Night at the Museum - TEDDY and TEX

TEDDY and TEX (Illustration) American History American Presidents Biographies Famous People Geography Social Studies Visual Arts Film

Before Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) became America’s President, he served in the military.  This image depicts him as a Colonel, during the Spanish-American War, wearing his Rough Rider uniform. He was part of the 1st Cavalry, U.S. Volunteers (hence the U.S.V. on his collar). This picture, circa 1898, is part of the Signal Corps Photographs of American Military Activity and is maintained by the U.S. National Archives (Identifier: 530951). Click on the image for a better view.


In front of the American Museum of Natural History, in New York City, is an impressive statue of a man on a horse. Who is he? Why was this person chosen to “"welcome" visitors as they enter the museum?

The statue depicts Theodore R. Roosevelt, Jr., America’s twenty-sixth president, astride his horse, Texas. He is known, among many other things, as:

  • TR;
  • Teddy (a nickname he disliked but after whom the “Teddy Bear” was originally named);
  • Nobel Peace Prize winner. (He was the first American to win a Nobel Prize in any category.)

In fact, TR’s disparate careers provided fodder for contemporary cartoonists.

His unexpected rise to the presidency began when his career in New York politics ended. Thinking it would be better to have this man-with-different-views working at the national (not the state) level, New York Republican leaders urged President McKinley to pick TR as his running mate in the 1900 presidential election. (The sitting Vice President, Garret Hobart, had died in late 1899.)

But ...

  • Who could have imagined that a deranged assassin would shoot William McKinley six months after his second election?
  • Who would have thought that TR - at age 42 - would become America’s youngest chief executive?
  • Who could have predicted that a Roosevelt presidency would create a significant turning point in American history?

Teddy Roosevelt’s life was filled with such twists and turns, joys and sorrows. He was smitten with Alice Hathaway Lee, and they were married soon after his 1880 graduation from Harvard University. They had a little daughter, also named Alice, who was born on the 12th of February, 1884. When the baby was two days old, TR lost his wife - and his mother - on the same day.

Alice had Bright’s Disease, a kidney ailment, which was undiagnosed because of her pregnancy. Devastated - the link takes you to his diary entry for that day - Roosevelt could not bear to speak his wife’s name again.

Later, he married a longtime friend - Edith Kermit Carrow - with whom he had five more children. He and his family lived in a 23-room mansion, called Sagamore Hill, overlooking Oyster Bay Harbor and Long Island Sound in Oyster Bay, New York.

Always an adventurer, TR and his son Kermit gave the American Natural History Museum some of the specimen collected on their African safari.  During a 1914 trip to Brazil, where he and Kermit explored the River of Doubt (later renamed Rio Roosevelt), TR became ill with a fever which may have contributed to his sudden and untimely death, at age 60, on 6 January 1919.

We can still hear TR’s voice and see him in silent movies. A few sound recordings of his speeches survive. Let’s listen as he explains his beliefs and political philosophy.

  • From Social and Industrial Justice, a speech given at a time when child labor in America was common: “We hold that the night labor of women and children is abnormal and should be prohibited...” (For this segment, move the cursor to 3:10 into the tape.)

  • From The Right of the People to Rulean address TR gave at Carnegie Hall, New York City, on 20 March 1912:

I believe in the right of the people to rule. I believe that the majority of the plain people of the United States will, day in and day out, make fewer mistakes in governing themselves than any smaller class or body of men, no matter what their training, will make in trying to govern them. (For these segments, listen to the beginning of the tape, then move the cursor to 2:52.)

The man who spoke those words would have been pleased that it is his statue welcoming every visitor to the museum he so loved.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: May 01, 2009

Updated Last Revision: May 06, 2019

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"TEDDY and TEX" AwesomeStories.com. May 01, 2009. Feb 17, 2020.
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