Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt Timeline
How It All Went Down
Birth of Teddy Roosvelt
The Battle of Fort Sumter marks the start of the American Civil War. T.R.'s uncle Rob Roosevelt goes off to fight for the Union. His mother's brothers enlist in the Confederate army. His father, Thee, under pressure from his mother to avoid combat, hires two replacements for $300 apiece.
Thee Roosevelt Travels to Support the Troops
Ashamed at having shirked his military responsibilities, Thee takes to the road in support of Union soldiers, leaving Mittie and her children at home in New York.
T.R. suffers his first debilitating asthma attack. He is not yet 4 years old. Although he will eventually overcome asthma's limitations, he will never entirely rid himself of the condition.
New York Draft Riots
Draft riots plunge New York City into chaos. Thee and the other Roosevelt men ready themselves with guns to protect their possessions from the mostly poor, immigrant rioters.
Travels to Egypt
Thee takes the family on a long trip through Egypt. T.R., having just learned to hunt and eager to show his father his manly fitness, shoots birds and game all along the banks of the Nile.
Return to New York
Having spent several months in Germany, the fifteen-year-old T.R. returns to New York and prepares to enter society.
T.R. begins his studies at Harvard College. He associates mostly with other "muscular Christians" like the preacher Philips Brooks and the philosopher William James. His primary academic interest is natural science.
Thee Roosevelt Blocked from Port Appointment
In recognition of Thee Roosevelt's prominence in the civil-service reform movement, President Rutherford B. Hayes nominates him to the post of collector of the Port of New York. The corrupt Republican boss Roscoe Conkling blocks his appointment. The scandal attracts serious newspaper coverage, consolidating Thee's reputation for integrity. Soon after, he becomes very ill.
Death of Thee Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. succumbs to bowel cancer at his home in New York City.
Roosevelt Reacts Badly to Father's Death
A distraught T.R. breaks with his childhood friend and presumptive lover Edith Carow while vacationing with his family in Oyster Bay. When he returns to school in the fall, he will start drinking heavily while suffering violent mood swings.
Teddy and Alice
T.R. meets the seventeen-year old Alice Hathaway Lee at a friend's house and falls head-over-heels in love. "See that girl?" he tells a friend, "I am going to marry her, she won't have me, but I am going to have her."
Engagement to Alice Hathaway Lee
After more than a year of vigorous courtship, Alice finally agrees to marry T.R. An overjoyed Theodore finally settles down enough to write his senior thesis on women's legal equality.
Marriage to Alice Roosevelt
Alice Hathaway Lee and Theodore Roosevelt are married in Brookline, Massachusetts. They relocate to New York where T.R. begins attending classes at Columbia Law School while working on a history of naval engagements during the War of 1812.
Election & Assassination of James Garfield
After bitter Republican infighting, James A. Garfield is elected president of the United States. His assassination four months later leads to the presidency of Chester A. Arthur and the creation of the Civil Service Commission.
New York State Legislature
Republican operatives tap T.R., now 23 years old, to run for assemblyman. He is elected to the New York state legislature, largely on the strength of his father's legacy.
Roosevelt's First Book
T.R. publishes his first book, The Naval War of 1812, to rave reviews. It establishes his reputation as a careful historical thinker and a firm advocate of naval expansionism.
Rising Star in New York Republican Politics
Increasingly involved in Republican politics, T.R. moves to Albany in order to participate actively in the legislature's deliberations. He makes an unsuccessful bid for house speaker, nevertheless establishing himself as a rising Republican star.
Alice's First Pregnancy
Alice Roosevelt becomes pregnant. A petrified T.R. spends the rest of spring away from home, visiting friends and buying ranches out West.
Birth of First Daughter
Alice Roosevelt gives birth to a baby daughter, Alice Lee Roosevelt. T.R. remains in Albany to work on his reform bill.
Deaths of Roosevelt's Wife and Mother
Within hours of each other, in the same house, T.R.'s mother, Mittie, and wife, Alice, both die. T.R., who has only been home from Albany for one day, is destroyed. He returns to Albany as soon as he can to distract himself with work. He commissions the construction of a house at Oyster Bay in honor of his dead wife.
Roosevelt Moves West
T.R. becomes embroiled in a scandal over the presidential nomination of the corrupt Republican James Blaine. Afraid of being seen as a political opportunist, T.R. resigns his seat as a New York assemblyman and moves out to his ranch in the Dakotas.
Hunting Trips of a Ranchman
Theodore Roosevelt publishes his first piece of adventure writing, Hunting Trips of a Ranchman.
Engagement to Childhood Friend Edith Carow
After a chance meeting at the house of T.R.'s sister, Theodore and Edith Carow become engaged. They decide to postpone their marriage for a year for propriety's sake, owing to the still-recent death of Roosevelt's first wife.
