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Yosemite River



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This is the Merced River looking towards Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park.  I’ve talked about John Muir, so I thought I’d talk about the man who actually made it a National Park, and indeed established the very idea of National Parks.  Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.  the 26th President of the US.  He was a character and a half, mostly because he was so huge.  

He started out as a weak, sickly little boy with a major hobby of hunting animals and doing his own taxidermy, at age seven.  He got tired of being sickly and went on a campaign of physical fitness and management of the will to cure his athsma.  He began boxing, and got blinded in one eye during a match, so he backed off to doing merely jujutsu.  He deliberately jumped into the icy Potomac every winter morning.  He played tennis and polo, probably simultaneously.  After he was sufficiently manly, he decided to run for office, and was elected to the New York State assembly at age 23.  About this time, he starts having his six children, who he gave amusing names like ‘Kermit’ ‘Ethel’ ‘Archibald’ and ‘Quentin’, Alice and Theodore III must have felt depressed at their plainness.  Then he became a cowboy, roping and riding, branding cattle, shooting buffalo and things, eventually rising to the rank of deputy sheriff in North Dakota, where he could get in gunfights with outlaws.  He was so good at this that New York City hired him as their Police Commissioner, and shortly thereafter, he got fished into being Assistant Secretary of the Navy.  During this time he rode a horse up San Juan hill and practically personally captured Cuba from Spain.  Spain was so upset that they decided to unload  Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines on him too.  So now, at the ripe old age of 40 he became Governor of New York, two years later he was Vice President under William McKinley’s administration.  But surprise, McKinley was shot by an anarchist and TR became president.  The anarchists must not have thought that one through very well.  A TR biographer stated: "Even his friends occasionally wondered whether there wasn't any custom or practice too minor for him to try to regulate, update or otherwise improve” 

TR as president did a lot of trust busting, including breaking up Standard Oil and the railroad monopoly, cleaned up corruption in the land management departments of the federal government, started the precursor to the FDA, tried and failed to change the rules of English spelling, and created 5 National Parks, 18 National Monuments, and 150 National Forests.  He was a committed imperialist, particularly with regards to the Philippines, and he won the Nobel Peace Prize for mediating the Russo-Japanese war.  Plus he built the Panama Canal.  

After he was done being President, he went to Africa and started shooting elephants in his pajamas, approximately 11,400 animals in total for the expedition.  He sent the animals to the Smithsonian to be taxidermied, naturally.  Then he snubbed the Pope, and wined and dined with Kaiser Bill.  At this point he decided he missed being president so he ran again, creating his own political party, the Bull Moose party.  It did not work.  While campaigning, he was even shot in the chest just before he got up and delivered a 3 hour speech.  He was bulletproof actually, due to his enormous muscular pecs.  (I am not joking)  

After failing to become President for a third term, he exiled himself to South America to go see if there were any animals there to shoot for science.  There he caught malaria.  But eventually Woodrow Wilson’s apologetic demeanor angered him enough to return to the United States and campaign in opposition to Wilson’s policies unsuccessfully until he died in his sleep at age 60.

While he was president he had lots of pets at the white house:  

Admiral Dewey, Bishop Diane, Dr. Johnson, Father O’Grady, Fighting Bob Evans - guinea pigs

Algonquin & Fidelity - Ponies

Baron Speckle - Hen

Bill - lizard

Blackjack, Gem, Susan, Jack, Peter, Pete, Rollo, Skip, Sailor Boy - dogs

Eli Yale - Blue macaw

Emily Spinach - Garter snake

Jonathan Edwards - Black Bear

Jonathan - rat

Josiah - badger

Manchu - Pekinese

Maude - pig

Peter - rabbit

Tom Quarts and Slippers - cats

A hyena

a barn owl,

and a one-legged rooster

Xander has a lot to live up to.  

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