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Roosevelt Visit


For most North Dakotans of the early 20th Century, Theodore Roosevelt was considered one of their own. So, it was with great pride that President Roosevelt was received across the state as he made his way on his private railroad car from station to station on this date in 1903. In Roosevelt’s mind it was a homecoming, for he thought of himself as a pioneer of Dakota Territory. In a speech made in 1886 he stated that as pioneers, they would be the ones to channel the course in which the history of western Dakota would run, more so than any others in the times to come.

When he arrived in the state, he removed his stovepipe hat and donned a cap to show a lack of formality in his visit. At Edgeley he gave an address, and after the patriotic singing of “America,” he asked the band to play the song, “Hot Time,” to which he sang with great gusto and animation.

But it was in Dickinson and Medora that he was most interested, and he greeted many an old-time friend with whom he had hunted or rode the range. He talked of his days as deputy sheriff at which time he brought in two prisoners who had stolen his own boat. He reminisced about his first roundup with John Goodall as foreman and other events of the mid 1880s including his speech at the Fourth of July celebration of 1886. The same flag from that holiday once again flew above the President during this talk seventeen years later in 1903.

The President then greeted Mrs. Harry Roberts whom he remembered with great fondness. Each time he came into Medora to pick up his mail, she would feed him, and rather than displease her, he would eat something whether he was hungry or not. The cowboys in the audience found Roosevelt wholly unspoiled by the pomp of power as he mingled through the crowd. But the sense of his belonging to the people of North Dakota was evident when the Dickinson Recorder wrote of his visit, “It may be a long time before Dickinson sends another occupant to the White House, but it will also be a long time before any other place sends a better one.”

Dakota Datebook written by Jim Davis

Jamestown Weekly Alert April 16, 1903