Judge of the State of New York’s Court of Appeals.  So, TR stayed home and focused on his work and still routed Parker in the election.

Throughout the interview he was as disagreeable and suspicious of manner as well might be. He is a genial little runt, isn’t he?
Theodore Roosevelt, in a letter to Henry Cabot Lodge after meeting with President Benjamin Harrison, July 1, 1891.
I can be President of the United States, or I can control Alice. I cannot possibly do both.
Theodore Roosevelt, on his daughter, Alice Roosevelt Longworth
Asker Anonymous Asks:
Did Roosevelt and Taft ever make up? If not, did Taft regret not doing so when the former died?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

Yes, Roosevelt and Taft ran into each other at Chicago’s Blackstone Hotel in 1918 and had a little reunion.  In the years since the 1912 election that caused the break in their relationship, Taft and Roosevelt had come across each other a couple of times and briefly shook hands, but things remained icy between them.  A few months before their reunion in Chicago, TR was in poor health and undergoing surgery and a telegram from Taft to Roosevelt began the thaw in their relationship and opened up communication between the former Presidents.  After their Chicago reunion, they kept in touch until TR’s death.

When Roosevelt died at the beginning of the next year, Taft attended his funeral and Roosevelt’s son, Archie, actually brought him up to the front of the church to sit with Roosevelt’s family.  Later, as TR’s casket was being lowered into his grave while snow fell, Taft lingered nearby and was visibly crying over the death of his old friend.

Asker ultra-pop Asks:
If Theodore Roosevelt lived to 1932, lets say Quentin lived and TR never ran again for office, would that have hurt or helped FDR's political career given they belonged to different parties? It's been a while since I read Colonel Roosevelt, and I've kinda forgotten how close they were.
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

I don’t know that it would have mattered.  FDR had launched his political career while TR was still alive (and active), and they remained close personally despite their political differences and despite the fact that FDR worked for TR’s hated rival, Woodrow Wilson.  FDR patterned his rise after TR — New York state legislature, Assistant Secretary of the Navy — while TR was still alive and tried to claim some of TR’s legacy while staking out his place amongst the Progressive Democrats.  If there had been a breach between the two of them or a rivalry had developed, I don’t think it would have mattered anywhere but in New York, and by the time FDR was rising in the political world, TR was already a national figure. Plus, they belonged to different parties, but Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt weren’t THAT different politically, at least prior to FDR’s nomination as Vice President in 1920 (when TR was dead). 

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Where teddy and Franklin Roosevelt close or just distant relatives?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

They were only distantly related — fifth cousins.  In fact, James Madison and Zachary Taylor were more closely related to each other (second cousins) than Theodore Roosevelt and FDR.  TR was actually a closer relation to Eleanor Roosevelt (he was her uncle) than Franklin.   

Asker club-b Asks:
Are there any photos of TR & FDR together? Thanks!
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

There is one photograph that I know of for sure but can’t find online for you — it’s of TR, FDR, and TR’s lawyer walking to a courthouse in Syracuse, New York when a New York politician sued TR for libel in 1915.

Other than that, I’m not sure. Seems like there would be photos of them at the wedding of FDR and Eleanor. Eleanor was Theodore Roosevelt’s niece (she was actually more closely related to TR than FDR was) and since Eleanor’s father (TR’s brother) had died, TR — who was President at the time — gave the bride away at the wedding. I’m sure that there must be photos of the wedding party, especially since TR was President then, but I don’t know that I have ever seen them.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
If McKinley hadn't been assassinated in 1901 would Roosevelt have ever been nominated by the republicans and become POTUS
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

Eventually, yes, I think he would have. He was on the trajectory and very young when he became McKinley’s Vice President. Even if it took eight or twelve years, I’m sure he would have got there on his own.

I think he would have been the President elected from the progressive movement instead of Woodrow Wilson. And it probably would have happened in 1904 if McKinley had lived and not sought a third term.

Perhaps the most incapable Executive that ever filled the Presidential chair…It would be difficult to imagine a man less fit to guide the state with honor and safety through the stormy times that marked the opening of the present century.
Theodore Roosevelt, on Thomas Jefferson