How Teddy Roosevelt Ascended in New York Politics

Before becoming the 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt Jr. cut his political teeth in his raucous home state of New York, working his way from the state assembly to the New York Police Department to at the governor’s mansion. From the start, he followed his progressive impulses to fight corruption, temper unfettered capitalism, and uplift the less privileged. And he wasn’t afraid to make enemies in the process.

Roosevelt’s political journey to the White House began inside the Manhattan brownstone in which he was born in 1858. A member of one of New York’s wealthiest families, young Teddy was deeply influenced by his father, a revered philanthropist who contributed to charities for orphans and homeless newsboys and taught Sunday school. “His father taught him that with great wealth comes great responsibility,” says Richard Zacks, author of Island of Vice: Theodore Roosevelt’s quest to clean up sin-loving New York. “The Gilded Age was the most obscene display of wealth the country had ever seen, and Roosevelt was appalled.”

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