American Presidents





Theodore Roosevelt American Presidents Teacher Guide


Biography of Theodore Roosevelt
September 3, 1999 on C-SPAN
Recommended Use:
Secondary Level


Before Viewing American Presidents

Part 1
Explain to students that they are about to study a president whose personality, it could be argued, provided a sharp contrast to those of the presidents preceding him. Is it possible to trace the way his interests, and the values and activities he embraced in his private life translated into those embraced in his career in public service? Invite students to learn basic biographical information about President Theodore Roosevelt by visiting C-SPAN's American Presidents web site

Part 2
Help students trace this connection by presenting students with two ideologies that encompassed political, social and cultural movements emerging at the turn of the century. Students will choose one of the two ideologies through which to trace Theodore Roosevelt's private and public interests and actions:

  • Western
  • Progressive

Define these ideologies through examples of art from the time period. Online resources, such as collections archived at the National Museum of American Art offer many such examples.

Show students a piece of visual art that embodies "western" ideals. Show students a piece of visual art that embodies "progressive" ideals. Review with students the ways that the artist incorporates ideals and values into the visual. Have students begin to define the ideologies, and identify at least one other piece of art (a book, a picture, a building) that expresses the same values.

Part 3
Place the same two labels into a political and social context. What did it meant to be a "progressive" in America 100 years ago? What did it mean to have "western" values? What policies might a progressive politician have advocated? Who are some modern presidents who embodied "western" ideals? "progressive" ideals? In what ways did they express these ideals?

Part 4
Have students choose one lens through which to study Theodore Roosevelt: as a westerner or progressive. Students will view C-SPAN's American Presidents program featuring the president and identify personal characteristics, values, ideals, policies and influences that distinguish Theodore Roosevelt as either a progressive or a westerner.


While Viewing American Presidents
Directions: Identify personal characteristics, values, ideals, policies and influences that distinguish Theodore Roosevelt as either a progressive or a westerner.

My topic: Western or Progressive

Personality traits and values
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Influential family or friends
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Events in his early life
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Events/policy positions in his life as a politician
In New York
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Events/policy positions in his life as president
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Objects in the house, Sagamore Hill
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Events/policy positions in life after the presidency
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After Viewing American Presidents
Part 1

Have students write an outline for a research paper that would:

  • Summarize the influences in Theodore Roosevelt's life that combined to make him a "progressive". Identify the acts and policies through which he expresses his "progressive" values?

  • Summarize the influences in Theodore Roosevelt's life that may have made him a westerner. Identify acts and policies through which he expressed his "western" values?


In their outlines, students may include additional questions and resources they'd like to explore.


Part 2
Students should share their findings as a class. Then, using a Venn diagram, chart the ways in which western and progressive values overlap. Identify one event from Theodore Roosevelt's private life that embodies values from both. Identify one event from Theodore Roosevelt's public life that embodies values from both.

Review and discuss:

  • How have these ideals changed in the last 100 years?
  • Have any modern leaders integrated the values of their private and public lives in the way Theodore Roosevelt did?
  • Did Theodore Roosevelt's passions make him an effective president? Explain.

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