Inspirational thoughts on how Theodore Roosevelt used the difficulties of childhood asthma as an opportunity to become one of the most successful presidents in US history.


Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt the 26th president of the United States is my idol. His ability to overcome difficulties and challenges his legendary! When I learned in high school that he had faced up to the most powerful business interests in human history and as a result he was able to help millions of working-class people reach a higher standard of life and safer working conditions I was hooked.

The fact that he was one of the first and perhaps the most successful conservationist in history also made me a fan. Teddy Roosevelt was a man of action! He once said “I put myself in the way of things happening, and they happened.” What I didn’t know until more recently was that despite the fact that Roosevelt was born into wealth and comfort, his childhood was a constant struggle. In fact Roosevelt had to overcome the difficulties of childhood asthma regularly.

Young Theodore Roosevelt almost died many times as a young boy. He had to spent a great deal of time in bed as his siblings, neighbors and friends ran around and played just outside his window. There was however at least one positive side effect to being forced to stay inside and in bed. Young Teddy became an avid reader. He devoured the great adventure stories of his time and of history.

He admired and later modeled commanding adventurous characters. Great commanders and leaders throughout literature. But the greatest asset Roosevelt had was overcoming the struggles and difficulties he faced. As a young boy fighting through his difficulties strengthened him and prepared him for the rigors of political service and ultimately the presidency of the United States of America. How did this happen? Unlike his brother Elliott who was softened by wealth and privilege and died young from the abuse of alcohol, Teddy Roosevelt had to struggle every day as a child. Since there were so many bad days where he was not able to be active, he learned to appreciate and make the best of the good days.

He made the best of them. Whenever possible he would get out into the woods and hike and collect animal and insect samples. But even when he was 12 he was still the very weak. About this time his father said to him: “Theodore, you have the mind, but you have not the body, and without the help of the body the mind cannot go as far as it should … You must make your own body … It is hard drudgery to make one’s body … but I know you will do it” Theodore’s reply was…

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