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Scots and Scots Descendant in America
Part V - Biographies
Hon. Theodore Roosevelt

THEODORE ROOSEVELT, twenty-sixth President of the United States, was born October 27, 1858, at 28 East 20th Street, New York City, the elder son and second child of Theodore Roosevelt (1831-1878) and Martha Bulloch. He represents the seventh generation, father and son, all born on Manhattan Island, from Klaes Martensen van Roosevelt, who came to New Amsterdam from Holland in 1644. Col. Roosevelt ‘s paternal ancestors were chiefly of Holland stock. His father ‘s mother, however, a Pennsylvanian, was of Scottish descent. His father was a hard-working, successful New York business man, a keen lover of out-of-door life, especially of horses and driving, and contributed largely both of his time and means to various reform movements. Col. Roosevelt, in his Autobiography, pays tribute to his father’s practical charitable work. "He was a stanch friend of Charles Loring Brace, and was particularly interested in the Newsboys’ Lodging Houses and in the night schools and in getting children off the streets and out on farms in the West’ ‘—a friendship that suggests Col. Roosevelt’s own life-long friendship with that other practical reformer, Jacob A. Riis. Several of the children that the elder Roosevelt so helped had successful, and some of them, like Gov. Brady of Alaska, had noteworthy careers.

Col. Roosevelt ‘s mother, a native of Georgia, was a fine type of southern woman, "sweet, gracious, beautiful, a delightful companion and beloved by everybody." The ancestor of the Bulloch family came from the Scottish Hebrides to South Carolina about two hundred years ago, and on this side Col. Roosevelt is predominately Scottish, with some English and Huguenot blood. His mother’s great-great-grandfather, Archibald Bulloch, was the first Revolutionary "President" of Georgia. Two of her brothers had distinguished careers in the Confederate Navy in the Civil War: Admiral James Dunwoodie Bulloch, the builder of the Alabama; and Irving Bulloch, a midshipman on the Alabama, who fired the last gun discharged from her batteries in the famous fight with the Kearsage.

The future President was a delicate, sickly boy and very near-sighted, and the larger part of his early education he received from his mother, and from her sister, his aunt Anna Bulloch, who lived with the family and as a small child entertained him for hours with tales of life on the Georgia plantations. He also had tutors and for a few months attended Professor McMullen ‘s School in East 20th Street, near the house where he was born.

When he was ten years old, he made his first journey to Europe, and four years later travelled in Egypt, up the Nile, in the Holy Land and part of Syria, visited Greece and Constantinople, and with his brother and two sisters spent a summer with a German family in Dresden. The trip to Egypt, so far as he was concerned, was largely given over to practical ornithology, and some of the specimens he secured at that time are still in the Smithsonian and New York Museums. From very early boyhood, and especially after the family moved to Oyster Bay, on Long Island, he took a deep interest in Natural History. Before he was ten years old, with his cousins, he established "the Roosevelt Museum of Natural History;" at twelve he was taking lessons in taxidermy; and while at Harvard he had serious intentions of making science—as a field naturalist—his life-work. Col. Roosevelt ‘s later success as an explorer and faunal naturalist are not an accident nor an assumption, but the ripening of a deep-seated taste for and appreciation of the study.

On his return to America, at the age of fifteen, he prepared for college under Mr. Arthur Cutler, who later founded the Cutler School, in New York City, entering Harvard in 1876 and being graduated in 1880. He was a good, plodding student, and though suffering from handicaps of ill-health, finished within the first tenth of his class and was awarded a Phi Beta Kappa key. He was still much interested in natural history; and before he left Harvard, had written two chapters of his history of the Naval War of 1812.

