For the last couple of months, I have been reading Edmund Morris’ biographical trilogy of Theodore Roosevelt: The Rise Of Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Rex, and Colonel Roosevelt.
I have never paid much attention to our 26th president but once I got started on these books, I simply could not put them down.
And here are five things about Roosevelt’s era you might not have known before:
1. The Panama Canal was almost the Nicaragua Canal. The U.S. government was all set to do business with Nicaragua until Roosevelt was able to induce the province of Panama to declare its independence from Columbia. The resulting canal was much shorter through the Panamanian isthmus than it would have been up north in Nicaragua. Who knew?
2. The reason you call the stuffed bears on your children’s beds “Teddy Bears” is . . . you guessed it. Teddy Roosevelt.
3. His mother and his first wife died on the same day. His wife died in child birth. In that era, it was unthinkable that a single dad would raise a newborn baby, so Roosevelt didn’t. His sister did. Once Roosevelt re-married, the oldest daughter (Alice) returned to her father’s house, where she became the older sister to five half-siblings.
4. He was a Republican who loved big government.
5. He gave away his niece at her wedding. You might have heard of her: Eleanor.
6. He had a tennis court built at the White House but refused to allow himself to be photographed while playing. I had no such opposition.