American President (1858-1919). Born frail and asthmatic in New York City, Teddy worked hard to build up his physical fitness, becoming a star athlete. He was also considered to be a poor student as a child, but he was diagnosed with bad eyesight -- after he was fitted with glasses, he became an excellent scholar, shot to the top of his class, and graduated from Harvard.

He published the first of a long series of historical books in 1882 and was elected a New York state assemblyman at about the same time. Soon after, his mother and wife died on the same day. Grief-stricken, he went to North Dakota and threw himself into ranching. But he was back in New York within two years, where he married again and ran unsuccessfully for mayor. Over the next few years, Roosevelt served as a Civil Service Commissioner, Police Commissioner, and Assistant Secretary of the Navy. His political career skyrocketed: he was known as a crusader against corruption and an advocate for the "little guy" -- he was despised by corrupt politicians, but loved by almost everyone else.

Roosevelt catapulted himself into the national spotlight during the Spanish-American War, when he resigned his office, volunteered for military service, and organized the cavalry force known as the Rough Riders. He led the Rough Riders in their successful charge up San Juan Hill and returned from Cuba as a bona fide national hero. He was quickly elected Governor of New York.

Though he had enjoyed the support of political kingmaker Thomas Collier Platt in his run for the governorship, Roosevelt's efforts against corruption in New York politics persuaded Platt that he should get rid of Teddy, so he encouraged him to become William McKinley's Vice President. Of course, within months of his election, McKinley was assassinated, and Roosevelt became President.

During his two terms as President, Roosevelt supported "trust-busting" and the Pure Food and Drug Act, established the National Conservation Commission and the National Park System, and pushed for the construction of the Panama Canal. He also became the first American to win the Nobel Peace Prize, by mediating in the Russo-Japanese War.

After leaving the White House, Roosevelt kept busy writing, traveling, and acting as an unofficial diplomat. He ran for the presidency again as the head of the Bull Moose Party. During the campaign, he was shot at by a would-be assassin. The bullet went throught a copy of his speech and a steel glasses case, which helped save his life. Even then, it still went three inches into his chest. He finished the speech and was eventually given a tetanus shot. The bullet was never removed. Teddy's luck did not extend to the campaign -- he lost the election.

His health was permanently damaged during a lengthy expedition into the jungles of Brazil, but Roosevelt stayed very active, supporting the Allies in World War I and opposing President Wilson's League of Nations. He died in his sleep on January 6, 1919.

Roosevelt's boundless energy and love of strenuous activity made him almost incapable of relaxing -- he spent most of his time off exercising, whether swimming, climbing trees, riding horses, or skinny-dipping in the Potomac River. And yes, "Bully!" really was his favorite expression.

Research from Who's Who 2, compiled by Phil Masters, "Theodore 'Teddy' Roosevelt" by Stephanie Rogers, pp. 96-97.

Thanks to Aeroplane for additional info about the assassination attempt.