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Edward O’Keefe, "The Loves of Theodore Roosevelt: The Women Who Created a President"

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We love to think of Theodore Roosevelt as a self-made man. The new book, The Loves of Theodore Roosevelt: The Women Who Created a President explores this myth through the lens of the many women who influenced him. We visit with author Edward O'Keefe, CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt President Library Foundation.

Transcript of the interview:

Ashley Thornberg

Well, let's talk about what happens when an author thinks he's going to write one book and then ends up writing a different book, which is what happened in your case because of this group of letters that was discovered, which, I mean, frankly, is kind of a biographer's dream. Take me back to those moments.

Edward O'Keefe

Well, Ashley, as you can appreciate, growing up in North Dakota, sometimes you have a surfeit of heroes. And I, of course, I greatly admire and love Peggy Lee and Lawrence Welk and Roger Maris and Phil Jackson and all of our great heroes in North Dakota. But I have always favored Theodore Roosevelt.

And so I thought that I would try to write the story of Theodore Roosevelt in the Badlands, how North Dakota played such a seminal role in and really the fulcrum of the hero's journey in his life. But as you say, when I began my research, I knew about Theodore Roosevelt's mother, two sisters and two wives, of course, Mitty, Bammy, Conie, Alice and Edith. But, but I encountered these amazing letters when you read what we, especially what Bammy and TR write back and forth to another, one another, they, you know, it was, it was like what Robert F.

Kennedy is to John F. Kennedy. I mean, it was a strategic relationship, not just siblings.

They were really looking at the political chessboard and trying to figure out what the right next move was in his career. And, you know, I just, I thought, whoa, I mean, this is a story that hasn't been told and, and absolutely these women deserve to come out of the shadows.

Ashley Thornberg

Yeah. I'm going to do something that I've never done before, which is take a little bit of a risk here and, and at risk of offending you, there is a sentence in the book that says, I encountered something unexpected. Theodore Roosevelt was not the impossibly hardy self-made man of myth and lore.

Far from it. The most masculine president in American memory was in fact the product of a largely unsung and certainly extraordinary women. And I wrote, well, duh.

And, and I feel like I'm saying that on behalf of women everywhere.

Edward O'Keefe

Well, I think that's it though. Right, Ashley. I mean, I had this extraordinary conversation with Dr. Kathleen Dalton, who for my money wrote the best single volume biography of Theodore Roosevelt to date, A Strenuous Life. And I, and in her book, she talks a lot about the women in the progressive viewpoints of TR, his reform minded agenda and where that might've come from. And I said to Kathy, who was kind enough to open her home to me and share research and answer questions. I said, why is it that we have not been able to see Theodore Roosevelt as anything but the product of his own will as a self-made man?

And she instantly answered time. She said, just people were not ready to see Theodore Roosevelt in that way. Of course, these women have always been a part of the story, but they, you know, they also intentionally obscured their roles.

I mean, these letters that you referenced that, that I discovered, you know, 11 of those letters were locked in a safe since 1954 and Greg Wynn, uh, the president of the Theodore Roosevelt association just so happened to open that safe and out came, um, these amazing letters that are, are recorded for the first time in the loves of Theodore Roosevelt, 24 letters between Theodore and Alice were not available to Edmund Morris and David McCullough.

When they wrote their books in the late 1970s and 1980s. So, you know, sometimes it takes, it, it, history reveals itself over time. And I think that's what happened in the loves of Theodore Roosevelt.

Ashley Thornberg

Yeah. I'm going to ask you this here because you studied government and psychology at Georgetown. So speaking as at least a psych student here, what do you think is with that myth though, of the self-made man and why it hung on for so long?

Edward O'Keefe

Well, I think there's a whole series of kind of complex answers to that. Let's start with Theodore Roosevelt's mother, Mittie. I mean, Mittie is this very, uh, intelligent, fierce, um, independent, coy, witty woman, and in Thee, her husband says to Mittiein a letter, do not become a strong, good, strong minded woman.

Well, that's impossible, right? She's already a strong, she's born a strong minded woman, right? Nice try.

Exactly. And, but you know, the, what she had in these two daughters, Bambi and Conie, Theodore Roosevelt's older sister and younger sister is another, another fascinating conversation I had with, with Betty Caroli. She wrote the Roosevelt women, which are a series of vignettes about the entire Roosevelt family and many of the descendants, not just the TR line, but the FDR line as well.

