The Middle Men on Mount Rushmore
February 23, 2013
Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt are the middle men on the Mt. Rushmore Monument. Last week in honor of President’s Day we learned some little known facts about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. I want to finish the two part series with the men in the middle.
The third President of the United States had a pet mockingbird. Jefferson kept it in his Washington study where he let the bird fly around the room when he was alone. They were so close the bird would sit on his shoulder and peck food from his lips. This friendly fowl followed him upstairs in the evenings, but instead of flying up, he hopped, step by step, after his master.
We all know about Jefferson and the home he designed called Monticello. Originally, he put a billiard room in the dome. Wouldn’t you know it? Before he could complete the project, the State of Virginia outlawed billiards!
Jefferson didn’t like failure, so in 1792, then Secretary of State Jefferson entered a contest under a pseudonym to choose the architect to design the White House. Unfortunately, the prize went to someone else. He never told his friends about his failure, and his participation wasn’t discovered until the 1930s. A personal notebook was found and there was the exact design submitted by this unidentified person, doomed to fail.
Thomas Jefferson served two terms and was the only two term president who never vetoed a bill.
We think of Jefferson as a great orator, when in fact he was a terrible public speaker and often mumbled. He kept his voice so low, he was hard to understand. He also had very bad posture and wore clothes unfitting for a man of his stature, worn brown coat, red waistcoat, corduroy breeches, wool hose, and a pair of carpet slippers without heels. He insulted the British ambassador of the time by receiving him in these informal clothes. It almost sparked an international incident.
Did you know Jefferson started the presidential tradition of shaking hands with visitors instead of bowing?
Teddy Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States and third from the left on the monument.
He has the distinction of being the first president to travel outside the United States to Panama.
While boxing in the White House one day, he lost the sight in one eye.
We all know what a photographic memory is, well, Teddy had one. By the time we can read one sentence, he could read a whole page. Quite a feat!
Here’s little known nugget. The phrase “good to the last drop” you think of coffee, right? Teddy Roosevelt was the one who coined that phrase. He made an offhand comment while drinking coffee and voila, it became a well-known slogan for an ad campaign.
He was the youngest police commissioner of New York City, a colonel in the Rough Riders during the Spanish-American War, and an ardent conservationist.
His friends never called him Teddy, he hated the nickname.
Football, in Roosevelt’s time, was played on college campuses and a very violent game at the time. In 1905 only a few colleges played the sport, nevertheless, 18 men died during these matches. Roosevelt formed the American Football Rules Committee in 1906, where violence, like gang tackling, was forbidden. Thank you Teddy Roosevelt!
Did you realize President Roosevelt was responsible for Teddy Bears? He liked to hunt. One day, he didn’t bag anything and his compatriots tried to get him to shoot an old bear they captured. Roosevelt, ever the sportsman, refused. Publicity being what it is, a cartoon referred to the bear as Teddy’s bear and teddy bears were born. Toy stores everywhere began to carry them. Amazing.
I hope you have enjoyed my tribute to President’s past in honor of President’s Day.
Patty Wiseman is author of An Unlikely Arrangement. Please click the book cover to read more about the novel or purchase a copy direct from Amazon. Patty can be reached at [email protected], Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads, LinkedIn, and www.pattywiseman.net