Ex-President Theodore ‘Teddy’ Roosevelt Dies
Early in the morning of Jan. 6, 1919, Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, the nation’s 26th president, quietly died in his sleep. His death ended one of the most remarkable lives and careers in American history. Ranked by historians as one of the nation’s greatest presidents, Roosevelt was a state legislator, police commissioner and governor (of New York); assistant secretary of the navy; and vice president (under William McKinley). Roosevelt was also a war hero, gaining fame for leading the heroic charge up San Juan Hill in Cuba during the Spanish-American War.
In addition to all that, Roosevelt was an accomplished naturalist, author, editor, orator, explorer, horseman and big-game hunter. Born into great wealth to a long-established, aristocratic family, he went on to fight for reform and progressive causes during his political career. A weak and sickly child, he built himself into a strong, vigorous man through strenuous activity. Posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 2001 for his bravery on the battlefield, he was also awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906 for helping to end the Russo-Japanese War. In short, Roosevelt was a larger-than-life figure, one widely respected and admired, as shown by the following newspaper articles.
These three articles were published the day Roosevelt died. The first gives a comprehensive and admiring account of his life and many achievements. The second article describes his final hours, and the third reports on the respect paid him as the nation mourned his death. All three articles were published by the Belleville News-Democrat (Belleville, Illinois) on Jan. 6, 1919:
Nation Mourns the Loss of an Ex-President
Theodore Roosevelt Died Today
The Great Statesman Answered Death’s Sudden Call
End Entirely Unexpected—Was but Recently Discharged from the Roosevelt Hospital—Had Been One of the World’s Foremost Statesmen and Authors—Became President after Assassination of McKinley, and Was Later Re-elected—Ambition to Be Re-elected Caused Formation of Bull Moose Party
Col. Theodore Roosevelt died at his home at Sagamore Hill, near Oyster Bay, in Nassau County, New York, at 4:15 o’clock this morning.
He had been sick for some time, a sufferer with sciatic rheumatism and a complication of other diseases.
He received treatment in Roosevelt Hospital in New York, and was discharged as cured on Christmas Day and permitted to return to his home at Oyster Bay.
He seemed to be on the road to complete recovery. While in the hospital he had undergone an operation and was practically deaf as a result.
The distinguished ex-president went to bed last night feeling well and peaceful.
The end came without a struggle.
Pneumonia was perhaps the disease which took Col. Roosevelt away.
It is stated that a clot of blood, accumulating on an artery of the lung, caused his death.
The death of Col. Theodore Roosevelt is a shock to the entire nation. Outside of the White House, he was easily the first citizen of the United States. His name is a household word in every civilized country, and Roosevelt made a secure place for himself in the history of nations.
Col. Theodore Roosevelt was born in New York City on October 27th, 1858. He was of Dutch descent, being a member of one of the old aristocratic families of New York City and State. He traced his lineage back to the Revolution and long before that period on American soil. His parents were wealthy and belonged to the capitalistic or aristocratic class, although Roosevelt himself was always extremely democratic in his ways and principles. Roosevelt was a member of the Dutch Reformed Church, but never played religion very strongly.
He entered Harvard College in 1876 and was graduated in the class of 1880.
He took up the study of law, but in 1881 was elected to the New York Legislature, and was twice re-elected.
In his second term in the Legislature, he was the candidate of his party for speaker, the majority of the assembly, however, being democratic.
During his third term he served as chairman of the committee on cities and of the special committee which investigated the abuses in the government of New York City.
He early took a stand for good government and honest and clean and decent politics.
He was a delegate to the state convention in New York State in 1884 to choose delegates to the Republican National Convention, and was selected as one of the four delegates-at-large from New York to the National Convention.
Later in the same year, he went to North Dakota and spent most of his time there for several years on a ranch, engaged in cattle raising. The change was made in the interests of his health. He had been weak and sickly and was advised by his physician to go west and live in the open air and sunshine and live the simple life.
He adopted the habits of the cowboys and roughed it, according to the customs which prevailed in those days in the wild and wooly West. He acquired the art of riding on horseback, and became an expert rifle and revolver shot. During most of his waking hours he lived in his saddle. This life on the margin of civilization was too slow for him, however. Regaining his health and becoming robust and strong, he yearned for the streets and avenues of his native city, where the bright lights burn.
In 1886 he was the Republican nominee for mayor of New York City.
He was appointed a member of the United States Civil Service Commission in May, 1889, by President Benj. Harrison.
He resigned this position in 1895 in order to accept the Presidency of the Police Commission of New York City under Mayor Strong.
In April, 1897, he was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy by President William McKinley.
Upon the outbreak of the war with Spain in 1898, he resigned his post and became Lt. Col. of the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry.
He now began to cash in on the apprenticeship which he had served in the Wild West. He raised the regiment known as the Rough-Riders.
He was promoted to the colonelcy of the regiment, and was popular with the rank and file of men who reposed great confidence in his leadership.
He was in the fights at Las Guasimas and San Juan. His name as a fighter was won at the battle of San Juan Hill.
He was mustered out with his regiment at Montauk, Long Island, in September, 1898. He was nominated shortly afterwards as the Republican candidate for governor of New York and elected in November, 1898.
