If you live in or around New York City please remember that I will be speaking about the writing and publishing career of Ted Roosevelt at the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace on Saturday 4 March, one week from today. I wrote about his father Theodore Roosevelt’s journalistic career last week. It is more complicated than I can go into here–that’s what the talk is for–but one thread to keep in mind when it comes to the Roosevelt clan is that the written word was important to almost all of them. Ted was an executive at Doubleday in the 1930s, after his stints in Puerto Rico and the Philippines and before he rejoined the Army in 1941. His father knew the Doubledays well and even laid the cornerstone for the publishing house’s Garden City Long Island headquarters when they relocated from New York City in 1910. If you note, in the caption he emphasizes the shift from the city to what was then rural Long Island and what he sees as the positive influence it will have for people and business–like Doubleday–who make that demographic shift. It is not reading too much into it to say he is foreseeing the post-Second World War rise of suburbia. Levittown was in Long Island.
I have been pulling my speaking material together this week and have started gathering the images as well, which I intend to put into a Powerpoint later today. The image above is from the 20 August 1910 Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Roosevelt would have just gotten back from his post-presidential safari in Africa and return swing through Europe, where he accepted his Nobel Peace Prize and attended the funeral of King Edward VII that May. Note the heaviness of Roosevelt’s dark suit, which he is wearing under no shade in the dog days of August. It is lost on us how grueling the speaking circuit can be for politicians.
I know someone who is researching their local library out on Long Island who in the process came across this interesting Roosevelt document. It is a $20 pledge from Ted Roosevelt toward the creation of the Freeport Long Island Memorial Library. The library opened in 1924 and is one of the few libraries that served–and serves–as a Great War memorial. Note that the letterhead is addressed Albany, where Roosevelt was serving in the New York State Assembly when he signed this in August 1920. His signature is quite similar to his father’s. One can only speculate to what extend that might have been intentional.
It was a busy time for the thirty-three year old Great War veteran. Ted had returned from France in March 1919 and immediately helped get the nascent American Legion off the ground. That year he also began his political career, winning the assembly chair from Nassau County that fall. In 1920 he was running for re-election and spent much of the summer criss-crossing the county. Ted and wife Eleanor were not just thinking of his re-election. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle notes in its October 2, 1920 edition that Eleanor Butler Alexander-Roosevelt turned out in Freeport for the Nassau launch of the Warren G. Harding-Calvin Coolidge presidential campaign.
(image/Freeport Memorial Public Library)
I got home at around 8:30 last night after a long day’s work and there waiting in the vestibule was a package from the editor of the Theodore Roosevelt Association Journal. Inside were a dozen copies, hot off the press, of the current edition, containing my article about Ted Roosevelt and his life as a writer and editor. Ted Roosevelt’s literary story begins in 1919 when he arrived home from the Great War aboard the Mauritania and ends just prior to his rejoining the Army to fight again, this time in the Second World War. Really, however, the story is much deeper than that; so many of the clan had a literary bent and he very much fits into that aspect of the family heritage. It was long my goal to get published in the TRA Journal and I cannot express how happy I am with the experience.