Only Teddy Roosevelt could take something like the Presidency and make it the most boring part of his life.
He stumbled into the office by accident, and seemingly liked it enough to stick around for a few years. But even with all the time he spent appointing federal judges (75 of them), it always seemed as though running a country was always just getting in the way of other things.
In part three of this look at Theodore Roosevelt, The GBOAT focuses on lame stuff, like being President of The United States of America.
Teddy Roosevelt figured things out pretty early on: you establish some notoriety, and you can do whatever you want. After writing well regarded books, cleaning up the streets of New York, and single-handedly solving….whatever it was the Spanish-American War was about, he knew he had enough support to take over the country.
His first stop was becoming Governor of New York. Keep in mind, before this he had only served on the State Assembly, then as Police Commissioner for NYC. He pulled the political equivalent of being an intern, then heading up security, then becoming CEO.
But Teddy was a big Young Gunz fan, and since he couldn’t stop, he wouldn’t stop. Republican boss Thomas Collier Platt liked him so much, he forced William McKinley to make him his running partner in the 1900 election. As VP, he first broke out his classic line “Speak softly and carry a big stick, and you will go far,” thereby signifying his place as the VP most likely to beat the crap out of you.
McKinley’s manager, Senator Mark Hanna, didn’t like Roosevelt. This is interesting because they actually used to be on the same page. History says that they disagreed about the Spanish-American War, which ranks 1st in “Wars Americans Forget About.” The War of 1812 would be in that top spot, but there is a song written about it. And it involves cannons.
However, it’s clear that the real reason the two disagreed with each other was because of their respected catchphrases. While Roosevelt had become famous for that stick thing, Hanna’s own catchphrase had become overshadowed. Turns out people weren’t too fond of “There are two things that are important in politics. The first is money and I can’t remember what the second one is.”
Politicians have always been terrible people, but they used to be honest about it.
However, on September 6th, 1901, President William McKinley was shot in Buffalo, New York. This event serves as a reminder that no matter what Ryan Fitzpatrick does, Buffalo is a terrible place.
Toosevelt (as he was known by nobody) was busying climbing a mountain when he heard the news. He rushed back as quickly as possible, and arrived on the same day McKinley died. This was September 14th. Nobody moved quickly back in the early 1900s.
Teddy made it a point to be a people’s President. He helped out Union workers, set up laws that forced bad meat and impure foods off the market, and even was the first President to ride around in a car.
On top of all of this, Teddy provided interviews and photo opportunities to the press every day, effectively inventing the Presidential press briefing.
However, in 1908, he got bored with this, went on a safari, and allowed William Henry “Bathtub” Taft to run for President.
When he returned from Africa, after killing or trapping roughly 11,397 animals, Roosevelt realized he suddenly hated the people he had left in charge. He had already alienated his former VP by supporting Taft and not him, and now he didn’t like Taft anymore.
The reason behind this is that Teddy felt that the Republican party needed to be more progressive, and Taft was that. However, “Bill” had not lived up to what Teddy had billed him to be. And Teddy was PISSED.
For the 1912 presidential election, Teddy tried to steal the Republican nomination away from “Bill”. He might have, too, if not for some meddling kids. And the fact that he started campaigning long after “Bill” had already gotten signed support from most of the party leaders.
Thus, Roosevelt started up the Progressive Party, more popularly known as the Bull Moose Party.
This set up the most awesome moment in all of Teddy’s political career.
While campaigning in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Teddy was shot by a saloon keeper named John Schrank. The bullet passed through his steel eyeglass case and a 50 page single folded copy of the speech he was delivering. It lodged in his chest.
Being more awesome than any doctor around, Teddy thought, “Hey, I’m not coughing up blood. Because of how familiar I am with anatomy due to my overwhelming awesomeness, I can safely assume the bullet has not penetrated my lung.” He promptly declined going to the hospital. Instead, he got on stage and said these words:
“Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.”
Then, like a badass, he spoke for the next hour and a half.
However, this wound caused him to have to take time off the campaign trail. He never got back into touring the country, and could never quite generate enough support to be elected President again.
He had a bit of a victory, though. Woodrow Wilson received 6.3 million votes (and 435 electoral), Teddy 4.1 million (88 electoral), and “Bill” only 3.5 million (3 electoral).
That’s right. The President of the United States came in 3rd.
The Presidential Election of 1912 marked the end of Roosevelt’s political career. And while he was never in office ever again, Americans learned an important lesson from this election.
They have learned that if you can’t win, at least make sure the person you hate the most can’t either. Teddy Roosevelt-style.
Did you ever run for/hold an office in Student Government or anything else that doesn’t actually look as good on a resume as you’re always told?