Sunday, January 6, 2008

Anniversary of the Death of TR

Today marks the anniversary of the death of Theodore Roosevelt in 1919. I am mentioning this anniversary here because TR served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy in the late 1890s and also wrote a book on the history of naval operations in the War of 1812.

As Assistant Secretary of the Navy to John D. Long during the McKinley administration, TR had far-reaching power. Secretary Long was a very inactive cabinet member, and was ill much of the time, giving Roosevelt the opportunity to exercise unprecedented control. He prepared the Navy for the "Splendid Little War," and along with the likes of Alfred Thayer Mahan, furthered the transition to a thoroughly modern, battleship driven navy.

Roosevelt's book The Naval War of 1812, written in 1882, was the standard work on the topic for two generations and is still in print today. TR was well-recognized as an historian and even served as President of the American Historical Association, one the largest scholarly groups in the field.

If you are looking for a good book on TR and his generation, you may want to take a look at First Great Triumph: How Five Americans Made Their Country a World Power by Warren Zimmerman. Aside from TR and Mahan, the other gentlemen highlighted in the book are Henry Cabot Lodge, John Hay, and Elihu Root, all very important figures during their time. But, for today, remember the death of the nation's 26th president.

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