Theodore Roosevelt was born in 1858 in Manhattan, New York and when he was child I like to think he stood in front of a mirror one day and said, “When I grow up, I’m going to be a badass!” Because that’s exactly what he was.
After his father’s death, he and his childhood friend Edith, who he always thought he would marry, fell out and neither he or Edith would ever say what came between them. But afterwards Roosevelt would spend hours riding up and down the Long Island Sound, injuring his horse by galloping so hard and shooting a neighbours dog when it barked at him.
None the less, he returned to Harvard full of energy and even wrote the book “The Naval War of 1812” that would go on to influence a generation of Naval planners. Then he fell in love with a woman he met at a classmate's home. A woman by the name of Alice Lee, who was 17 at the time. That evening Theodore said:
See that girl ? I am going to marry her. She won’t have me, but I am going to have her.
It took Theodore a year to win her over. They got married in Brookline, Massachusetts on October 27, 1880. Together they planned a big hilltop house of their own at Oyster Bay. A 14 bedroom cottage to be called “Leeholm” in her honour.
It wasn’t long before Roosevelt started making headlines. He became the new Republican assembly man from Manhattan’s 21st district. At 23 years old, he was the youngest man to ever be elected to the assembly.
He abandoned his dreams to become a scientist, dropped out of law school and refused to go into the family business. He then surprised everyone when he decided to enter politics and run for the assembly under the Republican party.
Roosevelt was not shy in taking the floor, standing up to speak any chance he got and started pushing for municipal reform bills which lead to an investigation of a State Supreme Court Justice for accepting bribes, and denouncing of Jay Gould for offering them.
Roosevelt tried to end corruption in the assembly and the Government. He didn’t care for a lot of people and a lot of people didn’t care for him. When an assemblyman known as “The McManus” was overheard planning to toss Roosevelt in a blanket, Roosevelt tracked him down, he told him…
By God! If you try anything like that, I’ll kick you, I’ll bite you, I’ll kick you in the balls. I’ll do anything to do you — You’d better leave me alone.
The McManus backed off. Republican papers praised his courage and independence. All the newspapers loved him for the colourful picture he was painting. He was re-elected to the assembly twice, served a term as minority leader, and made himself the best known Republican in the State of New York. All this was done before he was 26.
Theodore spent a lot of time away from his wife, Alice. While he was away at work, she was 9 months pregnant and under the care of her mother-in-law in New York. Theodore was in Albany, battling for a measure to reform the New York City Charter. The newspapers were calling it “The Roosevelt Bill”.
On the morning of February 13th, as he sat in the chamber, he was handed a telegram. His wife had given birth to a healthy girl the night before. The girl was named after her mother, Alice. Assemblymen crowded around him to offer congratulations.
Then a second telegram arrived. He headed straight for the railway tracks for a five hour journey to New York. He got to his mother's house at midnight and as his brother Elliot opened the door, Theodore noticed him weeping. “There is a curse on this house” Elliot said. Elliot told Theodore that their mother was dying and that Theodore’s wife Alice was dying too.
His mother had typhoid fever. Alice was weakened by childbirth and was barely conscious. She was suffering from kidney failure. Theodore went back and fourth between their bedsides. His mother died at 3:00 in the morning of February 14th. Alice died 11 hours later. Only the baby survived.