2259Newly-Discovered TR Documents Found in Chicago
- Jan 6, 2010
Derek Evans and Larry Bodine, Board members of the Chicago Bull Moose Chapter, just discovered TR documents dating to his visits to the Windy City in 1896 and 1911 at the Union League Club archives.
The Club, located at 65 W. Jackson Boulevard in the downtown "Loop" of Chicago, was established in 1879.
In the ornate Club lobby, we stepped behind the Christmas tree in the parlor and, as in Harry Potter, and opened a hidden door. This led down several flights of concrete steps. Deep in the subbasement we walked through a labyrinth of concrete hallways and found an unmarked steel door, the last door at the end of the hall. David Kohn, the Club's Director of Public Affairs, opened the giant padlock and we stepped into the past.
There were shelves everywhere in a bunker-like room, featuring an original 1909 “Plan for Chicago” by Daniel Burnham. We saw organized boxes of files, loose books in piles, and stacks of magazines from the early 1900s.
In one book, a history of the club, we determined that Colonel Roosevelt spoke at the Club twice – both times to commemorate the birthday of George Washington. The first occasion was on February 22, 1896, when he was Police Commissioner of New York. His topic was the enforcement of law. He spoke again as ex-President at the Club on February 22, 1911, on nationalism and democracy.
Working with these dates we found a book, “Fight for a City – The Story of the Union League Club of Chicago and Its Times – 1880 -1955.” Sure enough pages 184-198 had a chapter on TR: “Roosevelt, Cleveland and a Lady’s Hat.” One passage recounted members of an audience cheering:
“Who is Teddy Roosevelt?
First in war, first in peace,
First to reform the New York police.”
Two weeks later we returned to the underground archives again to meet the consulting archivist, Laura Lorenzana. She found wonderful new TR discoveries :
- The transcript of the speech that TR gave on February 22, 1911, at the club.
- A photo of TR taken in 1910 at Moffett Studio Chicago.
- A November 10, 1900, thank-you letter from TR to the president and secretary of the club. They had congratulated him on being elected Vice President.
TR became an honorary member of the Union League Club in Chicago as of 1901 (the year he became President).
We are planning a Chicago Bull Moose Chapter meeting at the Club in March 2010 and have invited Mr. Kohn to speak about TR and the Club's history. The meeting will include a trip through the “magic door,” and into the subterranean archives – where the various TR items will be on display.
The Chicago Bull Moose Chapter will Host 2012 TRA Annual Meeting, and we are working with the Union League Club to have the new items on display for attendees.
Larry Bodine, Esq.
Chicago Bull Moose chapter
Theodore Roosevelt Association
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