Ten Reasons why Teddy Roosevelt is the Coolest President Ever

Last week, mental_floss asked for input on three possible covers for the upcoming magazine issue. The one featuring president Theodore Roosevelt was the favorite among commenters. I don't know which cover was selected, but it made me think of the many ways Roosevelt stands out in history. Here are just ten, in no particular order. One commenter mentioned that readers of this blog would not know who Teddy R. is. That would surprise me, but maybe this will help you know him a little better.

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1. At 42, he was the youngest person to become president, when President McKinley was assassinated (although not as young as this earlier picture would indicate-I just like the picture). He was also the first to succeed to the office after a president's death, andthen to later also win by election.

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2. His other jobs were quite varied: cattle rancher, deputy sheriff, historian, naturalist, explorer, author of 35 books, police commissioner, assistant Secretary of the Navy, governor of New York, war hero, and lawyer.

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3. He was a Rough Rider. In 1898, he resigned from the Department of the Navy and organized the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, known as the Rough Riders. Among other battles, he led the charge up San Juan Hillin the Spanish-American War.

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4. Roosevelt called his governing philosophy "Square Deal," meaning fair dealings between businesses, consumers, and workers. He opened 40 antitrust cases against corporations. He promoted safe handling regulations for food and drugs, fought against misleading advertising, and encouraged arbitration between businesses and unions.

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5. As the first conservationist president, he spearheaded the creation of the United States Forest Service, and established five new national parks. He was responsible for the start of the Wildlife Refuge system. During his administration, 42 million acreswere set aside as national forests, wildlife refuges, and areas of special interest (such as the Grand Canyon).

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6. The teddy bearwas named after Roosevelt, in response to a cartoon showing the president refusing to shoot a bear after it had been tied to a tree. He considered it unsportsmanlike.

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7. Roosevelt knew an opportunity when he saw it. The French had abandoned construction of the Panama Canal largely because of malaria and yellow fever. In 1904, Roosevelt contracted the U.S. to build the canal in return for control over the area. He dispatched surgeons and sanitation engineers to tackle the mosquito problem, then teams and heavy equipment to complete the canal, which opened in 1914.

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8. Then there's Mt. Rushmore. The father of our country, the author of the Declaration of Independence, Honest Abe, and Teddy. How cool is that?

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9. He was a trendsetter. Roosevelt's Wikipedia entry has a list of presidential firsts, including the first president to refer to the presidential mansion as the White House, host a black man at a White House dinner, appoint a Jewish person as a cabinet member, travel outside the United States while in office, and fly in an airplane. He was also the first American to ever win a Nobel Prize, for Peace in 1906.

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10. With the possible exceptions of our current leader and his immediate predecessor, he has the absolute best macros posted to LOL Presidents.

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As a bonus postscript, the president's son, Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.distinguished himself at the Normandy Invasion on D-Day and earned the Congressional Medal of Honor. In 2001, President Roosevelt himself was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for his service at the Battle of San Juan Hill, the only president to ever be so honored.

PS: Lots more cool things about TR are in the comment section!

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Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma
Utility Workers May Have Found One of Rome’s First Churches
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma

The remains of what may have been one of Rome’s earliest Christian churches were accidentally discovered along the Tiber River during construction, The Local reports. The four-room structure, which could have been built as early as the 1st century CE, was unearthed by electrical technicians who were laying cables along the Ponte Milvio.

The newly discovered structure next to the river
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma

No one is sure what to make of this “archaeological enigma shrouded in mystery,” in the words of Rome’s Archaeological Superintendency. Although there’s no definitive theory as of yet, experts have a few ideas.

The use of colorful African marble for the floors and walls has led archaeologists to believe that the building probably served a prestigious—or perhaps holy—function as the villa of a noble family or as a Christian place of worship. Its proximity to an early cemetery spawned the latter theory, since it's common for churches to have mausoleums attached to them. Several tombs were found in that cemetery, including one containing the intact skeleton of a Roman man.

Marble flooring
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma

A tomb
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma1

The walls are made of brick, and the red, green, and beige marble had been imported from Sparta (Greece), Egypt, and present-day Tunisia, The Telegraph reports.

As The Local points out, it’s not all that unusual in Rome for archaeological discoveries to be made by unsuspecting people going about their day. Rome’s oldest aqueduct was found by Metro workers, and an ancient bath house and tombs were found during construction on a new church.

[h/t The Local]

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Alexis Pantos, University of Copenhagen
Scientists Just Found the Oldest Known Piece of Bread
Alexis Pantos, University of Copenhagen
Alexis Pantos, University of Copenhagen

An old, charred piece of long-forgotten flatbread has captured the interest of archaeologists, anthropologists, and historians around the world. Found in a stone fireplace in Jordan’s Black Desert, this proto-pita dates back 14,400 years, making it the oldest known example of bread, Reuters reports.

To put the significance of this discovery in context: the flatbread predates the advent of agriculture by 4000 years, leading researchers to theorize that the laborious process of making the bread from wild cereals may have inspired early hunter-gatherers to cultivate grain and save themselves a whole lot of trouble.

“We now have to assess whether there was a relationship between bread production and the origins of agriculture,” Amaia Arranz-Otaegui, a researcher with the University of Copenhagen, told Reuters. “It is possible that bread may have provided an incentive for people to take up plant cultivation and farming, if it became a desirable or much-sought-after food.”

A report on these findings—written by researchers from the University of Copenhagen, University College London, and University of Cambridge—was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

It was once thought that bread was an invention of early farming civilizations. A 9100-year-old piece of bread from Turkey was previously regarded as the oldest of its kind. However, the Jordanian flatbread was made by a group of hunter-gatherers called the Natufians, who lived during a transitional period from nomadic to sedentary ways of life, at which time diets also started to change.

Similar to a pita, this unleavened bread was made from wild cereals akin to barley, einkorn, and oats. These were “ground, sieved, and kneaded prior to cooking,” according to a statement from the University of Copenhagen. The ancient recipe also called for tubers from an aquatic plant, which Arranz-Otaegui described as tasting “gritty and salty."

[h/t Reuters]

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