Many of you following our Teddy’s Tots feature have no doubt thought to yourselves, “Wow, so these kids were all born in the 1800s, a decade lousy with child mortality rates, and so far all of his children have lived to be older than fifty, and in one case, ninety years old. Didn’t only one of Abraham Lincoln’s four children survive into adulthood?” That’s…yes that’s true. Wow, you know your shit. Well then you probably knew that Teddy Roosevelt’s youngest child was the one to live the shortest? You did?
Well then you also know that Quentin Roosevelt managed to fit more badass in twenty years of life than most professional bear wrestlers. That’s why we are proud to present, the sixth and final chapter in the Teddy’s Tots series, with…
Quentin Roosevelt Was The Favorite
With children named Kermit, Archibald, and Quentin, you have to wonder if the 1800’s didn’t know how to name people, or if Teddy Roosevelt liked giving his kids impossibly frustrating names. The answer likely falls somewhere in between. Quentin Roosevelt was deemed the favorite of Teddy’s children by the totally infallible reasoning of Wikipedia, which is good enough for us.
Now, just to get you in the right mindset, you see that picture at the top of the page? That Quentin looking adorable in a cowboy hat on the White House lawn. Born in 1897, Quentin was only 3 years old when Teddy Roosevelt became president. Scientifically, human children use up about 74% of their adorableness by the age of 4, and Quentin was no exception. Teddy Roosevelt nicknamed Quentin “Quentyquee” and “Quinikins” and we can’t fault him for that, because look at that picture at the top of this page dammit! That was Quentin with Rosewell Pickney, one of the boys who would play with Quentin in a group that Teddy Roosevelt referred to as the “White House Gang.”
You read that right, he was part of a desegregated early 20th group of children called the “White House Gang,” meaning that at this point in his life he was already more impressive than you. Imagine the Little Rascals, only instead of being known for having a cowlick, they carved an unauthorized baseball diamond in the White House lawn, shot spitballs at presidential portraits, and hurled snowballs at secret service agents. Holy shit why is there not a movie about The White House Gang that we can watch every day starting right now?
Also, if you do a google image search for “White House Gang” your dreams will be haunted forever.
At one point, when his brother Archie was sick, Quentin brought up a pony by elevator because he was convinced it would make his brother feel better. Again, say it with us folks, “Awwww.”
Okay, now to get to the badass Roosevelt stuff. Of course Quentin was intellectually gifted, and of course Quentin went to Harvard. Of course for those of you good with math, you…well no, that’s right, none of here are good with Math, but people tell us that he was at a proper fighting age right around the point when World War I became a shit show. And Teddy Roosevelt was all about killing him some Germans, but the man said he was too old to do it.
So Quentin went instead.
Now, if we’ve learned anything from the First Kid, largely considered to be the Citizen Kane of 1990s white house comedies starring Sinbad, it’s not easy being the President’s son. You have to dodge secret service agents to feel like you have a normal social life, and sometimes former secret service agents kidnap you and you have to be saved from the slowest moving bullet in the world by a diving comedian. Also, generally you might have to fight against the perception that you’ve been coddled your whole life.
When Quentin joined up with US Air Force servicemen in France (originally as a mechanic, but realizing that it was a lot harder to be badass as a Mechanic, he began flying) many of his soldiers expected him to be pompous and spoiled. While being the son of an American president might spoil most American children, given the fact that Teddy Roosevelt most likely taught all of his children to walk by using real, unleashed lions, the Roosevelts were largely immune from this weakness of character. Needless to say, Quentin would go on to become one of the most popular members of the 94th Aero Squadron. He was particularly known as being what is commonly referred to as “one ballsy motherfucker.”
He could beat your ass even as a 13 year old, and he knew it
To quote Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, the commander of his unit, “He was reckless to such a degree that his commanding officers had to caution him repeatedly about the senselessness of his lack of caution.” Basically that’s military talk for, “Dude was crazy.”
And dude was crazy. Just four days after scoring a confirmed kill, Quentin became the youngest Roosevelt to die, at the age of 20. While over France, Quentin was part of a small attachment of four airplanes. Now, before we go any further, keep in mind that Quentin Roosevelt decided to fly World War I era planes. Planes had only existed for 17 years at this point, so basically Quentin was strapped onto a milk crate and balsa wood strapped with guns. When they encountered seven German planes, Quentin said, “That’s all you got?”
He began attacking the German planes in a way that one German (yes, German) newspaper described by saying that Quentin, “in particular persisted in attacking.” In case you were wondering how much it takes to down a Roosevelt, the answer is “twenty bullets to his plane, and two bullets to his head.”
And so ended the youngest of the Roosevelt children, but in his death he again illustrated the impressive nature of the Roosevelt clan. Because not only was he heralded for his bravery in his final battle, receiving the Croix de Guerre from the French, but he was buried by the Germans…with full military honors. When German officials tried passing out postcards about how Roosevelt had died, they were quickly recalled as German citizens became enraged, since they had respect for both Teddy Roosevelt (because, obvi) and for the fact that his son died in the line of duty.
And despite the great sadness this loss cast upon the Roosevelt family, there’s something satisfying about it too. That the youngest of Roosevelt’s children could still help defeat the Germans, even in death, and his legacy remains to this very day.