8 Facts About Theodore Roosevelt: Ride ’em Cowboy

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1. Ride ‘em Cowboy!

Life can change in a flash, and for 25-year-old Theodore Roosevelt that life-altering moment took place on Feb. 14, 1884. On one floor of the family’s elegant 57th St. home, his beloved mother, suffering from typhoid fever, took her final breath. On another floor several hours later, his darling wife, having given birth to their first child, Alice, just two days earlier, succumbed to undiagnosed kidney failure.

Devastated, T.R. left the care of his newborn daughter to his older sister and threw himself into work. But as demanding and all-encompassing as big-city politics was, the challenges he faced could not fill the deep hole of grief that plagued him. So, he left high society for high adventure in the Badlands of the Dakota Territory—to become a cowboy.

Though Theodore had traveled the world with his family, including visits to exotic locations, frontier life was an experience like no other, an unpredictable, dangerous, and practically lawless environment where T.R.’s famous name held no sway. It was survival of the fittest, the bravest, and the shrewdest. Small in stature, and suffering from asthma, the only thing T.R. seemingly had going for him was his smarts—and his dogged determination to make it on the frontier. The obstacles he overcame, the skills he learned, and the experiences he encountered would prepare him for a future he could not have imagined at this young age—that of president of the United States.