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Roosevelt became a boxer, he lifted weights and climbed mountains (he ascended the Matterhorn at the age of 22). His famous charge up Kettle Hill (Battle of San Juan Heights, Rough Riders) during the Spanish-American War set him apart as an athletically gifted soldier with courage and heart.
And along with his workouts and activism, he "began to collect animal specimens, including fireflies and squirrels"; he filled notebooks with "drawings and life histories of animals and insects"; he read Darwin and Huxley; and, Dalton continues, he loved camping and became an "experienced outdoorsman."
When the "strain of the job" of president "weighed on him," Dalton explained, "he stepped outside to watch the spring birds migrating"; he "identified the blackpoll warblers perched in the elms outside the Oval Office," and kept notes on his various bird sightings. In the spring of 1903, the president went West "to dramatize his commitment to preserving wild places," and he went birding in Yellowstone Park, rode mules into Yosemite with John Muir (founder of the Sierra Club), and slept "under the stars" with Muir on a night when it snowed; the two awoke under a "blanket of snow," Dalton continued.
On matters of foreign policy, Roosevelt was both aggressively expansionistic and cautiously temperate, depending on the situation. He was given to occasional bombast; according to an article in Naval History by James R. Homes, Roosevelt once told a Naval War College audience that "No triumph of peace is quite so great as the supreme triumphs of war." Roosevelt's geopolitical views "aligned to a great extent" with Read Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan, Homes explains, and Mahan believed that in order to "wrest away" America's "rightful share of foreign commerce," the U.S. would need "a battle fleet able to 'fight, with reasonable chances of success, the largest force likely to be brought against it'."
Roosevelt leaned strongly towards a policy that would keep the U.S. "...dominant in the Western Hemisphere," which would ultimately remove "all European powers from the colonies they hold in the western hemisphere," Homes reports. But in 1904, Roosevelt went to the extend of saying that the U.S. would henceforth exercise "an international police power" when "chronic wrongdoing" or "an impotence which results in a general loosening of the ties of civilized society" threatened to put a European power in control of a Latin American territory. In fact, Roosevelt is quoted as saying, "If we are willing to let Germany or England act as the policeman of the Caribbean," then we will not interfere when "gross wrongdoing occurs"; but, he went on, "if we intend to say 'Hands Off' to the powers of Europe, then sooner or later we must keep order ourselves," according to Homes' research on Roosevelt and his administration.
In conclusion, in terms of the real effect of the assassination of McKinley, Roosevelt entered the White House after "three decades during which Congress had consistently had the upper hand over the President," Lacayo writes. "He lost no time in making it plain that he was a different breed." And among his many accomplishments, the Panama Canal is considered very important; and although Congress wasn't always on his side when it came to building the canal, Roosevelt used his charm, his brains, and his presidential power to push it through anyway.
Benedetto, Richard. 2006. No rest for the president. USA Today, 3 August 2006.
Cavendish, Richard. 2001. Assassination of President McKinley. History Today 51 (September).
Dalton, Kathleen. 2006. The Self-Made Man: He was a sickly child. But through sheer will,
Muscular effort - and a lot of time in the great outdoors - he became a powerful, passionate
Adult. Time, 3 July, 2006, 168.
Holmes, James R. 2006. Roosevelt's Pursuit of a Temperate Caribbean Policy. Naval History
20 (August): 48-53.
Lacayo, Richard. 2006. The 20th Century Express: At home and abroad, Theodore Roosevelt was The Locomotive President, the man who drew his flourishing nation into the future. Time,
Richard Benedetto, "No rest for the president," USA Today, 3 August 2006.
Richard Cavendish, "Assassination of President McKinley," History Today, Sept. 2001, 51.
Richard Lacayo, "The 20th Century Express," Time, 3 July 2006, 168.
Kathleen Dalton, "The Self-Made Man: He was a sickly child. But through sheer will, muscular effort - and a lot of time in the great outdoors…[continue]
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