Creating a Legacy

It has always been my contention that each of us has the power to leave a legacy.  Some of us do it through monetary gifts to organizations that we believe in.  Others do it through the power of volunteering, providing support to something they are passionate about.  I am fortunate to do it through story telling and representation of our 26th President.

I hTheodore Roosevelt Camp drawingave been blessed with many wonderful testimonials of support for what I do from many adults, but it is by far the most gratifying when I hear from children who have met me, who write and thank me for teaching them about someone I feel they need to know about.  Most children are gloriously “filter free” and will tell you what they think.  “You are not him, you are dead”  is one I hear once in a while that still makes me laugh.  I simply smile and reply “I am standing right in front of you as fit as a Bull Moose!”

I will be totally honest – my life is much more fulfilled through having a legacy to leave.  It has become very important to me that during the time I spend on this planet, I leave something positive behind.   We all have the capability to be a positive force, but it is a choice, not a mandate.  That is unfortunate, for there is no greater feeling in the world than knowing you made a positive impact on another.  Said another way – discover your opportunity to make a difference. You will be amazed at how much impact you can make.


TR the bookworm

“Now and then I am asked as to ‘what books a statesman should read,’ and my answer is, poetry and novels – including short stories under the head of novels. I don’t mean that he should read only novels and modern poetry. If he cannot also enjoy the Hebrew prophets and the Greek dramatists, he should be sorry. He ought to read interesting books on history and government, and books of science and philosophy; and really good books on these subjects are as enthralling as any fiction ever written.”

Roosevelt reading

Roosevelt was a speed reader and it was common for him to read a book a day!  Along with enjoying reading, he was an popular author himself, writing many books and articles for magazines of the period.   So you might be asking, what did Roosevelt himself recommend for books to read?  A friend did ask, and TR sent him this short list to get him started!

Theodore Roosevelt’s Reading List

Title Author
The History of the Peloponnesian War Thucydides
The Histories Herodotus
The Histories Polybius
Plutarch’s Lives Plutarch
Oresteia Trilogy Aeschylus
Seven Against Thebes Aeschylus
Hippolytus Euripides
The Bacchae Euripides
Frogs Aristophones
Politics Aristotle
Early Age of Greece William Ridgeway
Alexander the Great Benjamin Ide Wheeler
History of Egypt, Chaldæa, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria Gaston Maspero
Chronicles Froissart
The Memoirs of Baron de Marbot Baron de Marbot
Charles XII and the Collapse of the Swedish Empire Robert Nisbet Bain
Types of Naval Officers AT Mahan
Critical and Historical Essays Thomas Macaulay
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Edward Gibbon
The Life of Prince Eugene Prince Eugene of Savoy
Life of Lieut.-Admiral De Ruyter G Grinnell-Milne
Life of Sobieski John Sobieski
Frederick the Great Thomas Carlyle
Abraham Lincoln: A History Hay and Nicolay
Speeches and Writings Abraham Lincoln
The Essays Francis Bacon
Macbeth Shakespeare
Twelfth Night Shakespeare
Henry IV Shakespeare
Henry the Fifth Shakespeare
Richard II Shakespeare
Paradise Lost John Milton
Poems Michael Drayton
Nibelungenlied Anonymous
Inferno Dante (prose translastion by Carlyle)
Beowulf (Samuel H. Church translation)
Heimskringla: Lives of the Norse Kings Snorri Sturluson
The Story of Burnt Njal (George Dasent translation)
Gisli the Outlaw (George Dasent translation)
Cuchulain of Muirthemne (Lady Gregory translation)
The Affected Young Ladies Moliere
The Barber of Seville Gioachino Rossini
The Kingis Quair James I of Scotland
Over the Teacups Oliver Wendell Holmes
Shakespeare and Voltaire Thomas Lounsbury
Sevastopol Sketches Leo Tolstoy
The Cossacks Leo Tolstoy
With Fire and Sword Henryk Sienkiewicz
Guy Mannering Sir Walter Scott
The Antiquary Sir Walter Scott
Rob Roy Sir Walter Scott
Waverly Sir Walter Scott
Quentin Durward Sir Walter Scott
Marmion Sir Walter Scott
The Lay of the Last Minstrel Sir Walter Scott
The Pilot James Fenimore Cooper
Tom Sawyer Mark Twain
The Pickwick Papers Charles Dickens
Nicholas Nickleby Charles Dickens
Vanity Fair William Makepeace Thackeray
The History of Pendennis William Makepeace Thackeray
The Newcomes William Makepeace Thackeray
The Adventures of Philip William Makepeace Thackeray
The White Company Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Charles O’Malley Charles Lever
Poems John Keats
Poems Robert Browning
Poems Edgar Allan Poe
Poems Lord Alfred Tennyson
Poems Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Poems Rudyard Kipling
Poems Bliss Carman
Tales Edgard Allan Poe
Essays James Russell Lowell
Complete Stories Robert Louis Stevenson
British Ballads William Allingham
The Simple Life Charles Wagner
The Rose and the Ring William Makepeace Thackeray
Fairy Tales Hans Andersen
Grimm’s Fairy Tales Grimm Bros
The Story of King Arthur Howard Pyle
Complete Tales of Uncle Remus Joel Chandler Harris
The Woman Who Toils Bessie Van Vorst
The Golden Age Kenneth Grahame
All on the Irish Shore Somerville & Ross
Some Experiences of an Irish R.M. Somerville & Ross
Asia and Europe Meredith Townsend
Youth: A Narrative Joseph Conrad
Works Artemus Ward
Stories of a Western Town Octave Thanet
My Reminiscences of the Anglo-Boer War Ben Viljoen
Through the Subarctic Forest Warburton Pike
Cross Country with Horse and Hound Frank Sherman Peer
Ways of Nature John Burroughs
The Real Malay Frank Swettenham
Gallops David Gray
Napoleon Jackson Ruth Stuart
The Passing of Thomas Thomas Janvier
The Benefactress Elizabeth von Arnim
People of the Whirlpool Mabel Osgood Wright
Call of the Wild Jack London
The Little Sheperd of Kingdom Come John Fox
The Captain of the Gray-Horse Troop Hamlin Garland
The Gentleman from Indiana Booth Tarkington
The Crisis Winston Churchill
John Ermine of the Yellowstone Frederic Remington
The Virginian Owen Wister
Red Men and White Owen Wister
Philosophy 4 Owen Wister
Lin McLean Owen Wister
The Blazed Trail Stewart Edward White
Conjuror’s House Stewart Edward White
The Claim Jumpers Stewart Edward White
American Revolution George Otto Trevelyan

