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Theodore Roosevelt, Jr

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Theodore Roosevelt, Jr

For the president (who carried the suffix to name, Jr.), see Theodore Roosevelt.

Brigadier General
Theodore Roosevelt III
Governor General of the Philippines
In office
February 29, 1932 – July 15, 1933
President Herbert Clark Hoover
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Preceded by Dwight F. Davis
Succeeded by Frank Murphy
Governor of Puerto Rico
In office
President Herbert Clark Hoover
Preceded by James R. Beverley
Succeeded by James R. Beverley
Assistant Secretary of the Navy
In office
March 10, 1921 – September 30, 1924
President Warren Gamaliel Harding
John Calvin Coolidge, Jr.
Preceded by Theodore Douglas Robinson
Succeeded by Ernest L. Jahncke
Member of the
New York State Assembly
for the 2nd District
In office
Preceded by Franklin Coles
Succeeded by Frederick Trubee Davison
Personal details
Born (1887-09-13)September 13, 1887
Cove Neck, New York
Died July 12, 1944(1944-07-12) (aged 56)
Near Normandy, France
Resting place Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France, Plot: Plot D, Row 28, Grave 45[1]
Political party Republican
Children Grace Green Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt IV
Cornelius Van Schaack Roosevelt III
Quentin Roosevelt II
Military service
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1917–1919
Rank Brigadier General
Commands 26th Infantry Regiment (United States)
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
*Operation Torch
*Operation Husky
*Battle of Normandy
Awards Croix de guerre

Theodore "Ted" Roosevelt III (generally known as Theodore, Jr.) (September 13, 1887 – July 12, 1944), was an American political and business leader, a veteran of both the 20th century's world wars, who was awarded the Medal of Honor. He was the eldest son of President Theodore Roosevelt and Edith Roosevelt.

Roosevelt was instrumental in the forming of the American Legion in 1919. He later served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Governor of Puerto Rico (1929–32), Governor-General of the Philippines (1932–33), Chairman of the Board of American Express Company, and Vice-President at Doubleday Books, and as a Brigadier General in the United States Army.



Ted was the eldest son of President Theodore "T.R." Roosevelt, Jr. and Edith Kermit Carow. He was born at the family estate in Cove Neck, Oyster Bay, New York, when his father was just starting his political career. His siblings were brothers Kermit, Archie, and Quentin; sister Ethel; and half-sister Alice.

Like all the Roosevelt children, Ted was tremendously influenced by his father. In later life, Ted recorded some of these childhood recollections in a series of newspaper articles written around the time of World War I. One day when he was about nine, TR gave young Ted a rifle. When Ted asked if it was real, his father loaded it and shot a bullet into the ceiling.[2]

When Ted was a child, his father initially expected more of him than of his siblings – an added burden that almost caused him to suffer a nervous breakdown.[3]

In one article, Ted recalled his first time in Washington, ".....when father was civil service commissioner I often walked to the office with him. On the way down he would talk history to me—not the dry history of dates and charters, but the history where you yourself in your imagination could assume the role of the principal actors, as every well-constructed boy wishes to do when interested. During every battle we would stop and father would draw out the full plan in the dust in the gutter with the tip of his umbrella. Long before the European war had broken over the world father would discuss with us military training and the necessity for every man being able to take his part."[4]

Education and early business career

The boys attended private schools, Ted at Groton School. Before he went to college, he thought about going to military school. Although not naturally called to academics, he persisted and graduated from Harvard College in 1909, where, like his father, he joined the Porcellian Club; his younger brother Quentin sailed through college there.

After graduating from college, Ted entered the business world. He took positions in the steel and carpet businesses before becoming the branch manager of an investment bank. He had a flair for business and amassed a considerable fortune in the years leading up to World War I and on into the 1920s. The income generated by his investments positioned him well for a career in politics after the War.

