Theodore Roosevelt – An American Lion

January 20, 2008 at 9:16 pm 11 comments

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.

Nobel Prize
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.

Taft and Roosevelt fighting in a political cartoon

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.

Headlines of Roosevelt and Taft shaking hands and embracing (from New York Times)

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.

Google results for “Belichick Mangini Hug”. Their rift was so strong that Belichick uttering Mangini’s name was noteworthy! There is also a “Great Belichick-Mangini Handshake Debate” discussion!


Entry filed under: Bill Belichick, Eric Mangini, John Muir, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft.

Penn on Gravity links for 2008-01-21

11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. HokieTT  |  January 21, 2008 at 8:41 am

    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.

    This is a good comparison. I am tempted to Photoshop TR into a hoodie with cutoff sleeves.

  • 2. HokieTT  |  January 21, 2008 at 11:20 am

  • 3. geekhiker  |  January 21, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    I wonder if, decades from now, the people then will look back on our politicians with the same admiration…

  • 4. Mat  |  January 21, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    That 2-part series on TR was actually one of the History Channel’s better miniseries, one of the last good things they had on it before it mostly turned to garbage a few years ago. *sigh* I also have a copy of Edmund Morris’s “Theodore Rex”–Morris was one of the historians featured on that thing. I haven’t read it yet, but when I do I’ll let you know if it’s any good or not…this master’s in American history has to be good for something, dammit!

  • 5. tgaw  |  January 21, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    @Mat – Uh oh, the HIstory Channel’s stuff is crap now? I’m looking forward to their “Life After People” special tonight at 9 PM– I hope I’m not disappointed!

  • 6. tgaw  |  January 21, 2008 at 7:03 pm

    @Mat – On the subject of The History Channel, I really liked “The Presidents” series they did circa 2005.

  • 7. Matt  |  January 21, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    Well, I can’t speak to the Life After People thing, really, because I’m not planning on watching it, but since those things haven’t happened yet, it’s not history, it just looks like an excuse to get creative with CGI, y;know? That would be fine for the Discovery Channel, say, but not for the History Channel, to my way of thinking. And then there’s all that “Ice Road Truckers” and “Ultimate Fighter” or whatever crap that belongs on Spike or Discovery, but not there. And you’re right, The Presidents was a good series. Oh, and if you’d like something from the opposite side of the political spectrum from TR, I also liked the one they did on FDR, which was also a two-part miniseries. It doesn’t look like Netflix has that, though, bah!

  • 8. tgaw  |  January 23, 2008 at 12:04 am

    @Matt – Whoops, I meant to tell you I added you to my Netflix friends list, but it appears you already figured it out. 🙂

    Also– you have a good question. Why are speculations about the future being aired on a channel dedicated to History (though they did squeeze in some historical talk dealing with WWII, Ancient Egypt, Cambodia and Chernobyl).

    Finally, you totally blew my mind with Ice Road Truckers. I could have sworn that was a Discovery Channel production, but I looked it up. It IS History Channel. WTF?

  • 9. Aaron  |  January 23, 2008 at 8:21 am

    Any friend of Muir’s is a friend of yours? 😛

    (I didn’t know he created the National Forest!)

  • 10. Euglossine Bee  |  February 5, 2008 at 2:12 am

    Great entry — I just wrote an entry with a few tidbits gleaned from reading a TR bio and that led me here.

  • 11. HokieTT  |  February 5, 2008 at 8:40 am

    I guess Tom Coughlin is Woodrow Wilson.


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