You have some reading to do!


Leadership and Theodore Roosevelt

I was embarrassed when I realized that I have been so busy that I had not posted any new content in over a year. Ok, time to fix that!

As I present Roosevelt across the country, I am finding more and more people asking me if I would run for President again.  Of course, this is tongue-in-cheek, but it really is a desire by our citizens for leadership that connects to most, not only some.

Roosevelt started his life with a father who had a very moral view of right and wrong.  Theodore Roosevelt Senior felt that wealth meant responsibility to use resources to help others.  Roosevelt helped found the New York City Children’s Aid Society, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, and the New York Children’s Orthopedic Hospital.   of His father, “Teddy” said “My father, Theodore Roosevelt, was the best man I ever knew. He combined strength and courage with gentleness, tenderness, and great unselfishness. He would not tolerate in us children selfishness or cruelty, idleness, cowardice, or untruthfulness. As we grew older, he made us understand that the same standard of clean living was demanded the boys as for the girls; that what was wrong in a woman could not be right in a man. With great love and patience, and the most generous sympathy and consideration, he combined insistence on discipline. He never physically punished me but once, but he was the only man of whom I was ever really afraid. I do not mean that it was a wrong fear, for he was entirely just, and we children adored him”

With a great leader roll model growing up, President Theodore Roosevelt could apply what he had learned from him, along with his own brilliance, to create a Presidency that today we embrace as visionary.

Roosevelt had three main areas on which he focused:

  • Conservation of our Natural Resources
  • Control of Corporations
  • Consumer protection (which became American Protection)

It is my opinion that Roosevelt, as a father of six himself, viewed the role of President as being “the Father of the Country”.  If you read his speeches, he often speaks of the importance of the role of the farmer as an American steward, not only of the land, but of the family, and the handing down of their resources thoughtfully from generation to generation.    Roosevelt embraced this farmer approach to his Presidency.

“Of all the questions that can face our nation, short of it’s preservation in a war, there is none, that compares in the importance, to the great task, of leading this land even a better land for our descendant’s than it is for us”.

