Theodore Roosevelt’s only North Dakota visit while president came in April of 1903. His railroad excursion was a two-day event, packed east-to-west across the state with several stops.
“I have watched your career as a state. I have seen you grow and I am proud of you!”
“Many of those in this audience are old neighbors of mine, and from now on I know people as we go westward, I come more and more to places in which I know people, until I come to a town where I know everyone! There are two ways of getting to know a man, by working with him and by fighting with him – and there are a few men here with whom I have had both experiences!”
In Richardton, Dickinson and Medora the exuberant crowds thickened. TR later wrote:
“The whole town turned out with wild – and not entirely sober – enthusiasm! It was difficult to make them much of a speech as there were dozens of men earnestly desirous of recalling in my mind some special incident. They all felt I was their man, their old friend. And even if they had been hostile to me in the old days when we were divided by the sinister bickering and jealousies and hatreds of all frontier communities, they now believed they had always been my staunch friends and admirers. I shook hands with them all – and only regretted I could not spend three hours with them!”
Finally, in Medora…
“You are old friends. I have stopped at your houses and shared your hospitality. With some of the men I have ridden guard around the cattle at night, worked them in the roundup, hunted with them, and I know them pretty well. It is the greatest possible pleasure to come back and see how you are getting along, to see the progress made by the state in the place I know so well. There is not a human being who is prouder of what you have done, and more pleased with your welfare and progress than I am.”
Dakota Datebook: Remembering Theodore Roosevelt is written and performed by Steve Stark. Funding provided by the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation.