Many, including many US citizens, are surprised to learn that Theodore Roosevelt, who served as US president from 1901 to 1909, was the youngest US president in US history in terms of age at the time of being sworn into office. Roosevelt was only 42 when he took the oath of office after the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901. In 1905, he was elected and sworn in for a full term in his own right. This is in contrast to John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who is the youngest US president to take the oath after being elected to the position. JFK was 43 at the time of his inauguration. Both of these presidents share the distinction of promoting ideas that were considered progressive in their day. The oldest US president to ever take office as of 2011 was Ronald Reagan, who was 69 at the time of his inauguration in 1981.
Theodore Roosevelt as a National Leader:
- Roosevelt fought for more regulation of industry at the national level, with the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 and the Meat Inspection Act of 1906 passed during his second term.
- As the first president to take a strong stand on environmental issues, Roosevelt supported the passing of the Newlands Reclamation Act of 1902 and was successful in placing 230 million acres under the direct protection of the federal government.
- Roosevelt felt the United States had an obligation to protect interests in the Western Hemisphere, prompting him to support independence of Panama from Columbia. This in turn paved the way for the creation of the Panama Canal.