Badass Reason No. 7: The Philosopher
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
— Theodore Roosevelt
No wonder that he became a leader of men. That quote always inspires me, and it should inspire you as well. If you ever wanted to try something, but feared defeat, then read up on ‘Ol Teddy. I can assure you that you’ll be ready to storm the castle with a dagger in your teeth by the time you finish reading about a United States Prez with the most gritty swagger.
Badass Reason No. 6: The Politician
“When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer ‘present’ or ‘not guilty'”
— Theodore Roosevelt
The quote above proves that this is a man who knows both politics, and politicians all too well. We all know Teddy Roosevelt as the 26th President of the United States, but he was also the Vice President, as well as the Governor of New York.
Believe it or not, being the President of the United States was one of his more boring endeavors.
Badass Reason No. 5: The Hunter, Outdoorsman and Conservationist (which I would argue is the same thing)
The avid big game hunter, champion of wildlife and habitat conservation, established five new national parks, placed roughly 230,000,000 acres (now) public land under federal protection during his presidency.
Between 1901 & 1909 Roosevelt 150 national forests, 18 national monuments, 51 bird reserves, and 4 national game preserves.
One of his conservation rescues was that of Mount Olympic National Park (aptly named after the hangout of the gods in Greek mythology). Because of his role in this conservation effort, and having been credited by many with the very survival-ship of the Olympic elk species, they are known currently to most as Roosevelt elk instead.
The Roosevelt Elk (Cervus canadensis roosevelti) were named after the man himself! Due in part to his conservation efforts to keep the wildest places appropriately wild, these majestic creatures were forever tied with the conversationalist who took steps to save them and their habitat from extinction. In 1898, C. Hart Merriam, named the unique subspecies of elk found in the coastal rain forests of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State after, you guessed it, our old friend “Teddy Bear” Roosevelt!
Badass Reason No. 4: Theodore Roosevelt was the original Teddy Bear?
Pres. Roosevelt took a black bear hunting trip to Mississippi in 1902. All of the other hunters in his party spotted bears except Roosevelt. The hounds caught an over-the-hill black bear, and the hunting guides tied the bear to a tree, and called America’s first avid hunter president over to shoot the defenseless bear. Roosevelt refused to shoot the helpless bear, claiming it was not sportsmanlike, seeing as the bear had not been bested by means of a fair chase hunt. However, he ordered that the guide put the bear down because of its condition after the hounds had done their work on the bear. Reportedly the men on the hunting trip began mocking him for being a softy, and calling him Teddy Bear.
A cartoonist by the name of Clifford Barryman who was known for his political satire caught wind of the story, and drew a series of cartoons depicting the presidents refusal to shoot a small, cowering black bear. The cartoon was picked up by the Washington Post, as well as other news outlets of the day. A gentleman by the name of Morris Michtom, who owned a candy shop in Brooklyn, New York, has the claim of making the first “Teddy Bear.” Actually, his wife sewed up two stuffed bears, and after getting permission from the President of the United States, they placed the stuffed bears in his shop window. The bears caught on, and they began selling like hot cakes. The Michtom’s eventually formed the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company, and continued selling his “Teddy Bears” to parents and children for years. Teddy Bears have maintained their popularity through to this day. It’s hard to believe that a popular children’s toy got it’s start on a hunting trip in Mississippi.
Badass Reason No. 3: He captured a band of boat thieving canoe pirates!
In Roosevelt’s book (yes, he was also an accomplished writer on subject of the dark arts of badassery), Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail, published in 1888, he told the story of his hunt and procurement of boat thieves in the Bad Lands of Montana.
While on a hunting trip in March of 1886, in Billings County at the Elkhorn Ranch, Roosevelt had his plans of taking a small clinker-built boat across the Little Missouri River during the bitter cold to track mountain lions (steeped in badass-ness). He was unable to chase the wild cats because thieves had stolen the boat and taken it down the river. As a result of the spring thaw the Little Missouri River was covered with the jagged shards of jammed up ice.
