February 19, 1905

Theodore Roosevelt, Readying for His Inauguration, Complains of Bad Tailoring: His Coat and Trousers, He Fumes, are "Hopeless"

Autograph Letter Signed
2 pages
SMC 584

The first time Theodore Roosevelt took the presidential Oath of Office, on Saturday, September 14, 1901, his ascension to the presidency was so unexpected, he had to borrow clothes to wear to the ceremony. Just hours before, he had been hiking high in the Adirondacks; then, suddenly, President McKinley, recovering from a gunshot wound sustained in an assassination attempt the week before, worsened and died - and Vice-President Roosevelt, fresh off Mount Marcy, urgently needed something decent to wear. He scrambled, then, to borrow a frock coat, striped trousers, a waistcoat,  a four-in-hand tie and patent leather shoes - that he might be sworn-in as President like a gentleman.


Some four years later, Roosevelt, living in the White House and about to take the Oath of Office for a second time, was still concerned with looking the part. In this marvelous letter, he takes a haberdasher to task for some shoddy tailoring. Inauguration Day, he explains with some annoyance, is less than two weeks away, and he can't possibly wear what's bent sent him:


This morning I hoped the frock coat would do, though the trousers were hopeless. But on trying it on again, the cut and hang are so bad that I do not like to wear it on inauguration day; as for the trousers, I don't think any change can help them.

Please send some good man on at once to get the coat, try it on me, & have it radically altered; can another pair of trousers be made.

The failure is very annoying, as now inauguration day is less than a fortnight off. Have the man here Tuesday morning at nine.


No doubt Messieurs Rock & Co. got Roosevelt's wardrobe just as he wanted - for the night before his Inauguration he exulted, "Tomorrow I shall come into office in my  own right. Then watch out for me!"

Clothes make the man.

Autograph Letter Signed, as President, 2 pages, quarto, The White House, Washington, February 19, 1905. To clothiers Rock & Co.

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