Theodore Roosevelt – An American Lion
Last week, I watched Part II of Theodore Roosevelt: An American Lion courtesy of Netflix. And now, I am totally smitten with T.R. Just like my visit to Jamestown, Valley Forge and even Evansville, Indiana, I uncovered a lot about history that I did not know (or at least remember). Here are a few snippets I found of interest.
Roosevelt was the first American to win a Nobel Prize! He got the Peace Prize for negotiating the end of the Russo-Japanese War. Though, in this quote to his son, the “peacemaker” doesn’t seem especially fond of either side:
I am having my hair turned gray by dealing with the Russian and the Japanese peace negotiations. The Japanese ask too much, but the Russians are ten times worse than the [Japanese] because they are so stupid and won’t tell the truth.
Muir and Roosevelt
Roosevelt considered his greatest legacy the Panama Canal. Bah! If I had a say, I would lobby for his conservation work. The land he set aside for the National Forests was greater than France, Belgium and Holland combined. But here is the really cool part— Theodore Roosevelt hiked with John Muir in Yosemite. #@!*&) John Muir! Founder of the Sierra Club! The same John Muir who uttered one of my favorite quotes:
Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find that going to the mountains is going home.
Booyah! Roosevelt hiking with Muir!
I’m not sure who to be more jealous of– Roosevelt or Muir.
Roosevelt and Taft
I was pretty darn oblivious of friction between Roosevelt and Taft. Taft was Roosevelt’s Secretary of War. When Roosevelt’s second term was coming to an end, he pretty much handpicked Taft to be his successor. By promoting Taft, Roosevelt insured his protégé an easy win in 1908. However, when Roosevelt felt Taft was being weak on big business and undoing all his conservation work, he turned on his good friend. Roosevelt had so many harsh criticisms of Taft, the documentary said Taft was brought to tears.
Their feud, which split the Republican Party in 1912 allowing Woodrow Wilson to take office, was so well-known and widespread, it made headlines in the New York Times when the two men shook hands and when they embraced.
A mentor. A protégé. The rivalry. The resentment. All the attention on handshakes and hugs. It seems Roosevelt and Taft were the Bill Belichick and Eric Mangini of the early 1900s. The media is different now, but the headlines are the same.