Teddy Roosevelt, Pt. 4
At this point in time, you are likely wondering two things:
- What else could Teddy Roosevelt POSSIBLY accomplish?
- How many more GBOAT posts could POSSIBLY be written about him?
Well, the answer to the first question is “A lot, so shut it” and the second answer is “This is the last one, so calm down.”
In this fourth post in the series, The GBOAT takes one final look at American legend and
international recording artist pinnacle of manliness Theodore Roosevelt.
In 1534, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain, ordered a survey to be done in Panama to find an easier way to travel. Back then, if somebody needed to sail from Europe to Texas (a trip that undoubtedly happened ALL THE TIME), they had to go all the way around South America.
But Texas didn’t exist yet, so those plans fell through.
However, some nearly 400 years later, places like New York and San Fransisco actually DID exist. And thus, the whole “sailing around South America” thing proved to actually be a concern. Sailing that large of a distance could easily be solved with the creation of one really huge canal that cut through Central America.
Look, here’s a diagram:
Thus, Teddy Roosevelt took it upon himself to do what people for the past 400 years had only dreamed of, and he built the Panama Canal. By himself.
After he got the ball rolling on all of that, Operation Screw Taft Over went into full effect, thereby securing that neither Teddy nor “Bill” Taft would win the presidency. Teddy took this as a perfect chance to fulfill his lifelong dream of doing everything a single human being could possibly do, and took his talents to South America.
He grabbed Brazilian explorer Candido Rondon and a crew of some 21 people and went searching for the headwaters of the Rio da Duvida, or the River of Doubt, which flows into the Amazon. You might have heard of that one.
A notable addition to this exhibition was his 24-year-old son Kermit.
Despite finding the previously undiscovered headwaters, the trip was nearly a failure. Roosevelt suffered a leg wound that would get infected. This, combined with the bullet from his assassination attempt (that was never actually removed), a high fever, and another leg wound that had taken place nearly ten years earlier, nearly claimed Roosevelt’s life.
He regarded his poor health as a danger to the others, and insisted that he be left behind so the poorly-provisioned group could make it through. It took a passionate appeal by Kermit to keep him going.
He returned home, some 50 pounds lighter and in considerably bad shape. However, this didn’t stop him from going before the National Geographic Society and defending the claim that they had found the river.
Soon thereafter, World War I broke out. Even in his poor health, Roosevelt stayed quite active in the public eye. So much so, in fact, that the frail 58 year old asked President Woodrow Wilson to allow him to raise a volunteer infantry division.
Wilson respectfully declined.
However, Roosevelt’s youngest son, Quentin, fought in the war. He was an incredible and heroic pilot. However, in 1918, he was shot down over German lines. He was Teddy’s favorite son, and it’s said that after his death, Teddy never quite was the same.
He had done a huge amount by the time the year 1919 came around. He had served in wars, negotiated the end of wars, and even had an iconic children’s toy named after him. He had accomplished nearly everything he ever attempted.
Then, like a total badass, he died.
When he heard about his father’s death, his son Archie telegraphed his siblings (at this point, most of America was Roosevelt’s child) the message “The old lion is dead.”
However, U.S. Vice-President Thomas R. Marshall worded it best: “Death had to take Roosevelt sleeping, for if he had been awake, there would have been a fight.”
Some other notable facts about Teddy Roosevelt:
- He was a big fan of the motto “In God We Trust,” but actually hated its use. He said, “It seems to me eminently unwise to cheapen such a motto by use on coins, just as it would be to cheapen it by use on postage stamps, or in advertisements.”
- His love of the strenuous life led to him continuing his boxing hobby well into his time as President. However, during one of his frequent practices, a blow to his face detached his left retina, leaving him blind in that eye. His solution? Take up Judo. He became a 3rd degree brown belt.
- He had a yearly tradition of skinny dipping in the Potomac River during the winter. Much better than any of Bill Clinton’s traditions, that’s for sure.
- He wasn’t just a tough guy. He’s often considered to be the most well read of any American politician, sometimes reading multiple books a day. Even now, he’s read more books today than you have.
- He was so awesome, he was included on Mount Rushmore. The other presidents on the monument had been dead for at least 80 years. Roosevelt had been dead for 8.
- His son, Teddy Roosevelt Jr., also won the Medal of Honor after storming the beaches of Normandy in WWII. One can only assume he did this by himself.
- Not to be outdone by his son, Teddy also was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906, for negotiating an end to war between Russia and Japan. He was not only the first American to win the prize, but also the only one to win both the Nobel Peace Prize and the Medal of Honor for valor in war. Suck it, Tolstoy.
Theodore Roosevelt led an incredible life. Certainly, he had failures. He was a human being, just like the rest of us. However, unlike the rest of us, he had a crapton more successes.
On a final note, when the National Geographic Society challenged his claim to have discovered the River of Doubt, a sickly Roosevelt addressed a standing room only convention in D.C. to defend it. Not only did he give enough evidence of it, but he was so convincing that they renamed the river the Rio Roosevelt.
If there’s a lesson to learn here, children, it’s that there is no longer any Doubt. There is only Roosevelt.