Thursday, June 29, 2017

Roosevelt and Churchill in the Heroic Age

I have been reading Hero of the Empire by Candace Millard and it hit me that the similarities between Winston Churchill and Theodore Roosevelt are many. Both men came of age in the Heroic Age of Shackleton and Scott the two polar explorers who set the bar for suffering and death with their exploration of the South Pole. The Heroic Age can be defined as men of a certain patrician class feeling it is their destiny to explore, fight, or rule. The heroic man knows not fear and usually puts himself in grave danger.

Take Winston Churchill in the Boar war where he is attacked on a troop train and by all rights should have died there. This is when he was a war corespondent who really should not have even been fighting but he wanted to find war and test himself and he ended up being captured. Once captured Churchill makes a daring escape and goes on the run. The fact he could be shot and killed at any moment is negated by the heroic mans feeling that he is special and Gods Will shall keep him safe. In Churchill's case this seems to be true.

Much the same for Teddy Roosevelt who goes west after his wife and mother die on the same day in 1883 and ends up in the Badlands ;a place Custer called hell with the fires out and then puts himself through every test a young dude from the East could find with the possibility of death or great injury. Fighting Indians, badmen, blizzards, heat, stampeding cattle, swollen rivers, wild horses, Roosevelt cheats death at every turn...yet he comes out unscathed. He has the sense he will not be harmed and three years later he returns to the East to eventually become President as  Churchill returns to become England's greatest prime minister.

The Heroic Age ended as modernism moved in. Men were no longer heroic, they were mortal. Such a pity.

Forging A President How the Wild West Created Teddy Roosevelt

Books by William Hazelgrove