Great Leaders demonstrate an ability to create a vision that can be embraced by the masses to the benefit of the masses.  They recruit great thought leaders to share opinions and work towards a common goal.  They support, encourage and recognize the important contribution of all the stakeholders and make them feel they are critical to the agenda’s success.  Most importantly, they promote others for the accomplishments when successful, and take personal accountability when they do not.

That’s the Leadership that lead to 230,000,000 million acres of land preserved for future generations of Americans.  That’s the leadership that held Corporations accountable to follow the laws.  That’s the leadership that sent a “great white fleet” across the globe to promote world peace.  That’s the leadership that built a canal across the Isthmus of Panama.  That’s the leadership that earned a great man a Nobel Peace Prize.


Amazing Moments

I am extremely blessed to be able to bring Roosevelt to life for audiences across the country.  It’s time I shared a secret: I get as much, if not more back from the people I meet. One of the things I love about “being Teddy” is the opportunity to hear other people’s stories.

Over the past week, I met two young boys who will grow to be amazing young men.  Their parents gave them names that stand out and I am sure they take a razzing from kids at school.  Unlike the shy boy or girl, I often meet who when I ask their names they look away, both of these young boys said their names loud and proud.   I wish everyone was born with the idea that they celebrated their uniqueness rather than shied away from it.  Their names?  Lake and Granite!  Great, natural names that will give them a chance to stand out from the crowd.

Then there was the 94-year old I met last weekend at the National Parks regional center.    Her family had gathered in Omaha Nebraska for a reunion, When I asked the Matriarch if this was something they did often, she leaned into me and in a soft voice said “No, they think I am going to die soon” and then gave a wink.  I knew I was in for some life lessons, so I leaned in close and our eyes locked.  The the next 45 minutes are a blur as she made me smile and laugh as I learned about her growing up in New York, her move to Omaha, her family and her desire to make it to 100.  She was an amazing woman with a family who adored her.  Being adored is the sign in life that you are doing the right things, and she had and continues to do so in spades.

I love meeting people because you meet character and people of character. Some of my best friends are amazing characters.  My friend Tom is the reason I am able to do what I do today.  He portrays Buffalo Bill Cody, perhaps one of the best to ever don the outfit, and taught me the art of dressing western and telling a story and staying in touch with friends. My friend Larry is an artist and Olympic level marksman who has taught me you are never too old to follow a dream (He’s not old to me, but to the young folks he competes against, they don’t know what hit them).  He is that rare combination of philosopher, artist, and humorist.

One who I see only twice a year but who influences me every day is a cowboy/bow fishing friend named Ray.  His wit and insights are told in a way only an old cowboy can:   “Don’t squat with yur spurs on”,.  This should be part of every 4th-grade curriculum.  He is a Nebraskan of the finest order and I hope the state has the common sense to erect a statue of him someday.

I don’t know what it is about Nebraska, but some of my best “people experiences” happen there.  Case in point, This past weekend I met “California Joe”, who happened to stop into the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail in Omaha the day I was there.  As we talked, he shared some insights with me about life and each made me chuckle.  As we got to know the other, there came an invitation to visit him in his cowboy camp during the summer.  You can be sure I will be going.

My point is this: If you watch the television news you will not be seeing the reality of who most of us American’s are.  You need to go the local park around the corner, the local baseball game.  It is here, where you see children playing, neighbors helping neighbors and people cheering on the little boy or girl who is doing their best.  That’s the America most of us enjoy and will continue to do so as long as we are engaged with each other in meaningful dialog and pursuits.

Being together is the best way to keep us from growing apart.

A Gathering of TR’s

Once a year, many people who portray Theodore Roosevelt gather in the place where Roosevelt himself called “The place where the romance of my life began” – Medora, North Dakota.  This was the second time of my attending the event. It can feel a bit like a mirror has been held up and you are seeing yourself!

The wonderful part of the event is that it is a Comraderie and not a competition.   We all come together to learn from each other. Some new people come that have only begun to explore being Teddy Roosevelt.  It is perhaps the most rewarding to see those people because you watch them blossom from being frightened to being enthusiastic!

The Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation is the organization that has been the brain child with creation of this event along with able guidance of the  famous Roosevelt reprisers Joe Weigand along with Larry and Julia Marple.   If you are fortunate enough to visit Medora this summer or next, these are the people you are seeing representing the famous President and our first lady.

