Teddy Takes California

President Theodore Roosevelt Speaking at Oakland, California, Underwood & Underwood Studios, N. Y., May 14, 1903, photograph, http://digitalcollections.smu.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/bud/id/40/rec/7
President Theodore Roosevelt Speaking at Oakland, California, Underwood & Underwood Studios, N. Y., May 14, 1903, photograph, http://digitalcollections.smu.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/bud/id/40/rec/7

When I noticed this photograph, one word immediately came to my mind. America. I chose this because it is extremely American. Not only is it TR, but a massive crowd of Americans coming out to see their commander-in-chief speak. It may appear somewhat unclear, but almost every head is turned towards the late President in this picture, except one. There is a man with a top hat on sitting to Teddy’s right, staring at the ground. I think this man sort of captures the popular style of the early 1900s. I understand that top hats were quite popular for men at the time (1903). Why does he stare at the ground though? Maybe he is part of Roosevelt’s cabinet, had a long train ride to Oakland, California and is out of it. We all know that feeling. Maybe the shot was taken as top hat man was coincidentally looking at the ground. We all know that feeling. Lastly, the three heads in the left corner. They are definitely captivated by what TR is saying. I think this captures the essence of how much America loved this person and how much we still do, for the most part, today.

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4 thoughts on “Teddy Takes California”

  1. I like how you raise the possibility that there is absolutely no meaning in the posture of the guy in the top hat! We must always keep in mind that there may be many different possible explanations for something happening in the picture.

  2. Similar to the author, when I studied this photograph I thought of America, American nationalism, and patriotism. The mob of interested Americans listens intently to their leader speak. The town center is “decked out” in such a a way to welcome and honor the president (notice hanging decorations). Teddy looks to have his hand extended, as if he were in the midst of an inspirational speech. The crowd portion of the photo appears to be blurred, either due to poor photo quality or just the large number of people who showed up to hear the president speak. Judging off this photo, the crowd seems excited and large–an obvious representation of US patriotism at this time…or is it? While this specific photo seems to show widespread love and support for Teddy Roosevelt (which for the most part I believe was accurate), not every American in 1903 was as excited about Teddy. It’s interesting to note that photos only show a part of the whole.

  3. This photo is almost in contrast to the political cartoon about President Nixon that I chose to write about. During TR’s time as president, the nation was greatly infatuated with the government, as you can tell from the immense crowd that is intensely focused on what he is speaking about. This was a very patriotic time in history where the American people put their whole heart and faith into politicians, for this later to be ended by the Watergate scandal.

  4. Much like the previous commenter, one of the first things I thought about was the total infatuation amongst the crowd. Even his fellow peers are leaning intently to hear him. Despite Watergate putting an end to such strong devotion there is still definitely a vast amount of citizens who hold the same passion as the people in the photograph.

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