Edith Carow and Theodore Roosevelt marry in London, in a small ceremony. After a honeymoon through Europe they will return to New York City, where T.R. will resume his activities with the Republican Party.
Birth of Theodore, Jr.
The first child of Theodore and Edith Roosevelt, a son named Theodore Jr., is born at Theodore's new house, Sagamore Hill, in Oyster Bay.
Boone and Crockett Club
To promote the conservation of Western lands, T.R. joins with other hunting enthusiasts in founding the Boone and Crockett Club, one of the United States' first conservation organizations.
Campaigning for Benjamin Harrison
T.R. takes to the road to campaign for the Republican presidential nominee, Benjamin Harrison. T.R. distinguishes himself by his compelling speeches. Harrison will carry the Electoral College despite losing the popular vote, narrowly defeating Democrat Grover Cleveland to become the 23rd president of the United States.
Winning the West
The first two volumes of T.R.'s iconic study of the West, Winning the West, are published, adding to T.R.'s reputation as a writer.
Civil Service Commission
President Harrison rewards T.R. for his campaign service by appointing him to the Civil Service Commission. T.R. moves his family to Washington and begins challenging corruption in the federal government.
Birth of Kermit Roosevelt
The second child of Theodore and Edith Roosevelt, a son named Kermit, is born at Sagamore Hill, in Oyster Bay.
Birth of Daughter Edith
The third child of Theodore and Edith Roosevelt, a daughter also named Edith, is born. She will be the couple's only daughter.
Election of Grover Cleveland
Democrat Grover Cleveland wins the presidential election, becoming the only American president to be elected to two non-consecutive terms. Because of T.R.'s reputation for independence, Cleveland chooses to keep him on as a civil service commissioner despite belonging to the opposition party.
Panic of 1893
The Panic of 1893, a devastating economic recession, leads to massive unemployment and widespread poverty. T.R. is struck by the vulnerability of the country's poor.
Birth of Archibald Roosevelt
The fourth child of Theodore and Edith Roosevelt, a son named Archibald, is born in Washington, D.C.
Frustration with Social Problems
In quick succession, T.R. learns of Jacob Coxey's march on Washington to protest unemployment and of the start of the violent Pullman strike in Chicago. T.R. becomes increasingly frustrated with his inability to tackle such crucial social problems from behind a desk in Washington.
New York City Police Commissioner
Under pressure from his friend Henry Cabot Lodge, T.R. moves back to New York to become police commissioner. Muckraking journalist Jacob Riis introduces him to the poor and exploited underbelly of the city. T.R. becomes internationally famous for his professionalism and dramatic midnight patrols.
Campaigning for William McKinley
Assistant Secretary of the Navy
Republicans reward T.R. for his support of McKinley by appointing him assistant secretary of the Navy. T.R. immediately puts his ideas about naval expansionism into practice.
Birth of Quentin Roosevelt
The fifth child of Theodore and Edith Roosevelt, a son named Quentin, is born. He will be the couple's last child.
Sinking of the Maine
While attempting to secure American interests in Cuba, the USS Maine explodes in Havana harbor. While the cause of the explosion is uncertain, many in the United States blame the sinking of the Maine on a supposed Spanish bomb. T.R. and many newspapers call on President McKinley to declare war against Spain.
War with Spain
President McKinley asks Congress for authority to send troops into Cuba. Congress declares war two weeks later, on 25 April, two days after Spain breaks off diplomatic relations with the United States. An eager T.R. disregards the president's explicit requests and resigns his government job to organize a volunteer cavalry regiment known as the Rough Riders.
Rough Riders Storm San Juan Hill
The Rough Riders land in Cuba. Eight days later, on 1 July, they fight in the Battle of San Juan Heights, where a 40-year-old T.R. distinguishes himself for bravery. His exploits are reported back in the United States, making him a war hero.
Return in Glory to New York
T.R. returns home to be greeted by screaming crowds asking him to run for governor of New York.
Governor of New York
After his friend Henry Cabot Lodge makes his candidacy acceptable to Republican political boss Thomas Platt, T.R. is elected governor of New York.
"The Strenuous Life"
T.R. delivers his famous speech on the strenuous life, spreading his own reinterpretation of his father's muscular Christian views.
Nomination to Vice Presidency
Under strong pressure from Thomas Platt, eager to get T.R. out of New York, and Henry Cabot Lodge, eager to get his friend closer to the presidency, the Republicans nominate T.R. for the vice-presidency in the upcoming election. His popularity helps propel the Republicans to victory (and McKinley to reelection) in November.
Shooting of President McKinley
McKinley Dies, Roosevelt Becomes President
Several days after being shot by a crazed anarchist, William McKinley succumbs to his gunshot wounds. Theodore Roosevelt, just 42 years old, becomes the youngest yet to become president of the United States.
Busting the Northern Securities Trust
Just a few months after taking office, President Roosevelt decides to prosecute the Northern Securities Trust Company for anticompetitive practices, earning his reputation as a "trust-buster."