This event is extremely valuable for people like me. It’s a chance to see how other people interpret Roosevelt and to learn about Roosevelt stories that we can share with others.   It also represents an opportunity to meet with local historians who are amazing in their ability to source additional local stories and information that we can share with  others.  Because of their generosity, we are able to strengthen our ability to understand the amazing man who is Teddy Roosevelt.

If you are a Roosevelt fan, I highly recommend that you go to Medora and experience what we all experience from our event, the beauty and the revigeration that comes from going there.  To understand Roosevelt requires a visit.

I would also like to invite you to attend the Gatherings of TR’s 5 which will happen in 2018. Find out more about this event by visiting

I hope we can count on you being there!









Roosevelt Pursues the Boat Thieves
Theodore Roosevelt was particularly fond of retelling the story of his pursuit and capture of the boat thieves in the badlands. He put the story on paper in his 1888 book Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail. In early spring of 1886, just as the ice was beginning to break up on the Little Missouri River, three thieves cut Roosevelt’s boat from its mooring at the Elkhorn Ranch and took it downriver. Roosevelt, out of personal pride and duty as a Billings County Deputy Sheriff, chased after them with his ranch hands Bill Sewall and Wilmot Dow.

As you read the story, imagine the thrill of the entire event for Roosevelt. A spring flood is no trivial matter, and navigating a river jammed with ice and powerful currents is treacherous work. The weather was viciously cold. The men he was chasing were armed and dangerous. How might you have reacted to the theft of a replaceable boat when capturing the thieves was so time-consuming and dangerous? The story begins with the ice breaking up on the Little Missouri River at the Elkhorn Ranch in March, 1886:

“It moved slowly, its front forming a high, crumbling wall, and creaming over like an immense breaker on the seashore; we could hear the dull roaring and crunching as it ploughed down the river-bed long before it came in sight round the bend above us. The ice kept piling and tossing up in the middle, and not only heaped itself above the level of the banks, but also in many places spread out on each side beyond them, grinding against the cottonwood-trees in front of the ranch veranda….”

“At night the snowy, glittering masses, tossed up and heaped into fantastic forms, shone like crystal in the moonlight; but they soon lost their beauty, becoming fouled and blackened, and at the same time melted and settled down until it was possible to clamber out across the slippery hummocks.”
Ice on Little Missouri River
Ice jam on the Little Missouri River

“We had brought out a clinker-built boat especially to ferry ourselves over the river when it was high, and were keeping our ponies on the opposite side…. This boat had already proved very useful and now came in handier than ever, as without it we could take no care of our horses. We kept it on the bank, tied to a tree, and every day would carry it or slide it across the hither ice bank, usually with not a little tumbling and scrambling on our part, lower it gently into the swift current, pole it across to the ice on the farther bank, and then drag it over that…”

On the other side, Roosevelt discovered evidence of mountain lions hunting deer among the bluffs. He followed the trail, but, after losing the trail, he headed back, determined to hunt the mountain lions the next day.

“But we never carried out our intentions, for next morning one of my men, who was out before breakfast, came back to the house with the startling news that our boat was gone – stolen, for he brought with him the end of the rope with which it had been tied, evidently cut off with a sharp knife; and also a red woollen mitten with a leather palm, which he had picked up on the ice. ”

“We had no doubt as to who had stolen it; for whoever had done so had certainly gone down the river in it, and the only other thing in the shape of a boat on the Little Missouri was a small flat-bottomed scow in the possession of three hard characters who lived in a shack, or hut, some twenty miles above us, and whom we had shrewdly suspected for some time of wishing to get out of the country, as certain of the cattlemen had begun openly to threaten to lynch them. They belonged to a class that always holds sway during the raw youth of a frontier community, and the putting down of which is the first step toward decent government….”

“The three men we suspected had long been accused – justly or unjustly – of being implicated both in cattle-killing and in that worst of frontier crimes, horse-stealing; it was only by an accident that they had escaped the clutches of the vigilantes the preceding fall. Their leader was a well-built fellow named Finnigan, who had long red hair reaching to his shoulders, and always wore a broad hat and a fringed buckskin shirt. He was rather a hard case, and had been chief actor in a number of shooting scrapes. The other two were a half-breed, a stout, muscular man, and an old German, whose viciousness was of the weak and shiftless type….We had little doubt that it was they who had taken our boat…”

“Accordingly we at once set to work in our turn to build a flat-bottomed scow wherein to follow them….In any wild country where the power of law is little felt or heeded, and where every one has to rely upon himself for protection, men soon get to feel that it is in the highest degree unwise to submit to any wrong…no matter what cost of risk or trouble. To submit tamely and meekly to theft or to any other injury is to invite almost certain repetition of the offense, in a place where self-reliant hardihood and the ability to hold one’s own under all circumstances rank as the first of virtues.”

