World War I and Theodore Roosevelt

The 100th anniversary of the end of World War I - the war to end all wars - is November 11, 2018. North Dakotans played a prominent role in the war and the North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum has a display detailing North Dakota's involvement.

Even though Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency ended five years before World War I, he had strong convictions about how the United States should respond to the escalating violence in Europe. One of his biggest regrets during his own presidency was that his mettle was not tested by a war during his term. Nonetheless, he touted military preparedness and staunchly advocated America’s early entry in to the war. 

He also had strong convictions about his sons serving their country and insisted that they do so. How, then, did Roosevelt feel when his youngest son Quentin, an American fighter pilot, was shot down over France on July 14, 1918? And how did he feel about his daughter and daughters-in-law serving in nonviolent capacities?

Find the answers to these and other questions at the Theodore Roosevelt Center is located on campus at Dickinson State University. For years, the center has been gathering and digitizing copies of all Roosevelt-related items, and now has thousands of items available on its website, including correspondence to and from Roosevelt, diary entries, notes, political cartoons, scrapbooks, newspaper and magazine articles, speeches and photographs. There are also film clips and audio recordings.

Among these artifacts is a letter from Quentin Roosevelt to his father, dated just days before Theodore’s youngest son was shot down over France. In part, he wrote:

“Dearest Father,
I’ve gotten my first real excitement on the front, for I think I got a Boche. The operations officer is trying for confirmation on it now.”

Just a few days after writing these lines, and surely before the Roosevelt family received the letter, Quentin Roosevelt was dead.

Delve deeper into the history of the Great War, Theodore Roosevelt’s views on the conflict, and the impact it had on his family at the Theodore Roosevelt Center.

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