The Roosevelt Family of Sagamore Hill Essay - Critical Essays

Hermann Hagedorn


The Roosevelt Family of Sagamore Hill was not written explicitly for young adult readers. It was, in fact, a selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club when it was first published in 1954. Although ostensibly written for an adult audience, however, Hagedorn dedicated his book to his two grandchildren, aged seven and eight, and in the dedication, he expressed the hope that Theodore and Edith Roosevelt would prove to be examples to them when they grew up, particularly when they became parents themselves. He recommended to his grandchildren that they adopt as their own guide for life the famous Roosevelt quote: “Fear God and take your own part.”

Hagedorn, the secretary and director of the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Association from 1919 to 1957, is obviously an admirer of Roosevelt, both the public and the private man. As a politician, Roosevelt exemplified for the author the best type of American: He was guided by moral values and had a vision of the future, but he was a pragmatic statesman concerned about results, and he positioned himself in the moderate middle between the extremes of Left and Right. Yet the story is less about Roosevelt the statesman-politician than Roosevelt the husband and father, and often the other family members dominate the pages of the book. Alice—“Princess Alice” to many Americans—the daughter of Roosevelt’s first wife, was strong-willed and opinionated, very much the modern young woman at times in conflict with her parents’ Victorian values. On one occasion Roosevelt responded to criticism about Alice’s activities that he could govern the country or govern Alice but not both. Young Ted, attempting to live...

(The entire section is 682 words.)