“The light has gone out of my life,” among other things.

It was a Thursday. February the 14th, 1884 to be precise. A young, 25 year old future-US president –  Theodore Roosevelt held his wife Alice Hathaway Lee Roosevelt in his arms as she passed away from undiagnosed Bright’s disease, just 36 hours after the birth of their daughter Alice Lee Roosevelt Longworth. Theodore was 25 years old, and had just said his final goodbye that morning to his 48 year old mother Martha, as she succumbed to Typhoid.

It was valentine’s day and his diary for that day read as follows

Theodore Roosevelt's diary on Valentine's day.

It’s heartbreaking to read the words, “The light has gone out of my life” from a man who, during his presidency, participated in a boxing match that left him blind in one eye. Yes, Theodore Roosevelt lived a rigorous lifestyle, to say the least. Following are a few things about the former president of the United States that you might not have known (this prez’ lifestyle is astonishingly similar to Ernest Hemingway’s, which we covered previously).

His mother and wife died on the same day.

I have no envy for men who live a life of ease – Teddy Roosevelt.

On Valentine’s Day in 1884, Roosevelt’s mother passed away from typhoid fever. One floor above in the same house, his first wife, Alice, died less than 12 hours later from Bright’s disease and complications from giving birth to the couple’s first child just two days before. “The light has gone out of my life,” Roosevelt wrote in his diary that night.

A boxing accident left him virtually blind in one eye.

Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far – Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt before a boxing match.
Theodore Roosevelt before a boxing match.

Roosevelt boxed for Harvard University’s intramural lightweight championship and continued to spar recreationally during his political career. During his days in the White House, he regularly put up his dukes against former professional boxers and other sparring partners until a punch from a young naval artillery officer smashed a blood vessel and left him nearly blind in his left eye.

Roosevelt was a rigorous New York City police commissioner.

Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing – Theodore Roosevelt

After his appointment in 1895, Roosevelt attempted to reform one of America’s most corrupt police departments at the time. The future president regularly took midnight rambles to make sure officers were walking their beats. His decision to enforce an unpopular law that banned the sale of alcohol in saloons on Sundays made him a very unpopular figure in New York, but he persisted in the crusade even after receiving two letter bombs in the mail.

Yes, the two Roosevelts were related.

Uncle Theodore presented the bride at Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s wedding. Eleanor Roosevelt was Theodore’s niece. Who would’ve thought, right?

He volunteered to lead an infantry unit in World War I.

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing – Theodore Roosevelt

At the outbreak of World War I, the ex-president (7 years after the end of his presidency in 1916) was eager to return to the front lines. Roosevelt vehemently lobbied President Woodrow Wilson to send him to France at the head of a 200,000-man expeditionary force. Roosevelt, however, did not get called to fight in the war that eventually claimed his son Quentin, who was killed in action when his plane was shot down over France in 1918.

And if all this wasn’t enough to make him the coolest US Prez, then here’s a last one:

He won the Nobel Peace Prize.

To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society. – Theodore Roosevelt

Teddy Roosevelt captured the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize for his role in mediating the Treaty of Portsmouth, which ended the Russo-Japanese War (war fought between Russia and Japan over control of Manchuria, and Korea). Roosevelt was the first American to bag the award.