Teddy Roosevelt and the Teddy Bear

0Barb 028It seems that Theodore Roosevelt was asked to hunt bear in 1902 with the governor of Louisiana. In those days, the bears weren’t protected like they are now. It’s my understanding that this poor bear was chased down until at last it snatched one of the president’s hunting dogs. A companion of TR raised his rifle and smacked the black bear on the head. He tied the bear to a tree and blew his bugle, summoning the president over.
President Roosevelt was asked to deliver the fatal shot.
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Clifford Berryman’s famous 1902 cartoon of Roosevelt refusing to kill a black bear. (The Washington Post)

Cartoonist Clifford Berryman, drawing for this newspaper, documented what happened next: Roosevelt arrived, took one look at the feeble beast with its big, frightened eyes. And he walked away.

It became part of Roosevelt’s larger than life persona, evidence of his benevolence, his principles, his kinship with nature. And, when a New York shop owner decided to name his signature stuffed bear after the animal-loving president, it fueled the production of a million toys and a new kind of relationship to wildlife.     

In the third First Ladies mystery book, I feature Edith Roosevelt: the Clue of the Dancing Bell.  It begins with a National Park Exposition in St. Paul, MN where a murder occurs.   Many imposters factor into this mystery, including Teddy Roosevelt. image_2_39

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