In reviewing Col. Roosevelt’s remarkably diversified public career, one must always have in mind the energetic and determined characteristics that have enabled him in such a brief time to accomplish so much. It is not that as a young man he was specially gifted—his outstanding talent is probably that of leadership; but that with indomitable energy he has made the best out of everything he attempted. He says himself: "I like to believe that, by what I have accomplished without great gifts, I may be a source of encouragement to American boys. " And adds a recent biographer, "Roosevelt is not a living proof of what a man may do with gifts; he is a living proof of what a man may do despite the lack of them. Out of a weak child he made a powerful man: out of half-blindness he made a boxer, an omnivorous reader, a good shot; out of a liking for authorship, rather than a talent for it, he made a distinguished author; out of natural force and a feeling for the charm of things he made a style not only clear and forceful but, at times, charming. Out of a voice and manner never meant for oratory he made a speaker. Out of a sense of duty he made a soldier, out of a soldier a governor, out of a governor a Vice-President, and—wonder of wonders—out of a Vice-President a President."

Col. Roosevelt ‘s father had been closely associated with local charitable and reform movements, and it is not surprising that we find the son, upon his entrance into political life, as a minority leader of the State legislature, 1882-1884, casting his influence upon the side of several measures for social and civic betterment. Notable among these were measures for the improvement of working conditions for women and children and the Civil Service bills, which, though proposed by Governor Grover Cleveland and supported by the rival party in power, he was largely instrumental in securing upon the statute books. In 1884, he was a delegate to the Republican National Convention.

The years 1884-1886, and a considerable part of other years in the eighties, he spent upon his ranch in North Dakota, hunting, reading, writing, and adding immeasurably to his outlook on human nature and to his physical health. In 1886, he was Republican candidate for Mayor of New York City in the triangular campaign that is tragically remembered by the death of the political economist, Henry George, one of the candidates, upon the eve of the election. Though only a young man and in a normally Democratic city, Theodore Roosevelt showed such splendid fighting qualities and vote-getting ability as to make him from that time forward a factor in local and national politics. In 1889, he was made a member of the United States Civil Service Commission, where he served with distinction until 1895, resigning in that year to become President of the New York City Police Board.

Theodore Roosevelt had begun his political career as a practical reformer, and this difficult office, the graveyard of so many reputations, gave him the long-sought opportunity for putting into effect what were now well-developed ideas as to honesty and efficiency in public life. His administration was not popular with the politicians; but his energy, absolute fairness, and close personal contact with the men of the force brought the department to a high state of efficiency.

In 1897-1898, he served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, where he applied himself with the same enthusiasm that had made remarkable his terms as a Civil Service organizer and a metropolitan police head. He was even then a stanch advocate of preparedness, and in the face of the pending trouble in Cuba, it was largely the result of his personal effort and energy, and his alone, that the fleet and the entire department were in such splendid readiness.

At the beginning of the War with Spain, he resigned to organize with Surgeon, now General, Leonard Wood, the First U. S. Volunteer Cavalry, popularly known as the Rough Riders." He was made lieutenant-colonel of the regiment, which distinguished itself in Cuba, and was promoted colonel for gallantry at the battle of Las Guasimas. When the regiment returned in September, 1898, Colonel Roosevelt was the unanimous popular choice as Republican candidate for governor of the State of New York, and after a spectacular campaign was elected—having been Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Colonel of the Rough Riders and Governor, all in one year. He served from January 1, 1899, to December 31, 1900.

November 4, 1900, he was elected Vice-President of the United States, for the term of 1901-1905, and succeeded to the presidency on the death of President William McKinley, September 14. 1901. November 8, 1904, he was elected President by the largest popular majority ever accorded a candidate— a plurality of 2,545,515 votes. President Roosevelt’s administration is not alone notable for the great personality he injected into it, but for the strong men that he gathered about him and the substantial results it accomplished. The efficiency of the executive departments in Washington and of the administrative service throughout the country was never more marked than in the years of his presidency; and never was the country more respected abroad. In a short sketch, any list of these achievements must necessarily be incomplete. Among the more notable are: The settlement of the coal strike of 1902; the pure food and drug act; the establishment of the Department of Commerce and Labor; the act giving the Interstate Commerce Commission power to regulate railway rates; the employers’ liability act; the first important prosecutions of trusts under the Sherman law; and the inauguration of the movements for the conservation of natural resources and for the improvement of country life. Those involving international relations; the negotiating of twenty-four treaties of general arbitration: the reorganization of the consular service; the arbitration of the European claims against Venezuela; the settlement of troubles in Cuba and Santo Domingo; the arbitration of the Alaska Boundary Dispute; the protection of lives and property of Americans in Morocco—’ ‘Perdicaris alive or Raizuli dead"; the settlement of the Russian-Japanese War—the Treaty of Portsmouth; the securing of the Panama Canal; the sending of the battleship fleet around the world.