And, you know, Betty has really looked at this idea that, um, that the women in his life were, uh, were, were such an essential part of his identity that they, they, I think to your question on the psychological dimension, that it was, it was, it was, it was his mother, Mittie, who understood that she needed to step back and to allow the daughters to step forward and succeed. That she actually did a service to them by not dominating. And, and that they, you know, Betty observes that they're, you know, that's not all for not all daughters with incredible extraordinary mothers are so fortunate to have someone as intuitive and understanding as Middy.

And then just briefly, I'll say as Theodore Roosevelt gets older, it's his father who will say, you must make your body in order to keep up with your mind, your mind cannot go as far without a sound body. And that's interesting because it comes at that sort of turn into adolescence. He begins to reject his mother.

You know, it's Mittie who sues every cough and every feather. She, Mittieis the one who is literally massaging Theodore Roosevelt's chest to make sure the blood comes out. So he doesn't choke in his sleep.

I mean, TR has these dreams as a child about the devil coming and taking him away. That's how close he is to, to death as a child. And his mother is the one who saves him.

And then of course, like most adolescents, he has this moment and rejects her.

Ashley Thornberg

You're right.

Edward O'Keefe

And then become, you know, right. They individuate and his father becomes this all important figure in his life. And then his father dies at age 20.

You know, this, this, as if he weren't heroic and mythic enough, his father dying at age 20 just takes him to a new echelon and sets his mother aside.

Ashley Thornberg

Yeah. Well, there's a great lyric in a, in an iron and wine song. There's never been a mother's heart less than black and blue.

Edward O'Keefe

Exactly. Well, that would be Mittie Roosevelt. And just like every mother, uh, underappreciated and yet so essential to his

Ashley Thornberg

success, You know, I wonder in the writing of this book and so much of what the people who love Theodore Roosevelt love Theodore Roosevelt for though, is that rugged masculinity, the man escaped to death just an unbelievable amount of times and, and was sickly and grew into a guy that we hold up as, you know, the quintessential Western, especially American man in writing this and in sort of deconstructing his identity, did it challenge what words like masculinity and manly mean to you?

Edward O'Keefe

Absolutely. I mean, I changed my conceptual understanding of Theodore Roosevelt. And I think, you know, again, to return to that idea of why now and duh, it's, it's sort of like, well, you know, now we are able to look at our heroes in a, in a more fulsome light, we can see their mistakes.

We can see that people around them that played roles in their development. You know, I, I grew up with the myth you're describing. I mean, that's part of the ethos of, you know, that, that Western identity, as you said, and I don't think it diminishes Theodore Roosevelt one bit to understand that his mother, his sisters, and his wives were there to pick him up and propel him forward.

I mean, if we are fortunate in life, we all have a mother or a father or brothers or sisters, cousins, grandparents, colleagues, friends that, that know when we are down and out, that they are there for us and push us forward. And Theodore Roosevelt was no different.

Ashley Thornberg

We're visiting today with Edward O'Keefe, the author of The Loves of Theodore Roosevelt, The Women Who Created a President. Edward, I want to go back to something you said a few moments ago, when you were talking about this cache of letters being available to you and they weren't available to biographers working in the 80s and 90s. What did you take into consideration, given that when it comes to sometimes historians and biographers have to correct or maybe put a finer point on the work of those that came before them?

How did that factor into your writing process?

Edward O'Keefe

Well, Ashley, as you know, I spent 20 years in journalism and media, and I felt in those roles, I was always writing the first draft of history, right? The instant reaction to whatever had just happened. And then, of course, historians would come and get more contextual information and things would become available that weren't known at the time.

And the longer I've worked on The Loves of Theodore Roosevelt, the more I realize history is whatever you can discover and interpret in the moment that you are writing it. I mean, I think, again, that these extraordinary women that I explore in The Loves of Theodore Roosevelt have always been a part of the story, but they didn't want to be the central characters. Edith, Theodore Roosevelt's wife of 32 years, burned many of the letters between them.

She had seen, I mean, the day she died, her daughter, Ethel, had discovered her burning letters. And Ethel struggled for many years. What should we do with these letters since we know that mom didn't want them revealed?

She was trying to intentionally destroy them. Bammy kept the letters that she had sent to Theodore locked in her home, in a safe, so they couldn't be discovered until she passed and her subsequent family members began going through them and giving them to places like Harvard. And, you know, they all wanted to put their energy in a single person, Theodore, and they too perpetuated the myth.

