Today's post was submitted by the Theodore Roosevelt Center's student intern, who is a Communications major at Dickinson State University.
Quentin Roosevelt was the youngest son of President Theodore Roosevelt and was very much like his father. Quentin had enthusiasm like no other; he had a temper, but he also had a kind heart. Like his father, Quentin was an eloquent speaker and an excellent leader. His mother described him as a “fine bad little boy.”
Quentin’s leadership qualities were expressed in the formation of what his father called “The White House Gang.” Quentin, his brother Archie, and a few of their friends from the Force School in Washington, D.C., were the members of this gang. Quentin’s amusing personality made him the White House trouble maker; he and his gang were always up to no good. Each day after school the boys would come to the White House and become whoever they wanted. They would be policemen, or even the President; their imaginations ran wild. The gang would play big games of hide and seek, and sometimes would even be joined by President Roosevelt himself. The hallways became different obstacle courses, and sometimes things got a little out of hand; at those times, spit wads were found on portraits throughout the White House. Imagine having such a house in which to play whatever you wished as a small child!
Quentin Roosevelt and friend, 1902. From the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs collection.
Nothing held Quentin back; he was eager, active, and his mind was always working through different ideas. The White House Gang served as a proving ground for his active imagination as well as a place to practice his leadership abilities. The little boys in this gang found a sense of honor and victory at a young age, and they learned at this early age that they could become whatever they wanted in their lives. While this gang seemed like just a group of rambunctious little boys, it was truly a lot more than that. This group of boys learned leadership and camaraderie, which led them to become successful adults.
Quentin’s aggressive leadership and imagination continued throughout the rest of his admittedly short life. He displayed leadership qualities wherever he went, including his time in the United States Army Air Service, which concluded with his death over the battlefields of France in July 1918. The little tow headed boy who ran around the White House with his tie not straight wearing torn and baggy clothes is still known around the world today for the courage and energy he displayed from his “White House Gang” days to his final moments defending his country.