“Two of my cowboys, Sewall and Dow…set to work with a will, and, as by good luck there were plenty of boards, in two or three days they had turned out a first-class flat-bottom, which was roomy, drew very little water, and was dry as a bone; and though, of course, not a handy craft, was easily enough managed in going downstream. Into this we packed flour, coffee, and bacon enough to last us a fortnight or so, plenty of warm bedding, and the mess-kit; and early one cold March morning slid it into the icy current, took our seats, and shoved off down the river.”

Roosevelt had also brought along a copy of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, and a camera to document the capture.
“There could have been no better men for a trip of this kind than my two companions, Sewall and Dow. They were tough, hardy, resolute fellows, quick as cats, strong as bears, and able to travel like bull moose.”

“For three days, the three men navigated the icy, winding river among the colorful clay buttes hoping to take the thieves captive without a fight. A shootout was a concern, for Roosevelt noted that “the extraordinary formation of the Bad Lands, with the ground cut up into cullies, serried walls, and battlemented hilltops, makes it the country of all others for hiding-places and ambuscades.” However, Roosevelt was certain that the thieves would not suspect that he was in pursuit, for they had stolen virtually the only boat on the river. Roosevelt, Sewall, and Dow battled against the elements, too, enduring temperatures down to zero degrees Fahrenheit. Along the way, they “passed a group of tepees,” the “deserted winter camp of some Gros-ventre Indians, which some of my men had visited a few months previously on a trading expedition.”
Through numbing cold, they continued their pursuit.

“Finally our watchfulness was rewarded, for in the middle of the afternoon of this, the third day we had been gone, as we came around a bend, we saw in front of us the lost boat, together with a scow, moored against the bank, while from among the bushes some little way back the smoke of a camp-fire curled up through the frosty air. We had come on the camp of the thieves. As I glanced at the faces of my two followers I was struck by the grim, eager look in their eyes. Our overcoats were off in a second, and after exchanging a few muttered words, the boat was hastily and silently shoved toward the bank. As soon as it touched the shore ice I leaped out and ran up behind a clump of bushes, so as to cover the landing of the other, who had to make the boat fast. For a moment we felt a thrill of keen excitement and our veins tingled as we crept cautiously toward the fire, for it seemed likely that there would be a brush…”

“The men we were after knew they had taken with them the only craft there was on the river, and so felt perfectly secure; accordingly , we took them absolutely by surprise. The only one in camp was the German, whose weapons were on the ground, and who, of course, gave up at once, his two companions being off hunting. We made him safe, delegating one of our number to look after him particularly and see that he made no noise, and then sat down and waited for the others. The camp was under the lee of a cut bank, behind which we crouched, and, after waiting an hour or over, the men we were after came in. We heard them a long way off and made ready, watching them for some minutes as they walked toward us, their rifles on their shoulders and the sunlight glinting on the steel barrels. When they were within twenty yards or so we straightened up from behind the bank, covering them with our cocked rifles, while I shouted to them to hold up their hands – an order that in such a case, in the West, a man is not apt to disregard if he thinks the giver is in earnest. The half-breed obeyed at once, his knees trembling for a second, his eyes fairly wolfish; then, as I walked up within a few paces, covering the centre of his chest so as to avoid overshooting, and repeating the command, he saw that he had no show, and, with an oath, let his rifle drop and held his hands up beside his head.”

Roosevelt kept watch over the captives as Sewall and Dow chopped firewood. “I kept guard over the three prisoners, who were huddled into a sullen group some twenty yards off, just the right distance for the buckshot in the double-barrel.” Unable to tie up their captives, for doing so meant, “in all likelihood, freezing both hands and feet off during the night,” the captives were made to remove their boots, “as it was a cactus country, in which a man could travel barefoot only at the risk of almost certainly laming himself for life.”
“By this time they were pretty well cowed, as they found out very quickly that they would be well treated so long as they remained quiet, but would receive some rough handling if they attempted any disturbance.”

“Next morning we started downstream, having a well-laden flotilla, for the men we had caught had a good deal of plunder in their boots, including some saddles…. Finnigan, who was the ringleader, and the man I was especially after, I kept by my side in our boat, the other two being put in their own scow, heavily laden and rather leaky, and with only one paddle. We kept them just in front of us, a few yards distant, the river being so broad that we knew…any attempt to escape to be perfectly hopeless.”