His sisters, Bammy and Conie, were singularly responsible for really enshrining Theodore Roosevelt as a top five president. After he died, they worked very hard to establish memorials in New York to restore the boyhood home, to work with Edith to eventually make Sagamore Hill a part of the National Park System. It was a part of the TRA for a while.

But they, they, they, I think, you know, it was said of Bammy by Alice Roosevelt Longworth that had she been a man, she, not Theodore Roosevelt, would have been president of the United States. And none other than Eleanor Roosevelt agreed with that assessment. That's pretty extraordinary to think about.

You know, FDR said of Edith, his wife, that she managed TR very cleverly without his being conscious of it. No slight achievement anyone will concede. So you have to wonder what these women would have done.

They lived extraordinary lives on their own. But what they would have done in another time, in another place where they had more rights and more paths of their own.

Ashley Thornberg

Well, there's a telling line in one of the letters, too. We've had a great time being a governor of New York, haven't we?

Edward O'Keefe

Isn't that amazing? And that's to his sister, Conie. You know, Conie and Theodore would take advantage of the sexism and misogyny of the age.

The bosses of New York would come and have breakfast at the home of his sister and then say, all right, everybody clear out. I need time with the governor. And Theodore would say, well, certainly, certainly my sister can stay.

I mean, what, what, what could a woman learn from all of this? And she'd sit and she'd sew in the corner and she'd hear everything. And when the boss left, she and her brother would think about what was said.

They would strategize on what he should do next. And then, of course, as you said, the quote is, haven't we had fun being governor of New York? I mean, think about that.

That's how Theodore Roosevelt thought of his younger sister, Conie, as almost a co-governor of the state of New York. Nobody could have you wouldn't know that from the history that's been written. And I think we we correct in identifying the loves of Theodore Roosevelt.

Ashley Thornberg

And you also talk a great deal about, you know, Theodore was not the only sibling to have to overcome some severe childhood illnesses and conditions. So talk a little bit more about the strength and resiliency that was modeled for him in this make the body strong and resilient and use that to bolster the mind.

Edward O'Keefe

Again, it's his sister, Bamie. I mean, she comes up at every turn when you're talking to Bamie, his older sister, three years older. She had suffered a spinal defect.

So serious was this defect in her spine that her grandmother observed that Bamie could not stand for more than 30 seconds before a countenance of pain would overcome her and she'd crumble to the ground. And yet she willed her way through pain. She taught, Bamie taught, T.R., one of the most important qualities that we identify with him, this physical ability to will himself through pain. And Mittie, Mittie's the source of his personality. And Mittie teaches him the other great lesson of his life, which is to live for the living, not for the dead. After Thi, his father, dies, Mittie goes on.

She's in literary salons. She's a part of Society in New York. And she instills in her children this, this ethos, this motto, live for the living, not for the dead, that you dishonor your father if you don't live a life of your own.

And so think about that, two women in his life, his mother, Mittie, who teaches him that resilience and his sister, Bamie, who teaches him to physically will through pain.

Ashley Thornberg

I mean, two things that we most identify with T.R. We're visiting today with Edward O'Keefe about his new book, The Loves of Theodore Roosevelt, The Women Who Created a President. And Roosevelt is famous for saying, were it not for his time in N.D., he would not have become president. You make an argument that he could have said, were it not for Alice Lee, he would not have been president.

Talk about the trajectory that he ends up on, in large part to try to keep up with the Joneses. And by Joneses, I mean Lees.

Edward O'Keefe

Yes, exactly. And I mean, Alice Hathaway Lee is the most eligible bachelorette in Boston. She is a Brahmin.

She comes from this extraordinary family, the Lees. And I love this. The Boston toast is in The Loves of Theodore Roosevelt.

And this is good old Boston, the home of the bean and the cod, where the Lowell's talk only to the Cabot's and the Cabot's talk only to God. She's one of the Cabot's. I mean, think about that.

And, you know, here's a Knickerbocker from New York, Knickerbocker coming from Washington Irvings, a satirical history of New York in 1821. That term catches on to kind of define these original members of the aristocracy that come over to establish New Amsterdam and are the old wealth of the country. But they don't mix.

I mean, Boston, a Brahmin comes from the Sanskrit for the highest caste of Hindu priests. Right. So Knickerbockers do not mix with Brahmins.

Just this is true today, Bostonians and New Yorkers. Right. Exactly.

Exactly. This manifests in baseball. Exactly.

It was no mean feat for Theodore Roosevelt to break and to try to win the hand of the most eligible bachelorette in all of Boston of a different society and class. And this is not the Theodore Roosevelt we know from Mount Rushmore. Right.