Political career

After service in World War I (see below), Roosevelt began his political career. Grinning like his father, waving a crumpled hat, and like his father, shouting "bully", he participated in every national campaign that he could, except when he was Governor-General of the Philippines and on the other side of the globe. Elected as a member of the New York State Assembly (Nassau County, 2nd D.) in 1920 and 1921, Roosevelt was one of the very few legislators who opposed the expulsion of five Socialist assemblymen in 1920. Anxiety about Socialists was high at the time.

On March 10, 1921, Roosevelt was appointed by President Warren G. Harding as Assistant Secretary of the Navy. He oversaw the transferring of oil leases for lands in Wyoming and California from the Navy to the Department of Interior, and ultimately, to private corporations. Established as the Navy's petroleum reserves by President Taft, the properties consisted of three oil fields: Naval Petroleum Reserve No. 3, Teapot Dome Field, Natrona County, Wyoming; and Naval Petroleum Reserve No. 1 at Elk Hills Oil Field and Naval Petroleum Reserve No. 2 Buena Vista Oil Field, both in Kern County, California. In 1922, Albert B. Fall, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, leased the Teapot Dome Field to Harry F. Sinclair of Sinclair Consolidated Oil Company, and the field at Elk Hills, California, to Edward L. Doheny of Pan American Petroleum & Transport Company, both without competitive bidding.

During the transfers, while Roosevelt was Assistant Secretary of the Navy, his brother Archie was vice president of the Union Petroleum Company, the export auxiliary subsidiary of the Sinclair Consolidated Oil. The leasing of government reserves without competitive bidding, plus the close personal and business relationships among the players, led to the deal being called the Teapot Dome scandal. The connection between the Roosevelt brothers could not be ignored.

After Sinclair sailed for Europe to avoid testifying in Congressional hearings, G. D. Wahlberg, Sinclair's private secretary, advised Archibald Roosevelt to resign to save his reputation. The Senate Committee on Public Lands held hearings over a period of six months to investigate the actions of Fall in leasing the public lands without the required competitive bidding.[5] Although both Archibald and Ted Roosevelt were cleared of all charges by the Senate Committee on Public Lands, their images were tarnished.[5]

At the New York state election, 1924, Roosevelt was the Republican nominee for Governor of New York. His cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) spoke out on Ted's "wretched record" as Assistant Secretary of the Navy during the oil scandals. Anna Eleanor Roosevelt played her part as well; she campaigned vigorously to link Ted to the recent Teapot Dome Scandal. She followed his campaign in a car around New York State with a steaming teapot on its roof.[6] Eleanor used that campaign tactic after Ted commented of FDR, stating "He's a maverick! He does not wear the brand of our family."

Eleanor had been infuriated by these remarks. She would later decry these methods, admitting that they were below her dignity but saying that they had been contrived by Democratic Party "dirty tricksters." Ted never forgave Eleanor for her stunt, though his elder half-sister Alice did, and resumed their formerly close friendship. These conflicts served to widen the split between the Oyster Bay TR and Hyde Park FDR wings of the Roosevelt family. Because of Eleanor's efforts, Ted lost the support of many of his would-be voters. His opponent, incumbent governor Alfred E. Smith, defeated him by 105,000 votes. But in the simultaneous race for President, the Republican Calvin Coolidge won New York by over 850,000 votes.

Governor of Puerto Rico

In September 1929, President Herbert Hoover appointed Roosevelt as Governor of Puerto Rico, and he served until 1932. (Until 1947, when it became an electoral office, this was a political appointee position.) Roosevelt worked to ease the poverty of the people during the Great Depression. He gained funds for construction of secondary schools, did private fundraising among American philanthropists, markets Puerto Rico as a location for manufacturing, and made other efforts to improve the economy.[7]

He also worked to create more ties to US institutions for mutual benefit. For instance, he arranged for Cayetano Coll y Cuchi to be invited to Harvard Law School to lecture about Puerto Rico's legal system.[7] Similarly, he arranged for Antonio Reyes Delgado of the Puerto Rican National Assembly to speak to a conference of Civil Service Commissioners in New York City.[7] Roosevelt worked to educate Americans about the island and its people, and to promote the image of Puerto Rico in the US.

