Wes' World: Teddy Roosevelt Visits Valley City (Better Late Than NEVER)
I plumb forgot about this....well, I didn't forget but I thought it was the 12th not the 7th that was the 100th anniversary of Theodore Roosevelt's visit to Valley City, albeit a brief one, as he whistle-stop campaigned across the NP Railroad as the candidate for the PROGRESSIVE Bull Moose Party.
As Vice-President suddenly made President with the assassination of McKinley in 1901, Roosevelt became a major force in changing the relationship between the US Government and the American public. Reelected for his own term, he handpicked Taft to replace him saying that two terms was enough. By 1912 it was clear that it wasn't. Dissatisfied with the stance his Republican Party had taken on many of the progressive issues he had fostered, Roosevelt was out on his own. The GOP split between Taft and Roosevelt and suddenly Wilson became President.
Despite ND being the Roughrider State of Roosevelt, he didn't carry it in 1912 and he kinda disowned us after that being fed up with the stubborn farmers out here in Dakota. Go figure.
“Hello, Teddy! How Are Yu’?”
“Fine,” Says Teddy to Boy
Juvenile Greeting Pleases Col. Roosevelt, as he Steps Onto Platform to Address Quiet Crowd Gathered at Station
“Hello, Teddy, How are yu’?
This was the first greeting Colonel Roosevelt received in Valley City, when he stepped onto the rear platform of Northern Pacific train No. 5, as it pulled into the station at 6:30 yesterday evening, to deliver a fifteen minute speech. The felicitous question was shouted by a tow-headed boy, about ten years old, who was in the foreground as boys always are when presidential candidates come around.
With a big smile, Colonel Roosevelt bowed over the railing, and shouted back:
“Fine, fine. How are you?”
Then he noticed a little girl, posted high on the shoulders of her father, as little girls always are when presidential candidates come around, and motioned the father to come closer. When near enough the colonel reached down and playfully pulled at the golden curls, apparently forgetting for the moment the presence of the crowd, which came running and elbowing down the side of the train to gain a point of vantage during the speech.
It was a credibly sized crowd that strung along the tracks to meet Mr. Roosevelt, but lacked enthusiasm that is usually characteristic at such an extraordinary political event. The noticeable feature was the preponderance of women, who outnumbered the men probably ten to one. AS women are not so noisy as men, the absence of wild cheering and a roaring welcome is accounted for. The crowd was also restless from waiting for the belated train, a half hour behind scheduled time, and had assembled near the station a full block from where the rear of the train stood. This pleased the crowd to disadvantage and it was several minutes reaching the end of the train. But once in a position to hear the lack of demonstration was made up in attention to what Mr. Roosevelt had to say.
There was no ovation for the colonel by the 2,000 that hastily assembled about the rear platform. He motioned for all to gather closer, and as the crowd jammed against the train, began speaking.
“It is just thirty-two years since I first passed through North Dakota,” said Mr. Roosevelt, “and it is just twenty-one years since I made my first speech in your state. That was at Dickinson on the Fourth of July. I and a lot of other cow punchers rode in box cars to Dickinson that morning, went any way we could get there, but that night we returned in a Pullman like princes.”
With this preliminary Colonel Roosevelt plunged into the theme of his speech-progressiveness, and said nothing about a third state ticked in North Dakota.
“I appeal to the real progressives,” said the colonel, “to those who believe in real progressiveness, in behalf of a progressive party that stands for social and economic justice throughout the country.”
He then took up the repeal of the reciprocity treaty and the tariff.
“The Progressive party demands the repeal of the reciprocity treaty,” he said, “and a tariff that will not charge only against the farmer. We thought we had a tariff that bore equally against all classes of people, but we find that it does not, that it bears against the farmer more than anyone else.”
In the midst of discussion of the Democratic platform and free trade, the train pulled out and Colonel Roosevelt waved farewell, shouting at the crowd:
“Goodbye, men, women and little ones.”
The train had gone nearly fifty feet before the crowd realized it had awakened to the fact that no outburst of applause had been given the distinguished visitor. Then there was a wave of applause, flourish of handkerchiefs, hats and arms, and the crowd silently disbanded as the train drew away.
The photos show the arrival of Teddy to Valley City. They come from Thelma Gartland and the Ruth Witter collection here at the Barnes County Hist Soc. You'll see a little girl picking her nose in one photo....is that how you greet your former president?