TR was one active young man

Posted by John Kanelis on

When many Americans think of a robust, aggressive president of the United States, they likely think first of John F. Kennedy.

Yes, JFK was active. He personified vigor as the nation's youngest-ever elected president.

However, if you ponder one of his White House predecessors, you learn that he -- not JFK -- likely set the standard for being a man's man.

Theodore Roosevelt is one of three members of a dynamic political family that documentary filmmaker Ken Burns is profiling in a 14-hour special to air beginning Sunday, Sept. 14, on Panhandle PBS.

If you want to define young and aggressive, Teddy Roosevelt is your man.

The first segment, which airs at 7 p.m., will feature the lives of young TR and his distant cousin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

What about TR?

Well, he was a sickly child. He battled respiratory ailments as he was becoming a man.

Then he grew up and became an avid hunter and environmentalist. Indeed, part of TR's legacy is that he arguably the founder of the modern environmental movement.

In a curious twist to building that legacy, though, Teddy Roosevelt killed a lot of animals in the United States and in Africa. He would go bison hunting on the Great Plains and would participate in extended safaris in Africa.

He enrolled in law school, but gave up his legal education to pursue a career in politics. He was defeated in a race for New York City mayor, but then served as Washington, D.C.'s civil service commissioner and then NYC's police commissioner.

Oh, and then war broke out in 1898. The Spanish-American War was being fought in Cuba and the Phillipines and TR decided to get into the fight.

He founded the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry, aka the Roughriders, and as a lieutenant colonel, Roosevelt led the successful charge up San Juan Hill in Cuba, becoming a bona fide war hero in the process.

He would be elected vice president of the United States just two years later and then, upon the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901, TR became the youngest man ever to assume the presidency.

You want vigorous, aggressive, dynamic? Well, that would be Theodore Roosevelt.

Ken Burns will explain it all in his documentary that premiers in just a few days on Panhandle PBS.


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