What battleships? and who's teeth? Ragtime mentions that Theodore Roosevelt sent "a fleet of white battleships around the world, battleships as white as his teeth." The battleships that Roosevelt sent were called "The Great White Fleet". They were know as this because every battleship had a white hull which stood out from other fleets around the world. The president sent out 16 battleships on a voyage around the world the lasted from 1901-1909. The purpose for this voyage was mainly to Demonstrate to the rest of the world that the United States of America was a major sea power. However, it also aimed to show the rest of the world that America was indeed a country embedded with good will. They showcased this by visiting one country and harbor after another.
During Theodore Roosevelt's duty as President of the United States, he was well known for numerous characteristics, but one that stood out the most was his wide ear to ear smile. Roosevelt was known by many people as the only president who had ever smiled. In most pictures of the President you can find him smiling and laughing, which is what attracted many Americans towards him.
The Battleships that were "as white as his teeth", as stated in Ragtime, were indeed The Great White Fleet. However the correlation does not end there. When Theodore Roosevelt died at age 60, dentists and physicians of that time felt that it was a infected tooth that was not treated properly that cause his disease, in which caused his death. The straight teeth that showcased and that brought him acceptance from the American people, also brought him to a premature and early death.