Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt (1858 -1919) was the 26th President of the United States. He is noted for his energetic personality, range of interests and achievements, leadership of the Progressive Movement, and his "cowboy" image and robust masculinity. He was a leader of the Republican Party and founder of the short-lived Progressive ("Bull Moose") Party of 1912. Before becoming President, he held offices at the municipal, state, and federal level of government. Roosevelt's achievements as a naturalist, explorer, hunter, author, and soldier are as much a part of his fame as any office he held as a politician. Born into a wealthy family, Roosevelt was a sickly child who suffered from asthma and stayed at home studying natural history. To compensate for his physical weakness, he embraced a strenuous life. Home schooled, he became a passionate student of nature. He attended Harvard, where he boxed and developed an interest in naval affairs. In 1881, one year out of Harvard, he was elected to the New York State Assembly as its youngest member. After fighting in the Spanish-American War, he returned to New York and was elected Governor in a close-fought election. Within two years, he was elected Vice President of the United States. In 1901, President William McKinley was assassinated; and Roosevelt became President at the age of 42, taking office at the youngest age of any U.S. president in history. After leaving office, he embarked on a safari to Africa and a tour of Europe. On his return to the US, a bitter rift developed between Roosevelt and his anointed successor as president, William Howard Taft. Roosevelt attempted in 1912 to wrest the Republican nomination from Taft, and when he failed, he launched the Bull Moose Party. In the election, Roosevelt became the only third party candidate to come in second place, beating Taft but losing to Woodrow Wilson. After the election, Roosevelt embarked on a major expedition to South America; the river on which he traveled now bears his name. He contracted malaria on the trip, which damaged his health, and he died a few years later, at the age of 60. Roosevelt has consistently been ranked by scholars as one of the greatest U.S. Presidents.