TR (standing center) with his legendary “Rough Riders” at the Battle of San Juan Hill
It seemed as if TR was born to serve as President, and few were as successful as he. As historian Nathan Miller summarized:
“In a little more than a year in office, Roosevelt had captured the imagination of the American people. He had launched the “Square Deal,” brandished the “Big Stick” against the trusts, personally settled a major coal strike and won the support of labor and the public, enlarged the power and prestige of his office, and emerged as the leader of the Republican party. He had shown the will and skill to capitalize on the opportunities that came his way.”
The Roosevelt family in 1903: Quentin, TR, Theodore, Archie, Alice (TR’s daughter from his first marriage), Kermit, Edith, and Ethel
He did all that and maintained his primary goals as a husband and father, continuing to play with his children, lead them on rambles across the Potomac River and horseback rides at Sagamore Hill, the Roosevelt home on Long Island. He negotiated an end to the Russo-Japanese War and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He dramatically expanded the national parks and the U.S. Naval fleet, and held a meeting in the White House with Booker T. Washington, an attempt at racial harmony unheard of since the days of Abraham Lincoln.
Sagamore Hill, home of the Roosevelt family
TR’s vision for a more powerful chief executive clashed at times with the “stand-pat-ism” of a Congress that was more characterized by ennui than activism. Nonetheless, his unbounded optimism and self-confidence (if not self-righteousness) marked him as one of the most beloved and successful chief executives of the 20th Century. Theodore Roosevelt ran for President four years later on the Progressive Party ticket, seeking to unseat his disappointing successor, William Taft. Having divided his former party, TR lost the election and spent his last few years in an adversarial relationship with the even more “progressive” Democratic President, Woodrow Wilson.