Skip to main content

Theodore Roosevelt is one of the greatest Americans to ever fight, serve, and love his country. Truly, he was the man in the arena, striving valiantly, the doer of great deeds.

As part of VIT’s ongoing series celebrating American heroes, we’re highlighting the life of Theodore Roosevelt.

For the sake of brevity, we’ve bulleted his many, many accomplishments, but even in this form they stagger credulity:

  • Journeyed down the Amazon River, where he faced cannibals, piranhas, one of the crew’s men murdered another sailor, and more.
  • Roosevelt was the first President to win a Nobel Peace Prize.
  • The only President to ever win the Medal of Honor.
  • Built the Panama Canal: “One of the greatest and largest engineering projects to ever be undertaken, the canal is often referred to as one of the seven wonders of the modern world, thanks largely in part to President Roosevelt.”
  • The youngest President in the Nation’s history.
  • Spanish-American War Hero– “Roosevelt’s fame and personality turned him into the de-facto leader (of the country’s first cavalry.” They were a “rag-tag group of polo players, hunters, cowboys, Native Americans, and athletic college buddies.” He led them up San Juan Hill in one of the most daring military charges in history.

The above image is actually fake- a newspaper editor cut out a photo of Roosevelt and pasted it on a moose. But we know given the chance, Roosevelt would have had zero qualms about riding one down the Yellowstone River.

The Man in the Arena

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly.Who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Theodore Roosevelt
  • Started National Parks: he established five national parks, “created 51 federal sanctuaries for birds, created four national game reserves, dedicated over 100 million acres of national forests, and created 18 national monuments, including the Grand Canyon.”
  • Police Commissioner of New York– he would go undercover at night to see if his men were doing their jobs.
  • Governor of New York.
  • While campaigning in Milwaukee, he was shot in the chest by a fanatic and then gave an almost 90-minute speech anyway
  • Spent time as a cowboy in the Dakotas, where he captured three outlaws he brought in himself

“There are two things that I want you to make up your minds to: first, that you are going to have a good time as long as you live – I have no use for the sour-faced man – and next, that you are going to do something worthwhile, that you are going to work hard and do the things you set out to do.”

  • Started the FDA.
  • Invented workman’s comp.
  • Wrote 35 books and 150,000 letters.
  • Big game hunter– he populated the Smithsonian with his trophies.
  • Was an accomplished boxer: When he was blinded by another boxer he declared himself an old man and took up Judo. “He was the first person in America to earn a brown belt in judo. Loving a good fight, he would often show off his skills during dinners with important dignitaries. He had mats put into the White House and he could be found sparring with anyone willing to fight with him, including his wife.”
  • Invented modern football.
  • Inspired the Teddy Bear.

 “No man has had a happier life than I have led; a happier life in every way.”