Theodore Roosevelt Statue Memorial Roosevelt Island Washington DC
Theodore Roosevelt Statue Memorial Roosevelt Island Washington DCiStock

With the decision by the Museum of Natural History in New York in conjunction with the Mayor, to remove the equestrian statue of President Theodore Roosevelt, it is time to revisit the life of this exceptional human being. As the 26th President of the United States (1901-1909) he combined his life as a crusader for truth, outdoorsman, naturalist, Police Commissioner, soldier, Assistant Secretary of the Navy and Vice President Into one spectacular synthesis and tapestry. The reason his monument stood from 1940 till now in front of the Museum of Natural History is that he did more for wildlife preservation than any other President.

Unlike his modern day critics, he was a true progressive. In 1901 he was the first President to invite a Black Leader to dine with him at the White House. By hosting Booker T. Washington, President Roosevelt was heavily criticized but he did it anyway and stood his ground.

On Feb. 13, 1905 speaking to the New York City Republican Club he warned that the debasement of the Blacks will in the end carry with it the debasement of the Whites. His famous line a “rising tide raises all ships” was said at that time.

President Theodore Roosevelt also had a good relationship with the Jewish People. He was the first President ever to appoint a Jew to a Cabinet Post. He made Oscar Solomon Strauss-Secretary of Commerce and Labor. Strauss’ brother’s co-owned R.H. Macy and Company. One died in the Titanic.

Roosevelt’s Calvary regiment known as the “Rough Riders” in the Spanish-American War of 1898 had a significant number of Jews. The first to die among his “Rough Riders” was Jacob Wilbusky a 16 year old cowboy from Texas.

As President, he opposed labeling Jews as a separate race on their passports. He said, “I should no more have a man entered on a passport as a Hebrew than as an Episcopalian, or a Baptist, or a Roman Catholic.”

Theodore Roosevelt, Rough Rider statue
Theodore Roosevelt, Rough Rider statueiStock

In 1903 he issued a strong rebuke to the Russian Czar after the murder of 49 Jews in the Kishinev Pogrom.

In 1906 he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the mediation of the Russo-Japanese War. He donated a portion of his prize to the National Jewish Welfare Board. My grandfather Samuel Frager of blessed memory fought in the Russo Japanese War. President Roosevelt’s efforts to end the war might well have saved my grandfather’s life. In addition my grandfather was able to come to America soon after the war because of President Roosevelt’s immigration policies. So I personally have a lot to thank President Theodore Roosevelt for.

In addition, Theodore Roosevelt in 1873 at age 15 visited Israel and stopped at a building which now belongs to Ateret Cohanim(I have been associated with this organization since 1985) in the heart of the Old City of Jerusalem and was previously known as the “Mediterranean Hotel”.

In 1918 after the Balfour Declaration his overwhelming support for a Jewish Homeland in Palestine was evident when he said, “It seems to me that it is entirely proper to start a Zionist State around Jerusalem.”

President Theodore Roosevelt passed away 101 years ago at age 60 but his memory and his legacy will last forever. It is a shame and a disgrace that the Museum of Natural History in New York caved to the “cancel culture”. President Theodore Roosevelt deserved better.