Source: My Brother Theodore Roosevelt
Source type: book
Document type: book chapter
Document title: “Home Life in the White House” [chapter 11]
Author(s): Robinson, Corinne Roosevelt
Publisher: Charles Scribner’s Sons
Place of publication: New York, New York
Year of publication: 1921
Pagination: 206-35 (excerpt below includes only pages 206-07)
|Robinson, Corinne Roosevelt. “Home Life in the White House” [chapter 11]. My Brother Theodore Roosevelt. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1921: pp. 206-35.|
|excerpt of chapter|
|White House; Theodore Roosevelt; Theodore Roosevelt (assumption of presidency).|
|Anna Roosevelt Cowles; Finley Peter Dunne; Abraham Lincoln; William McKinley; Margaret Ridgely Partridge; Edith Roosevelt; Theodore Roosevelt.|
|From title page: With Illustrations.|
Home Life in the White House [excerpt]
Uncrowned the brow,
Where truth and courage meet,
The citizen alone confronts the land.
. . . . . . . . .
A man whose dreamful, valiant mind conceives
High purpose, consecrated to his race.
—Margaret Ridgely Partridge.
THE deed of the cowardly assassin had done its work. William McKinley
was dead; the young Vice-President had made the hazardous trip from the heart
of the Adirondack Mountains, had taken the solemn oath in Buffalo, had followed
the body of his chief to the final resting-place, and had returned to Washington.
From Washington he telegraphed to my husband and myself, with the thought which
he always showed, and told us that as Mrs. Roosevelt was attending to last important
matters at Sagamore, she could not be with him the day he moved into the White
House, and that he was very anxious that not only my sister, Mrs. Cowles, and
her husband, but that we also should dine with him the first night that he slept
in the old mansion. So we went on to Washington, and were with him at that first
meal in the house for which he had such romantic attachment because it had sheltered
the hero of his boyhood and manhood, Abraham Lincoln. As we sat around the table
he turned and said: “Do you realize that this is the birthday of our father,
September 22? I have realized it as I signed various papers all day long, and
I feel that it is a  good omen that I
begin my duties in this house on this day. I feel as if my father’s hand were
on my shoulder, and as if there were a special blessing over the life I am to
lead here.” Almost as he finished this sentence, the coffee was passed to us,
and at that time it was the habit at the White House to pass with the coffee
a little boutonnière to each gentleman. As the flowers were passed to the President,
the one given to him was a yellow saffronia rose. His face flushed, and he turned
again and said: “Is it not strange! This is the rose we all connect with my
father.” My sister and I responded eagerly that many a time in the past we had
seen our father pruning the rose-bush of saffronia roses with special care.
He always picked one for his buttonhole from that bush, and whenever we gave
him a rose, we gave him one of those. Again my brother said, with a very serious
look on his face, “I think there is a blessing connected with this,” and surely
it did seem as if there were a blessing connected with those years of Theodore
Roosevelt in the White House; those merry happy years of family life, those
ardent, loving years of public service, those splendid, peaceful years of international
amity—a blessing there surely was over that house.
Nothing could have been harder to the temperament of Theodore Roosevelt than to have come “through the cemetery,” as Peter Dunne said in his prophetic article, to the high position of President of the United States. What he had achieved in the past was absolutely through his own merits. To him to come to any position through “dead men’s shoes” was peculiarly distasteful; but during the early years of his occupancy of the White House, feeling it his duty so to do, he strove in every possible way to fulfil [sic] the policies of his predecessor, retaining his appointees and working with conscientious loyalty as much as possible along the lines laid down by President McKinley.