Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Getting Progressive with Teddy in Spokane

TR dispatching an unpatriotic bigfoot on one of Roosevelt's trips
to the Pacific Northwest.  By the fantastic artist Sharpwriter.
My town of Spokane Washington is often thought of as a conservative place, but we have a long history of progressive thought and action. So it is no wonder that Theodore Roosevelt was quite popular in this town. The Spokesman-Review reminded us of that just the other day when Jim Kershner’s this day in history column featured a hundred-year-old story about a TR visit to Spokane:

The Spokane Daily Chronicle said he was “cheered repeatedly by immense throngs” topping 20,000. 

His speech was filled with “Teddyisms,” and a “mere stenographic report fails to do justice to the situation.” His speech was peppered with “hot shots” like this: “I would rather see the cost of production enhanced than see it kept low by underpaid labor.” ...

The former president praised the people of Spokane – which had always been a Teddy stronghold – and called them “the real progressives.” The Spokesman-Review abandoned any pretense of impartiality in its main story, referring to him as “the human dynamo” and “the man who is leading the fight for honest politics.”

Last spring one of my students, Lee Nilsson, created an excellent tour stop for Spokane Historical titled “Theodore Roosevelt on the Parade Grounds.” Lee is a real ham and even did his own dramatic reading of the speech that TR gave in Spokane

I was reminded of Lee's work and Kershner's column today when I was exploring the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project website. This wonderful project at UC-Santa Barbara is digitizing thousands of wax cylinders and putting them online. I was looking for specifically Pacific Northwest content and did not have much luck--except for a handful of Roosevelt speeches:

Theodore Roosevelt.
The farmer and the business man
3708: Edison Blue Amberol
1148: Edison Amberol
Theodore Roosevelt.
The right of the people to rule
3707: Edison Blue Amberol
1149: Edison Amberol
William H. Taft.
Roosevelt policies
10002: Edison Gold Moulded Record
Theodore Roosevelt.
Social and industrial justice
3709: Edison Blue Amberol
1147: Edison Amberol

Take a listen to Lee's TR, and then to the man himself. I think Lee did pretty well!

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