Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Roosevelts: An Intimate History!--A Review (Part 2)

Teddy Roosevelt was a brand new type of president, a hyperactive adult, and a steam engine in trousers.--The Roosevelts
Episode 2-In the Arena (1901-1910)

Teddy Roosevelt was the first president to:
-Leave the country during the course of his time in office
-Have been born in the city
-Be known by his initials, T.R.
-Go down in a submarine
-Send a transatlantic cable for purposes of diplomacy
-Own an automobile
-Win the Nobel Peace Prize
-Invite an African-American (Booker T. Washington) to dine with him in the White House
Descriptions of T.R.:
-Youngest president in history at age 42
-Brilliant, possibly a genius
-Bird Watcher
-Big Game Hunter
-Author and Naturalist
-Historian and Expansionist
-Moral Crusader and Shrewd Politician
-Proud Husband and Father
Teddy's Accomplishments While President:
-The break-up of Northern Securities
-The Coal Strike Settlement
-The Panama Canal
-The Pure Food & Drug Act
-The Hepburn Act
-An end to the Russo-Japanese War
-Millions of Wild Acres preserved for future generations to enjoy
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.--Teddy Roosevelt
Teddy Roosevelt:
-He saw himself as a defender of right, a moralist.
-His presidency was the first one where the American people were excited about the White House.
-He had an unbelievable amount of energy.  He raced through the day drinking lots of coffee.  He read a book a day, sometimes 3 if he had time.  He personally answered 150,000 letters that were sent to the White House.
-During the coal strike, he became the first president to mediate a labor dispute
-He bought the rights from the French to build the Panama Canal.  The Canal is one of the greatest human achievements.
-During his run for re-election in 1904, he and Edith entertained writers, artists and musicians.  The public loved reading about the Roosevelt White House.  Huge crowds appeared wherever he went.
-"He was the first American president who had the look and the sound and the education of a Harvard man and there had never been anything like that in American politics."--David McCullough
-Through all of his presidency, he was resolutely himself.  (Which is probably one of the main reasons I have always loved him.)
-He came up with the Square Deal.  The essence being that rich men and poor men should be treated equally.

-He won re-election in 1904 by a landslide.  He then made the huge mistake of promising that under no circumstances would he run again in 1908.  He later said, "I would cut my hand off if I could take back that statement."
-It was difficult to be one of Teddy's children, since living up to their father's standards was almost impossible.  Alice especially had a hard time, since she never felt like she had a real home after living with her Aunt Bamie, her grandparents and now her Dad and Step-Mom.  As a young woman coming of age in the White House, she did almost everything that a girl her age back then wasn't supposed to do.
-Teddy pushed through bills that began to rewrite the role of the government in American's lives.
-While in office, he created 18 national monuments, the National Parks went from 5 to 10 and he created the National Forest Service.
-Yet, after all his accomplishments, he didn't think he was a great president because he had faced no great crisis while in office.
-He handpicked his successor, Taft and helped him win election.
-He then went to Africa and abroad for over a year so he wouldn't be tempted to comment on decisions that Taft would make.  He hunted big game in Africa.
-He was just as popular as when he was president, when he returned home, millions of New Yorkers came out to greet him.

Franklin Roosevelt:
-He asks Eleanor to marry him when he is 21 and she is 19.  His mother had always been overprotective of him, and with his father having passed away she was concerned about being alone.
-He was fascinated with Eleanor, she was Teddy's favorite niece, but more than that he was fascinated with her substance.
-He was one of the first people to realize how intelligent she was and very substantive, there was a lot there.  He truly did love her.  When he asked her to marry him, he said he could make something of himself with her by his side.
-He and Eleanor attended Teddy's Inauguration.  13 days later on November 17th, Teddy led a parade and then made time to give Eleanor away at her and Franklin's wedding.  They took a 3 month honeymoon
-Franklin decided to run for the legislature as a Democrat, without bothering to consult Eleanor about it.

Eleanor Roosevelt:
-Eleanor had a rough childhood.  Her mother was very beautiful and was disappointed that Eleanor wasn't.  Her mother's nickname for her was Granny.
-Her father, (Teddy's brother) was an alcoholic and was absent for most of her life.  Yet, she romanticized him and her relationship with him, even after she became an adult.
-By the age of 10, both of her parents were dead.
-She went to live with her pious grandmother.  Also in the house with them was an abusive nurse, an unstable aunt and two drunken uncles.
-Eleanor was lonely and struggled with a lot of fears.  Her Aunt Bamie came to her rescue.  She recommended that Eleanor be sent away to a school called Allenswood.  She was there for 3 years and she described them as the happiest of her life, where all her fears disappeared.
-Her instructor at Allenswood insisted her students be independent minded, intellectually alive and socially conscious.  Her education made a huge impact on her and brought out her great intellect.  She was the most admired girl at her school.
-To her dismay, her grandmother made her come back from school at the age of 17.
-Her and Franklin got engaged on November 22, 1903, but weren't allowed to announce their engagement until a year later, on December 1, 1904 because of Franklin's mother.
-She volunteered to work with immigrant children in a settlement house, and took it very seriously.
-Because of this, she helped Franklin see beyond his "privileged" world.
-Her marriage to Franklin was "a bargain she would often regret."
-They each wanted something from a relationship that the other in the end couldn't give.
-Eleanor wanted an intimate, someone she could confide in.  A husband who would always be supportive and there for her.  He could not provide that.
-Franklin wanted someone who had all the devotion to him that his mother had had, but not the admonitory part.  But sadly, Eleanor could not be worshipful and had to be admonitory.
-Eleanor had hoped that Franklin's mother Sara would become the mother she never had, but it was not to be.  Sara had a 6 story town home built for Franklin and Eleanor, and Eleanor was not consulted about anything.  Sara hired all of the staff herself and Franklin and Sara oversaw the construction and furnishing of the house.  So, Eleanor had no say in anything at all, not even in hiring the nannies that would watch her children.  She resented this immensely (who wouldn't?) and Franklin didn't understand why this was such a problem for her.

Episode 1-Get Action (1858-1901)

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