When I was in high school, my AP U.S. History teacher’s all-time favorite president was our 26th, Mr. Theodore Roosevelt himself. I will admit that I didn’t know much about Teddy until that class. All I really knew about him is that the “teddy bear” is named after him, and that he loved hunting and the outdoors. After practically an entire unit in that history class on Roosevelt, he quickly became one of my favorite presidents. Years later, I’ve come to realize that Teddy Roosevelt is essentially the personification of class and the perfect gentleman.
For starters, this guy was tough! Not only was Teddy a hardened soldier, but he was also an avid hunter and adventurer. He could probably navigate his way around the forest better than most of us could navigate our own house. In fact, he went on adventures all over the world before, during, and after his presidency. He was a decorated member of the “Rough Riders” during the Spanish-American War, went on an expedition in Africa after his presidency, and even scaled the Matterhorn! Moreover, can you guess what one of Teddy’s favorite hobbies was? If you guessed boxing, you’d be right. This guy was no stranger to a fair fight. In fact, after a boxing accident in the White House, he was left blind in one eye and then decided to switch to jiu-jitsu instead. Not only did he continue such hobbies as hunting and fighting well into his presidency, he even continued them after his time in office.
Of course, there’s his famous assassination attempt. For those who don’t know this story, here’s what the basic rundown. During a third presidential campaign in 1912, Teddy made a stop in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to present a speech. While on his way to the podium, someone had shot him in the chest with a .38-caliber revolver. However, it just so happens that the bullet didn’t directly hit him. Instead, it actually hit his glasses case and a small notebook that he had in his coat pocket. Since hitting those two objects drastically reduced the bullet’s power, it punctured Teddy’s skin and possibly shattered a couple ribs, but it didn’t puncture his lungs. Since Teddy wasn’t in any immediate danger outside of blood loss, he refused to go to the hospital and proceeded to give an 84-minute speech! In fact, many say giving that speech may have actually saved his life after getting shot. So, TR made hobbies out of boxing, jiu-jitsu, and hunting, would regularly hunt wild animals, and proceeded to give a speech after getting shot! In short, this guy could take a shot better than just about anyone before or after him.
Along with being a hunter and adventurer, Teddy Roosevelt also loved the outdoors. It’s thanks to him that we have the National Park Service we know and love today. I know people stereotype those who love the outdoors and want to save nature as tree-hugging, stoned out hippies. In reality, the wilderness is a true gentleman’s playground, which may warrant another article at a later date. In any case, Teddy took that sentiment to the bank. He was an ardent proponent of the preservation of nature, and even worked with world famous naturalist and author John Muir to help establish the aforementioned national parks. In fact, this love of nature and the outdoors eventually led to the Boy Scouts becoming the largest youth organization in America.
On top of all this, Teddy Roosevelt was very resilient, strong, courageous, intelligent, helpful, and friendly. Being able to rise up from an asthmatic, sickly childhood through rigorous exercise and unrivaled determination, he was able to become the governor of New York, the Vice President, and eventually the President of the United States. Throughout his years, he was known to be incredibly friendly and hospitable, always wanting to help out the little guy. He was also incredibly devoted to his faith and his family, and in case his winning smile was no indication, he was infectiously optimistic. If none of that made the perfect gentleman, then I don’t know what does. If I could name just one man for any up-and-coming gentleman to look up to, the first name I would mention without hesitation is Theodore Roosevelt.
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