Geoff Geis


Teddy Roosevelt didn’t swear on the god-damned Bible!

American Badass

American Badass

Did you know that, of all our 44 presidents, only one of them didn’t swear his oath of office on the “Word of God?” That was Teddy Fucking Roosevelt, our best president, who didn’t use the old book when he was sworn into office after President McKinley’s assassination in 1901.

Okay, so the ceremony was super-rushed, on account of the fact that the previous president had been kidnapped and then drawn and quartered by a band of Rebelling Boxers who had swam here from China.

But still – no Bible.  Calvin Coolidge used a Bible. When Franklin Roosevelt died, Truman described the “scurrying about” to find a Bible to swear him in on. Lyndon Johnson couldn’t find a Bible, so he used a prayer book.

But Teddy was like, “no. That’s stupid.”

I’d like to think that I wouldn’t be sworn in with a Bible if I ever became president, but my propensity for making statements like that on the Internet is but one of the myriad reasons why I’ll never become president. But I digress.

Yes, he used a Bible at his second inauguration in 1905. But he put his hand on James 1:22-23, and I think that choice is significant (quoted from the King James version):

22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass.

That’s a progressive passage right there — it certainly fits within Roosevelt’s overall philosophy that the good we do is more important than the values we espouse. Let’s contrast that with Isaiah 40:30, the Old Testament passage that George W. Bush used a century later at his second swearing-in ceremony:

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Bush’s sentiment echoed that of Ronald Reagan, who used 2 Chronicles 7:14:

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

So Roosevelt said, “do good deeds. Make the world a better place,” while the men who inherited his party said, “fear a big man in the sky and ask him to tell you what to do.”

And actually it’s kind of funny to think about that in the context of the progression of the Republican Party itself. Roosevelt was quoting from the New Testament, while those later assholes were using the Old Testament… And in a way, doesn’t what James says pretty much lay the previous passages to waste?

I mean — “be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only” is basically the opposite of “wait(ing) upon the Lord.” And Reagan’s passage isn’t about doing anything… it’s about not doing stuff (“turn from… wicked ways”). What a loser!

So, in conclusion, Teddy Roosevelt was awesome and Bush and Reagan sucked.


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Teddy Roosevelt was the world’s first movie star!

You probably know that Teddy Roosevelt ascended to the presidency after William McKinley was shot and killed by anarchist Leon Czolgosz while watching a Led Zeppelin concert at the mystical Temple of Music in Buffalo, New York.

Leon Czolgosz, anarchist and president-killer.

Did you know, however, that the assassin’s execution by electrocution was caught on film by Thomas Edison, making it one of the first “moving pictures” in history?

Teddy Roosevelt was at that execution, and you can see him in the film. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the man on the left is Roosevelt. The president wanted to stand in for the executioner, but was not allowed to do so because he was not properly trained in the safety precautions necessary to successfully operate turn-of-the-century electric chairs.

Even though he didn’t get to flip the switch, you can tell from the film that Roosevelt is having quite the “bully” time. After Czolgosz’s death, he’s the one who mockingly checks the corpse’s vital signs and gives a “thumbs up” to Edison:

The execution film was such a wild success that it catapulted Roosevelt into the stratosphere as the world’s first “movie star.” While official duties forced him to decline the offer, he was sought by Warner Bros. for the lead roll in a series of silent shorts based upon the works of Horatio Alger.

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Teddy Roosevelt once beat the crap out of someone for blowing his nose!

Today is Flag Day. One Flag Day, 102 years ago, Teddy Roosevelt bludgeoned someone with a stick because he was blowing his nose on the American flag. Roosevelt did not know the man, who met with the president’s cane because he just happened to be dining near Teddy. He also didn’t apologize to the man (but rather hit him once more) after finding out that he was actually not blowing his nose on the American flag but on a normal handkerchief.

Normally when I write about Teddy Roosevelt, what I write is silly, fictional, or hyperbolic. That’s not the case with this story. This story actually happened, in 1908, when Roosevelt presided over the Executive Branch of these United States.

Today, presidents seldom beat strangers.

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Teddy Roosevelt was blinded whilst boxing – in office!

