Theodore Roosevelt 1858-1919

Born New York City


In the spring of 1899, McClure’s Magazine commissioned Ben-Yusuf to photograph New York governor Theodore Roosevelt for a forthcoming profile. While he would not become president until 1901, Roosevelt was already an American legend. He was the asthmatic child healed by vigorous exercise; the college dandy torn between a life of scholarship and one of public service; the state legislator who earned his party’s nomination for speaker when he was only twenty-four. He was the cattle rancher who tracked down outlaws, the failed but flamboyant candidate for mayor of New York, and the chairman of the U.S. Civil Service Commission, where he fought to reward merit over patronage in the appointment process. Most significantly, though, it was his role in leading the Rough Riders in a military charge up San Juan Hill in Cuba during the previous summer that led to his victory in the New York governor’s race and earned him national admiration.

Platinum print, 1899
Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress