The 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, born in 1858 and died in 1919. Roosevelt led America through a period of unprecedented economic expansion as it entered the twentieth century. He played a key role in the development of the Panama Canal, which connects the east and west. He was dubbed the “trust buster” for his efforts to break up major corporate monopolies and protect the rights of ordinary workers.
6 Personality that describes Theodore Roosevelt
Roosevelt was known for wanting to be “the bride at every wedding, the corpse at every funeral,” as one observer put it. To men and women alike, he was bold, determined, driven, proud, and irresistibly charming. He adored children and would frequently play with them or gather them around for a story. He was a brilliant raconteur who enthralled audiences with accounts of his Western escapades.
“He was sweet man”, Henry Watterson wrote. Woodrow Wilson sighed, “There is a tenderness about him that is quite alluring.” After TR’s death, journalist Robert Livingstone wrote: “He had the double endowments of a beautiful temperament that came out in every hand-touch and tone… and a really powerful personality that left the unequivocal conviction that anything he said was true.” It was impossible to resist such a combination.”
That may or may not be true, but certainly there are very few recorded examples of anybody, even Theodore Roosevelt’s bitterest political critics, being able to resist him in person.
Theodore Roosevelt’s saving grace was always his wit. He laughed a hundred times a day on average, and he laughed heartily. “His cheeks are flushed, his eyes are practically closed, his mouth is strangled with merriment, and his words have been replaced by a bizarre falsetto…The President is a joker, and (unlike many jokers) a humorist as well.”
If Theodore Roosevelt’s personality consisted solely of physical energy, humor, and charm, he would have been exactly what he is sometimes mischaracterized as: a simple-minded, affable bully. Actually, he was a highly complicated individual, a polygon with so many political, intellectual, and social facets that the closer one got to him, the less one could see him in his whole.
Theodore Roosevelt’s most defining quality was his assertiveness, which he saw as synonymous with growth. The ailing young child strove for a larger share of the universe from the time he first pulled breath into his asthmatic lungs. He couldn’t get enough air; sickness had to be eradicated; and he had to struggle his way through large, hefty volumes in order to attain a man’s wisdom. The problem of relating to abnormally different parents stretched his imagination in the same way that the battle for air stretched his chest.
His joyful prancing and cheering after killing a particularly hazardous species startled more than one observer as horrific. Blood sports, which he picked up as a result of his specimen hunting, allowed him to experience the “strong urgent delight” of the shrew in vanquishing even larger adversaries. He chose the prettiest and most unattainable mate among his own kind at college—”See that girl? I intend to marry her. She will not have me, but I will have her! “—and he went on the hunt for her. Alice Lee Roosevelt was the late Alice Longworth’s mother.
Theodore Roosevelt has a sense of personal virtue. No dramatic shocks disrupted his peaceful, prosperous childhood in New York City. He had no school traumas because he was privately educated. Teedie reached puberty with no sexual or psychological reservations, thanks to the safety of his household, his father’s strong leadership, and his siblings and sisters’ devotion. Or, if he had any, he simply reasoned them out using the Judé-Christian concepts taught to him by Theodore Senior, came to the correct moral choice, and that was that. “Thank God!” “I am totally pure,” he wrote in his diary after falling in love with Alice Lee.
His three major bereavements just reinforced his conviction that he needed to be strong, honest, clean-living, and hardworking. “At least I can live,” he said, “so as not to disgrace the memories of the dead whom I so loved.” He went on to slay disrespectful cowboys, lay the foundations of federal government, chase boat burglars in the name of the law, and preach the gospel of civic virtue in the untamed Dakota Territory.
Theodore Roosevelt’s sense of pride, both as a nobleman and as an American, was another facet of his personality. Servants and tradespeople have always looked up to him. Men and women of distinction paid him visits and treated him as one of their own. He accepted his status and the altruistic responsibilities that came with it without hesitation.
Theodore Roosevelt was not a snob in the traditional sense. He believed in “the aristocracy of worth,” and he admired the revolution that had permitted such a small group to climb to power. On the other hand, historian John Blum has remarked that he rarely appointed impoverished or uneducated men to positions of responsibility. Only the very young and extremely old dared to address him as Teddy. Roosevelt was an aristocrat to the tips of his tapered fingers, but he maintained a “almost unnatural” affinity with the masses until his death.
Theodore Roosevelt’s militarism was a defining characteristic of his personality. It is a well-known component of his personality that didn’t show up much during his presidency. There is no doubt that he loved battle as a child and as an adult; nonetheless, he is the only one of our great Presidents who is not principally identified with war.
He joined the National Guard as soon as he graduated from college and swiftly rose through the ranks to captain, which served him well when he was called upon to command a cavalry regiment in 1898. He studied classical and modern warfare throughout his writing career, and he would fight the great battles of history with knives, forks, and spoons on his tablecloth. He read abstract tomes on weaponry, navigation, ballistics, strategy, and service administration with the same fervor as he devoured swashbuckling memoirs. Roosevelt recognized that big wars are won by thinking men, and that mental heroism triumphs over physical bravery.