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The Strenuous Life by Theodore Roosevelt


            A man by the name of Fred Harloff (1910-2004), was a small, but perfect example of someone who epitomized the idea of the Strenuous Life. Growing up in Evanston, Illinois, he was a competitive baseball player, sharing a home with six sisters and two brothers. Similar to Theodore Roosevelt, Harloff lived through extreme hardships as a young individual and strived to exceed the expectations of society in his time. Through hard work and motivation, which stemmed from experiencing the effects of the Great Depression, he managed to open and run a grocery store and an IGA market, which allowed him to support his wife and children. This man exemplified the importance of the Strenuous Life's emergence from the Victorian Era in America. The Strenuous Life was a period of transformation in the country's thinking and social expectations. Americans converted from a bureaucratic and neurasthenic form of society to a self-confident, motivated, and introspective culture. The realization that the American society was becoming increasingly hypersensitive, governmentally controlled, and populated with immigrants, led to the Strenuous life.
             A large factor which conducted the emergence of the Strenuous life was the evident loss of raw determination to be a strong and self-made society, which had been so prevalent in the past. The country had become extremely "soft" in the eyes of people such as Theodore Roosevelt. In Roosevelt's speech before the Hamilton Club of Chicago, he stated, "A life of slothful ease, a life of that peace which springs merely from lack either of desire or of power to strive after great things, is as little worthy of a nation as of an individual (Theodore Roosevelt, "The Strenuous Life")."┬áHis message relayed his disappointment in what the nation had become. The Strenuous Life was exactly what the United States needed to revive the intense motivation to remain an innovative, bold, and simply exciting nation, which was so acute in the minds of the many predecessors of the Victorian Era.


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