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Washington's banner, and their purses were wide open to further the cause of independence.
Theodore Roosevelt the elder was a merchant and banker; a man broad in his views and filled with the spirit of genuine philanthropy. He founded one of the hospitals of the city and was at one time chairman of the State Board of Charities. A story is told of him which is probably true. One day Charles Loring Brace came to him for financial assistance in establishing homes for the little waifs of the city.
“I will see what I can do,” said Mr. Roosevelt. “But you know that just at present I am busy with other charitable works.”
“I know that,” said Mr. Brace. “But what I ask for is very much needed. The waifs and poor, homeless newsboys have no shelter."
The next day, when returning from the establishment in which he was a partner, Mr. Roosevelt came upon a newsboy sitting on a doorstep, crying bitterly.
“What is the matter, my little man ?” he asked.
“ I lost me money; it dropped down into de sewer hole!” sobbed the ragged urchin. “Every cent of it is gone."
Mr. Roosevelt questioned the lad and found out that the boy had no home and that his only relative was a longshoreman who was hardly ever sober. He gave the lad some money to replace the amount lost, and the next day sent word to Mr. Brace that he would do all he possibly could toward establishing the waifs' shelters that were so much needed. The Newsboys' Lodging House of New York City is one of the results of Mr. Roosevelt's practical charities. He also did much to give criminals a helping hand when they came from prison, stating that that was the one time in their lives when they most needed help, for fear they might slip back into their previous bad habits.
In 1853 Theodore Roosevelt the elder married Miss Martha Bullock, of Roswell, Cobb County, Georgia. Miss Bullock was the daughter of Major James S. Bullock and a direct descendant of Archibald Bullock, the first governor of Georgia. It will thus be seen that the future President had
both Northern and Southern blood in his make-up, and it may be added here that during the terrible Civil War his relatives were to be found both in the Union and the Confederate ranks. Mrs. Roosevelt was a strong Southern sympathizer, and when a certain gathering, during the Civil War, was in progress at the Roosevelt city home, she insisted upon displaying a Confederate flag at one of the windows.
“I am afraid it will make trouble,” said Mr. Roosevelt; and he was right. Soon a mob began to gather in the street, clamoring that the flag be taken down.
“I shall not take it down,” said Mrs. Roosevelt, bravely. “ The room is mine, and the flag is mine. I love it, and nobody shall touch it. Explain to the crowd that I am a Southern woman and that I love my country.”
There being no help for it, Mr. Roosevelt went to the front door and explained matters as best he could. A few in the crowd grumbled, but when Mrs. Roosevelt came to the window and looked down on the gathering, one after another the men went away, and she and her flag remained unmolested.
Theodore Roosevelt, the future President, was one of a family of four. He had a brother Elliott and two sisters. His brother was several years younger than himself, but much more robust, and would probably have lived many years and have distinguished himself, had he not met death in a railroad accident while still a young man.
In the years when Theodore Roosevelt was a boy, New York City was not what it is today. The neighborhood in which he lived was, as I have already mentioned, a fashionable one, and the same may be said of many other spots near to Union Square, where tall business blocks were yet unknown. The boys and girls loved to play in the little park and on the avenue, and here it was that the rather delicate schoolboy grew to know Edith Carew, who lived in Fourteenth Street and who was his school companion. Little did they dream in those days, as they played together, that one day he would be President and she his loving wife, the mistress of the White House.
Mr. Roosevelt was a firm believer in public institutions, and he did not hesitate to send his children to the public schools, espe
cially his boys, that they might come in direct personal contact with the great outside world. So to a near-by institution of learning Theodore and Elliott trudged day after day, with their school-books under their arms, just as thousands of other schoolboys are doing to-day. But in those days there were few experiments being tried in the schools, and manual training and the like were unknown. The boys were well grounded in reading, writing, and arithmetic, as well as spelling, history, and geography, and there was great excitement when a “spelling-bee” was in progress, to see who could spell the rest of the class or the gathering down.
It is said upon good authority that Theodore Roosevelt was a model scholar from the start. He loved to read Cooper's “Leatherstocking Tales,” and works of travel, and preferred books above anything else. But when he found that constant studying was ruining his constitution, he determined to build himself up physically as well as mentally.
In the summer time the family often went to the old Roosevelt “out of town”