Santa Roosevelt

Santa Roosevelt

Death had to take him in his sleep, for if he was awake there’d have been a fight.

Thomas R. Marshall, Vice President of the United States, on hearing of the death of Theodore Roosevelt

One of his worst enemies once said about Theodore Roosevelt that a man would have to hate him a lot not to like him a little.  It was hard not to admire Roosevelt for his courage, his enthusiasm and his obvious good will.  That last aspect of his character is illustrated by the fact that for many years he would go to Cove School at Oyster Bay dressed as Santa Claus, talk to the kids, and give them presents he had purchased out of his own pocket.  When he did it in 1898, after achieving renown leading his Rough Riders in Cuba, the little boys at the school mobbed their Santa hero! 

He kept doing it until 1918, shortly before his death, when ill health prevented him from going.  His son Captain Archie Roosevelt, freshly returned from fighting in France in World War I, did Santa duty for his father at the school.  We have had a few greater presidents than Theodore Roosevelt, but I doubt if we have had a kinder man as president.

More to explorer


  1. In Cuba, the brigaded regular army officers advised TR to leave his horse and lead his dismounted Rough Riders on foot up San Juan Hill. He rode.
    He overcame asthma and a sickly childhood who, through will-power, made of himself a heroic figure of a man.
    As my Jewish friends would say, “He was a mensch.”

    I said the following when my father passed and it applies to TR. From Hamlet, “He was a man. Take him for all and all. I shall not look upon his like again.

    “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

  2. Can you imagine our current president doing something so big-hearted?
    Maybe once, just for the PR, but I cannot imagine Obama keeping up a
    charitable, generous tradition like this for decades, as TR did.
    The unlikeliness of Obama doing anything so genuine and warm only
    underscores the smallness, the shabbiness of the little man we have for
    president these days.

  3. The current White House occupant is doing what he does each December end…playing golf in Hawaii. He is as much an elitist as there has ever been in the White House.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: