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PRESIDENT THEODORE ROOSEVELT (1858-1919)

26TH President, United States of America

By: Carol C. Schwartz

 

On the afternoon of April 25, 1865 Teddy Roosevelt, his brother Elliott, and a childhood friend and future first lady, Edith Kermit Carow observed the funeral procession of Abraham Lincoln. Teddy was watching from an upstairs window of his grandfather's Union Square home in New York City. Teddy, Elliott and Edith gazed in awe as they viewed the 14-foot long funeral car which was drawn by 16 horses, all wearing long black blankets. There were hundreds of spectators below, many of whom were in shock. At the time, Teddy Roosevelt was 6 years old.

By the age of 42, Theodore Roosevelt held the elective office 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, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Colonel of the Rough Riders, Police Commissioner of New York City, and a U.S. Civil Service Commissioner.

Teddy Roosevelt ascended to the presidency of the United States by the assassin's bullet of Leon Czolgosz which brought down President William McKinley at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. On September 14, 1901 at the age of 43 Theodore Roosevelt took the oath of office as the 26th and youngest President of the United States of America.

The President was one of the original members of the American Institute of Arts and Letters, the founder of the National Collegiate Athletic Association as well as the Long Island Bird Club. He was considered the world's authority on large American mammals; and was an established historian as President of the American Historical Association.

Roosevelt's presidential accomplishments in foreign affairs thrust the United States of American into the international arena of political power. He was instrumental in reversing the American tradition of isolationism as well as the policy of laissez-faire. As Chief Executive he expanded the powers of the office of the President of the United States establishing the model of the Presidency which has been followed by his successors.

Being successful in the breaking up of trusts, Teddy Roosevelt wanted and did get fair dealings for American manufacturing and production bringing corporations under control of the people. Also, his determination brought about the Panama Canal. He assisted Panama to gain independence from Colombia; and shaped a treaty for the United States to acquire the Canal Zone.

While President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize becoming the first American to win any Nobel Prize. He received the prize for his perseverance and war in negotiating an end to the Russo-Japanese War and bringing peace to the region.

Perhaps Roosevelt's greatest triumphs were in the area of conservation. He selected five National Parks, 150 National Forests, 50 or more Federal Bird Reservations, 18 National Monuments as well as National Game Preserves and other reclamation projects. When he left the office of the Presidency he had provided federal protection for 230 million acres of land.

Cats have been living in the White House, since the day Abraham Lincoln moved into the President's mansion with his cat, Tabby. Now, Slippers and Tom Quartz accompanied President Theodore Roosevelt when the family moved into the White House. In 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt officially gave the White House its name.

Tom Quartz was a large cat, and a personal friend of the President of the United States. It was Tom Quartz who many times played hide and seek throughout the White House with the President and his children, Tom loved running from room to room in the mansion and screaming loudly when he got lost. Many times Mr. President had to rescue Tom from the second floor outdoor balcony.

One of Tom's favorite tricks was to show up in under the desk of the President. Tom would curl up and take a nap near the President's shoes, wake up and surprise the President by jumping atop the desk for some affection. Tom always nudged the President giving him loud purrs and kneading on his coat sleeve.

One day when the Speaker of the House, Joseph G. Cannon, was visiting the White House, Tom Quartz thought he would like to play hide and seek with him. Cannon was coming down the staircase when Tom Quartz jumped out, snatched him by the leg, and ran down the stairs to go hide again. Needless to say, Tom Quartz made a memorable impression upon the Speaker of the House and whenever Cannon visited the White House or saw President Roosevelt, he always asked about his friend, Tom Quartz.

Slippers was not only a beautiful polydactyl blue-grey cat but also a favorite and pampered pet belonging to the President. Slippers had the privilege of living in the White House, playing wherever he desired to do so, we well as napping anywhere at anytime and doing so undisturbed. Slippers was found napping on the Lincoln bed, in the newly renovated Blue Room, as well as in the family dining room. He would slink in and around the ankles of the guests and became known as the official "first" cat. He was proclaimed as being official by the President so the housekeeping staff would treat Slippers as part of the first family.

Slippers ofttimes created unforgettable happenings and was not at all impressed by ceremonial splendor at the White House. It has been well reported that after a diplomatic dinner party one night in 1906, the President and his guests, who included ambassadors and their escorts, came upon Slippers sprawled out on the lush carpet between the State Dining Room and the East Room. Of course, Slippers was sleeping in the middle of the walkway. President Roosevelt bowed to the lady on his arm and carefully escorted her around Slippers. All of the dignitaries followed the President's lead by tip-toeing around Slippers, leaving him to finish his nap and dreams, after all he was indeed a very fine cat and so was the President of the United States who recognized that fact!

 

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