Skip to main content

tv   The Presidency Theodore Roosevelt Descendant  CSPAN  September 16, 2018 1:38pm-2:01pm EDT

1:38 pm
eastern, a discussion in the role of black teachers in the south who fought against full segregation. tuesday, a symposium on the concept of liberty, exploring how the ideas of freedom, law, and liberty have changed throughout history. histories,on oral our women in congress series continues. thursday, historians look at the role of espionage in u.s. complex in the past century and a half. and on friday, the world war 2 series about the outbreak of world war ii to pearl harbor and the rise of a fire attorneys of in germany, italy, and japan. watch american history tv next week in prime time on c-span 3. of presence from james monroe to gerald r. ford .onvened at a conference
1:39 pm
next, we interviewed tweed roosevelt, the great-grandson of theodore roosevelt. this is about 20 minutes. >> we are speaking at the presidential site summit. what is your connection to theodore roosevelt? >> he was my great great grandfather. he had a son named archie. archie had a son and his son had me. >> your entire life, have you been connected with your famous ancestor? it something that you have always have -- always have a special connection? >> people have this idea that our family spent all our time sitting around tables talking about theater. actually -- about theodore. actually, we never talked about theodore. we talked about what everybody
1:40 pm
else talks about. i did not become aware of it until i was older and then it was mostly negative at first. , people seems much more interested in my connection to the famous person than they were in me. that gets old. >> sure. >> it wasn't until later, several things. juan, it became clear to me that i was no tr and i shouldn't worry about it. there's only one tr and i am not one of them. it wasn't until college that i first came to the realization that i had a certain level of risk on stability -- of responsibility because of my relationship. it wasn't until i was in college that i really began to understand that i had many
1:41 pm
benefits. that came with it a bunch of responsibilities to behave in certain ways, to do things, to live up to people's expectations of what they thought i should be and other people in similar conditions. i have many family members who want to have very little to do with it and don't pay much attention. the women are particularly lucky in that sense because they marry and usually take another name. but i learned about this -- it was very interesting. i went to harvard. i was in the place called adam's house. the meals were all served in the dining room. there were these irish ladies who had been there forever. we were terrified of them. they had seen everything. were various rules,
1:42 pm
wearing jacket and ties and somebody shows up without a shirt. nothing fazed them. the head lady was. a formidable person, kept us all in line. -- she called me aside. what had i done? i was not dressed terribly, but somewhat shabbily. and she said to me, mr. roosevelt, it is all right for those other kids, those other boys to be like that. but you've got is your responsibility and you have to live up to it. and i thought about it. the most important lesson island in college. at first, i was -- the most support lesson island in college. at first, i was really angry. but it was a pranced -- but it was impressed on me that i was the descendent of an important person. >> how is that incorporated into your life? >> i've done a lot of writing. theppen to be the ceo of
1:43 pm
theodore roosevelt association. it memorialized tr. i do a lot of work in that area. a got me to put my socks and behave a little bit. i wasn't behaving all that great when i was a college student. and the legacy became important. i began to realize how important his ideas were and how important he had been to this country and that his ideas deserved to be remembered and underlined and new generations need to hear about them. ideas of conservation, his ideas about the u.s. military, his ideas about the relationship between business and labor, the rich and poor, his ideas about dealing with foreign policy. many people have an incorrect view of him. -- he wasught of this
1:44 pm
thought of as this bombastic, lmost con's character -- people think of him as if he was a warmonger. not what he did at his foreign policy was based on trying to prevent war. there were several cases, very interesting cases, where he easily could have gone war and he managed to postpone it. to me, many of his ideals represent what we as americans should pay attention to and follow and try to preserve. beene just recently reacquainted with douglas brinkley's book. he had psychologists review roosevelt's personality because the exuberance, the energy, the
1:45 pm
