President Theodore Roosevelt

Theordore Roosevelt | A special interview with Charleen Notgorass as she shares about Theodore Roosevelt. In this episode, we will learn some fascinating facts about Theodore Roosevelt, who was homeschooled and his family. #podcast #homeschoolpodcast #notgrass historyTheodore Roosevelt Episode 322

A special interview with Charlene Notgorass as she shares about Theodore Roosevelt. In this episode, we will learn some fascinating facts about Theodore Roosevelt, who was homeschooled and his family.

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Show Notes on Theodore Roosevelt by Charlene Notgrass

Mamas and daddies have a saying down South. They tell their children: “Don’t forget your raising!” President Theodore Roosevelt never forgot his. Both of Roosevelt’s parents died before he was 26 years old, but their “raising” was his bedrock, his sure footing, the heritage he kept close all his life.

A loving family

Theodore Roosevelt’s mother Mittie was a Southern belle from Georgia. His father Theodore Roosevelt Sr., called Thee, was a New Yorker. They were affectionate parents to their four children: Anna who was called Bamie, Theodore Jr. called Teedie, Elliott called Ellie, and Corinne called Conie. In the president’s autobiography, he wrote about the virtues necessary for a nation. He said: “. . . these virtues are as dust on a windy street unless back of them lie the strong and tender virtues of family life based on the love of the one man for the one woman and on their joyous and fearless acceptance of their common obligation to the children that are theirs.” That was exactly the kind of family the president grew up in.

In the nursery
Thee and Mittie Roosevelt believed that going to public school would coarsen their children. Therefore they decided to train them at home.
The year before future President Theodore Roosevelt was born, Mittie’s mother and sister Anna moved to New York to live with them. Anna begged to become the children’s tutor as a way to return Thee’s hospitality to her. Thee agreed, so for the first six years of children, they had two early teachers, their mother and their aunt. These sisters were great storytellers. President Roosevelt said that they used to entertain the children by the hour with tales of life on the Georgia plantation.

From a very young age, Teedie enjoyed telling stories, too. Corinne said that she and Elliott used to sit on two little chairs in the nursery and drink in Teedie’s endless variety of tales. President Roosevelt learned to communicate at the knee of his mother and aunt in the nursery. He wrote one his first stories in that same nursery when he was just seven years old. Teedie grew up to write more than thirty books, many articles and columns, and 150,000 letters.

Sweet and gracious mother

The Roosevelt children called their parents Father and Little Motherling. President Roosevelt said that his mother was “a sweet, gracious, beautiful Southern woman, a delightful companion and beloved by everybody.” Corinne said that her mother had a gift for hospitality. She said that as children they were allowed to mingle with their elders and that the children formed lifelong friendships with the chosen companions of their parents. When the children were in their early teens, their parents organized Friday evening dances for them and danced along with the young people.

Wise and loving father

Theodore Roosevelt Sr. was deeply involved in his children’s lives. He was a fun father. He also oversaw their education. Soon after his father’s death, Teedie wrote in his journal that his father was the “most wise and loving father that ever lived.” Theodore Roosevelt Sr. helped to found aid societies, a hospital, and museums. He spent one day each week visiting the poor in their homes. On Sunday nights he volunteered at a lodging house for homeless boys. When his children were still very young, he took them along to help.

Helping children with special needs

Bamie Roosevelt suffered from serious curvature of the spine, Elliott from severe migraines, and Teedie and Corinne both had asthma. Father and Little Motherling found ways to help them no matter what it took, whether searching for the best doctor for Bamie or taking the severely asthmatic Teedie for drives in the fresh air in the middle of the night. President Roosevelt wrote: “One of my memories is of my father walking up and down the room with me in his arms at night when I was a very small person, and of sitting up in bed gasping, with my father and mother trying to help me.” Thee challenged Teedie to build up his body through exercise and he provided exercise equipment for him at home. Roosevelt became a vigorous and healthy adult, who relished what he called “the strenuous life.”

Encouraging children’s interests

Teedie developed a passion for science. He loved to read about birds and reptiles and to make drawings of them. He found even greater pleasure in collecting specimens of animals for what he called the Roosevelt Museum of Natural History, which he and two of his cousins kept in his family’s home. President Roosevelt later recalled: “My father and mother encouraged me warmly in this, as they always did in anything that could give me wholesome pleasure or help to develop me.”

Overcoming conflict

Mr. and Mrs. Roosevelt had a strong and healthy marriage, but they did not always agree. During the Civil War, Mittie’s brothers fought for the south while Thee worked for the Union cause, spending much time in Washington, D. C. While Mr. Roosevelt was in Washington, Mittie and her mother and sister sent care packages to relatives behind the Confederate lines. However, the Roosevelts wrote kind and loving letters to one another. Corinne wrote that during the whole war there was never a moment of estrangement between her parents or between her father and his mother-in-law and sister-in-law.

Lifestyle learners

The Roosevelt family were certainly lifestyle learners.  The children learned in the great outdoors and they read widely. The Roosevelts gave their children opportunities to be in Creation even in the midst of New York City. They tore out an exterior wall of a third floor bedroom, turned it into a porch, and made it safe with a nine-foot railing. The children played there every day. The family spent every summer in the country, roaming and exploring, riding horses, and climbing trees — a skill their father had taught them himself.
The Roosevelts took their children on two grand tours, one to Europe and one to Egypt, the Holy Land, Syria, Greece, and Constantinople. Thee and Mittie saw the trip as educational for their children, but they remembered that their young students were also children. Corinne wrote: “Our comprehending mother and father, always allowed us joyous moments between educational efforts.” That was excellent advice.

Looking back with gratitude

When the Roosevelts returned home from their second tour, it was time for Teedie to begin studying with tutors to prepare for entrance into Harvard. Bamie, Elliott and Corinne spent time in boarding schools when they were older, but because of Teedie’s asthma, he continued to be educated at home. Until the future president entered Harvard shortly before his 18th birthday, he had spent almost all of his time with his family. His playmates and friends were his siblings, his cousins, and the children of his parents’ friends. As it turned out, this was wonderful socialization for a future president.

When Teedie turned 18 during his first semester at Harvard, he wrote the following in a letter to his mother: It seems perfectly wonderful in looking back over my eighteen years of existence, to see how I have literally never spent an unhappy day, unless by my own fault! When I think of this, and also of my intimacy with you all (for I hardly know a boy who is on as intimate and affectionate terms with his family as I am), I feel that I have an immense amount to be thankful for. After graduating from Harvard, the future president looked back on his preparation for the years ahead. He wrote: “I left college and entered the big world owing more than I can express to the training I had received, especially in my own home.”

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