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Theodore "T.R." Roosevelt, Jr. (/ˈroʊzəvɛlt/ ROH-zə-velt) (October 27, 1858 – January 6, 1919) was an American author, naturalist, explorer, historian, and politician who served as the 26th President of the United States. He was a leader of the Republican Party (the "GOP") and founder of the Progressive Party. He is noted for his exuberant personality, range of interests and achievements, and his leadership of the Progressive Movement, as well as his "cowboy" persona and robust masculinity.
Born into a wealthy family in New York City, Roosevelt was a sickly child who suffered from asthma. To overcome his physical weakness, he embraced a strenuous life. Home-schooled, he became an eager student of nature. He attended Harvard College where he studied biology, boxed, and developed an interest in naval affairs. He entered politics in the New York state legislature, determined to become a member of the ruling class. In 1881, one year out of Harvard, he was elected to the New York State Assembly, where he became a leader of the reform faction of the GOP. His book The Naval War of 1812 (1882) established him as a learned historian and writer.
When his first wife Alice died two days after giving birth in February 1884, he was heartbroken and in despair; he temporarily left politics and became a rancher in the Dakotas. When blizzards destroyed his cattle he returned to New York City politics, running and losing a race for mayor. In the 1890s he took vigorous charge of the city police as Commissioner. By 1897 Roosevelt was in effect running the Navy Department. He called for war against Spain and when the Spanish–American War broke out in 1898 he helped form the famous Rough Riders, a combination of wealthy Easterners and Western cowboys. He gained national fame for his courage in battle in Cuba, then returned to be elected governor of New York. He was the GOP nominee for Vice President with William McKinley, campaigning successfully against radicalism and for prosperity, national honor, imperialism (regarding the Philippines), high tariffs and the gold standard.
Roosevelt became President after McKinley was assassinated. He attempted to move the GOP toward Progressivism, including trust busting and increased regulation of businesses. In November 1904 he was reelected in a landslide against conservative Democrat Alton Brooks Parker.