Upon reaching an impassable ice jam in the river, Roosevelt, Sewall, and Dow debated how to proceed. Unwilling to abandon their supplies, they chose to wait for the icy river began to flow again.
Theodore Roosevelt Guards Boat Thieves
“I kept guard over the three prisoners, who were huddled into a sullen group some twenty yards off, just the right distance for the buckshot in the double-barrel.”
Harvard College Library Theodore Roosevelt Collection

“The next eight days were as irksome and monotonous as any I ever spent: there is very little amusement in combining the functions of a sheriff with those of an arctic explorer. The weather kept as cold as ever.”

“We had to be additionally cautious on account of being in the Indian country, having worked down past Killdeer Mountains, where some of my cowboys had run across a band of Sioux – said to be Tetons – the year before. Very probably the Indians would not have harmed us anyhow, but as we were hampered by the prisoners, we preferred not meeting them; nor did we, though we saw plenty of fresh signs, and found, to our sorrow, that they had just made a grand hunt all down the river, and had killed or driven off almost every head of game in the country through which we were passing.”

“…If the time was tedious to us, it must have seemed never-ending to our prisoners, who had nothing to do but to lie still and read, or chew the bitter cud of their reflections…. They had quite a stock of books, some of a rather unexpected kind. Dime novels and the inevitable ‘History of the James Brothers’… As for me, I had brought with me ‘Anna Karénina,’ and my surroundings were quite grey enough to harmonize well with Tolstoï.”
Low on supplies by the time they reached the C Diamond ranch, Roosevelt, Sewall and Dow decided to split up; Sewall and Dow would continue downriver and Roosevelt would march the prisoners overland to Dickinson. Before Sewall and Dow proceeded downriver, Roosevelt borrowed a pony and rode to the nearest ranch, where he hired the settler to drive his prairie schooner with “two bronco mares.” The settler “could hardly understand why I took so much bother with the thieves instead of hanging them offhand.” Roosevelt “soon found the safest plan was to put the prisoners in the wagon and myself walk behind with the inevitable Winchester.”

“Accordingly I trudged steadily the whole time behind the wagon through the ankle-deep mud. It was a gloomy walk. Hour after hour went by always the same, while I plodded along through the dreary landscape – hunger, cold, and fatigue struggling with a sense of dogged, weary resolution….”

“So, after thirty-six hours’ sleeplessness, I was most heartily glad when we at last jolted into the long, straggling main street of Dickinson, and I was able to give my unwilling companions into the hands of the sheriff. Under the laws of Dakota I received my fees as a deputy sheriff for making the three arrests, and also mileage for the three hundred odd miles gone over – a total of some fifty dollars.”
That Roosevelt went to such lengths to bring these three criminals to justice was uncommon in his time and place. Such magnanimity was not overlooked by the captives. Writing to Roosevelt from prison some time later, Mike Finnigan closed a letter, “P.S. Should you stop over at Bismarck this fall make a call to the Prison. I should be glad to meet you.”

Theodore Roosevelt: The American Boy

In my work recreating Theodore Roosevelt, I have come to the belief that he looked upon his role as a leader as he did as a father.  His job, if done well, was to leave the world better for his family (which in his mind included the American people) and leave a good family name.    His own Father, Theodore Roosevelt was the man he admired most and trying to emulate him by his own actions would be consistent with his beliefs.

“My father, Theodore Roosevelt, was the best man I ever knew. He combined strength and courage with gentleness, tenderness, and great unselfishness. He would not tolerate in us children selfishness or cruelty, idleness, cowardice, or untruthfulness. As we grew older, he made us understand that the same standard of clean living was demanded the boys as for the girls; that what was wrong in a woman could not be right in a man. With great love and patience, and the most generous sympathy and consideration, he combined insistence on discipline. He never physically punished me but once, but he was the only man of whom I was ever really afraid. I do not mean that it was a wrong fear, for he was entirely just, and we children adored him.”

