The news of Theodore Roosevelt’s death was a terrible shock to his family and friends and the nation he had dedicated his life to serving. The home where he spent his last night was in Oyster Bay, Long Island, where Roosevelt was considered a pillar of the community. After the news of his death broke, flags in the town flew at half-mast.
Roosevelt’s death was shared among his close friends and family by telegram. Per Presidential History, his son, Archibald, sent a message to his brothers in Europe, stating: “The old lion is dead.” Meanwhile, Roosevelt was given a bold farewell in American newspapers, the obituaries of which heralded his achievements as the leader of the Rough Riders cavalry troop during the Spanish-American War and, later, as the nation’s president. He had also made his name in later life as an explorer, which rounded off the image of Roosevelt as the definitive man of action.
For many, Roosevelt’s sudden and unexpected death in his sleep was an ill-fitting end for so dynamic and energetic a figure. However, his friend Thomas Marshall, who was vice president at the time of Roosevelt’s death, suggested (per New York State Library): “Death had to take him sleeping. For if Roosevelt had been awake, there would have been a fight.”