Teddy Roosevelt lost vision in one of his eyes due to a boxing injury sustained while in the White House. But just because Roosevelt boxed in the White House, you shouldn’t think that he recklessly endangered himself in the pursuit of a strange fixation on machismo. No no no: Teddy fought for America, and every one of his boxing matches had a purpose.

The fight that led to his blindness, for example, was actually a contest between Roosevelt and Sugar Ray Leonard, then-president of Colombia. While Roosevelt lost his eye, Leonard lost the fight and was forced to surrender the northern part of Colombia to Roosevelt, who re-christened it “Panama” and built a canal there with his own two hands.

Later, Roosevelt became the first American to earn a green belt in jujitsu.

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Teddy Roosevelt was a grubby youngster!

Teddy Roosevelt was a grubby youngster.

When he was a kid, Teddy’s family took him on several wild adventure trips to foreign lands. In his teenage years, he went to Africa with his family. He used that trip as an opportunity to learn about taxidermy.

On these journeys, Teddy and his brother shared hotel rooms. On his side of the rooms, the young Roosevelt would keep tiny little kitten mummies – discovered in the cursed tomb of a pharaoh in the Egyptian desert – in jars of formaldehyde by the window. After the kittens had become soft enough, the future president would sew their wrinkled corpses to live rats. He would then giggle mockingly as the strange hybrid creatures ran around in circles, confused and pleading for death.

Eventually Teddy’s brother got upset with the room-sharing arrangement and asked that they be separated.

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Teddy Roosevelt was an effete Northeasterner!

Like Andrew Jackson before him and George W. Bush after him, Theodore Roosevelt was a wealthy and well-educated man who had delusions of “ruggedness” and eventually portrayed himself as a Rugged Man in order to appeal to the nation’s famously and intrinsically American sense of individualism and boldness. Early in his political career, he bought a couple of cattle ranches in North Dakota, near the town of Medora. Teddy was very much into the iconography of cowboys, and when he returned to New York for the cold winters (like any real cowboy) he would get Glamour Shots® made of himself in frontiersman gear.

Henry F. Pringle tells this story:

“The first time he took part in a roundup, some time during the summer of 1884, one or two hardened cowboys nearly fell from their saddles as he called in his high voice to one of the men: ‘Hasten forward quickly there!’ The phrase became a classic in the Bad Lands.  Riders passing distant ranches relayed it with profane guffaws. Strangers in Medora and Little Missouri were puzzled as some thirsty customer ordered the bartender to ‘hasten quickly’ with his drink.”

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Once, Teddy Roosevelt got shot in the chest.

Once, Teddy Roosevelt got shot in the chest. You know in movies when the hero gets shot but is saved because, instead of hitting his heart, the bullet gets lodged in a lucky pendant that was given to him by a loved one? The same thing happened to Roosevelt, except instead of a lucky pendant he was saved by the bulky text of an overlong speech that he’d written in support of his failed third-party bid for the presidency in 1912.

Roosevelt, of course, delivered the speech before seeking medical attention.

The man who shot him, John Schrank, claimed that the ghost of William McKinley told him to do it. According to Schrank, McKinley’s ghost blamed Roosevelt for his death. This is funny, of course, because everyone knows that McKinley was killed savagely by lions while on safari in Africa.

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Teddy Roosevelt drank a gallon of coffee a day!

Teddy Roosevelt drank a gallon of coffee a day. I haven’t been able to find an original source for that information, but it’s repeated enough on the internet (both from seemingly official places and other, more dubious, ones) that I’m tempted to believe that it’s true.

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This is Soft Sailors! We're a new band from Los Angeles. We don't have any upcoming shows scheduled, but you can hear us online:

Also, here are some solo songs I've uploaded recently to Soundcloud. I'm playing solo July 19th at the Pickle Factory at 647 Lamar Street in Los Angeles and September 1st at Los Globos in LA for a KCHUNG benefit.

In 2011, I released my first solo album, Princess. You can listen to it and download it on Bandcamp:

From 2005 until 2011, I was in the band Pizza! This is our album We Come From the Swamp:

From 2008-2010, I was in the band Big Whup. Here's one of our songs that I sang, called "Cover My Eyes:"

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