Born: Wednesday, 27 October 1858
Died: Monday, 06 January 1919
Theodore Roosevelt was an adventurer, statesman, and visionary who served humanity in a multitude of capacities, including Freemason and President of the United States.
The man, the myth, and the legend: Theodore Roosevelt was a larger than life figure whose beneficent impact on the rights of humanity has continued long after his earthly demise. Few figures in American history can match Teddy Roosevelt's archetypal status as a hero, adventurer, statesman, and visionary. Born in New York City in 1858, Theodore Roosevelt Jr. was a frail and asthmatic child. Yet, sharing in his Father's belief that willpower and strenuous living could overcome all infirmities, Teddy transformed himself with discipline and determination into a strong, courageous man.
His tenacity and idealism would later assist him in weathering dark storms of difficulty, particularly on February 14th of 1884 when Theodore lost both his mother and wife within a span of a few hours. His mother, Mittie Roosevelt, died of typhoid fever at age forty-eight, in the same house as his first wife, Alice Lee Roosevelt, who at age twenty-three, died following the birth of their daughter, Alice.Theodore expressed his deep grief with a single, poignant sentence in his journal: "the light has gone out of my life."
Searching for a way to transcend his tragedy, he moved forward by working on a Cattle Ranch in the Dakotas. Then he served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy before attaining mythic war hero status for leading the Rough Riders' charge of San Juan Hill in the Spanish–American War. Joining the soon-to-be President McKinley as his running mate, they won a landslide victory in 1900, based on a platform of peace, prosperity, and conservation.
In 1901, Theodore followed in the steps of his hero, Brother George Washington, by knocking on the door of the Temple to become a Freemason. He was initiated on January 2nd by Matinecock Lodge No. 806 in Oyster Bay, New York. After taking office as Vice President of the United States in March of that year, Bro. Roosevelt was Passed to the degree of Fellowcraft on March 27th and Raised to the degree of Master Mason on April 24th. Only five months later, Brother Roosevelt became President of the United States at the age of 42, after the untimely death by assassination of McKinley in September of 1901.
As a progressive leader and political maverick, Brother Theodore instituted domestic policies, which uplifted the common people and removed the barriers to opportunity and prosperity. President Roosevelt titled his domestic program, The Square Deal – a subtle nod to his Masonic allegiance and education. As a demonstration of action echoing his espoused principles, he described his intentions:
When I say that I am for the square deal, I mean not merely that I stand for fair play under the present rules of the game, but that I stand for having those rules changed so as to work for a more substantial equality of opportunity and of reward for equally good service.
Roosevelt was an environmentalist who established national parks, forests, and monuments intended to preserve the nation's natural resources. His successful diplomatic efforts ended the Russo-Japanese War and won him the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize. Elected in 1904 to a full term, Roosevelt continued to promote progressive policies that promoted equality and justice for the common people.
Theodore Roosevelt's extensive list of achievements almost defies belief: Harvard-educated scholar, North Dakota cowboy, War Hero, U.S. Civil Service Commission, New York City Police Commissioner, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Governor of New York, President of the United States, as well as, famous Freemason. Moreover, Teddy was a woman's rights advocate, historian and writer, gifted orator, dedicated conservationist, skilled diplomat, avid outdoorsman, hunter, and mountain climber. His words, written and spoken, reflected his Masonic ideals; he emphasized morality, duty, service, equality, charity, self-knowledge, justice, wisdom, merit, and ability.
In an address to the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, Bro. Theodore explained his reasons for joining the Fraternity:
One of the things that attracted me so greatly to Masonry, that I hailed the chance of becoming a Mason, was that it really did act up to what we, as a government and as a people, are pledged to — of treating each man on his merits as a man.
Unlike many of his contemporaries, Roosevelt's belief in the principle of equality transcended gender promoting equal rights for women in employment, opportunity, and equal pay. In his essay, "Practicability of Giving Men and Women Equal Rights," he argued:
Viewed in the abstract, I think there can be no question that women should have equal rights with men.… I contend that, even as the world now is, it is not only feasible but advisable to make women equal to men before the law.
Brother Roosevelt later wrote that "women should have free access to every field of labor which they care to enter, and when their work is as valuable as that of a man, it should be paid as highly.” Moreover, in his 1912 Presidential Campaign, Roosevelt took a revolutionary step for the rights of women in equal pay, labor protections, and universal suffrage.
A faithful servant to the end, Theodore Roosevelt died in his sleep in 1919 at the age of 60 years old. Yet, his service and dedication to humanity continue on as examples of Masonic principles brought to life through action – immortal and true.
Member of Matinecock Lodge No. 806, Oyster Bay, NY & Pentalpha Lodge No. 23, D.C.
Initiated: January 2, 1901
Passed: March 27, 1901
Raised: April 24, 1901
- BROTHER ISAAC NEWTON
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Larkspur CO 80118
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