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)
Teddy Roosevelt speaks at the 1902 Charleston South Carolina Exposition
On August 13, people in Brownsville, Texas, were outraged when a bartender was shot and a policeman injured. White residents blamed men from the Twenty-Fifth Infantry, a regiment of “Buffalo Soldiers" stationed at Fort Brown.
Despite dubious witnesses and contradictory evidence - and the fact that white commanders on the base said the black infantrymen were in their barracks at the time - Roosevelt ordered 167 soldiers dishonorably discharged, stripping them of their salaries, pensions and military honors. Roosevelt was widely criticized but never backed down.
Years later, work by an investigative journalist prompted Congress to commission a new study, and led the Army to reverse the order in 1972 and grant honorable discharges. Only one solder was living at the time, Dorsie Willis, who received $25,000.
Quick, nobody smile! Teddy Roosevelt and his sons sit somewhat morosely for a photo in New York in 1904.
Cool button from Teddy Roosevelt’s winning 1898 campaign for governor of New York.
Via the Clinton Ivan Winslow Political Memorabilia Collection in the Goucher College Library Special Collections