The author highlights Roosevelt's ideals and character in life and especially his political career. Donald reminds readers that upon being elected governor of NY, Roosevelt told the people he would rule by the Ten Commandments. He fought against the political machine and the wealthy and fought for the rights of common man. He was constantly called "one of us" by Americans across the country. He believed in the country and the people. He pushed to preserve the American worker and the American land. He was able to push through the Antiquities Act in 1906 which gave the President the ability to declare certain lands or areas in America to be protected if it was deemed important to the American heritage, character, or history. Roosevelt would use this act to protect some 16 million new acres of land and establish five brand new national parks.
Donald highlighted Roosevelt's military career as colonel of the Rough Riders in the Spanish American War. His bravery helped in many ways to single-handedly defeat the Spanish on San Juan Hill. His actions then were worth of a Medal of Honor, but because he disagreed with the way the army was handling its men on the Cuban island, he was punished by being called a volunteer and thus unworthy of the honor. He actually received the Medal of Honor posthumously in 2001 from President George W. Bush. A little known fact about Roosevelt is that in 1917 he made a trip to see Woodrow Wilson at the White House to ask the president to allow him to re-enlist in the army and to take his Rough Riders to Germany. Wilson declined much to the chagrin of Roosevelt. It's safe to say, he was always looking for a fight.
His whole political career was a fight in many ways as he fought the trusts, monopolies, political machines, racism, and other countries diplomatically. He was called a warmonger by many while in the White House, but when America was drawn into WWI, almost 2/3 of her ships were constructed due to Roosevelt's insistence on strengthening the Navy. Roosevelt adopted what he called the Roosevelt Corollary which he added to the Monroe Doctrine. This corollary was an informing of all countries in the American hemisphere that the US reserved the right to intervene in conflicts deemed threatening to American interests. The corollary was used several times including with the Panama Canal. Even out of the White House, Roosevelt played a part in saving America during another war. Roosevelt so believed in the military that he was instrumental in pushing through the McCumber Act which called for all enlisted soldiers who had served at least 90 days to receive lifetime benefits and checks from the US Government. Many declared Roosevelt was creating a welfare state. Roosevelt replied that if it had no been for the veterans, there would be no state to create.
Roosevelt believed in hard work and effort. He coined the phrase, "the Strenuous Life," during his political years and used it to refer to the God given ability for all men and women to work to make something of themselves and to push to do the right thing by God, their families, and their country. Roosevelt had little time for individuals who wouldn't subscribe to "the Strenuous Life," and made no bones about it. He subscribed somewhat to Social Darwinism in the sense that he believed the individuals who worked hard and were given a fair shot to make something of themselves would always rise to the top and ultimately overtake those who were unwilling to do what was right with what they had been given.
Ultimately, Roosevelt left the White House after two terms as Washington and Lincoln did, (his two heroes), but he sought a return after what he believed was an uneventful and disappointing four years under his hand picked successor, William Howard Taft. Roosevelt considered Taft not progressive enough on many of the policies he had worked to create. When Roosevelt announced he would be running for the Republican nomination, the country came roaring to him. In the first few months of primaries, Roosevelt had over 250 delegates to Taft's 51. However, the Republican's political machine and the wealthy were threatened by Roosevelt's progressiveness and began the process of "fixing" the election. They decided that some 200 of Roosevelt's delegates were probably mistakes or shouldn't have been counted. Ultimately, the machine offered the nomination to Roosevelt in 1916 if he would bow out and let Taft have the 1912 nomination. When Roosevelt refused, the party worked feverishly to get Taft nominated and he was. Roosevelt broke ranks and became part of the Progressive Party and ran for president as a third party candidate. He finished second behind the Democrats' Woodrow Wilson, but largely ahead of the Republicans' Taft. Some years later, Roosevelt wrote that he regretted leaving the Republicans as he had and relented that had he stayed in the party, he would have had a better chance of enacting his progressive policies than to have left it as he had. Still he showed how popular he was with the American people. There's never been another time in history that a third party candidate almost won the White House. Adding to the aura of Roosevelt was the fact that an assassin tried to kill him during one of his speeches. The bullet went through his coat pocket, off of glasses case, and through a speech lodging in his chest. He suffered broken ribs. He continued his speech however realizing that if he wasn't coughing up blood, his lungs were still fine and he wouldn't let the hopeful assassin ruin what he had planned for the people. Now that's a man.
In 1916, many sought to make Roosevelt the nominee, but the machine would seek to punish him for his costing Taft the presidency and would not push for his nomination. He was however given an almost 40 minute recognition at the convention and talk began to build that he would definitely be the Republicans 1920 nominee. He would be 60 then and still full of fervor and passion. Unfortunately, he would die before ever seeing that day due to infection, malaria, and other complications resulting from his time in Cuba and his time in the Amazon as he sought to map out the "River of Doubt" through the Amazon Rain Forest. He was successful the river is named to this day "Rio Roosevelt" in his honor. He suffered a bad wound on his leg where he was hurt many years before in the carriage accident shortly after becoming president.
The nation mourned his death and it's safe to say America has never seen another man like Teddy Roosevelt. We could use another one though and that's for sure. If you're looking for a shorter and concise biography of the former president, this book would serve you well. Warning though: you can't read about him in one book and not want to find out more!