Theodore Roosevelt Jr: Sickly Child to 26th President

In New York City on October 27, 1858, Theodore SR and Mittie Bulloch Roosevelt brought their second of four children into this world; a boy they named name Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. Little did they know, their son would grow up to be the 26th President of the United States of America. A role that would help shape the nation nearly as much as he influenced everyone he met.

Teddy Roosevelt’s Childhood

During his childhood, young Teddy suffered from asthma. He often had to sleep sitting or propped up with several pillows. This, however, didn’t stop him from being a boy; mischievous and hyperactive. At the age of seven, he and two cousins formed the “Roosevelt Museum of Natural History” after Theodore obtained a seal head at a local market. Seeing the dead seal also sparked his interest in zoology.

Theodore was mostly homeschooled by his parents. In 1876, he attended Harvard College. When his father passed in 1878, it made a major impact on Theodore’s life. However, he still managed to participate in rowing, boxing, and the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, as well as be a member of the Porcellian Club, and edit a student magazine.

Roosevelt’s Shocking News

After his graduation from college, Theodore visited a doctor for a few health problems. He was examined thoroughly and it was determined he has serious heart problems. Upon diagnosis he was advised to find a desk job and avoid strenuous activity.

Instead, he chose to live his life to the fullest. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1880 and entered Columbia Law School. Shortly after, he married Alice Hathaway Lee. Theodore thought his life was set.

In 1881, he dropped out of law school when he was offered a chance to run for New York Assemblyman. During his time in the Assembly, he wrote more bills than any other legislator in the great state of New York. His goal then became the public life of a politician. Throughout his life he was known as someone who accomplished what he set his mind to. He was not one to back down from a challenge and enjoyed moving forward.

Great Love Lost

On February 12, 1884, Alice gave birth to their first child, a daughter named Alice. On February 14, 1884 Alice, passed away due to kidney failure that was undiagnosed because it had been camouflaged by her pregnancy. The same day, about eleven hours before Alice died; Teddy’s mother had died of typhoid fever in the same house. After the sudden and untimely deaths of both his mother and his wife, Teddy left his daughter to be raised by his sister, Anna.

Theodore Roosevelt kept a diary; a journal of sorts. On the date of his wife’s death, the page is marked with a large X and the entry simply says “The light has gone out of my life.” He wrote and privately published a tribute to his lost wife but he never spoke of her again; publicly or privately.

He published his first book titled “The Naval War of 1812” in 1812. The Naval War College used the book as part of their curriculum. The Department of the Navy placed a copy on every capital ship in the fleet. His very first published book helped establish his reputation as an historian to be taken seriously.

Rise to President

Later in 1884, Roosevelt attended the Republican National
Convention. After losing to James G. Blaine, Roosevelt moved to Medora, North Dakota, and built a second ranch which he named “Elk Horn.” While living there, Teddy learned to ride western style, hunt and rope. He rebuilt his life and became a deputy sheriff.

In 1886, Roosevelt decided to run as New York’s Republican candidate for mayor. He finished in third place. He then went to London and married his childhood sweetheart, Edith Kermit Carow. Following a European honeymoon, the couple had 5 children.

In 1888, Theodore Roosevelt was appointed to the United States Civil Service Commission by President Harrison. He served there until 1895 when he became the President of the Board of New York City Police. He served two years and brought about the existence of the bicycle squad to help solve New York’s traffic issues.

Albert Walker
Publisher/Author
https://www.jonesnyhistory.com