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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Cards-N-Time:

  • Following his graduation from Harvard University in the Spring of 1880, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.[T.R.] entered Columbia University School of Law and October 27 married Alice Lee. The following summer they took a second honeymoon trip in Europe during which he visited with his uncles—former Confederate admirals who encour...
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  • 1880-1884
    Following his graduation from Harvard University in the Spring of 1880, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.[T.R.] entered Columbia University School of Law and October 27 married Alice Lee. The following summer they took a second honeymoon trip in Europe during which he visited with his uncles—former Confederate admirals who encouraged him to complete his book on the naval war of 1812. This he did soon upon his return to NYC, and it revealed a romantic, naïve view of naval war by one who knew nothing of its reality.
    Roosevelt began frequenting Morton Hall, home of the Republican Party in mid-town Manhattan. They were then run by a ‘boss’ who worked in opposition to the infamous Democratic Machine known by the name of their building, Tammany Hall. [It also housed Tony Pastor’s Theatre, birthplace of Vaudeville.] The Republicans sponsored his election to the NY State Assembly at age 23. There, he was their worst nightmare e.g., a competent and uncorruptible Christian! Predictably he quickly crossed Jay Gould, infamous Wall Street stock manipulator who had recently effectively stolen the Manhattan Elevated Train Co. and doubled passenger fares. After thwarting Gould’s nefarious designs, T.R. exposed a corrupt Manhattan judge—earning Roosevelt celebrity and respect among his Republican colleagues.
    Tragically, both TR’s mother and his wife died Valentine’s Day 1884 plunging him into deep depression and causing him to write in his journal, “The light has gone out of my life. For joy or for sorrow, my life has now been lived out.” He ceased speaking and writing of Alice Lee and “all but abandoned the daughter Alice had borne him.” Even saying her name was so painful to speak, he called his daughter “Baby Lee.“[1]
    He fled to the Dakotas where he invested in a couple of ranches and intermittently tried his hand at being a cowboy and rancher owner. The area was lawless then and twice TR stood up to armed men intent on doing him harm. Using both guns and fists in those incidents taught him the lesson of speaking softly while carrying a big stick. His ranching days interspersed with hunting trips familiarized him with the wilderness being despoiled. Flaps with nearby ranches sharing public land gave him experience with the dilemma of the commons—the theory underlying the modern conservation movement. [2] He was a nerd grounded in real life. [Think Ralphie vs Scut Farkus.] [3]
    He wrote of his own exploits in ”Hunting Trips of a Ranchman” which he was able to get it published after buying into publisher G.P. Putnam and Sons. Reacting to a mixed review of his book by George Grinnell, editor of ‘Forest and Stream,’ T.R. befriended Grinnell and with him later created the Boone & Crockett Club which created the point system for deer and elk horns familiar to serious hunters today. The Club sought conservation of large game and their habitat.
    Page 2 of 3 - Roosevelt’s second political race for Mayor of NYC in 1886 ended in defeat, but it kept his name before the voters. Late that year he married Edith Carow, a childhood friend he probably would have married earlier had they not had a falling out in 1878.
    1885-1889
    The two ranches he bought in 1884 suffered mightily the winter of 1886-7 when snow kept cattle from reaching free-range grass underneath. It transformed the industry by forcing ranchers to buy and fence public lands in order to raise hay for forage in winter. Wannabe cattle barons like T.R. learned that ranching wasn’t for part-time amateurs. Epitomizing the old English saying, “Cobbler, stick to your last.” T.R. returned to what he was born to do e.g., politics.
    Campaigning for Harrison, winner of the 1888 presidential campaign subsequently earned T.R. appointment to the Civil Service Commission. Ironically, he received a patronage position the purpose of which was to clean up political patronage! It was a thankless, poorly-paying job at $3500 a year forcing him to bum a spare bedroom in D.C. from buddy Senator Cabot Lodge—his mentor.
    Through Lodge’s influence and his ownership stake in publisher G.P. Putnam, T.R. published several books in this interval which concerned heroic nationalism and manifest destiny in settling the American West.
    Edith bore their second child in 1889 which increased parenting pressures in their household causing them to join T.R. in Washington. By 1899 T.R. was a Washington bureaucrat making extensive contacts and accumulating personal political chips.
    1890-1896
    Space doesn’t permit a full account of T.R.’s run-up to the Presidency to which he tragically ascended with President McKinley’s assassination in 1901. The brief era of American colonialism during McKinley’s administration [1896-1901] was addressed in my Cards-N-Time series beginning in December 2012.
    Andrew Jackson should never have been President because he came to prominence as a result of his winning the Battle of New Orleans which was fought after the War of 1812 ended! As President he disobeyed Supreme Court ruling and ordered removal of 46,000 American Indians to Indian Territory—including my Cherokee ancestors. Jackson cavalierly retorted, “[Chief Justice] John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it.”
    By killing an act re-establishing the nation’s central bank, he caused bank panics and nationwide depressions approximately every twenty years thereafter. The Panic of 1893 and ensuing depression brought McKinley and T.R. into office in 1896.
     
    [1] H.W. Brands, “T.R.: The Last Romantic,” Basic Books, 1997,162,194.
    [2]Garrett Hardin, “The Tragedy of the Commons,” J. of Science, Vol.62, 1968, 1243-8.
    Page 3 of 3 - [3]A Christmas Story, 1983.

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