The North Shore was front and center on Fox Nation's "What Made America Great," this past Saturday. This popular series, on the subscription-only Fox streaming station, selected Oyster Bay's Sagamore Hill as lead episode of the its fourth season.
The host of "What Made America Great," Brian Kilmeade, explained the decision to tour Sagamore Hill, the residence for 34 years of U.S. President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt. Roosevelt, one of four American presidents featured on Mount Rushmore, has been of heightened interest to historians and the general American public for over a century. And Kilmeade noted that Roosevelt's Queen Anne mansion at Sagamore Hill, located on the Cove Neck peninsula of Oyster Bay, provided keys that might help in unlocking his character.
"I am in awe of the effort and how detail oriented all involved were to make Teddy’s house look almost exactly like it did when he lived there," Kilmeade stated to the Leader, "Overall, his sense of adventure amid accomplishments are everywhere. You can see how he liked to compete, loved to learn and lived for the next great experience. Knowing he read every book on his wall and could recall the text through a photographic memory is astounding. The original travel suitcases which were trunks also give you the sense there was much left to do."
In fact, the character of Teddy Roosevelt, who served as the 26th president of the U.S. from 1901 until 1919, is evident throughout the house. It is evident, obviously, in the numerous animal heads and skins numbering which can be found throughout the house. The value Roosevelt placed on experience and vitality may be noted by the fact that almost all the trophy subjects were personally hunted by him.
President Roosevelt's passions may be noted in smaller details of the house as well. The name Sagamore Hill comes from the last Native American occupant, Sagamore Mohannis, who deeded the property to the British. It was no accident that President Roosevelt, who had a passion for history, chose Sagamore as the name of the house. Or that he kept the actual deed at issue.
Sagamore Hill was well known as the "Summer White House," during Roosevelt's two-term presidency. This was an unusual base of Executive Office operations during a time-period when presidents lightened their workloads during the summer months. True to form, Roosevelt found the usual practice "inefficient." In fact, it was at Sagamore HIll that Roosevelt brokered the peace treaty ending the Russo-Japanese War. "Not sure there is any (other) statesman that could pull it off," Kilmeade suggests, "but if there was a great leader he would have to come from the United States."
Roosevelt's presidency marked a transition of America. He entered the presidency of a stable democracy increasing in size and wealth but considered culturally inferior to Europe. He left his successor a country with a booming economy, the world's largest, which was accepting over one million immigrants a year. "What attracted those millions is opportunity in America and for the most part running from repression in their nations," Kilmeade explains. "Most of all, people want to break out of their predetermined life. Without freedom and democracy, you stay where you are born, you answer to military and or government. Still people line up to come here which makes you realize how lucky we are to be Americans."
Brian Kilmeade was joined in his What Made America Great visit to Sagamore Hill by Tweed Roosevelt, the great-grandson of the twenty-sixth President. Tweed Roosevelt offered reflections on times spent at the home during his childhood.
Sagamore Hill was listed on the National Registry of Historic Places on October 15, 1966. It is currently managed by the National Park Service. Today a highly popular visitor destination, it -- thankfully -- lacks the local impact it would have as the summer residence of a twenty-first century president.
"Today a president summering in Oyster Bay would virtually grind traffic and movement to halt especially when that president decided to shop, tan or fish! I imagine security could make it work and in the long run would bring more revenue and recognition to the region. I think Sagamore Hill would have to triple in size and provide tons of housing for security, but there's no better place to be than Long Island in the summer!"
Brian Kilmeade's own roots in Long Island go deep. The host of "What Made America Great" graduated Massapequa High School and, in Brookville, C.W. Post University. Today, Mr. Kilmeade continues to live on Long Island. In addition to "What Made America Great," he co-hosts the Fox flagship station morning show, Fox and Friends, appears as a frequent guest on other Fox episodes, and hosts a radio program on WABC radio. He has authored or coauthored no less than six books, including last year's Sam Houston and the Alamo Avengers: The Texas Victory That Changed American History.
For upcoming episodes of "What Made America Great," Mr. Kilmeade travels to U.S. locations with significant wartime connections, including Fort Sumter, South Caroline; Saratoga, New York; and Newburgh, New York, where George Washington headquartered during the Revolutionary War. Fox Nation is available by subscription and includes thousands of hours of original content which may streamed by subscribers anytime on televisions, desktops, or mobile devices.