Roosevelt felt strongly that family was important and that we all held a responsibility as Americans to bring up children in a way that promoted the opportunity to be a solid citizen.  In an article he wrote in 1900 published in St Nicolas, he wrote:

“Of course, what we have a right to expect of the American boy is that he shall turn out to be a good American man. Now, the chances are strong that he won’t be much of a man unless he is a good deal of a boy. He must not be a coward or a weakling, a bully, a shirk, or a prig. He must work hard and play hard. He must be clean-minded and clean-lived, and able to hold his own under all circumstances and against all comers. It is only on these conditions that he will grow into the kind of American man of whom America can be really proud.”

What is the lesson we should learn from Roosevelt?  That each of us contributes to the fabric of our shared country, and that it starts with how we treat our children and our neighbors children.  We are the ones who help create the kind of men and women who have strong morals, strong ideals and ultimately, concern for one another.

Could we lose our National Parks and Monuments?

Speaking to the importance of our public lands

During my presentations, many are surprised by the loose protections of our public lands.  They should not be surprised – they should be alarmed!

President Roosevelt was a visionary who looked far ahead in the future and decided that he had a moral obligation to do his best to protect our wilderness areas so that future generations could enjoy them.  The first step was meeting with Congress to persuade them to expand our National Parks.  During his time, the number of Parks would double, but not all of those parks still exist.  In fact, 2 out of the 5 he signed into law no longer function as “National Parks” but rather have been reassigned to different categorization.  In fact, our 2nd National Park, Mackinaw Island, no longer exists as a National Park at all.  What Congress creates, they can take away.  They can, and given the chance, they will.  They will because they will look at the value not for it’s beauty but rather the resources under the grandeur.  The only people who can potentially stop it are the owners of the land – you and I.  The only way we can do so is by being vocal to our representatives.  They do listen.  It’s your vote that employs them.

Roosevelt understood that Congress wasn’t saving the land faster than those looking to grab the resources. Because of this, the Antiquities Act of 1906 allowed the President to declare certain land already owned by the government special status as a National Monument.  The idea was to protect them for all future generations.  This past week I was in Washington D.C. to listen to a group of lawyers, a Senator and Congressman who are fighting to undue the Antiquities Act.  It is a shame that these people cloak their actions on behalf of a privileged class into a fight to undue “Big Government”.

What we sometimes fail to understand about “Big Government” is that many times it became big because there are people who chose to either bend, test or break the rules. Each time that happened, new laws or nuance in the law needed to be created to curb the abuse. There will never be a lack of those who see their duty on earth to test the rules for their personal interests.   It is happening now, and your voice is needed if you cherish your public lands.

Do not be swayed by headlines.  Be swayed by your conscious to protect our public lands for the next generations. “For of all the questions that can come before our great nation, there is none that compares in importance to the great central task of leaving this land even a better land for our descendants than it is for us”  Theodore Roosevelt.



The Inauguration of a President

TR’s Address in 1905.  

My fellow-citizens, no people on earth have more cause to be thankful than ours, and this is said reverently, in no spirit of boastfulness in our own strength, but with gratitude to the Giver of Good who has blessed us with the conditions which have enabled us to achieve so large a measure of well-being and of happiness. To us as a people it has been granted to lay the foundations of our national life in a new continent. We are the heirs of the ages, and yet we have had to pay few of the penalties which in old countries are exacted by the dead hand of a bygone civilization.We have not been obliged to fight for our existence against any alien race;and yet our life has called for the vigor and effort without which the manlier and hardier virtues wither away. Under such conditions it would be our own fault if we failed; and the success which we have had in the past, the success which we confidently believe the future will bring, should cause in us no feeling of vainglory, but rather a deep and abiding realization of all which life has offered us; a full acknowledgment of the responsibility which is ours; and a fixed determination to show that under a free government a mighty people can thrive best, alike as regards the things of the body and the things of the soul.

Much has been given us, and much will rightfully be expected from us. We have duties to others and duties to ourselves; and we can shirk neither.We have become a great nation, forced by the fact of its greatness into relations with the other nations of the earth, and we must behave as beseems a people with such responsibilities. Toward all other nations, large and small, our attitude must be one of cordial and sincere friendship. We must show not only in our words, but in our deeds, that we are earnestly desirous of securing their good will by acting toward them in a spirit of just and generous recognition of all their rights. But justice and generosity in a nation, as in an individual, count most when shown not by the weak but by the strong. While ever careful to refrain from wrongdoing others, we must be no less insistent that we are not wronged ourselves. We wish peace,but we wish the peace of justice, the peace of righteousness. We wish i because we think it is right and not because we are afraid. No weak nation that acts manfully and justly should ever have cause to fear us, and no strong power should ever be able to single us out as a subject for insolent aggression.

