To find out more about Roosevelt's "Rough Riders," visit "The Rough Riders" TNT mini-series Web site. (See Sources Used.)


Theodore Roosevelt
Life Before the Presidency

Roosevelt's youth was different from that of the other log cabin Presidents that preceded him. He was born into a wealthy family in New York City on October 27, 1858. Despite his family's wealth, he had his own struggles, such as his battle with ill health. His physical triumphs made him a fan of "the strenuous life."

Before becoming President, Roosevelt was elected to other offices. He served as a New York State Assemblyman, Governor of New York, and Vice President of the United States. He was also a deputy sheriff in the Dakota Territory, Police Commissioner of New York City, U.S. Civil Service Commissioner, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and Colonel in the "Rough Riders."

In April 1898, the U.S. entered into war with Spain. At this time, Roosevelt was Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Roosevelt favored the war and loudly made his views known — even to President McKinley, who wanted the U.S. to remain neutral. In order to supplement the depleted U.S. Army, President McKinley asked for 125,000 volunteers. Over a million men answered the call. The zealous Theodore Roosevelt was commissioned to lead a unique regiment of the volunteer cavalry — a diverse group of rugged men from the Southwest Territories. Though officially known as the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry, the regiment was more appropriately dubbed the "Rough Riders."

In July 1898, Roosevelt gained fame for his charge up San Juan Hill. The image of him charging up the hill on his horse became a historical icon. "Roosevelt all-mustached, eyeglasses, and teeth-charging up San Juan Hill," ( After the war, he returned to the U.S. a hero, which helped him win the election as Governor of New York.

Roosevelt was also one of the original members of the American Institute of Arts and Letters. He was one of the first fifteen elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letter. He also founded the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), which you may be familiar with today.

Learn more about Theodore Roosevelt:

Life Before the Presidency
Roosevelt: Rancher, Historian, and Author
Presidential Accomplishments
Did You Know?
The Father of Conservation
Life After the Presidency