That Damned Cowboy: Theodore Roosevelt and the American West, 1883-1898

That Damned Cowboy: Theodore Roosevelt and the American West, 1883-1898

That Damned Cowboy: Theodore Roosevelt and the American West, 1883-1898

That Damned Cowboy: Theodore Roosevelt and the American West, 1883-1898

Synopsis

Of the many forces that shaped Theodore Roosevelt the warrior, the hunter, the statesman, the historian, none was more important, none more enduring than the frontier experience. As an impressionable youth, Roosevelt followed his fertile and far-reaching interests from the confines of New York politics to the open range of stock raising, then on to the intellectual frontiers of history. In the process, this son of the East became one of the nation's foremost exponents of the values, ideals, and culture of the American West.

Excerpt

It almost seemed as if the sun would never shine again. On February 13, 1884 a heavy fog and freezing mist had been draped over New York City for ten days. For State Assemblyman Theodore Roosevelt, busily at work in Albany, the ghostly fog could not have been more prophetic, more ominous, more grimly foreboding. All along the lower Hudson River commercial barges were slowed to a crawl while the railways into Long Island crept along at a cautious pace. That morning in the state capital Roosevelt received two telegrams, the first announcing the birth of a daughter, the second, an urgent and frightening message, informing him that his wife was not doing well. Hurriedly he caught the next train to New York City. The trip took considerably longer than the normal five hours that evening as the locomotive seemed to inch along through the thick fog and icy drizzle. Arriving at Grand Central Station shortly after eleven o'clock that night, Roosevelt rushed home, along the route every familiar landmark obscured by the dense haze. An eerie silence moved in the streets, a silence broken only by the sounds of horse hooves and carriage wheels clattering against the wet cobblestones. When Roosevelt reached the front of the brownstone mansion at 6 West 57th Street, he may have glimpsed the lone lamp that burned dimly in the third story bedroom window.

"There is a curse on this house," Theodore muttered after discovering that his adoring wife Alice and affectionate mother Martha both lay gravely ill. Rushing upstairs, first to the bedside of his young "heart's dearest" and next to the elder Mrs. Roosevelt, he mumbled his disbelief and sat bewildered, scared, numb. Outside a cold winter mist cloaked the city like a mantle of death, while inside the Roosevelt home a light flickered faintly through the night. At approximately three o'clock in the morning Theodore was at his mother's side when she succumbed to typhoid fever--six years and five days after . . .

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