lack of sleep, because he was always doing something, is unusual. what is your interpretation of how your ancestor, tr, was able to manage so much in his lifetime, so much in a day, reading books while he is doing other things? is there a name for what he was? [laughter] so.o, i don't think he had a next her neri mine. he was -- an extraordinary mind. he did not require so many hours of sleep. that gave him a lot of extra time. second, he had a tremendous ability to focus, reading and writing. there are stories of him sitting in cabin meetings where they are discussing major issues of state not at some point, it was important for him to be involved
1:46 pm
because be -- because other people would be arguing it out. so he would pick up a book and start reading. he was still listening. he did not realize how unusual he was. he had almost a photographic memory. he can remember everything you read. if you and i could do that, imagine how smart we would be. and he could read up to three books a day. he would read them so fast, people thought he was just skimming them. but he could quote best pieces of them. so he had an extraordinary mind. he had extraordinary interest in everything. very broad and what he knew. he was causally surprising people that he knew as much or more than they did in whatever the subject was which happened to be their life work. he knew a lot about it. he was possessed of an
1:47 pm
extraordinary mind. then he had this to medicine energy that never seemed to tire. suppose, i don't know that he crashed. all the time, he was doing things. i wish i had that energy. again, he did not think it was unusual. he did not have self-awareness about how extraordinary his gifts were. >> but he certainly could see himself with others? >> day had a lot of self-awareness. -- he had a lot of self-awareness. interpret this psychobabble. i am not convinced of most of those arguments. he was a man who had extraordinary tragedies, like all of us can be had depressive
1:48 pm
moments. he was also a man of extraordinary energy and enthusiasm. to the extent we are all somewhat manic the person -- manic depressant, but his character was larger. >> the interesting thing about him is that he accomplished a lot of his programs through executive order. we are having that debate today in this country. what do you think the lessons are about strong chief executives and accomplishing things through executive order rather than legislative proposals? i read that william howard taft afterwards came in and help to codify some of roosevelt's policies by putting them through congress in such regular order. talk to me about the executive order and the strong executive. >> he is credited with creating the modern presidency in many ways. his belief was quite different than the trail of presidents
1:49 pm
from lincoln up to him. he viewed the presidency's powers as those only curtailed by the constitution not tell him what he couldn't do. if the constitution did not tell him what he couldn't do, he would do it. wordswas a big problem of in those days and women's hats had these extraordinary bird feathers. the bird population was being decimated because they wanted the glimpse of dust at the best lumes at theed the p best breeding times and that was disrupting breeding. in florida, there was a bird breeding area. they were pushing for it being turned into a bird preserve.
1:50 pm
they met him wherever this was. he turned to an aide of his and said is there any reason, any rule preventing me from making a bird preserve? no one had ever heard of a bird preserve. they said, no, mr. president. he said, ok, there's a bird preserve. he had a very activist view in the presidency. in the conservation area, he did wonderful things, creating national forests, 230 billion acres, when seventh of the country, mostly by executive order at the end. it comes down to a question of what the constitution says, and we leave that to the courts, and the attitude of the person doing it, the quality of the person, the ideas. but it can be misused. >> after he left office, he took
1:51 pm
a trip down the amazon and you replicated that. what was the experience like? >> it was tough. it had not changed much from when he was there. we went down as part of a huge indian reservation, if you will. nobody had been down there. we had all the modern advantages. we had high-tech food and reconstituted food. the things that became fairly clear quickly was that, even though ours was pretty difficult, it was nothing to like what they had. wraps,mple, with avon which we 200 pounds, you could carry them easily around rapids. course, you travel around lots of rapids. and they could go on rapids much 2500 pound than his
1:52 pm
-- i don't know, a lot, of these big trees, that were dug out. they had to drag those around the rapids. that is not the easiest place to join anything. it would take many days to do that. we could just walk over. it was tough. it was unpleasant. so i got some taste of what it was before. those guys were tough. >> it is suggested that things he picked up really might have helped in danger his health -- and danger his health. his health.
