The Rough Rider and the Professor

Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Cabot Lodge, and the Friendship that Changed American History


Evoking the political intrigue of the Gilded Age, The Rough Rider and the Professor chronicles the extraordinary thirty-five-year friendship between President Theodore Roosevelt and Senator Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts.

Theodore Roosevelt was a uniquely gifted figure. A man of great intellect and physicality, the New York patrician captured the imagination of the American people with his engaging personality and determination to give all citizens regardless of race, color, or creed the opportunity to achieve the American dream.

While Roosevelt employed his abilities to rise from unknown New York legislator to become the youngest man ever to assume the presidency in 1901, that rapid success would not have occurred without the assistance of the powerful New Englander, Henry Cabot Lodge.

Eight years older than Roosevelt, from a prominent Massachusetts family, Lodge, was one of the most calculating, combative politicians of his age. From 1884 to 1919 Lodge and Roosevelt encouraged one another to mine the greatness that lay within each of them. As both men climbed the ladders of power, Lodge, focused on dominating the political landscape of Massachusetts, served as the future president’s confidant and mentor, advising him on political strategy while helping him obtain positions in government that would eventually lead to the White House.

Despite the love and respect that existed between the two men, their relationship eventually came under strain. Following Roosevelt's ascension to the presidency, T. R.’s desire to expand the social safety net—while attempting to broaden the appeal of the Republican Party—clashed with his older friend's more conservative, partisan point of view. Those tensions finally culminated in 1912. Lodge's refusal to support the former president's independent bid for a third presidential term led to a political break-up that was only repaired by each man's hatred for the policies of Woodrow Wilson.

Despite their political disagreements, Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge remained devoted friends until the Rough Rider took his final breath on January 6, 1919. 

About the author(s)

Laurence Jurdem, Ph.D., is currently an adjunct professor of history at Fairfield University and Fordham College’s Lincoln Center campus. Mr. Jurdem is also the author of Paving the Way for Reagan: The Influence of Conservative Media on U.S. Foreign Policy. A frequent writer on American politics, his articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the San Francisco Chronicle. He lives in Connecticut.


"Jurdem’s exploration of the relationship between Roosevelt and Lodge poses enduring questions about political friendships as well as America’s current course as it faces many of the same challenges the two politicos encountered during the Gilded Age. The Rough Rider and the Professor serves as a reminder that people are not simply swept up by the currents of history. Their actions — in this case, byproducts of the internal struggles, divided loyalties and deeply held beliefs championed by Roosevelt and Lodge — can alter the direction not just of their lives but of a nation."

The Washington Post

"This fascinating study reveals a new perspective on both Roosevelt and Lodge, and the impact of friendships on the course of events. Jurdem ably navigates the huge cache of letters exchanged between the two—some 2,500 in all—to tell a story rich with personal detail."

Publishers Weekly

“Essential reading. Biography, in Mr. Jurdem’s capable hands, becomes an act of restoration.”

The New York Sun

“Few American leaders have had as long and consequential a friendship as the rambunctious Rough Rider and the reserved Bay State Brahmin that Laurence Jurdem explores in this impressive new volume.”

Karl Rove, author of The Triumph of William McKinely

More United States

More History