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Theodore Roosevelt (October 27, 1858 - December 17, 1935) was an American naval officer, politician and academic best known for serving as Vice President of the United States under William McKinley and as the Nationalist candidate for President in 1908, an election he lost. Prior to the Vice Presidency, he served as Governor of New York state (January 1899-December 1900) and as Secretary of the Navy (1897-1899).
Roosevelt was a lawyer by education and volunteered as a Marine during the Alaskan War, where he participated in several campaigns before being seriously wounded during a raid on Kodiak in September 1886. After recovering, he became a counsel for the Department of War over suits levied by soldiers about mistreatment and neglect in the aftermath of the war, the first time such suits had been leveled significantly. Roosevelt defended the War Department in the 1891 Supreme Court case Wilson v. United States, in which the Court sided with the plaintiff against the government. He ran for Mayor of New York City as a "sacrifice candidate" in 1892, losing, but remained active in New York state politics as a Nationalist. As a compromise to Nationalists in the military establishment as well as Democrats in his own party, President John Rockefeller appointed the young Roosevelt to be Secretary of the Navy in 1897, and Roosevelt served in that position before being elected Governor of New York follow his "barnstorm campaigns" in 1898 during the Nationalist landslide that year, and his youth and war-hero status made him popular to Nationalists who saw him as a moderate continuance of the old military establishment. He was widely considered the best choice to be William McKinley's running mate in 1900, and the McKinley-Roosevelt ticket won comfortably.
As Vice President, Roosevelt was instrumental in directing McKinley's policy of forging a more streamlined and efficient military and the early stages of the "Great White Fleet." He also was considerably more moderate than McKinley, advocating for trust-busting and Progressive policies, fearing that populist Democrats that had taken over the party would have much more radical policies were they to be elected. After losing to the Democrats in 1904, he toured the country as a progressive, advocating for more moderate policies than the Bryan administration was carrying out. He lost narrowly to Bryan in the 1908 election, and blamed low enthusiasm amongst the conservative Nationalists for his loss. He became an influential party kingmaker afterwards, helping push the party towards the center with his endorsements and campaigns for various candidates, although he never ran for office again despite his popularity and relative youth. He declined Charles E. Hughes' invitation to be Vice President again in 1916, and retired permanently in 1920. He toured many countries in the world in an effort to bring foreign attitudes and innovations back to America, and spent most of the Pacific War promoting war bonds. He died at the age of 77 in 1935 at his home in Albany, New York.
A conservationist, Roosevelt was an influential campaigner for national parks and preserving America's natural beauty, leading to the National Forests Act of 1917 under his friend President Hughes. He also is credited with helping enact naval reform that would be critical to the later Pacific War - as a historian phrased it, "Roosevelt may have saved the Allies in the Pacific War twenty years before it was fought." He is regarded as one of the most influential Vice Presidents in history and the submarine USS Theodore Roosevelt is named after him.