Dakota Datebook: Remembering Theodore Roosevelt | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Dakota Datebook: Remembering Theodore Roosevelt

6:42 AM, 8:42 AM, 3:50 PM*, 5:44 PM, AND 7:50 PM* CT
  • Hosted by Steve Stark

Our 26th president, Theodore Roosevelt, was a lauded statesman, orator, and storyteller. He wrote more books than any other president and, indeed, more than most authors and intellectuals. To commemorate him and his North Dakota legacy, Roosevelt scholar and re-enactor Steve Stark has made selections from his speeches, books, and letters for a special Dakota Datebook series. Throughout 2019, listen for Dakota Datebook: Remembering Theodore Roosevelt in the regular Dakota Datebook time slots. 

*Airtimes during Main Street may vary.

Funding for this series is provided by the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation.

Teddy's Bear

Nov 11, 2019

President Theodore Roosevelt, could not have dreamt that his frustrating November bear would launch the birth of, arguably, the most famous toy in the world. TR was invited by the Mississippi Governor in 1902 to join a bear hunt. Uncharacteristically, avid hunter Roosevelt was skunked among the hunting guests for three days.

Collegiate football has always been a contact sport, but in its early days, which began in the late 1870s, it was particularly deadly. The game had not developed the forward pass, and there was regular fighting, with fists thrown. Scoring was mostly made by kicking the football to the goal. Bones were snapped, eyes were gouged, and men were even killed. Flimsy equipment, leather helmets and mere sweaters were little protection for the players – many of them illegally hired by colleges.

Theodore Roosevelt was born on October 27, in 1858, the second child of Theodore and Martha’s four children. His faulty eyesight and his ever-active asthma were a persistent distraction to the boy and he had to be taken away on long trips to help him find a place to breathe.

Campaigning for president in 1912, Theodore Roosevelt pitted himself against Republican President Taft and Democrat candidate Woodrow Wilson. Roosevelt ran under the Progressive Party banner, which was also called the Bull Moose party. History was made when Roosevelt became the only candidate of a third party to come in second place.

Theodore Roosevelt made a calculated gesture this week in 1901 that challenged the nation’s racial sensitivity. The president invited a well-known African American scholar, friend and advisor, Booker T. Washington, for dinner at the White House. When Washington, who was the founder of the Tuskegee Institute, shared repast with the Roosevelt family, it sent the Southern press and others into apoplectic furor.

Roosevelt on Books

Oct 4, 2019

October is National Book Month, and TR is the writing champ of all the US Presidents, having penned some 35 books, which also include compilations of his hundreds of essays and articles.

The prolific president with a pen made more income from his prodigious writing than from any of his government jobs. One of his books is entitled “A Booklovers Holidays in the Open.” Two of his books about the West were written while in Medora.  In October of 1913 alone, he turned out four books including his long-awaited autobiography.  He was also an avid reader. Historians estimate that he read 20,000 books in his lifetime.

Theodore Roosevelt’s first step into Dakota Territory was not to western cowboy country, but to Fargo-Moorhead. His first tangle with wildlife was with birds, not bison.

And when 21-year-old Theodore and his 20-year-old brother Elliott left the Red River Valley after ten days of hunting with new shotguns, the area was minus 208 critters – prairie chickens, ducks, plovers, coots, grebes and more. That was acceptable hunting style in September 1880.

The next month he would marry Alice. And over the next few years, Roosevelt became the youngest man elected to the New York State Assembly, published his first book The Naval War of 1812, and shot his first bison in the Badlands.

Theodore Roosevelt’s initial trip to Western Dakota Territory’s badlands was a rollicking adventure of hunting, frustration, and awe for the young New Yorker in his early twenties. In mere days TR was entranced by the beauty and the desolation of gnarled, stunted cedars, miles of plateaus, running rivers, scoria, sandstone and clay.

Roosevelt in Fargo

Sep 9, 2019

The first week of September in 1910, Teddy Roosevelt addressed over 30,000 citizens at Fargo College, which overlooked Island Park. The former Dakota Territory rancher’s tenure as the nation’s youngest chief executive had ended in March the previous year. Here are some of TR’s remarks after being introduced by the college president.

Some 30,000 citizens of every age jammed their way into Fargo’s Island Park to welcome and celebrate “The Medora President” this week in September of 1910.  

Theodore Roosevelt did not disappoint. Among those in the crowd were children, with their stuffed toy “Teddy” bears in tow.

The freshly former president spoke as he lay the cornerstone for the Andrew Carnegie Library at Fargo College, the city’s first college, now long gone, that stood above Island Park.

Pages