Theodore Roosevelt commands the crowds’ attention from the platform on the back of a train at the Holdrege Depot in Holdrege, Nebraska, 1912.
When men were men and campaign posters were ENORMOUS.
So, is everyone else as excited as I am for the new Ken Burns documentary on the Roosevelts??
THE ROOSEVELTS: AN INTIMATE HISTORY chronicles the lives of Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, three members of the most prominent and influential family in American politics. It is the first time in a major documentary television series that their individual stories have been interwoven into a single narrative.
This seven-part, fourteen hour film follows the Roosevelts for more than a century, from Theodore’s birth in 1858 to Eleanor’s death in 1962. Over the course of those years, Theodore would become the 26th President of the United States and his beloved niece, Eleanor, would marry his fifth cousin, Franklin, who became the 32nd President of the United States. Together, these three individuals not only redefined the relationship Americans had with their government and with each other, but also redefined the role of the United States within the wider world.
The series encompasses the history the Roosevelts helped to shape: the creation of National Parks, the digging of the Panama Canal, the passage of innovative New Deal programs, the defeat of Hitler, and the postwar struggles for civil rights at home and human rights abroad. It is also an intimate human story about love, betrayal, family loyalty, personal courage and the conquest of fear.
Teddy Roosevelt chilling on Glacier Point,Yellowstone Valley, California
This romantic 1907 4-postcard puzzle series evokes a certain “Teddy,” “the head of a nation,” though it claims “not the slightest relation.”
The connection between Teddy Roosevelt and teddy bears dates back to a hunting trip in 1902, according to the Theodore Roosevelt Association. After failing to spot a bear during the hunt, anxious guides found an old, injured bear and offered it up to the president. Roosevelt declared it unsportsmanlike and refused to shoot.
After renowned political cartoonist Clifford Berryman heard the story, the first of many cartoons featuring Roosevelt and a small bear debuted in the Washington Post. A candy shop owner in New York who’d seen Berryman’s original cartoon put two homemade stuffed “Teddy’s bears” in his shop window. They were so popular the owner started mass-producing them; meanwhile, at about the same time, German seamstress Margarete Steiff expanded her company’s line of stuffed animals to include bears. An American businessman saw the Steiff bears at the Leipzig Toy Fair in 1903 and ordered 3,000 to be sold back home. The “Teddy” bear was on its way to becoming one of the most popular gifts for kids and significant others.
So if someone gives you a stuffed bear today, just know it’s because Teddy Roosevelt refused to shoot a half-dead bear in 1902. Maybe don’t bring that up right away, though.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Vice-presidential candidate Col. Theodore Roosevelt on a campaign train in Chadron, Nebraska, in 1900
Roosevelt was running with President William McKinley. Garret Hobart, Vice President during McKinley’s first term, died in office in 1899, and Roosevelt was selected at the Republican Convention to run with McKinley.
McKinley defeated William Jennings Bryan in the general election (again). In fact, even Nebraska, Bryan’s home state, went for the McKinley/Roosevelt ticket.
Roosevelt became president in 1901, following President McKinley’s assassination.
Theodore Roosevelt reading aboard the Imperator, returning from Europe, 1914
Roosevelt was a lifelong prodigious reader. In her new book, The Bully Pulpit, Doris Kearns Goodwin writes about William Howard Taft’s amazement at Roosevelt’s ability to find time to read: “He always carried a book with him to the Executive Office, and though there were but few intervals during the business hours, he made the most of them in his reading,” Taft said. Charles Washburn, a classmate of Roosevelt’s from Harvard, remembered, “If he were reading, the house might fall about his head, he could not be diverted.”
Roosevelt himself wrote to his parents during his freshman year at college: “My library has been the greatest possible pleasure to me, as whenever I have any spare time I can immediately take up a book.”
Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division (Flickr)