Intervention in Coal Strike
T.R. intervenes in the Anthracite Coal strike, setting a precedent for neutral federal mediation in conflicts between labor and capital. (Previously all government interventions in labor disputes had been to help crush strikes.)
Interested in the construction of a canal through Central America to increase American naval power by making it easier for ships to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, T.R. fosters a revolution in Panama and subsequently begins constructing the Panama Canal.
Election of 1904
A popular President Roosevelt is overwhelmingly reelected, crushing the conservative Democrat Alton Parker in the election of 1904. In a fit of jubilation, he promises not to seek a third term in office. He will regret his promise by 1908, but not renege on it.
Nobel Peace Prize
The Russo-Japanese War ends with the signing of the Treaty of Portsmouth, mediated by Theodore Roosevelt. He will earn the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in seeking diplomatic resolution to the far-off conflict between Russia and Japan.
Marriage of Daughter Alice
Alice Lee Roosevelt, T.R.'s daughter with Alice Hathaway Lee, is married. The wedding is a major news event, as Alice has become a tabloid celebrity.
Great White Fleet
In a show of American naval power, T.R. sends Admiral Dewey and his Great White Fleet on a round-the-world trip.
End of Roosevelt Presidency
William Howard Taft, Roosevelt's friend and hand-chosen successor, is inaugurated as the twenty-seventh president of the United States after defeating Democrat William Jennings Bryan (an unprecedented three-time loser) in the election of 1808. Roosevelt retires as one of the most popular American presidents ever.
T.R. leaves on an African safari. A sea of people see him off from the port in New York, while newspapers from around the world follow his hunting adventures.
The New Nationalism
After traveling through Europe and Africa, Roosevelt returns to the United States to deliver his speech on the "New Nationalism," the most important speech of his career.
Triangle Shirtwaist Fire
A devastating and deadly fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory in New York City draws attention to the need for labor regulations and galvanizes Progressives all across the country.
Return to Politics
Increasingly frustrated with President Taft's policies, which he views as increasingly reactionary, T.R. decides to reenter politics, declaring himself a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. "My hat is in the ring, he proclaims, "the fight is on and I am stripped to the buff."
Republicans Nominate Taft Over Roosevelt
Despite being less popular than Roosevelt among the Republican rank-and-file, Taft secures his renomination through the political manipulation of party bosses. A disgusted T.R. finally breaks with the Republican Party to found a competing third party, the Progressive Party, more commonly known as the Bull Moose Party.
Bull Moose Party
T.R. receives the Bull Moose Party nomination for president of the United States. A speech seconding his nomination is delivered to the Progressive Party Convention by Jane Addams, founder of Hull House and the most respected woman in America.
Shooting of Teddy Roosevelt
While campaigning in Milwaukee, T.R. is shot in the chest by a paranoid-schizophrenic. Although T.R. insists on delivering his next scheduled speech as planned, he is later forced to suspend his campaign.
Election of Woodrow Wilson
Progressive Democrat Woodrow Wilson is elected the twenty-eighth president of the United States. T.R. comes in second, ahead of Taft, the Republican nominee. A disappointed T.R. sinks into a slump.
Expedition to Brazil
T.R. leaves on an expedition to Brazil to chart the headwaters of the River of Doubt. He will barely survive the journey.
Assassination of Franz Ferdinand
Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand is shot in Sarajevo, bringing Europe to the brink of war. The Great War, later known as World War I, will break out in earnest in August.
Reports of German atrocities committed during the invasion of Belgium turn T.R. into a rabid war hawk, urging that the United States join the war on the side of Britain and France. Most Americans, however, continue to vehemently oppose intervention.
Sinking of the Lusitania
The sinking of the Lusitania increases calls for the United States to enter the war in Europe. T.R. denounces Wilson's inaction.
Wilson wins reelection on the slogan, "He kept us out of war." T.R. continues to fulminate. He begins to emerge as the leader of the wartime opposition, the "preparedness camp."
United States Enters World War I
Following the publication of the Zimmerman Telegram, calls for war in America reach a fever pitch. Wilson, finally capitulating to the preparedness camp, asks Congress to declare war since "[t]he world must be made safe for democracy."
Death of Quentin Roosevelt
Quentin Roosevelt, T.R. youngest son and a pilot with the Allied Forces, is shot down and killed while flying a mission in France. He is only twenty years old.
Death of Roosevelt's Nephew
Douglas Robinson, T.R.'s nephew, is killed in action.
End of World War I
The signing of an armistice brings an end to hostilities on the western front of World War I, heralding the end of the war. An increasingly infirm T.R., now 60 years old, is rushed to the hospital to be treated for gout and rheumatism.
Christmas at Home
T.R. is released from the hospital to spend Christmas with his family.
Death of Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt dies of an embolism in his sleep, at Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay.