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Forged in the West

When Theodore Roosevelt left for the Badlands, he was still a young man most comfortable in his native New York. When he came back east a few years later, he was seasoned and self-sufficient. Immersing himself in a new way of life, Roosevelt learned how to live strenuously and lead as a citizen, not just a politician. He steeled himself for the many challenges to come as a soldier, a governor, and eventually President.

© Houghton Library

Suddenly thrust into the presidency after the assassination of William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, at age 42, became the nation's youngest ever president. A tall task for any leader, but Roosevelt proved uniquely up to the task. He retained McKinley's cabinet, ushering in a steady succession plan after the tragedy of a slain president. In time, he'd further earn the faith of the American people with his election in 1904.

Pursuing His Own Agenda

As a leader, Roosevelt was beholden not to political pressure, only his principles and ideals. His Square Deal program championed fairness across American society—including breaking up trusts and monopolies, conserving natural resources, and protecting consumers. Many of these proposals fell afoul of his own Republican party. But Roosevelt never cowed to the crowd, and continued to pursue his agenda.

© The Library of Congress

The 1905 Inauguration

© The Library of Congress

Mourning a Lost Leader

Theodore Roosevelt died—unexpectedly—on January 6, 1919, and the nation awoke, stunned by the news that such a vigorous, larger-than-life figure was gone at the age of 60—just ten years after the end of his second term as president. Mourners lined the snow-covered procession route as Roosevelt's casket traveled to a cemetery overlooking his longtime home of Oyster Bay, NY. It marked the end of an era, and a farewell to one of America's boldest and most uncompromised leaders.

© The Library of Congress


Theodore Roosevelt was an endlessly motivated public servant. The wide range of roles and titles he held throughout his life is a testament to his unflagging commitment to service. Never one to sit on the sidelines, TR was well and truly the man in the Arena.
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Theodore Roosevelt is often considered the "conservationist president." In the North Dakota Badlands, Roosevelt is remembered with a national park that bears his name and honors the memory of the original conservationist.
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