1:53 pm
he had a heart problem his whole life, right? >> a lot of people don't know this. when he was president, he was in a serious carriage accident where his leg was severely injured. a carriageed by going along with the governor of massachusetts and the secret service guy and the seeker terry and that's the secretary and the driver of the carriage. -- and the secretary and the driver of the carriage. there was a trolley. it.trolleys whacked into killed one of the secret service men, killed one of the hearses -- horses, through tr several feet. he was in a wheelchair for six months. what they created
1:54 pm
call anaerobic infections inside his bones, which even today is hard to treat. you can't get the antibiotics in there. they didn't have antibiotics. so it was just there. any trauma to it would activate it. in the river, he got crushed trying to rescue an of these canoes. it reactivated it. trip was a doctor on the with little in the way of equipment with him. with no anesthetic and no antibiotics, they sliced tr open to the bone -- that's hard enough -- but then they scrape to the bone -- scraped the bone. that was a big trauma. he survived >>. in the jungle that she survived. -- he survived. >> in the jungle. malaria.o had
1:55 pm
he did not get malaria from the river. in those days, you just had it inside you. it would burst forward every now and then. grandfather fought in new guinea. suddenly had, he an outbreak of it. it was totally debilitating. you don't get malaria unless there are other people around you have malaria that mosquitoes could bite and give it to you. there were none on the river. so he got it earlier. i studied his medical history, which is unbelievable. this broken and that broken. go?as said -- how does it -- i want to wear out, not rust out. and he certainly did.
1:56 pm
>> we will spend a minute on your great-grandmother, if roosevelt. does your father have memories of her? >> i have memories of her. i am never flattered when people asked me if i remember tr. but his wife, we called her grandmother, she lived until i was seven or eight. so i remember her very well. i spent quite a bit of time at outside the more help, the atsevelt family home -- out sagamore hill, the roosevelt family home. was a rather private woman and did not have much time for me. but she was an extra terry character. -- extraordinary character. i think we are learning more and more about presidential wives and how they affected and health and so on their husbands. eleanor is a great example of
1:57 pm
this. edith, my great-great-grandmother matched tr in many things. tr was not a good judge of character of people. ,e was often pushing people perhaps not a good idea. date was her that tamped him down. she was good at tamping him down. i hear this from stories, not because i know it. when he got too exuberant at the dining table at the white house, she would say things like, theodore, it's comments like that that get you into trouble. and he, like a six-year-old, would listen to her. she was a very important partner of his. >> where his papers? >> harvard, the horn library, has most of the not incidental stuff. the library of congress has the presidential papers.
1:58 pm
they are all spread around because we find more and more of them. i guess he wrote 130,000 letters, which sounds outrageous. about when you think about how many emails you write, like emails, he would often dictate them. they were often short, i cannot come to that dinner or whatever it was, but a huge -- i keep finding more and more them. i haveeople coming to me this tr letter. yet a photocopy of it and send it to harvard. >> a hundred years later, is there more scholarship to the test to be done on tr roosevelt? >> evan mars wrote a brilliant life of tr. it's wonderful. i'm amazed how much is left out. what is happening now is more and more scholarship being done on smaller pieces. but they are very interesting.
1:59 pm
calledwrote an article the 50 essential books on tr. to start off, you have to have 50 books. i picked 50 different areas and found the best book. sometimes they were very good books, but they were the only one on it. the point is that there are these 50 different areas and hundreds and hundreds of oaks. and they're keeping new ones with the new stuff when new stuff comes out. so there are two kinds of ways that history remembrance changes someone like tr. why does you find new stuff is -- one, you find new stuff. it is often secondary. . that's one day that history changes. they say every generation needs its own new biography of its great people. another way is how we perceive the world and the problems in the historical issues and the important political policy issues changes. -- you can look
2:00 pm
at tr from a different lens and see whether he lived up to our failed and furthering those things. so something like a relationship with race, relationship with imperialism, things change. it is a very difficult thing about history, because it is not that they were wrong before, but if people are making it up or anything -- the stage lighting has changed, so you see the same subject, it is the truth, it is the subject, but you see it in a different light. and that is what -- >> and that is what makes it also adjusting. thank you for telling us about your grandfather and great-grandfather. >> you're watching american history tv, only on c-span3. welcome to lake charles, louisiana.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on