Roosevelt was the first American governor to study Spanish and tried to learn 20 words a day.[7] He was fond of local Puerto Rican culture and assumed many of the island's traditions. He became known as El Jibaro de La Fortaleza ("The Hillbilly of the Governor's Mansion") by locals.[7] During his tenure, in 1931 he appointed Carlos E. Chardón, a mycologist, as the first Puerto Rican to be Chancellor of the University of Puerto Rico.

Governor-General of the Philippines

Impressed with his work in Puerto Rico, President Hoover appointed Roosevelt as Governor-General of the Philippines in 1932. During his time in office, Roosevelt acquired the nickname "One Shot Teddy" among the Filipino population, in reference to his marksmanship during a hunt for tamaraw (wild pygmy water buffalo).

In 1932, when FDR challenged Hoover for the presidency, Alice begged Ted to return from the Philippines to take to the stump. Roosevelt announced to the press on August 22, 1932, that "Circumstances have made it necessary for me to return for a brief period to the United States..... I shall start for the Philippines again the first week in November..... While there I hope I can accomplish something."[8] The reaction of many in the US press was so negative that within a few weeks, Governor-General Roosevelt arranged to stay in Manila throughout the campaign. Secretary of War Hurley cabled Ted, "The President has reached the conclusion that you should not leave your duties for the purpose of participating in the campaign.... He believes it to be your duty to remain at your post."[8] Roosevelt resigned as Governor-General after the election of FDR as president, as the new administration would appoint their own people. He thought that the potential for war in Europe meant another kind of opportunity for him. Using his father's language, he wrote to his wife as he sailed for North Africa, saying that he had done his best and his fate was now "at the knees of the gods."

Return to the US mainland

During the 1932 presidential campaign of his cousin FDR, Roosevelt said, "Franklin is such poor stuff it seems improbable that he should be elected President." When Franklin won the election and Ted was asked just how he was related to FDR, he humorously described himself as "fifth cousin, about to be removed."

In 1935, he returned to the United States and first became a vice president of the publishing house Doubleday, Doran & Company. He next served as an executive with American Express. He also served on the boards of numerous non-profit organizations. He was invited by Irving Berlin to help oversee the disbursement of royalties for Berlin's popular song, "God Bless America," to charity. While living again in New York, the Roosevelts renewed old friendships with such luminaries as the playwright Alexander Woollcott and comedian Harpo Marx.

Military service

World War I service

All the Roosevelt sons except Kermit had some military training prior to World War I. With the outbreak of war in Europe in August 1914, the United States' leaders had heightened concern about the nation's readiness for military engagement. Only the month before, Congress had authorized the creation of an Aviation Section in the Signal Corps. In 1915, Major General Leonard Wood, President Roosevelt's former commanding officer during the Spanish–American War, organized a summer camp at Plattsburgh, New York, to provide military training for business and professional men, at their own expense. This summer training program provided the base of a greatly expanded junior officers' corps when the country entered World War I. During that summer, many well-heeled young men from some of the finest east coast schools, including three of the four Roosevelt sons, attended the military camp. When the United States entered the war, the armed services offered commissions to the graduates of these schools based on their performance. The National Defense Act of 1916 continued the student military training and the businessmen's summer camps; it placed them on a firmer legal basis by authorizing an Officers' Reserve Corps and a Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC).

After the declaration of war, when the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) was organizing, Theodore Roosevelt wired Major General "Black Jack" Pershing asking if his sons could accompany him to Europe as privates. Pershing accepted, but, based on their training at Plattsburgh, Archie was offered a commission with rank of second lieutenant, while Ted was offered a commission and the rank of major. Quentin had already been accepted into the Army Air Service. Kermit volunteered with the British in the area of present-day Iraq.