Our relations with the other powers of the world are important; but still more important are our relations among ourselves. Such growth in wealth, in population, and in power as this nation has seen during the century and a quarter of its national life is inevitably accompanied by a like growth in the problems which are ever before every nation that rises to greatness. Power invariably means both responsibility and danger. Our forefathers faced certain perils which we have outgrown. We now face other perils, the very existence of which it was impossible that they should foresee. Modern life is both complex and intense, and the tremendous changes wrought by the extraordinary industrial development of the last half century are felt in every fiber of our social and political being. Never before have men tried so vast and formidable an experiment as that of administering the affairs of a continent under the forms of a Democratic republic. The conditions which have told for our marvelous material well-being, which have developed to a very high degree our energy, self-reliance, and individual initiative, have also brought the care and anxiety inseparable from the accumulation of great wealth in industrial centers. Upon the success of our experiment much depends, not only as regards our own welfare, but as regards the welfare of mankind. If we fail, the cause of free self-government throughout the world will rock to its foundations, and therefore our responsibility is heavy, to ourselves, to the world as it is to-day, and to the generations yet unborn. There is no good reason why we should fear the future, but there is every reason why we should face it seriously, neither hiding from ourselves the gravity of the problems before us nor fearing to approach these problems with the unbending, unflinching purpose to solve them aright.

Yet, after all, though the problems are new, though the tasks set before us differ from the tasks set before our fathers who founded and preserved this Republic, the spirit in which these tasks must be undertaken and these problems faced, if our duty is to be well done, remains essentially unchanged.We know that self-government is difficult. We know that no people needs such high traits of character as that people which seeks to govern its affairs aright through the freely expressed will of the freemen who compose it. But we have faith that we shall not prove false to the memories of the men of the mighty past. They did their work, they left us the splendid heritage we now enjoy. We in our turn have an assured confidence that we shall be able to leave this heritage unwasted and enlarged to our children and our children’s children. To do so we must show, not merely in great crises, but in the everyday affairs of life, the qualities of practica lintelligence, of courage, of hardihood, and endurance, and above all the power of devotion to a lofty ideal, which made great the men who founded this Republic in the days of Washington, which made great the men who preserved this Republic in the days of Abraham Lincoln.

The importance of positive influence


2016 has been a whirlwind year of presentations across the country on the wit, wisdom and leadership of Theodore Roosevelt.  As I have traveled during this turbulent political year, I have purposely focused on bringing a positive message to my audiences.

One of hope.

My emphasis has been on the importance of overcoming our obstacles in life (TR and his asthma).  I speak often on Roosevelt’s skill of making friends across a spectrum of interests, status and experience (TR had friends from Cowboys to Kings).  I stress the importance of a good handshake and an honest look in the eye.

We need positive inputs, because I believe we are being conditioned to react only to negative ones. If we believe as a society that the only way to progress is to beat down those next to us, we are missing the message that TR wanted us to learn: The idea that we all deserve a square deal in this country.

A square deal is one built on the positive.  Work hard, be honest and do your part – and in the end, you will live a good life and leave a good name. But it is larger than that.  In the end, if we all do it right, we leave behind a stronger country for our children and their children.

You have impact.  Your children are watching you and taking cues from how you behave towards others.  They watch your actions and will model what they see.  Do it right, and the reward will be large.  A legacy of great generations after you.



Presenting history while making history

Theodore Roosevelt laid the cornerstone to the building that would house the Lincoln cabin on Feb 12 1909, the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth.  To celebrate this event, the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park allowed me the honor of giving the speech that Roosevelt gave on that historic day.

To be part of the 100th Anniversary of the National Park service celebration and more specifically to be given this privilege  on the 100th birthday of the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park, was an amazing experience.  Roosevelt’s words were as poignant today as they were then.

As I spoke, I was fortunate to have something Roosevelt did not – the memorial in front of me, the 56 steps leading to a magnificent building that holds a small log cabin that reminds us that great leaders come often from humble beginnings.  A tribute to a true leader who forever saved this nation.

I was fortunate to be joined with many great speakers that day, including an amazing FDR, Einsenhower, Lincoln and Mark Twain.    More importantly, I was assisted by a park staff that was passionate, committed and who truly love their jobs, their parks and their country.

I will be forever humbled by the opportunity to recreate history while becoming part of the history of this amazing place.   Thank you Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park and the National Park Service.