So if you were in the middle of the Bad Lands of Montana, and had your boat stolen by three local men who knew the area like the back of their hand, what would you do? If you were a Roosevelt styled badass, then you would pursue the band of redneck pirates down the icy, winding river out of a flat bottomed boat that you and your two cowboy buddies constructed out of old boards in two days time (pure badassery).
Roosevelt says in his book, “In any wild country where the power of law is little felt or heeded, and where everyone has to rely upon himself for protection, men soon get to feel that it is in the highest degree unwise to submit to any wrong…no matter what cost of risk or trouble. To submit tamely and meekly to theft or to any other injury is to invite almost certain repetition of the offense, in a place where self-reliant hardihood and the ability to hold one’s own under all circumstances rank as the first of virtues.” In other words, “there’s no room for a bully and a badass out here.”
So, Roosevelt, and two of his ranch hands, Bill Sewall, and Wilmot Dow, left in pursuit of the buck toothed, mouth breathing hill hoppers who stole their boat. They pursued the men for three days with only limited provisions for the journey.
On the third day they spotted the camp fire of the three man band, and quickly stowed their boat and moved in with their rifles to overtake them. Roosevelt said the following, “For a moment we felt a thrill of keen excitement and our veins tingled as we crept cautiously toward the fire, for it seemed likely that there would be a brush..”
They captured one of the men, and hid to await the return of the remaining two brigands who were away hunting at the time of their buddy’s capture. When they returned the men had the bandits drop their weapons, and they were promptly apprehended. Roosevelt in true badass fashion, split from Sewal and Dow who took the boats back to their ranch. Roosevelt, however proceeded alone over land to take the three men to the authorities at Dickerson, which is some 300 miles from where they were originally apprehended.
Badass Reason No. 2: He led the infamous Rough Riders (that name is so freaking cool)
Teddy resigned as Assistant Secretary of the Navy to organize and head up the Rough Riders. The Rough Riders were an eclectic crew of fellow badasses who formed the first voluntary cavalry unit in the Spanish-American War. Roosevelt personally assembled a dream team of military ninjas on horseback who were an all volunteer cavalry unit. This unit made up of rich men, poor men, Native Americans, Texas Rangers, and other men of swagger from all walks of life, fought through Cuba, and in such iconic battles as the Battle of San Juan Hill. It was this battle that secured Roosevelt and his Rough Rider brethren as the stuff of legend once word of their heroic feats of battle made their way state side. “Rough Rideeeeerrrrs….Mount Up!”
Badass Reason No. 1: He could stop a speeding bullet
While Roosevelt was running for what would have been his third term as president, a man named John Flammang Schrank shot him in the chest with a .38 revolver. What did the leader of the Rough Riders do? He shook that crap off like a boss. He even went so far as to stop the crowd from harming his would-be assassin. He asked that the man be brought over to him, and asked Schrank why he did what he did. Schrank was as crazy as a box of drunk raccoons and wouldn’t answer Roosevelt, but Roosevelt felt more pity for the man than anger. At one point it was report that Roosevelt looked upon the man with pity, and exclaimed “you poor creature” as he watched Schrank, who had been seized by the crowd, being led away by police. He wanted to know why the man was so unhappy with his presidency that he wanted him dead. Roosevelt made certain that the police did not harm him while in custody. The man was arrested and served out his sentence until his death in 1943.
But this is the most badass part. Roosevelt was such a badass that he refused immediate medical attention, and went on to deliver a rousing 90 minute campaign speech bleeding from the chest all the while. Roosevelt was reported as having begun his speech by saying “Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot, but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.” With his comment he was referring both to himself, and to his political party, the Bull Moose Party. The bullet had passed through his speech notes, and a steel case that held his glasses, and lodged in the chest muscle. Doctors were too afraid to remove the bullet, and it remained in Roosevelt’s chest for the reminder of his life.
In conclusion, I can think of no other modern U.S. President with Theodore Roosevelt’s level of swagger, and pure unadulterated badassery. In fact I think that Chuck Norris took Theodore Roosevelt lessons.