He's he's geeky. He's a naturalist. The words describing Theodore by his college classmates are not complimentary.

Crazy. Right. He's got he I mean, they say things about him that you can't believe they're talking about Theodore Roosevelt.

He smelled of formaldehyde. He would have specimens and he was, you know, and he had specimens in various stages of decay in his pockets. I can't imagine he was the most, you know, I don't I don't think Alice always thought that he was the greatest suitor.

Let's put it that way. Two years. He wills his way through this.

He spends tens of thousands of dollars wooing Alice. He you know, he he finds a way and she sees something in him that others don't potential. And it takes again, Mitty, Bambi and Conie.

He calls in the reinforcements. He calls in his family. And I think Alice fell in love not just with Theodore Roosevelt, but with this extraordinary Roosevelt family and these women that she knew she would join if she joined the family.

And so once again, he relied on the women in his life to to accomplish something. And, you know, she's a progressive. She's a reform minded woman from this progressive Brahmin family.

It is with Alice that Theodore writes this incredible 1880 senior thesis in which he endorses suffrage 40 years before the 19th Amendment. He says that women should be judges and lawyers, that they should own property, that they should not necessarily take their husband's maiden name upon marriage. I mean, these are really advanced thoughts in 1880.

And, you know, when Alice dies, some of that fire of progressivism and reform for a while, it dies with her. The embers are there and will flare up again in 1912 and beyond. But without Alice, he lost some of that progressive viewpoint early in his career.

Ashley Thornberg

Did you have a favorite of all the women that you explored in this book?

Edward O'Keefe

I've spent five years with Mittie, Bamie, Conie, Edith and Alice, they each bring something so different to him. I mean, you couldn't find two more opposite women on the face of the planet than Alice Hathaway Lee and Edith Kermit Carreau. Bamie is just I mean, Theodore says it.

She's the feminine atlas on which the world rests on her shoulders. Conie is sympathetic and empathetic. I love what Eleanor Roosevelt says about Bamie and Conie.

I mean, she says you went to Bamie for advice and you went to Conie for empathy or sympathy. You know, so I see each of them as a different part of the story. I mean, you know, my heart goes out to Alice because she's so maligned in history as really inconsequential.

She's I mean, there are there are authors who say the best service she ever delivered to Theodore was was dying, was leaving and allowing him to bury his adolescence with her. Right. It's it's tough.

It's some tough stuff. Right. Like that was the crucible in the in the hero's journey.

And, you know, there's a poetic kind of romanticism to losing. I mean, think about when when Theodore Roosevelt's father dies, he writes, I don't know who will possibly replace my father in my life. The only person I could possibly imagine is a wife.

And he says, I hope she is a rare and radiant maiden. He's quoting … Poe, which was not necessarily of the times. I mean, Poe was a scandal ridden, kind of maligned author at that point.

He wasn't the Edgar Allan Poe that's revered now in American literary criticism and literature. So the fact that he liked Poe says something about his taste and his outlook. But he surmises about a rare and radiant maiden.

That's from the Raven, you know, extant, never more a dead lover. So there is some poeticism and romanticism in this incredibly tragic story. But of course, he was devastated when Alice died.

He really, truly didn't know what he was going to do with his life. And, you know, who knows what he would have done with her had she lived. But in the four years they were together, in his own words, he rose like a rocket.

Right. He wrote The Naval War of 1812. He was elected the youngest member of the New York State Assembly.

I mean, he had incredible success with Alice. And then he doesn't hold elected office for 15 years after her death. He only lives to 60.

That's one quarter of his life. That's a pretty profound influence. So I don't think I've answered your question because I love them all so much.

I get if you put a gun to my head, I'd say Bamie. And then I just have a real soft spot for Alice because I think she's so misunderstood and maligned in history.

Ashley Thornberg

I want to talk a little bit more about just the process of writing a biography. And, you know, I was kind of taken aback when you said that. Some people say the best thing that Alice ever did was die.

And so that he could bury that adolescence, because there is sort of an ethical consideration that you have to take into account when you are writing these books and when you say what you're going to say about this. And one thing that really stood out to me in the book is talking about diary entries that had clearly been blotted out. But now with modern technology, we can start to read what had been written under that scribbled out.

Is everything fair game because he was a public figure?

Edward O'Keefe

Well, that's a great question. I mean, I think Theodore Roosevelt certainly toward the end of his life knew that he was a great historical figure and that whatever he wrote was going to be reviewed by historians to come. I mean, he famously would write what his children called posterity letters, which were not really letters sent to his children for their benefit.

