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Letters to His Children
     

Letters to His Children

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by Theodore Roosevelt
 

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INTRODUCTION

Most of the letters in this volume were written by Theodore Roosevelt to
his children during a period of more than twenty years. A few others are
included that he wrote to friends or relatives about the children. He
began to write to them in their early childhood, and continued to do
so regularly till they reached maturity.

Overview

INTRODUCTION

Most of the letters in this volume were written by Theodore Roosevelt to
his children during a period of more than twenty years. A few others are
included that he wrote to friends or relatives about the children. He
began to write to them in their early childhood, and continued to do
so regularly till they reached maturity. Whenever he was separated from
them, in the Spanish War, or on a hunting trip, or because they were at
school, he sent them these messages of constant thought and love, for
they were never for a moment out of his mind and heart. Long before they
were able to read he sent them what they called "picture letters," with
crude drawings of his own in illustration of the written text, drawings
precisely adapted to the childish imagination and intelligence. That the
little recipients cherished these delightful missives is shown by the
tender care with which they preserved them from destruction. They are
in good condition after many years of loving usage. A few of them are
reproduced in these pages--written at different periods as each new
child appeared in the household.

These early letters are marked by the same quality that distinguishes
all his letters to his children. From the youngest to the eldest, he
wrote to them always as his equals. As they advanced in life the
mental level of intercourse was raised as they grew in intelligence and
knowledge, but it was always as equals that he addressed them. He was
always their playmate and boon companion, whether they were toddling
infants taking their first faltering steps, or growing schoolboys, or
youths standing at the threshold of life. Their games were his games,
their joys those of his own heart. He was ready to romp with them in
the old barn at Sagamore Hill, play "tickley" at bedtime, join in their
pillow fights, or play hide-and-seek with them, either at Sagamore
Hill or in the White House. He was the same chosen and joyous companion
always and everywhere. Occasionally he was disturbed for a moment about
possible injury to his Presidential dignity. Describing a romp in the
old barn at Sagamore Hill in the summer of 1903, he said in one of his
letters that under the insistence of the children he had joined in it
because: "I had not the heart to refuse, but really it seems, to put it
mildly, rather odd for a stout, elderly President to be bouncing over
hayricks in a wild effort to get to goal before an active midget of a
competitor, aged nine years. However, it was really great fun."

It was because he at heart regarded it as "great fun" and was in
complete accord with the children that they delighted in him as a
playmate. In the same spirit, in January, 1905, he took a squad of
nine boys, including three of his own, on what they called a "scramble"
through Rock Creek Park, in Washington, which meant traversing the most
difficult places in it. The boys had permission to make the trip alone,
but they insisted upon his company. "I am really touched," he wrote
afterward to the parents of two of the visiting boys, "at the way in
which your children as well as my own treat me as a friend and playmate.
It has its comic side. They were all bent upon having me take them;
they obviously felt that my presence was needed to give zest to the
entertainment. I do not think that one of them saw anything incongruous
in the President's getting as bedaubed with mud as they got, or in my
wiggling and clambering around jutting rocks, through cracks, and up
what were really small cliff faces, just like the rest of them; and
whenever any one of them beat me at any point, he felt and expressed
simple and whole-hearted delight, exactly as if it had been a triumph
over a rival of his own age."

When the time came that he was no longer the children's chosen playmate,
he recognized the fact with a twinge of sadness. Writing in January,
1905, to his daughter Ethel, who was at Sagamore Hill at the time,
he said of a party of boys that Quentin had at the White House: "They
played hard, and it made me realize how old I had grown and how very
busy I had been the last few years to find that they had grown so that
I was not needed in the play. Do you recollect how we all of us used to
play hide and go seek in the White House, and have obstacle races down
the hall when you brought in your friends?"

Deep and abiding love of children, of family and home, that was the
dominating passion of his life. With that went love for friends and
fellow men, and for all living things, birds, animals, trees, flowers,
and nature in all its moods and aspects. But love of children and
family and home was above all. The children always had an old-fashioned
Christmas in the White House.

Product Details

BN ID:
2940013342279
Publisher:
SAP
Publication date:
10/03/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
773,168
File size:
113 KB

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Letters to His Children (Barnes and Noble Digital Library) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Roosevelt had a wonderful way with words and apparently loved his children very much. I enjoyed it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago