Roosevelt was 26th president of the United States, a strong and vigorous leader who greatly expanded US involvement in foreign affairs.
Theodore Roosevelt was born on 27 October 1858 in New York, son of a wealthy businessman. In 1876, he went to Harvard and then on to Columbia Law School, leaving in 1881 to run for a seat in the New York State assembly. He was elected as a Republican and re-elected twice more, leading the Republicans. In 1884, he spent two years as a cattle rancher in Dakota Territory and then became a writer, including a four-volume history of America's westward expansion (published 1889 - 1896).
In 1889, Republican President Benjamin Harrison appointed him as a member of the US Civil Service Commission. In 1895, Roosevelt became president of the New York City police board. The following year, he was appointed assistant secretary to the navy by Republican President William McKinley. Roosevelt strongly supported expanding US naval power as a means of increasing America's presence in world affairs. During the Spanish-American War, Roosevelt saw active service as lieutenant colonel of the Rough Rider Regiment.
In 1898, Roosevelt was elected New York governor and in 1900, vice president under McKinley. In September 1901, McKinley was assassinated and Roosevelt became president. He was elected in his own right in 1904. His presidency was notable for introducing anti-monopolistic reforms designed to limit the powers of large corporations. In addition he established America's first national park, in Florida, in 1903 and first national monument, in Wyoming, in 1906.
In foreign affairs, Roosevelt declared that the US should 'speak softly and carry a big stick'. He believed US security would be enhanced when other nations knew that the country would protect its interests with the threat of war. His corollary to the Monroe Doctrine prevented the establishment of foreign bases in the Caribbean and arrogated the sole right of intervention in Latin America to the United States. Roosevelt also encouraged the building of the Panama Canal. In 1906, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in ending the Russo-Japanese war.
Roosevelt retired from the presidency in 1908. In the 1912 presidential election he ran against his successor, William Taft, with whose policies he disagreed. His candidacy split the Republican vote and allowed Democrat Woodrow Wilson to become president. Roosevelt died on 6 January 1919. His nickname, 'Teddy', has lived on in the teddy bear.