With a reserve commission in the army (like Quentin and Archibald), soon after World War I started, Ted was called up. When the United States declared war on Germany, Ted volunteered to be one of the first soldiers to go to France. There, he was recognized as the best battalion commander in his division, according to the division commander. Roosevelt braved hostile fire and gas and led his battalion in combat. So concerned was he for his men's welfare that he purchased combat boots for the entire battalion with his own money. He eventually commanded the 26th Regiment in the First Division as lieutenant colonel. He fought in several major battles. He was gassed and wounded at Soissons during the summer of 1918. In July of that year, his youngest brother Quentin was killed in combat. Ted received the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions during the war. France conferred upon him the Chevalier Légion d'honneur on March 16, 1919. Before the troops came home from France, Ted was one of the founders of the soldiers' organization that developed as the American Legion. The American Legion's Post Officers Guide recounts Ted's part in the organization's founding:

A group of twenty officers who served in the American Expeditionary Forces (A.E.F.) in France in World War I is credited with planning the Legion. A.E.F. Headquarters asked these officers to suggest ideas on how to improve troop morale. One officer, Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., proposed an organization of veterans. In February 1919, this group formed a temporary committee and selected several hundred officers who had the confidence and respect of the whole army. When the first organization meeting took place in Paris in March 1919, about 1,000 officers and enlisted men attended. The meeting, known as the Paris Caucus, adopted a temporary constitution and the name The American Legion. It also elected an executive committee to complete the organization's work. It considered each soldier of the A.E.F. a member of the Legion. The executive committee named a subcommittee to organize veterans at home in the U.S. The Legion held a second organizing caucus in St. Louis, Missouri, in May 1919. It completed the constitution and made plans for a permanent organization. It set up temporary headquarters in New York City, and began its relief, employment, and Americanism programs. Congress granted the Legion a national charter in September 1919.[9]

When the American Legion met in New York City, Roosevelt was nominated as its first national commander, but he declined, not wanting to be thought of as simply using it for political gain. Acceptance under such circumstances could have discredited the nascent organization and harmed Ted's own chances for a future in politics.[10]

Ted resumed his reserve service between the wars. He attended the annual summer camps at Pine Camp and completed both the Infantry Officer's Basic and Advanced Courses, and the Command and General Staff College. By the beginning of World War II, he was eligible for senior commissioned service in World War II.

World War II service and death

In 1940, he attended a military refresher course offered to many businessmen as an advanced student, and was promoted to colonel in the Army of the United States. He returned to active duty in April 1941 and was given command of the 26th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, the same unit he fought with in World War I. Late in 1941, he was promoted to brigadier general.

North Africa Campaign

Upon his arrival in North Africa, he was soon known as a general who often visited the front lines. He had always preferred the heat of the battle to the comfort of the command post, and this attitude would culminate in his actions in France on D-Day.

Roosevelt led his regiment in an attack on Oran, Algeria, on November 8, 1942. During 1943, he was the second-in-command of the U.S. 1st Infantry Division as it fought in the North African Campaign under Major General Terry Allen. He was cited for the Croix de guerre by the military commander of French Africa, General Alphonse Juin:

"As commander of a Franco-American detachment on the Ousseltia plain in the region of Pichon, in the face of a very aggressive enemy, he showed the finest qualities of decision and determination in the defense of his sector.
"Showing complete contempt for personal danger, he never ceased during the period of Jan 28 – Feb 21, visiting troops in the front lines, making vital decisions on the spot, winning the esteem and admiration of the units under his command and developing throughout his detachment the finest fraternity of arms."

Clashes with Patton

Roosevelt's collaboration and friendship with his commander, the hard-fighting, hard-drinking Major General Terry Allen, and their unorthodox approach to warfare, did not escape the attention of General George S. Patton. Patton disapproved of officers like Roosevelt and Allen, who "dressed down" and were seldom seen in regulation field uniforms, and who placed little value in Patton's spit-shined ways in the field. Patton thought them both un-soldierly for it and wasted no opportunity to send derogatory reports on Allen to the Supreme Allied Commander. Roosevelt was also treated by Patton as "guilty by association" for his friendship and collaboration with the highly unorthodox Allen. When Allen was relieved of command of the First Division and re-assigned, so was Roosevelt.

