McKinley, polar-opposite second vice president Roosevelt inaugurated

The drizzle that fell in Washington, D.C., during the day on March 4, 1901, did not “rain on the parade” of President William McKinley and Vice President Theodore Roosevelt.

It was described as a cheerful scene as the streets filled with people as early as daybreak to show their support. The crowds enthusiastically gathered to inaugurate McKinley for his second term and Roosevelt for his first. McKinley’s first-term vice president, Garrett Hobart, had died in office, leaving a vacancy for a young Roosevelt to fill.

Theodore Roosevelt Jr. was born October 27, 1858, in New York City. He suffered from debilitating asthma and often is described as sickly. Although his condition caused great alarm and was untreatable, he compensated for any perceived shortcomings by developing an extremely extroverted and spunky personality.

Teddy, as he frequently is referred, was mostly homeschooled and considered extremely intelligent. As a young man, he became a student at Harvard University, where he studied natural science and made a name for himself as an athlete in both boxing and rowing. He left Harvard to attend Columbia Law School, but said he often found the law irrational. He became determined to use the political connections of his late father in the Republican Party to pursue a career in politics.

Roosevelt’s political path was varied and both successful and unsuccessful. He served as a New York state assemblyman in 1882, 1883 and 1884. He campaigned for mayor of New York City and placed third. He was appointed to the Civil Service Commission from 1885 to 1895. In 1894, he became president of the Board of New York City Police Commissioners. In 1897, he was appointed Secretary of the Navy, a position he only resigned from in order to form the 1st United States Volunteer Calvary — also known as the Rough Riders. The unit served during the Spanish-American War where it fought in Cuba.

Roosevelt made no secret that he felt the position of vice president was powerless, and he had no interest in the appointment. Roosevelt was added to the ticket at the 1900 Republican Convention, which he won unanimously. He enthusiastically campaigned for McKinley. His style was considered highly energetic and a strong opponent for William Jennings Bryant. He made 480 stops in 23 states.

The personalities of McKinley and Roosevelt were vastly different. McKinley was introspective, stoic and even tempered while Teddy was gregarious, outspoken and highly energetic. From most accounts, the two men worked well together to accomplish tasks and goals. Ultimately, Roosevelt steps in to finish McKinley’s second term due to his death by assassination.

To celebrate the inauguration, there was to be a luncheon following the ceremony at the Capitol. The guests included the President and Mrs. McKinley, the Roosevelts, and several cabinet officers and their wives.


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