In 1906, in recognition of his service in the Portsmouth peace, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, $40,000, with which he endowed a Foundation of Industrial Peace, having among others as trustees Oscar Straus, the late Seth Low and John Mitchell. He also received, from nearly three hundred of the most powerful public men of France, a copy of the first edition of the Memoirs of the Duke de Sully, Prime Minister of Henry IV, of France, inscribed with their signatures, as "a token of their recognition of the persistent initiative he has taken toward gradually substituting friendly and judicial for violent methods in case of conflict between nations." For it has been his policy, as President of the United States, that "has realized the most generous hopes to be found in history."

In 1909-1910, Colonel Roosevelt spent a year in East Africa, hunting big game and collecting specimens and skins for the Smithsonian Institution. He returned by way of Europe, visiting Egypt, Italy, France, Germany and Great Britain. In Paris, he made a notable address before the historic Sorbonne; in Germany, he was accorded distinguished honours by the people and the Kaiser; and while in London, acted as special Ambassador of the United States at the funeral of King Edward VII. His welcome home on his return to New York was a triumph of personal regard.

Plunging again into politics, in 1912 he was the candidate of the Progressive Party, in protest against the methods used in the convention to defeat him as the regular nominee of the Republicans. Without an organization, he polled 4,119,507 votes (more than 630,000 more than President Taft, the Republican candidate), but was defeated by Woodrow Wilson.

From the beginning of the great European War, in 1914, Colonel Roosevelt was the greatest single influence in awakening Americanism, protesting against the violation of treaties in the outrages upon Belgium and against divided loyalty at home; writing, travelling, speaking for "preparedness," of which he has been an urgent advocate for more than thirty years, and of which he gave practical demonstration in the efficiency of the army and navy during his administration. In 1916, he refused the unanimous nomination of the Progressive Party, endorsing Justice Hughes and refusing to jeopardize by a third-party ticket what he considered the vital interest of the country.

In addition to his trip to South Africa, Colonel Roosevelt has hunted much big game in America, both in his ranching days and as a recreation in later life. And he has written about his trips and life in the open as delightfully and with as sure a hand as he has in his more serious literary efforts. The book of his African trip and the later book of his exploration of "The River of Doubt," and his visit to the principal countries of South America, 1913-1914, have a charm that is possessed by few books of travel and natural history. He is author of many books, covering a wide variety of subjects—biographical, historical, travel, out-door life, civics and statecraft, and many others. Since his college days, he has contributed leading articles to magazines and reviews. From 1909-1914, he was on the editorial staff of The Outlook, and since 1915 has been a regular editor of The Metropolitan Magazine.

Colonel Roosevelt is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and numerous other clubs and associations. He was President American History Association, 1912-1913. He has received the honorary degrees of LL.D., Columbia, 1899; Hope College, 1901; Yale, 1901; Harvard, 1902; Northwestern, 1903; University of Chicago, 1903; University of California, 1903; University of Pennsylvania, 1905; George Washington University, 1909; Cambridge University, 1910; D.C.L., Oxford University, 1910; Ph.D., University of Berlin, 1910. He is a member of the Dutch Reformed Church and takes a deep interest in all religious movements.

Colonel Roosevelt married, October 27, 1880, Alice Cabot Lee, daughter of George Cabot Lee. Mrs. Roosevelt died February 14, 1884, leaving one daughter, Alice. December 2, 1886, in London, England, he married Edith Kermit Carow, daughter of Charles Carow, of New York City. They have five children: Theodore, Jr., Ethel, Kermit, Archie and Quentin. Colonel Roosevelt’s home is at Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York.

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