Theodore Roosevelt: A Biography

By Henry F. Pringle | Go to book overview

Chapter II
GROWTH

THE return from abroad in May, 1870, marked a definite change. Until then, Teedie had lived wholly without responsibilities. Now he faced two major problems. The first, and by far the more important, was building his health. The second was an education. His mother and aunt had taught him his letters, and he was an insatiable reader by the time he was ten. But his knowledge was scattered, and additional emphasis on some subjects was needed so that, in due time, he could begin preparations for college.

Getting rid of physical disability was vital; unless this was done nothing much could be achieved. So he was told by his parents. No evidence exists to show that Teedie, when he was seven or eight or nine, considered periodic illness as anything save a minor inconvenience. The boy had no dreams of physical prowess. He did not wish to emulate the warrior or man of steel. He was far from believing, as he later did, in "those most valuable of all qualities, the soldierly virtues," or that "all the great masterful races have been fighting races."1 It is significant that, in front of the tomb of Napoleon in March of 1870, Teedie had been bored by the relics of military glory. "We saw numerous battle scenes," he wrote in his journal, "with russians, turks arabs crusades knights Charlemang passing the Alps. Napoleon doing the same. The dying Crusader. Marches and all that."2

His interest lay not in war but in nature. One of the first letters to his mother, written in 1868 while she was in the South, expressed astonishment at the number of flowers she had seen, and added, "I could revel in the buggie ones."3 He visited all the museums of natural history he could find in Europe. Being a naturalist required neither brawn nor muscle. Even handicapped by asthma, a scientist could work in the laboratory or ramble through the fields with a butterfly net. This was the life to which he looked forward, and he took his vocation with des-

____________________
1
Works, National Edition, Vol. XIII, pp. 183, 184.
2
Diaries, pp. 143-207.
3
Mrs. Robinson, Op. cit., p. 38.

-16-

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Theodore Roosevelt: A Biography
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword vii
  • Contents ix
  • Illustrations xi
  • Book I 1
  • Chapter I - Teedie 3
  • Chapter II - Growth 16
  • Chapter III - Thou Goddess, Indifference! 26
  • Chapter IV - Alice Lee 40
  • Chapter V - Butter and Jam 54
  • Chapter VI - I Rose like a Rocket 65
  • Chapter VII - Practical Politician 79
  • Chapter VIII - Gentleman Cowhand 92
  • Chapter IX - The Years Between 106
  • Chapter X - A Job Once More 120
  • Chapter XI - Sword of Righteousness 132
  • Chapter XII - The Nation in Peril 152
  • Chapter XIII - Lord of the Navy 165
  • Chapter XIV - A Bully Fight 181
  • Chapter XV - Reward for a Hero 201
  • Chapter XVI - Yearnings and Consummation 216
  • Book II 235
  • Chapter I - Middle of the Road 237
  • Chapter II - The First Attack 251
  • Chapter III - The Rights of Labor 264
  • Chapter IV - The Big Stick 279
  • Chapter V - Setting for a Melodrama 301
  • Chapter VI - I Took Panama 315
  • Chapter VII - Trimming Sail 339
  • Chapter VIII - The Imperial Years Begin 359
  • Chapter IX - Imperial Years 372
  • Chapter X - The Japanese Menace 398
  • Chapter XI - Malefactors of Great Wealth 413
  • Chapter XII - The Wicked Speculators 432
  • Chaper XIII - Substantial Justice 446
  • Chapter XIV - Handing Down the Law 465
  • Chapter XV - End of the Reign 476
  • Book III 495
  • Chapter I - The First Error 497
  • Chapter II - Among the Kings 508
  • Chapter III - Return Triumphant 525
  • Chapter IV - True Democracy 540
  • Chapter V - Battling for the Lord 553
  • Chapter VI - Drums of War 572
  • Chapter VII - The Final Blow 589
  • Appendix 605
  • Bibliography 607
  • Index 613
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