He was unanimously nominated for Vice President of the United States by the Republican National Convention of 1900 and elected. He succeeded to the Presidency upon the death of President McKinley, by assassination, in Buffalo, on September 14th, 1901.
He was nominated for President by the Republicans in 1904 and was elected by a tremendous popular and electoral majority. He beat Alton B. Parker, the Democratic nominee.
While Roosevelt was President the Panama Canal was built and the war between Japan and Russia was fought. He took a hand in the settlement of that bloody conflict and was awarded a Noble Peace Prize for his activities.
The country was rent by panics and strikes during the Roosevelt administration, and he gained notoriety by successfully winding up a coal miners’ strike in the anthracite regions in Pennsylvania which threatened to drag the country into civil war.
Roosevelt was a forceful character and an aggressive man. He believed in the policy of maintaining a big standing army and a powerful navy in our country. He was an advocate of the strenuous life and lived it.
He lived every minute of his life. He split the Republican Party in two in 1912 because the Republican National Convention of that year refused to nominate him for President instead of Taft. He organized the Bull Moose Party on a progressive platform and later closed up the breach by returning to the original fold.
Roosevelt was distinctly a physical force man. In his opinion nature and destiny achieve their purposes through the strongest agency. He had no use for weak men and detested half-hearted measures. He fought the Wilson administration on the ground that it was too slow.
He believed that we should have entered the European War against Germany four years ago.
He was a physical culture expert, having built himself up from a sickly child to a man whose vigor and virility challenged the respect and admiration of the world.
His children were of the same type.
He was a historian. He wrote many books on history. His “History of the Naval War of 1812” was written while he was yet a Harvard student.
He was a biographer. He wrote a biography of “Oliver Cromwell,” his own autobiography and others.
He was an essayist. He wrote more books than many authors whose fame rests upon their writings alone. His essays, in particular, and later his orations, were always a key to his actions.
He was a great critic. He raised hell most of the time. He knew where to hit and hit hard.
He was a good hater and had a good command of English. The results are well known.
He was a natural scientist, a big-game hunter, and explorer and discoverer. His achievements in natural science alone were enough to make him a man of note. He killed lions and tigers and elephants in the wilds of Africa, and discovered the River of Doubt in South Africa.
He was the holder of more than a dozen college degrees, and won fame as an editor on the “Outlook” and the “Metropolitan Magazine.” During the last year he has been an editorial writer for the “Kansas City Star.”
He was a practical reformer, a veteran colonel of cavalry, a former Governor, a former Vice President and a former President.
His death marks the end of a notable career, and the most strenuous life in America has reached its illustrious close. The whole nation mourns the loss of Theodore Roosevelt. Had he lived to see the day he might have been the next Republican nominee for President of the United States, and it is not improbable that he would have been re-elected.
Oyster Bay, Jan. 6.—2 P.M.—Col. Theodore Roosevelt died in his sleep at 4:15 o’clock this morning. The end came when there was no one in the room with him but his valet.
The following statement was made by Dr. George W. Faller of Oyster Bay, the physician who last saw the Colonel:
“Col. Roosevelt retired at 12 o’clock last night feeling much better. At 4:15 o’clock this morning he simply ceased to breathe. Death was caused probably by a pulmonary embolism.”
“Pulmonary embolism,” Dr. Faller explained, is a blood clot on one of the arteries of the lungs.
The funeral will be Wednesday from Christ Episcopal Church, Oyster Bay. Rev. Dr. Talmadge will officiate and interment will be in the Young Memorial Cemetery at Oyster Bay cove.
At the time of the death the only persons in the house here were Col. Roosevelt, his wife and the servants.
The Colonel spent Sunday evening reading, conversing with Mrs. Roosevelt and chatting with Dr. Faller, who left him much improved and in excellent spirits. He dictated some letters also.
Despite his recent return from the hospital, where he was confined for weeks by an attack of sciatica with painful complications, he had much of his old vigor. When Dr. Faller left him Roosevelt was laughing and called “Good Night” most cheerfully.
At midnight he retired. Mrs. Roosevelt sat with him for a while, then as he fell asleep she went to her own room.
At 4:15 a.m. the man servant became alarmed and called the nurse. There was nothing that could be done. Roosevelt was dead. Mrs. Roosevelt was called. She took the shock bravely. Dr. Faller arrived a few minutes later. Roosevelt lay as if still sleeping. He did not move in the bed when he died but lay just as he was when his wife left him.
The nurse was at the house because Roosevelt was suffering from an attack of inflammatory rheumatism, which was very severe in his right hand. The attack developed last Wednesday. The Colonel was planning a trip to Europe to visit the grave of his son Quentin. The trip was to be made as soon as he sufficiently recovered his health. The death of Quentin was a severe shock to Roosevelt.
Washington, Jan. 6.—Washington mourned deeply today for former President Roosevelt. Many of the nation’s leading men here expressed personal grief at his sudden death. Political friend and foe alike agreed that the nation had suffered a great loss.
The flag on the White House was at half mast. Likewise the flag under which he had fought was ordered half-masted at American army stations the world over, as it was also on all government buildings in the United States.
Secretary Daniels ordered all ships and naval stations to fly their flags at half mast. The Senate and House adjourned after a short session in honor of Roosevelt.
Click here for more articles about Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt.