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 greater presidents than Theodore Roosevelt, but I doubt if we have had a kinder man as president.
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