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Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) was, at different times, rancher, big-game hunter, and explorer, as well as politician. He learnt politics as a reforming Republican in New York. As a colonel in the US Army, he led the 'Rough Riders' - a volunteer cavalry unit in the 1898 Spanish-American War. Later that year he was elected governor of New York, and in 1901 became vice-president.
In 1901 Roosevelt became the youngest-ever US president after the assassination of President McKinley. Brilliant, flamboyant, and energetic, Roosevelt was immensely popular. He won a second term in 1904, and held office until 1909. His administration embarked on a long-running programme of reforms and major achievements. By 1900 the United States had become the world's leading industrial nation, but beneath the surface there was a great deal of unrest, caused by low wages and poor working conditions. Roosevelt broke up some of America's large monopolies and brought in strict regulations on food hygiene and child labour, limiting the hours children were allowed to work in factories. He fought abuses in the expanding railway business. He introduced the first measures for conserving US natural resources.
During his presidency, he supported Panama when it broke away from Colombia, and won the right to build the Panama Canal. Roosevelt once summed up his approach to conducting foreign policy as 'speak softly and carry a big stick'. He won a Nobel peace prize for mediating in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5. His face is one of those carved on Mount Rushmore.
Roosevelt was popularly known as 'Teddy', and was a great lover of the outdoors. He particularly enjoyed hunting bears. Teddy bears got their name from him, because he refused to shoot a bear cub on a hunting trip in Mississippi. These toy bears became popular during his presidency.
Theodore Roosevelt and F. D. Roosevelt were distant cousins.
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