After criticizing Terry Allen in his diary on July 31, 1943, Patton recorded that he was going to relieve both Allen and Roosevelt, noting that he had asked permission of Eisenhower "to relieve both Allen and Roosevelt on the same terms, on the theory of rotation of command", and adding, concerning Roosevelt, "there will be a kick over Teddy, but he has to go, brave but otherwise, no soldier."

Roosevelt was also criticized by General Omar Bradley, who ultimately relieved both him and Allen of their commands after he assumed command of the 7th Army.[11] According to Bradley, in both of his autobiographies A Soldier's Story (1951) and A General's Life, he claimed that relieving the two generals was one of his most unpleasant duties of the war.[12] Bradley felt that Allen and Roosevelt were guilty of "loving their division too much" and that their relationship with their soldiers was having a generally bad effect on the discipline of both the commanders and the men of the division.

Roosevelt saw action in Sicily, commanded Allied Forces in Sardinia, and fought on the Italian mainland. He was the chief liaison officer to the French Army in Italy for General Dwight D. Eisenhower, and repeatedly made requests of Eisenhower for combat command.


In February 1944, Roosevelt was assigned to England to help lead the Normandy invasion. He was assigned to the staff of the U.S. 4th Infantry Division. After several verbal requests to the division's commanding officer, Major General "Tubby" Barton, were denied, Roosevelt sent a written petition:

The force and skill with which the first elements hit the beach and proceed may determine the ultimate success of the operation.... With troops engaged for the first time, the behavior pattern of all is apt to be set by those first engagements. [It is] considered that accurate information of the existing situation should be available for each succeeding element as it lands. You should have when you get to shore an overall picture in which you can place confidence. I believe I can contribute materially on all of the above by going in with the assault companies. Furthermore I personally know both officers and men of these advance units and believe that it will steady them to know that I am with them.[13]

Barton approved this letter with much misgiving, stating that he did not expect Roosevelt to return alive.

Roosevelt was the only general on D-Day to land by sea with the first wave of troops. At 56, he would be the oldest man in the invasion, and the only man to serve with his son on D-Day at Normandy (Captain Quentin Roosevelt II was among the first wave of soldiers to land at Omaha beach while his father commanded at Utah beach).

Roosevelt was one of the first soldiers, along with Captain Leonard T. Schroeder Jr., off his landing craft as he led the U.S. 4th Infantry Division's 8th Infantry Regiment and 70th Tank Battalion landing at Utah Beach. Roosevelt was soon informed that the landing craft had drifted more than a mile south of their objective, and the first wave of men was a mile off course. Walking with the aid of a cane and carrying a pistol, he personally made a reconnaissance of the area immediately to the rear of the beach to locate the causeways that were to be used for the advance inland. He returned to the point of landing and contacted the commanders of the two battalions, Lieutenant Colonels Conrad C. Simmons and Carlton O. MacNeely, and coordinated the attack on the enemy positions confronting them. Roosevelt's famous words in these circumstances were, "We’ll start the war from right here!".[16]

These impromptu plans worked with complete success and little confusion. With artillery landing close by, each follow-on regiment was personally welcomed on the beach by a cool, calm, and collected Roosevelt, who inspired all with humor and confidence, reciting poetry and telling anecdotes of his father to steady the nerves of his men. Roosevelt pointed almost every regiment to its changed objective. Sometimes he worked under fire as a self-appointed traffic cop, untangling traffic jams of trucks and tanks all struggling to get inland and off the beach. One GI later reported that seeing the general walking around, apparently unaffected by the enemy fire, even when clods of earth fell down on him, gave him the courage to get on with the job, saying if the general is like that it can't be that bad.

