As outdoors enthusiasts, the adventure and work of Teddy Roosevelt has given us a lot to be thankful for. As a young man he spent much of his life enjoying and hunting wildlife across the American west. His time spent in nature led to his love for conservation and the preservation of native wildlife. As president he established several parks within the National Park System and passed the Antiquities Act, allowing the preservation of many national landmarks. No doubt, his legislation has afforded us all some great opportunity as public land owners. Respect to Roosevelt! Hell, the dude even tamed and toured the western landscape on a friggin' moose! At least that's what we are led to believe by this photo.
After seeing this photo, I had to look into it's origins. I had always read that Roosevelt was a tough dude and not shy of an adventure but surely he wasn't able to wrangle a moose and train it to float him around the lake like a pool raft. After a quick search I found that indeed, he had not... much to my disappointment. Unfortunately, the legend of this photo does not shake out in reality. As it turns out, this was an early version of photoshop. The picture was created from a hand trimmed photo of the president on a horse, pasted onto another photo of a moose. I suppose memes have been around longer than we thought. The photo was created for an article in the New York Tribune. 1912 presidential candidates, William H. Taft, Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson were all doctored into the spread on the animal associated with their party.
Then, just as now, there were the Republican and Democratic parties holding presidential candidates. These parties were represented by the familiar donkey and the elephant. So why the hell is T. Roosevelt front and center riding a moose? Well in 1912, a third party emerged known as the Bull Moose Party, a progressive split from the Republican camp. After serving two terms (1901-1909) as a Republican he sought to take a third term by running as a moose. He was successful as far as third parties go, with 27% of the total vote, beating Taft and the Republicans' 23%. However, this split of the party left the door open for the presidency as Wilson scooped most of the remainder with 42% of the vote.
So, with moose memes comes political history! While I had hoped that we in fact had an American president man enough to wrangle a bull moose, it turns out it was just a political stunt meant to entertain us. I thank Roosevelt for the entertainment as well as the miles of land free for us to roam as Americans. We continue to exist in the ripples of early conservation practices and for that I am thankful. It is our job to maintain our rights and the protection of our sacred land and wildlife! Thank you Teddy!
As a way to pay homage to our 26th president I have added a shirt to the Essential Outdoorsman store, sporting a piece of this 1912 political cartoon by E.W. Kemble
The shirt can be ordered by clicking on the photo below or going to the apparel section on EssentialOutdoorsman.com