September 29, 1898

Theodore Roosevelt Arranges a Dramatic Presentation About the Rough Riders

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Four months after he led the charge up San Juan Hill, Theodore Roosevelt was elected governor of New York. Less than three years later, he was president.  How the hero of the shortest war in American history traveled that momentous distance is partially explained by this letter: Roosevelt had a grand story to tell, and he made sure it was told everywhere. Here he enlists an actor to give a  “dramatic” presentation about the Rough Riders.

The heroic charge of the Rough Riders up San Juan Hill, in the face of withering  gunfire, was the most famous battle of the Spanish-American War. It made Roosevelt a mythic figure as well -  so much so, that humorist Finley Peter Dunne suggested Roosevelt should have titled his book The Rough Riders, "Alone in Cubia." But in a letter written two weeks after the battle, Roosevelt didn't see the glory, but rather the misery, of what he would later call a "splendid little war." On July 19th, he complained bitterly of government indifference to the suffering of his ravaged troops, tattered, sick, and hungry. By September, however, in the heat of a gubernatorial contest, all that Roosevelt - or anyone else - heard of the Rough Riders, was the sound of thousands cheering.

Typed Letter Signed, 1 page, quarto, on the elaborate letterhead of the Republican State Committee, Fifth Avenue Hotel, New York City, New York, September 29, 1898. To Mason Mitchell. With transmittal envelope, bearing two lines in autograph.

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Transcript

Republican State Committee
Fifth Avenue Hotel
New York, Sept, 29th, 1898

Benjamin B. Odell Jr., Chairman
William Barnes Jr., ChmExCommittee
Edwin A. McAlpin, Treasurer
John L. Kenyon, Secretary
Reuben L. Fox, Chief Clerk

Mason Mitchell, Esq.,
The "Lambs" Club,
City

My dear Mr. Mitchell: -

About the only request I have made of the State Committee is that they shall surely have you do that piece of work you suggested. Can you come down here to the Fifth Avenue Hotel to-morrow evening at five o'clock to meet Mr. Odell and myself and arrange details. You are the only Rough Rider with dramatic and literary capacity and I am very sincerely obliged to you if you can meet me at the hour named.

Hastily yours,

THEODORE ROOSEVELT

[envelope]
Dea[r]born Theatre
Chicago Ill

[in Roosevelt's hand]
Mason Mitchell Esq.
The "Lambs" Club