When General Barton, the commander of the 4th Infantry Division, came ashore, he met Roosevelt not far from the beach. He later wrote that

while I was mentally framing [orders], Ted Roosevelt came up. He had landed with the first wave, had put my troops across the beach, and had a perfect picture (just as Roosevelt had earlier promised if allowed to go ashore with the first wave) of the entire situation. I loved Ted. When I finally agreed to his landing with the first wave, I felt sure he would be killed. When I had bade him goodbye, I never expected to see him alive. You can imagine then the emotion with which I greeted him when he came out to meet me [near La Grande Dune]. He was bursting with information.[17]

By modifying his division's original plan on the beach, Roosevelt enabled the division to achieve its mission objectives by coming ashore and attacking north behind the beach toward its original objective. Years later, General Omar Bradley was asked to name the single most heroic action he had ever seen in combat, and he replied, "Ted Roosevelt on Utah Beach."


Throughout World War II, Roosevelt suffered from health problems. He had arthritis, mostly from old World War I injuries, and walked with a cane. He also had heart trouble.

On July 12, 1944, a little over one month after the landing at Utah Beach, he died suddenly of a heart attack near Sainte-Mère-Église in Normandy, France. He was living at the time in a converted sleeping truck, captured a few days before from the Germans. He had spent part of the day in a long conversation with his son, Captain Quentin Roosevelt II, who had participated with him in the Normandy landing. He was stricken at about 10 pm and died, attended by medical help, at about midnight. He was fifty-six years old. On the day of his death he had been selected by General Omar Bradley for promotion to major general and orders had been cut placing him in command of the 90th Infantry Division. These recommendations were sent to General Dwight D. Eisenhower for approval, but when Eisenhower called the next morning to approve them, he was told that Roosevelt had died during the night.

Roosevelt was buried at the American cemetery in Normandy, initially created for the Americans killed in Normandy during the invasion. His younger brother, Lieutenant Quentin Roosevelt had been killed as a pilot in France during World War I and was initially buried at the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery and Memorial for veterans of WWI at Fère-en-Tardenois, France, near where he had been shot down in that war. In 1955, his family had his body exhumed and moved to the Normandy cemetery, where he was re-interred next to his brother.

Medal of Honor citation

Roosevelt was originally recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross by General Barton. The award was upgraded at higher headquarters to the Medal of Honor, which Roosevelt was posthumously awarded on 28 September 1944.[18]

For gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on 6 June 1944, in France. After 2 verbal requests to accompany the leading assault elements in the Normandy invasion had been denied, Brig. Gen. Roosevelt's written request for this mission was approved and he landed with the first wave of the forces assaulting the enemy-held beaches. He repeatedly led groups from the beach, over the seawall and established them inland. His valor, courage, and presence in the very front of the attack and his complete unconcern at being under heavy fire inspired the troops to heights of enthusiasm and self-sacrifice. Although the enemy had the beach under constant direct fire, Brig. Gen. Roosevelt moved from one locality to another, rallying men around him, directed and personally led them against the enemy. Under his seasoned, precise, calm, and unfaltering leadership, assault troops reduced beach strong points and rapidly moved inland with minimum casualties. He thus contributed substantially to the successful establishment of the beachhead in France.[19]


On June 20, 1910, Ted married Eleanor Butler Alexander (1888–1960), daughter of Henry Addison Alexander and Grace Green. Ted and Eleanor had four children:

Military awards

Representation in other media

See also



  • Atkinson, Rick, "An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943" Macmillan, 2003
  • Theodore Roosevelt, 56, Dies On Normandy Battlefield; Succumbs to a Heart Attack Soon After Visit From Son by Hanson W. Baldwin, New York Times, July 14, 1944.

External links

Preceded by
Franklin A. Coles
New York State Assembly
Nassau County, 2nd District

Succeeded by
F. Trubee Davison
Government offices
Preceded by
Gordon Woodbury
Assistant Secretary of the Navy
Succeeded by
Theodore Douglas Robinson
Preceded by
James R. Beverley
Governor of Puerto Rico
Succeeded by
James R. Beverley
Preceded by
Dwight F. Davis
Governor-General of the Philippines
Succeeded by
Frank Murphy
Party political offices
Preceded by
Nathan L. Miller
Republican Nominee for Governor of New York
Succeeded by
Ogden L. Mills

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