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Teddy Roosevelt’s Life Keeps Biographers Busy

DiSilvestro struggles to come to grips with this attitude, and never fully succeeds. To his credit, he does not fall back on the easy out of claiming it was a different era with different standards. DiSilvestro knows there were plenty of people, even then, who saw what was happening and tried to stop it.

“We expect great people to stand outside of their time,” DiSilvestro said. “I am a little disappointed that Roosevelt didn’t do that.”

Roosevelt was a great man, but DiSilvestro said he “kept wishing he would be just a little greater.”

When he wasn’t off hunting, Roosevelt was involved in ranching. He lost a good deal of money — much of his cattle herd was wiped out in the terrible winter of 1886-87. He returned to the East, married again and resumed his political career.

Aside from finding physical and emotional health, Roosevelt’s Dakota sojourn provided him a perspective on the lives of ordinary people — a perspective that men of his social class in the 19th century rarely possessed.

He learned to work next to them and to respect them. He, in turn, earned their respect. That connection, DiSilvestro said, was key to the success of his political career.

Theodore Roosevelt returned from the Badlands a better man — and an even better politician.

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