I just finished a very thick book by Edmund Morris. It is a 940 page biography The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt. I tried to give up on it and stop reading many times, but the book kept beckoning me back. He had such a compelling story, I simply kept returning and reading more, until I reached the end. I am glad I did.
I learned a lot about the man and the early history of the United States. I had forgotten all I read about the Rough Riders in high school history so long ago. I didn’t remember his involvement with helping Cuba gain their freedom from Spain. Roosevelt led them in the battle with decisions that were not easy.
It is too bad they were given freedom and then gave it away. Look at Cuba’s condition now.
Roosevelt was a prolific reader and writer.
His health as a child was very poor but determination did a lot to change that. He loved everything about the natural world and history and more. His love of the outdoors led him to make crazy investments in a ranch and cattle. He struggled through all kinds of weather and financial upheavals. He was a real cowboy. He was also a hunter of all kinds of game, small to big. He hired a guide to escort him. The outdoor life is surely what rescued his health.
He loved a woman who had no interest in him. Like everything else he went after, he refused to give up. Eventually, he won her heart. He lost Alice in the birth of their only child, a daughter. He was heart-broken, but his drive kept him moving ahead. He left baby Lee in the care of Bamie, his 30year old unmarried sister.
Roosevelt went into near-seclusion. His heartbreak included the loss of his mother. He put their memories in the back of his mind and refused to talk about them.
Eventually, he reunited his friendship with Edith and that led to a second marriage. That nearly caused another broken heart, that of his sister Bamie. He and his new wife claimed his daughter.
In politics as a young man, he drove everyone crazy. He was very forceful and commanded attention every time he opened his mouth. His personality grated on everyone’s nerves. He was either loved or hated, with no middle ground. He knew what he wanted and he expected to get it. He had no tolerance for dishonesty and wasn’t afraid to stand up for what he believed in.
He became the vice president to McKinley without choosing to do so. He wanted to remain the Governor of New York. He did dream of being the US president, some day.
That someday came much sooner than he expected. His formal services as VP lasted exactly four days, from March 4th to March 8th, 1901. The senate adjourned until December and Roosevelt left town for the summer.
On Friday September 9, 1901, McKinley attended a luncheon of the Vermont Fish and Game League on Isle La Motte in Lake Champlain.
The president was shot! By Sept 10th. he seemed to he recovering completely.
Vice-President left that afternoon for a short vacation in the Adirondacks with his family waiting at a mountain cabin. All appeared to be well until……
Friday 13, 1901, at 1:25 PM, as Roosevelt sat eating sandwiched when he saw a ranger approaching, running with a yellow telegram in his hand. Instinctively, he “knew what message the man was bringing.”
So, what is it about Friday the 13th? Was it an unlucky day for both President McKinley and the Vice-president? Was it a lucky day for Roosevelt because he got his dream, just a few years early.
Was it a lucky or unlucky day for the United States? I suppose it depends upon what the American citizens. Those who disliked either one would have their opinions and those who liked either one would have a differing opinion, as so it goes down through the history of the country. Look at the battle we have had in recent and now in the continuing years.