Essay title: The Rough Rider: Why This Man Was More of a Man
The Rough Rider: Why This Man Was More of a Man
In the early 1900’s, Theodore Roosevelt blessed the world with Rough Riders, a “biography” of sorts that tells of Roosevelt’s experiences leading the illustrious 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry, better known as the Rough Riders in the Spanish-American War.The Rough Riders were assembled by Roosevelt, who looked for specific traits in his men.The traits of these men were considered to be the model of masculinity in Roosevelt’s time and it was this cultural view of maleness that formed what Roosevelt considered to be the best group of soldiers ever assembled.At the time, society demanded that these men be of a certain breed, all displaying this air of masculinity.Roosevelt drew from what society had instilled in him and was deemed correct.
Contrary to popular believe, Roosevelt would not have been considered to be a physically superior man.In fact, he was quite average. Roosevelt as a child was ill, suffering from severe asthma, which caused him many ailments.His fathered remedied this by emphasizing the need for Theodore to physically fit.By the time Theodore Roosevelt was in college, he had overcome most of his childhood sickness.
It is this that caused to Roosevelt to be so selective when constructing the Rough Riders, “…only after a most rigid examination into their physical capacity.” (10) would Roosevelt approve a soldier capable to be in his unit.Roosevelt specifically looked for college men, those that had been athletes, those that actually looked for “hard and dangerous service” (12), men that lived on the frontier that used the rifle as a means of livelihood, and those that viewed war as he did.Roosevelt viewed war as this romantic idea.The only way men in history became great, is through war, and Roosevelt believed this with all his heart.This is why in the book; one key characteristic he was looking for was the willingness to fight.He wanted his soldiers to have the same feeling towards war that he had.
When describing one of his officers, Roosevelt picked out the traits that made this man such a great soldier. “He was the fifth in descent from father to son who had served in the army of the United States, and in body and mind alike he was fitted to play his part to perfection.Tall and lithe, a remarkable boxer and walker, a first-class rider and shot, with yellow hair and piercing blue eyes, he looked what he was, the archetype of the fighting man” (18).It is clear the Roosevelt believed that this was the ideal man. In the book, Roosevelt mentions that fact that on the train to Florida, he is reading “Superiorite des Anglo-Saxons” by M. Demolins (47), a book about why English speaking peoples are more superior to those of continental Europe.
This ideal follows believes that a racial hierarchy existed among the races of men and was fully supported by many people of that time.Of course Anglo-Saxon people viewed themselves as superior to all other races and supported their believes with “scientific findings” on the subject.All though Roosevelt believed in this very much, it did not stop him from letting non-white troops into the Rough Riders.