Death of Quentin

Found in “Theodore Roosevelt and His Time” Volume II

By Joseph Bucklin Bishop Pages 451 to 453

Chapter XXXII
Death of Quentin Roosevelt- Refusal to Be a Candidate for Governor of New York

Early in July 1918 a movement was started under the leadership of men who for years had been among Roosevelt’s bitterest political enemies, to induce him to consent to become the Republican candidate for Governor of New York. The party was in desperate straits at the time.  The Governor, who was a Republican and whose administration had been very unpopular, was a candidate for reelection and had such complete control of the party machinery that he was able to dictate his own re-nomination, unless Roosevelt would consent to enter the primaries against him.  The shrewdest politicians of the party were convinced that without Roosevelt’s candidacy defeat in November elections was certain.  They called a state conference of the party leaders, at Saratoga, since under the primary law there could be no convention, and invited Roosevelt, Root and Taft to deliver addresses before it.  Roosevelt consented with the others. On the morning of the day, July 17, 1918 on which he was to make his address, word reached him that his son Quentin, an aviator in the army at the front in France, had been killed in an aerial battle.  When the news was conveyed to him at Oyster Bay, as he was starting for New York, he said after taking it to his wife: Quentin’s mother and I are very glad that he got to the front and had a chance to render some service to his country and to show the stuff there was in him before his fate befell him.”

He went to the city and when asked if he would go to the conference and make his address, he said:  “I must go: it is my duty.”  He started immediately for Saratoga, and when he appeared in the conference hall, the entire assemblage arose and gave him a subdued and most impressive greeting.  He delivered his address as he had prepared it in advance, and at its close added a passage which, inspired as it clearly was by the affliction that had befallen him, made a profound impression upon the auditors:
“I have something I want to say to you with all my heart and soul I want you to be alert to act upon it. I speak to you women primarily, but to the men also.

“Surely in this great crisis where we are making sacrifices and making ready for sacrifices on a scale never before known, surely when we are demanding such fealty and idealism on the part of the young men sent abroad to die, surely we have the right to ask and expect and equal idealism in life from the men and women who stay at home.

“Our young men have gone to the other side, very many of them to give up in their joyous prime all the glory and all the beauty of life to pay the greatest price of death in battle for a lofty ideal.  Now, when they are doing that, cannot we men and women at home make up our minds to try to insist upon a lofty idealism here at home?

“And remember, friends, when I speak of lofty idealism, I mean ideals to be realized. I abhor that mock idealism which finds expression only in phrase and vanishes when the phrase has been uttered.  I am speaking of the idealism, which will permit no man in public or private to say anything lofty as a cloak for base action.  I am asking for the idealism, which will demand and that every promise expressed or implied be kept, that every profession of decency, of devotion that is lofty in words, should be made good by deeds.  I am asking for an idealism which shall find expression beside the hearthstone and in the family and in the councils of the state and nation, and I ask you men in this great crisis, and I ask you women who have how come in to the political arena, to stand shoulder to shoulder with your husbands and brothers and sons.

I ask you to see that when those who have gone abroad to endure every species of hardship, to risk their lives, to give their lives, when those of them who live come home, that they shall come home to a nation which they can be proud to have fought for or could be proud to have died for.”

Note: RJK Theodore Roosevelt died six months later I believe Quentin’s death was a contributing factor.