chapter  16
13 Pages

Theodore Roosevelt and the British Empire

It is appropriate that we should pay tribute to the memory of a great President of the United States who was also a Doctor of this University. It is further appropriate that this tribute should be paid at Rhodes House, for one of the engagements that Roosevelt fulfilled when he visited Oxford on June 7, 1910, to receive his honorary degree from the Chancellor, Lord Curzon, was to take lunch with the American Club. In the course of his speech to the Club, Roosevelt said that he noticed that his audience was largely composed of Rhodes Scholars, and that he wished to take the opportunity of expressing on behalf of the American people ‘their very deep sense of obligation for what Mr Rhodes did and for what those who were carrying out his bequest were doing in bringing to this ancient University Americans as they had brought Canadians and Australians’.2 It is true that we now know that Roosevelt’s enthusiasm for Oxford was a little less than he made it out to be at the time, since he wrote in a private letter: ‘In Oxford I of course enjoyed visiting four or five of the colleges. The whole life was charming with an old-world flavour very attractive to me as an onlooker-I cannot understand any American failing to find it attractive as an onlooker, and on the other hand I cannot understand any American caring to be educated there rather than at one of his own universities.’3