Musing from your Post Master General
We have a new segment here on the blog called “The Most Interesting Men in World History.” Obviously it’s based on those awesome Dos Equis ads featuring The Most Interesting Man in the World. If you were frozen in a block of ice for the last six years, here is an example of one of the commercials.
So here is the first edition to The Most Interesting Men in World History.
He read over 15,000 books in his lifetime, 37 of which he wrote himself…
Not only was T.R. a prolific speed reader (he read at least one book a day by most accounts) but he was an author of several himself. His first book, The Naval War of 1812 was considered the supreme text on the subject for a century after it was written.
His favorite store to shop in was Abercrombie and Fitch…100 years before it was cool.
And you thought it was L.F.O. that put Abercrombie and Fitch on the map? David Abercombie and Ezra Fitch founded their namesake company in New York in 1892 as a premium sporting goods outfitter. Among their early customers were the likes of Ernest Shackleton, Amelia Earhart, Charles Lindbergh, and Theodore Roosevelt. In fact, the Abercrombie and Fitch store on Water Street supplied Roosevelt with all his equipment for the famous African safari of 1909. Later, the store would evolve into a preppy mall based clothing chain for younger people, more fitting of Roosevelt during his Harvard years than his hunting years.
He once recruited thousands of sailors, gave orders to take the Philippines, and prepared the United States Navy for war with Spain…all in the four hours his boss left him in charge of the office so he could get a massage.
This fact is a testament to Roosevelt’s ambition and tireless work ethic. In 1897 Theodore Roosevelt served as Assistant Secretary of the United States Navy under John Davis Long. Long, a man Roosevelt did not agree with, was very prone to stress and age related nervous breakdowns. As a means of releasing tension, Long scheduled a massage for himself, leaving Roosevelt in charge of the Navy Department while he was away. During Long’s four hour absence, Theodore Roosevelt marched to Congress, petitioning the legislative body to recruit more sailors and prepare the United States for war with Spain. The U.S.S. Maine was struck just ten days earlier in Havana Harbor and war to some was unavoidable. Secretary Long however did not believe tensions would come to war. Roosevelt disagreed, instead ordering Commodore Dewey to be ready take the Philippines from Spain if war were to be begin. These moves helped position the United States for victory in the Spanish American War. When Long returned from his massage, as you might imagine, he was not very pleased with his young subordinate.
He once showed a bear mercy on a hunt and decided not to shoot him…we now commemorate this incident by giving stuffed replicas of the bear named after him to young children and loved ones…
The Teddy Bear was named after who else but Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt, whose nicknamed was Teddy (he hated the name), was hunting in Mississippi one day when some companions clubbed a black bear, tied it to a tree, and called Roosevelt over to shoot it for pleasure. Deeming it unsportsmanlike, Roosevelt declined, instead ordering the animal be shot peacefully and put out if its misery. The press wrote about the incident and cartoonists began to depict the bear as a docile cub. A toy maker ceasing the opportunity created stuffed bear cubs and named them “Teddy Bears” after the President. Teddy Bears became a sensation and are still popular today. So the next time you give your girlfriend one of these stuffed guys on Valentine’s Day, think of old T.R., and tell her about his famous mercy kill order. It will be sure to add a little romance to the mood.
He won the Medal of Honor for war, and the Nobel Prize for Peace…
George Washington was known as “First in war, First in Peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.” Sure, George Washington was the first President, but he lost more battles than he won, and he did not bring two rival nations to the table like Teddy Roosevelt. Theodore Roosevelt served as Lt. Colonel in 1898 for the 1st Volunteer Calvary of the United States Army during the Spanish American War. This group was also know as the Rough Riders. They were assembled by Roosevelt as a collection of ranchers, cowboys, as well as college athletes and professionals he knew from the east. At San Juan Hill in Cuba, Roosevelt distinguished himself by leading his men up his in a heroic charge. He was nominated for the Medal of Honor for his actions. He declined but was awarded it anyway in 2001.
In terms of peace, while Theodore Roosevelt was President, he convinced diplomats from Russia and Japan to meet him in New Hampshire to discuss an peaceful end to the Russo-Japanese War. Both parties accepted and with Roosevelt serving as the chief negotiator, peace was achieved through the Treaty of Portsmouth in 1905. In 1906, Roosevelt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his actions, becoming the first American to win the esteemed award.
He was told that he was about to become the youngest President ever in U.S. history…after climbing a mountain.
On September 6th, 1901 President McKinley was shot in Buffalo, New York by anarchist Leon Czolgosz. Roosevelt, who was serving as Vice President at the time was alerted immediately. He was vacationing in Vermont with family and did not think the prognosis for McKinley was that serious. He then ventured into Upstate New York and proceeded to climb Mount Marcy. After his decent, he was greeted in the wilderness by a park ranger who informed him that McKinley would be dead soon and he was needed in Buffalo to assume the duties of President. On September 14th, at the age of 42, he became the youngest President in United States history.
When they told him his Navy needed to travel around South America to get from New York to San Francisco, he sent a team to Central America to dig a hole through it…today we call it the Panama Canal.
As President, Theodore Roosevelt was instrumental in constructing the Panama Canal. In fact, he was instrumental in constructing Panama. When Colombia (which owned Panama at the time) refused to grant the United States rights to dig the canal, Roosevelt sent warships to the isthmus, persuading the Colombians to grant Panama its independence. The grateful Panamanians grated the United States the chance in finishing a French effort to link the Atlantic with the Pacific. Roosevelt ventured to Panama to oversee some of the construction himself and in doing so, he became the first President to travel oversees while in office. Roosevelt’s main motivation was once again naval as he dreamed of an easier way from U.S. warships to travel from one coast to the other.
He went on a hunting trip to Africa…where he shot and trapped over 11,400 animals. If you have seen a stuffed animal behind glass at a museum, odds are he helped get it there.
After he left the Presidency in 1909, Roosevelt, along with the Smithsonian Institute, ventured on a tour of Africa. Roosevelt, who considered himself a conversationalist, pretty much shot and killed everything he saw, in the name of science of course. This included 512 big game animals such as six rare White Rhinos. It took the Smithsonian eight years to catalog all the specimens from the expedition. Since they had more than enough for their own museum, they donated the rest of the animals to museums across the country.
He was once shot point blank in the chest before making a speech…he proceeded to speak for 90 minutes
In 1912, Theodore Roosevelt decided to run for President once again. Before making a speech in Milwaukee, he was shot in the chest. His eyeglasses case and a copy of his speech stopped the bullet from hitting his lungs. Never the less, the bullet was still lodged inside him. He proceeded to take the podium. He opened by stating “Ladies and Gentleman, I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have been shot: but it takes more than that to kill a bull moose!” He continued to speak for an hour and a half.
He trekked through the Amazon to find a source for a river…when he did, they named it after him.
In the year 1913, after Roosevelt failed to get elected President again, he joined Brazlian explorer Candido Rondon in exploring one of the deepest darkest corners of the Amazon rain forest. One of their goals was to discover the mysterious source of the River of Doubt, which they did at the end of their expedition. Today, that river is known as Rio Roosevelt aka the Roosevelt River. Not bad for a man pushing 55.
Theodore Roosevelt was the standard of what he called “manliness.” However you feel about him, its hard not to agree that he is one of the most interesting men in world history.
Hope you enjoyed the post. Don’t forget to like it and go back and read all my other posts. Thanks.
Photos courtesy of archives.com, wikicommons,smithsonianstore.com, theodore-roosevelt.com