Hero, Champion of Social Justice, Benign Friend: Theodore Roosevelt in American Memory
European Journal of American Studies , Volume 13 - Issue 2 p. 1- 21
Following scholarship that suggests that societies crave continuity in their collective memories,
this article identifies recurring themes in American memories of Theodore Roosevelt as an
intensely masculine leader, a champion of social justice, and a loveable character. Memories of
Roosevelt since his death have not been static. Leftist scholars and activists have contributed to
counter-memories of TR as chauvinist, racist, and a dangerous imperialist.
The interplay between memories and counter-memories of Theodore Roosevelt suggests that while cultural pluralism enables a multiplicity of memories to flourish within American society, it does not ensure that counter-memories expand beyond those who generate them. The resilience of memories of Roosevelt as a hero, champion, and friend is indicative of durable qualities in Americans’ selfimage.