Talking Teddy Roosevelt with Bridgeville Area Historical Society
The Bridgeville Area Historical Society traditionally schedules its January and February meetings on Sunday afternoons rather than their customary Tuesday evenings in deference to the winter weather.
Last month’s meeting featured an old friend, Jack Aupperle, with his fourth appearance. This time he discussed Theodore Roosevelt and did his usual fine job of mixing information with entertainment.
Teddy Roosevelt was born in Manhattan in 1858, the second of four children in a wealthy family. He was home schooled by his mother and a succession of tutors. His lifelong fascination with natural science was demonstrated by his compiling an impressive collection of stuffed birds when he was only 10 years old.
Concerned about his son’s poor health, primarily asthma, and frail body, his father installed a state-of-the-art gymnasium in their home and started Teddy on a body-building regimen that converted the spindly 14-year-old into a muscular he-man four years later. The body building was accompanied by an equally impressive growth intellectually. He enrolled at Harvard, where he was an outstanding student, earning a Phi Beta Kappa key.
Following graduation from Harvard Roosevelt married Alice Longworth Lee and entered Columbia Law School. He soon concluded that he was more interested in entering politics and in writing about history than studying law. He was elected to the New York State Assembly the same year his impressive “The Naval War of 1812” was published. His success was soon shattered when his wife died giving birth to their first child.
Aupperle recounted the rest of Roosevelt’s remarkable career. After being a major factor in the 1884 Republican National Convention, he took a hiatus from politics and played cowboy in North Dakota for two years. He ran the Civil Service Commission for the Benjamin Harrison administration, and then the New York City Police Commission before returning to Washington as Undersecretary of the Navy for William McKinley.
His exploits with the Rough Riders in the Spanish-American War led to his election as governor of New York and then vice president. The assassination of McKinley propelled him into the White House where his progressive accomplishments transformed the country. When his successor, William Howard Taft, failed to continue his program, he formed the Progressive Party and ran against him in 1912.
While campaigning in Milwaukee an attempted assassination attempt was foiled when the assassin’s bullet encountered a double-folded copy of the speech he was about to give.
His efforts succeeded only in splitting the Republican vote, allowing the Democratic candidate, Woodrow Wilson, to win with 42 percent of the popular vote. Roosevelt then retired from public life, concentrating on exploring and big game hunting in Africa and South America. He died at the age of 60 in 1919. His accomplishments earned him a place on Mt. Rushmore with Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln.
The next program in this series is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Feb. 25 in the Chartiers Room at the Bridgeville Volunteer Fire Department. Gary Augustine will discuss “Hollywood, World War II and the Movies.” As always, the public is welcome.