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The 13 Most Hardcore Facts About Teddy Roosevelt

Updated July 31, 2020 834.9k views13 items

Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States, was more than the man behind the Panama Canal and the inspiration for the teddy bear. He was a cowboy. A soldier. An explorer. A badass.

When Teddy Roosevelt, or T.R. as he was commonly known, was a child, he had health issues. He overcame these by living what he called a "strenuous life." That's putting it lightly. 

These Teddy Roosevelt facts - from stories of T.R. exploring unchartered rivers to leading military battles - reveal T.R. lived far more than a strenuous life. He lived one of the most insanely cool, badass lives in American history. Here are some cool things Teddy Roosevelt did.

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  • He Became a War Hero at the Battle of San Juan Hill

    He Became a War Hero at the Battle of San Juan Hill
    Photo: Photographer: William Dinwiddie / Library of Congress

    One may know the basic details of this story - that while serving with the Rough Riders, T.R. led the charge up Kettle Hill during the notoriously bloody battle of San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War. But the actual details are even more insane.

    T.R. had the only horse and led it back and forth between the guns at the front of the advance. When his horse was injured - caught in barbed wire - he continued up on foot. 

    The most important note, though, is this: the entire advancement of the Rough Riders up Kettle Hill was T.R.'s call. He received no order from his superiors. 

    "On the day of the big fight I had to ask my men to do a deed that European military writers consider utterly impossible of performance, that is, to attack over open ground an unshaken infantry armed with the best modern repeating rifles behind a formidable system of entrenchments. The only way to get them to do it in the way it had to be done was to lead them myself." - Teddy Roosevelt

  • He Climbed the Matterhorn While on His Honeymoon

    Most men have only one thing on their mind during their honeymoon. And while T.R. was surely occupied during his honeymoon with his first wife Alice Lee Roosevelt, he also found time to sneak away on his own to climb the Matterhorn

  • He Had a Massive Tattoo on His Chest

    He Had a Massive Tattoo on His Chest
    Photo: University of Delaware Library / Wikimedia Commons

    T.R. remains the only president with confirmed ink: a massive tattoo of his family crest on his chest. A little trivia: his relative Franklin Roosevelt was also rumored to have a Roosevelt family tattoo. 

  • He Often Skinny-Dipped in the Potomac - During His Presidency

    He Often Skinny-Dipped in the Potomac - During His Presidency
    Photo: Anosmia / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    During his time as president, T.R., on more than one occasion, went skinny dipping in the Potomac. This was all part of T.R.'s "strenuous life" ethos. He was always moving. Always active. He'd often take soldiers, foreign dignitaries, and diplomats on naked swims and grueling hikes while president. 

    "I chose a route which gave us the hardest climbing along the rocks and the deepest crossings of the creek; and my army friends enjoyed it hugely - being the right sort, to a man.” - Teddy Roosevelt