As a young deputy sheriff in North Dakota, Theodore Roosevelt hunted down dangerous desperadoes, almost got into a duel with a crack shot French aristocrat, and saved a saloon of drinkers by punching out a terrorizing drunkard.
Tales of Theodore Roosevelt: TR and the Navy
A story on how Theodore Roosevelt used naval power to make the U.S. a world power. This lecture includes a discussion of the current drama on the aircraft carrier named after him, the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN17).
A few short answers to question raised during the Tales of Theodore Roosevelt Speaker Series.
A: TR thought he recovered due to his exercise regime. However, this is not likely. I wrote an article for one of the medical journals with a friend of mine who is a world-renowned expert on asthma. Our conclusion was that, as in a great many cases of Type-1 asthma, spontaneous recovery is common in adolescence or young adulthood. I will be posting many of my articles on our website, roosevelt.liu.edu, so keep an eye out for this.
A: Yes, pretty much his whole life. Many of them are published, including those from childhood. They were not very detailed, really mostly just notes. The diaries written during his many hunting trips are quite detailed as to what he shot, where, and biological details about stomach content and such like.
A: Not only did TR write quite a bit about it, but also many others did. Notably, Hermann Hagedorn interviewed many of the participants and wrote a book called Roosevelt in the Bad Lands. Many others did as well, including Lincoln Lang, who wrote a delightful book. There are many other sources such as newspaper articles. Nowadays it seems at least one new book a year comes out on the subject.
A: TR kept many of them, and they are now at Sagamore Hill. Later, especially when he was in Africa, which was a collecting trip for museums, they went to many institutions. All over the country there are heads attributed to TR, but if all these claims are true, TR would have had little time to anything else.
A: Very important. It was here that he came to realize how bad the situation was. The best source for TR and conservation is Doug Brinkley’s wonderful The Wilderness Warrior, TR and the Crusade for America.
A: His full name was Antoine Amedee Marie Vincent Manca, the Marquis de Mores. His father had a number of titles including Duke de Vallombrosa, Duke de Asinara, Count de SanBiorgio and Baron de Tiese, Tissi Ossi and Usini.
A: They met when TR was Governor of New York. Apparently Churchill came away with a positive view of TR, but it was not reciprocated, perhaps because they were so alike in many ways. TR was a good deal older and maybe had less patience for a brash young man who was much like him at that age.
A: I have published an article about this that will soon be posted in the book section of the Theodore Roosevelt Institute home page, roosevelt.liu.edu. For the uninitiated, I recommend five books. To start, Edmund Morris, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt. Then, Edward Wagenknecht, The Seven lives of Theodore Roosevelt, next Cowboys and Kings: Three Great Letters by Theodore Roosevelt, followed by Herman Hagedorn, The Roosevelt Family of Sagamore Hill, and any number of recent biographies. Both Kathy Dalton and H. W. Brands have written good ones.
A: TR paid great attention to this. He worked with a number of artists over the years, but his favorite was Frederic Remington, who did most of his western books. As I mentioned, he staged photos of the capture of the boat thieves and then gave specific instructions to the artist how to block the image and what to include.
A: He on several occasions said it was the Panama Canal, but he was also very proud of a number of other achievements, such as his conservation record and his balancing the relationship between business and labor. It was his progressive record that was important to him.
A: When TR went to Harvard, students did not have majors. Roughly half the courses were prescribed. For the rest, about half of the courses TR took were it what then was called Natural History, and a third were in modern languages. The rest were in various subjects.
A: Different at different times. As a child, Teedie. Alice called him Teddy. After she died, he abandoned that name. Edith called him Theodore. As President he was, of course, Mr. President. In later life, he preferred Colonel.
A: A very difficult and complex subject. The fact of the matter is that early on the conservation movement was mostly driven by hunters. Even today, hunters are major force for conservation. Of course, it is a matter of self interest, but a great many hunters have a deep appreciation for nature and the natural world and want to preserve it. This is a fact than non-hunters often have difficulty appreciating.
A: Because Alice had very limited experience of this trait, and they were in the limelight period of their marriage, I don’t think it had become a problem. Edith knew what she was getting into and made the best of it. She realized she was not going to change him, and I think she appreciated how important it was for him. Nonetheless, it could not have been easy for her.
A: TR had a habit of giving away guns, often to the guides. Some are owned by various members of the family. Others are on public display at places such as Sagamore Hill, TR’s birthplace, the NRA’s museum in Virginia, and in Medora. TR’s famous Holland & Holland elephant gun is at the Frazier Museum in Kentucky.
A: They are separated by many miles, with a postage stamp of property in between at the Elkhorn site location. The North unit, much more remote and less visited, presents a somewhat different experience.
A: I am very sorry that I did not credit the sources of most of the images. I had meant to do so. They come from two terrific books by Rolf Sletten, both of coffee table size and filled with fabulous images and great content. Roosevelt Ranches; The Maltese Cross & the Elkhorn, and Medora; Boom, Bust, and Resurrection. They are available only from the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation at https://medora.com.
A: The site of the Maltese Cross is currently in private hands. The cabin itself has had an interesting career. Many years ago it was moved to the North Dakota State Capitol grounds. Then it went on a national tour. Now it is behind the Theodore Roosevelt National Park visitor center in Medora. The site of the Elkhorn is now part of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, a small site halfway between the South and North Units but accessible by road, albeit unpaved. Only a foundation remains: the building itself was dismembered long ago wood being used elsewhere.
A: Profoundly. At college TR had a very narrow view of his fellow citizens, a privileged one at that. This was knocked out of him in the West, where he grew to respect and appreciate the ordinary American.
A: At the time TR was at Medora, there was no distinction between North and South Dakota, the whole area being Dakota Territory. It is difficult to determine if he was ever in what became the state of South Dakota, but it is, of course, possible. However, certainly he was there later in his life when he met Seth Bullock. We also know he visited South Dakota at least once on campaign trail. Of course, he never saw the carvings at Mount Rushmore as they were started after he died.