They were sort of written for the benefit of time because no father would speak as he would to them in these letters. But that was much later in life. I mean, of course, when he's in college, he might think himself a person of destiny, but no way he could have ever known that his diaries would someday be picked over and combed over by every historian for every morsel of goodness that they deliver.

I mean, I think it's fair game in the sense that, you know, again, history is constantly reinterpreted. We're constantly thinking about what does this mean and what did the context of the time? What did the time say now?

I mean, I think that when it comes to the technology allowing us to see things that T.R. intentionally blotted out or ripped out of his diary, obviously those are things he didn't necessarily want to record for history. But on the other hand, they tell something about what he's feeling at that moment. And the passages you're referring to in The Loves of Theodore Roosevelt are when he's very frustrated during the courtship of Alice.

You know, he had had a rupturous, terrible split from his childhood sweetheart, Edith. I mean, think about this. His first love is really his second wife, Edith.

They grow up together from three years on until he is 60 years old. They know each other for 57 years of Theodore Roosevelt's life. That's pretty extraordinary.

Everyone expects Edith and T.R. to get married, to be engaged. And something happens. August 22nd, 1878, there's an unexplained rift between them.

Now, this is a question history hasn't been able to answer because there's no record of it. The only thing that Theodore Roosevelt ever said is that we had and perhaps have tempers far from being the best. And Edith said of the occasion that Theodore had simply not been nice and will later claim that he proposed and she rejected him, which seems highly unlikely.

But it all goes back to that blot. That blot follows these events with Edith. He's had this rupturous split with the woman he thought he was going to marry.

He meets Alice and he's trying to court her. He's trying to win her and he can't. He's frustrated.

He's failing. What is he feeling? What does that mean?

What does it do to his determination? That inkblot, revealed now for the first time with new technology, tells us something about Theodore Roosevelt's state of mind. Because he literally, I mean, he almost lost his mind while pursuing Alice.

He would roam the woods of Cambridge, threatening to duel any rival suitors. I mean, his cousin had to come to Cambridge to take him back to rest in New York because he was so upset about the possibility of losing her. He's a very emotional, impulsive person.

And you need to knit those, you know, that becomes important later.

Ashley Thornberg

And can't be a leader.

Edward O'Keefe

Well, well, and, and, you know, and Edith, Edith is the one who they will say just knew how to soothe that tempestuous nature and get him to focus on better judgment. And that's why those inkblots are important is because it knits together the psychology, the character, the outlook, the personality of a developing leader. And we get to better understand and relate to them.

Right. People are impulsive. They make bad decisions.

And, and sometimes we want to understand why. And, and that's what we're able to do now with this technology that's, that's revealed in the loves of Theodore Roosevelt.

Ashley Thornberg

You know, there's some advice out there that says you should never meet your heroes. And the implication is because they're going to let you down. Now, obviously you're never going to meet Theodore Roosevelt, but you do have to deal with the fact that this person we hold up to, frankly, unfair standards in a lot of ways was sort of this human and many of his policies by today's standards, particularly in regard to his feelings towards indigenous people are, are racist.

What are the times that you struggle the most with him still being a hero for you?

Edward O'Keefe

What I think is interesting is the life of Theodore Roosevelt, while imperfect, always bends toward justice. If you had to boil Theodore Roosevelt's philosophy down to a single word, it would be fair. He wanted to see the equity amongst people in all situations.

And when he didn't see it, he would put his thumb on the scale and turn it a bit more in, in the favor of, of those who needed it. I mean, you know, his views, let's take race for instance, right? The last speech that Theodore Roosevelt ever delivers in his life, November 2nd, 1918 in Carnegie Hall with W.E.B. Du Bois on stage, it's a mixed race audience. He, he spoke in front of many, many mixed race audience throughout his career. And he says that he extols equality between black and white such that had he won the Republican nomination in 1920, which many expected him to do, he could have stuck a knife in the heart of Jim Crow 45 years before the Civil Rights Act. Now, he didn't get the opportunity to do that because he died on January 6th, 1919.

And that is not how he felt about race in his early life. He evolved. I mean, he was the first president to have a black man dine at the White House, Booker T.

Washington. But yet he's also responsible for Brownsville. I mean, this inexplicable moment where he summarily dismisses an all black troop in Brownsville, Texas over what is clearly something that is not their responsibility.

