• theodore roosevelt was born to a wealthy new york family that traced its roots back to the dutch colonial era. weak and sickly as a boy, he became devoted to physical fitness as a man.

    after serving as police commissioner of new york city, assistant secretary of the navy, and hero of the spanish american war, he became governor of new york. in 1900, republican leaders nominated him to run for vice president-usually an unimportant position-with presidential candidate mckinley, to keep him quiet.

    roosevelt was an active and popular president, and at 42, the youngest man to serve in the office. he said the presidency provided a "bully pulpit" that allowed him to air his views, using his personality to force the government to take responsibility. senator la follette may have summed him up best by saying that "roosevelt made reform respectable in the united states."

    (see: teddy bear)