Theodore Roosevelt was a man of many firsts. The 26th U.S. President lived in an era of great change, so it makes sense that he was the first president to embrace technological innovations. But his firsts went beyond technology.
After President William McKinley was assassinated in 1901, Roosevelt became, at 42, the youngest president ever, a record that still stands. (John F. Kennedy, 43, was the youngest president ever elected.)
TR, as some called him, was the first president to use the media to speak directly to the people, relying on his oversized personality, strong opinions, and lively family to sway popular support, often bypassing politics and politicians.
In 1902, he became the first U.S. president to make a public appearance by car (an electric one!) while in office. (McKinley was the first president ever to ride in a car.)
In 1904, TR became the first U.S. president to ride in a submarine when he climbed into a 64-foot-long Navy sub and stayed underwater for almost three hours. He even piloted it for a short while.
As the nation’s first conservationist president, Roosevelt used his authority to establish the National Forest Service in 1905. He created 150 new national forests, 18 national monuments, five national parks, and 51 wildlife refuges, quadrupling protected U.S. land from 42 million to 172 million acres.
In 1906, he was the first sitting President to take a trip abroad when he and his wife went to Panama to check out construction on the Panama Canal.
A month later, he became the first president to win the Nobel Peace Prize — for his work mediating the Russo-Japanese War in 1905.
Also in 1906, Roosevelt became the first president to appoint a Jew to a cabinet post when he chose Oscar Straus to head the Commerce and Labor Department.
In 1910, Roosevelt became the first President to fly in an airplane … though he did so after he’d left office.