Mornings on Horseback by David McCullough traces the early life of Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. McCullough examines Theodore's love of the outdoors, his health problems, and his family relations. He also discusses Theodore's time at Harvard University, his first marriage, and his entrance into politics. These experiences helped shape and influence Roosevelt's later years, as President of the United States and other political positions.
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The house stood between Broadway and Fourth Avenue, and it looked like all the other New York brownstones. It was narrow-fronted, with a high stoop. A formal parlor opened into a narrow hall, with the dining room at the rear. The master bedroom and nursery were one floor up, with three more bedrooms one level higher. In contrast to the other houses, however, it had a deep porch, or piazza, at the rear of the third floor level. It had been a bedroom before the Roosevelts tore out the wall and made it an open-air playroom. The house had been a wedding present from Cornelius Van Schaack Roosevelt, or CVS, to his son and daughter-in-law.
Theodore was upright, conservative, and a model of self-control. He didn't care for public acclaim. He was a junior partner at Roosevelt and Son, a faithful parishioner of the Madison Square Presbyterian Church, and belonged to the Union League Club and the Century Association. He served on charitable boards, raised money for charity, and was the model husband and father. Roosevelt was physically imposing, athletic, and handsome. He was concerned about the clothes he wore and made sure that his suits were of good quality and tailored. He was intelligent, enjoyed books, and had a great interest and feeling for his children. His formal education had been erratic, although he had had a private tutor through boyhood.
At age nineteen, Theodore had been sent on a Grand Tour through Europe. Afterward, he entered the family firm. CVS announced his retirement soon after, although it seems that the business essentially ran itself. The family's real estate holdings were grouped into the Broadway Improvement Association, which James Alfred, the eldest brother, headed. Yet, Theodore seemed to find no satisfaction in the work. James Alfred held most of the power, leaving Theodore free to do Europe whenever he wanted.
As time passed, his true vocation became a charitable one, including hospital and museum projects. He helped establish the Children's Aid Society to help the city's homeless children. He also...