Roosevelt: A President of Firsts

President Theodore Roosevelt was a man of many firsts.  Not even 43 when he took office, Roosevelt became the youngest President in the country’s history.  Although nervous and surprised when he first took office, Roosevelt soon ushered in new excitement and promise for the American people.

In an uncharacteristically down tone, Roosevelt wrote to a good friend on the day that he took office.  The letter, on display with the Shapell Manuscript Foundation and their “Between the Lines” program, shows McKinley’s stationary with the title “Executive Mansion.” In the letter, Roosevelt wrote “I have about as heavy and painful a task out upon me as can fall to the lot of any man in a civilized country…”

Soon, however, this fear turned to action, as Roosevelt became the first to officially call the building in which he lived “The White House.”  He changed the stationary featured with the Shapell Manuscript Foundation so that it said, “The White House” rather than “Executive Mansion.”

Roosevelt, continuing in his tradition of firsts, was the first president to ride in a motorized car. He was the first to travel outside of the United States . He was the first president, as well, to win the Nobel Peace Prize, having won it for his mediation in the Russo-Japanese War.

When shot in the chest during the later years of his life, Roosevelt remarked that, “No man has had a happier life than I have led; a happier life in every way.”  A president of firsts, he certainly achieved a great deal in his life, and during his presidency.