ROOSEVELT, THEODORE ° (1858–1919), 26th president of the United States, 1901–09. During his early career, Roosevelt shared the disdain of his class for the Jewish mass immigration then arriving at Ellis Island. This bias gradually disappeared as Roosevelt came to understand the hardships of ghetto life during his political service in New York as Governor of New York State. His respect for Jewish valor was increased by the performance of 17 Jewish Rough Riders under his command during the Spanish-American War. The president's acquaintance with "uptown" Jews was an intimate one and many of these wealthy Republicans followed his progressive leadership even to the point of supporting Roosevelt's 1912 Bull Moose revolt. During the neutrality period of World War i, Roosevelt denounced "hyphenated Americans," but he understood that Jews retained fewer Old World loyalties than other ethnic groups.
Roosevelt had more personal contact with Jews than any previous president. He appointed the first Jew (Oscar S. *Straus) to the Cabinet, and William Loeb served as his private secretary. In his closing years he supported the *Balfour Declaration despite the fact that this stand aligned him with his political archfoe, President Wilson.