And you struggle with the, he, Theodore Roosevelt is a man of contradictions. He is capable of holding two thoughts in his head at the same time. And his, it's sort of like his greatest strength can at times be his weakness, right?

He, he so you, you really have to look at the, not the context to excuse what was happening, but what is the end result of, of the work and life that he lived, you know, because in every single instance, he evolves, he listens. I mean, Theodore Roosevelt said, and Felix Frankfurter is the one who says this of, of TR that, that he, TR said, we will not be a complete country until we have had a black president and a Jewish president. I think that would surprise a lot of people to hear about TR, but you know, that's the kind of interesting dichotomy that is TR.

He is a Rorschach test. What you see in him says more about you than it does about him. He's this rare political figure that can bring, you know, Josh Hawley and Elizabeth Warren cite Theodore Roosevelt as their favorite president.

That is, that is a rare, rare quality, especially today.

Ashley Thornberg

Do you play this game, Edward? How do you think he would react to today's political scene?

Edward O'Keefe

Well, I don't have to guess because he lived it. I mean, history doesn't repeat, it rhymes, and if we don't listen to history, we are condemned to repeat it. From 1876 to 1892, there were five presidential elections decided by less than a tenth of a percentage point.

We're talking today about 2024 being, you know, six percent of the vote in six states are likely to decide this election. Well, that's exactly what happened for five presidential elections during TR's time. Two of those elections during TR's time, the popular vote winner did not win the White House.

One time in 1876, the election went to the House of Representatives and the election was decided by a single electoral vote. I mean, so the parties in Theodore Roosevelt's formative time existed to annihilate one another. They did not do the work of the people.

It was a very big moment of realignment in the country. I mean, think about all that was happening. Technology is disrupting society, right?

Theodore Roosevelt's born in 1858. There's no electricity, there's no cars, he'll be the first president in an airplane, in a submarine, to travel abroad while in office. Everything's changing.

The economy is moving from an agrarian to an industrial society. There's a wave of immigration changing the composition of what we consider to be American. There are, you know, any number of issues that, and does any of this sound familiar, right?

It's exactly what's happening now. And I'll tell you what, the fever breaks. The lesson that history says is that eventually the people get sick and tired of not being heard and having the parties exist for only the purpose of winning an election or destroying each other.

And that is when Theodore Roosevelt ascends. I mean, he becomes the, he becomes governor and he becomes vice president and eventually president, kicks open the door to the American century. You know, charismatic figure that is, again, identified with one party, but will largely put country before party.

And I think that that's an encouraging, optimistic note from history, is that while we have suffered these times of discord before, the outcome is generally that the fever breaks and the party that determines they want to serve the people is the one that comes out victorious.

Ashley Thornberg

We're visiting today with Edward O'Keefe about his book, the loves of Theodore Roosevelt, the women who created a president. I want to talk about biographers who, you know, might be working a hundred years from now. We're not really writing letters.

I mean, yes, there's email. Do you think people are going to be going through text messages and being sleuths and, you know, what does an emoji say versus a bitmoji? Like, this is weird.

Edward O'Keefe

Absolutely. I mean, you know, I think about the Obama presidential library is 95% digitally native and 5% physical archive. And then of course, as we continue, that's only going to trend more toward digital.

There will be physical artifacts of presidencies in particular, and notes and, you know, memos and all kinds of things that are preserved for the sake of history. But I mean, you're absolutely right, Ashley. I mean, people are communicating via email, text, their visual communication in those forms.

Yes, absolutely. I think that that's what will happen is that historians will have to look through the meaning and the context. And of course, each epoch thinks they're at the threshold of a new technological revolution.

And then you look back and say, well, that was quaint compared to where we are now. So who knows what we'll look back at.

Ashley Thornberg

We used to have dial-up internet.

Edward O'Keefe

Yes. I have tried to explain this to my 13 and eight-year-old and I'm seen as ancient. I'm like, you know, the iPhone was only invented in 2007, right?

So it's, I'm not ancient. The technology is changing very rapidly.

Ashley Thornberg

What is the latest on the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library?

Edward O'Keefe

We are under construction. We began construction on June 15th of 2023. If you go out to the Medora musical this summer, which I encourage everyone to do, come to the Badlands, go to Roosevelt National Park, see the musical.

You will look across the way and see the footings, the foundation, the entire East retaining wall, the steel beams are starting to come into shape. By November, the roof will be in place and we will have an enclosed facility. So it is really advancing quite rapidly.

We are still on track for an anticipated opening on July 4th, 2026, the 250th anniversary of America.