Teddy Confirms His Credit to ND
Most Americans who are fortunate to receive a personal letter from a former President of the United States would be justifiably honored. No doubt, a UND professor felt pride as well as professional satisfaction when he was mailed a missive from Theodore Roosevelt.
Professor Albert Tangeman Vollweiler served as a history and government instructor at Model High School at the University of North Dakota from 1914 to 1918. During that time he composed a work about TR entitled "Roosevelt's Ranch Life in North Dakota."
On this date in 1918, the former president responded to Vollweiler's work on typed letterhead from his New York office. His words confirmed the impact and regard he had for the state.
Roosevelt wrote: “My dear Professor Volviler: I am really very much pleased with the article and not a little touched that you should have written it. I wish to thank you most sincerely for the spirit in which it was done.” And here’s the kicker, as Roosevelt continued, “I have always said I never would have been president had it not been for my experiences in North Dakota. You have gone to the very people who could tell you most about these experiences. With hearty thanks, faithfully yours, Theodore Roosevelt.”
Roosevelt was the most prolific letter writer of all the US presidents and may have written 150,000 letters. Vollweiler's letter from TR, which interestingly misspelled the professor's last name, was obtained by the state library commission.
A copy of Vollweiler's "Roosevelt's Ranch Life in North Dakota" is part of the collection at the Theodore Roosevelt Center at Dickinson State University's Stoxen Library and was reprinted in Marion Piper's 1964 book "Dakota Portraits."
Today we have an abundance of historical information and evidence that Roosevelt was grateful and complimentary for his time on the Dakota Territory range in the early 1880s. But back when information was not as readily available, common knowledge about TR in North Dakota was scarcer. However, UND professor James Vivian painstakingly collected Roosevelt’s speeches in North Dakota and published them in a book in 1989, including Roosevelt’s famous quote giving North Dakota credit for his ascendancy to the presidency during a speech in Fargo in 1910 at the dedication of the cornerstone at the Carnegie Library at Fargo College.
TR's famous quote has since become public relations gold for tourism and scholarship.
Dakota Datebook written by Steve Stark
Piper, Marion (1964) Dakota Portraits, North Dakota Centennial Commission, Inc.
Vivian, James, The Romance of My Life: Theodore Roosevelt's Speeches in North Dakota (1989) Prairie House
Morris, Edmond (2010) Colonel Roosevelt Random House