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Historical Perspectives (32)

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With the Help of New Women Voters, Harding Wins in a Landslide – But Still Sees the Presidency as a Prison Term

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Theodore Roosevelt and the 1912 Election: What Happened & Why Did Roosevelt Run?

October 5, 2020
LEVEL: 11th Grade U.S. History or 12th grade U.S. Government
LESSON LENGTH: One 90-minute period or two 45-minute periods.

COMPELLING QUESTION: What qualities did Teddy Roosevelt possess that made his third party campaign appealing to voters

Description: It’s October of 1912 and Theodore Roosevelt is in the hospital after being shot while giving a campaign speech. Students will play the role of campaign advisors and work in groups to better understand Roosevelt and the election by analyzing primary sources. Then each group will create a campaign poster promoting Roosevelt’s candidacy. Students will consider what the key issues are in the election and how their poster will attract voters to Roosevelt’s campaign.

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The 20th Anniversary of the Transfer of the Panama Canal

By Benjamin Shapell, Sara Willen | December 30, 2019

It wasn’t until the turn of the 20th century when the United States, led by the intrepid Theodore Roosevelt – ever mindful of naval power – decided that it was not only a vital matter of American lives, time and money, but national principle, to create an American-controlled waterway across the Panamanian isthmus.

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Mark Twain and the Holy Land

December 11, 2019
October 25, 2019 - February 2, 2020

Of all the topics that might have engaged young Samuel Langhorne Clemens’ imagination in 1867, none was less likely or less promising than Palestine, the Holy Land. Known for his biting satire and humorous short pieces on California and the West, Clemens (1835–1910) found the subject that would propel him to national acclaim almost by accident. His serendipitous discovery of a “pleasure cruise” to Europe and the Near East, his success at inveigling his way onto the journey, and reactions to his fellow passengers and to the people and places he visited came to happy fruition in The Innocents Abroad, or The New Pilgrims’ Progress. No book of his ever sold more copies in his lifetime.

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The 100th Commemoration of the Death of Theodore Roosevelt

By Benjamin Shapell, Sara Willen | January 13, 2019

Theodore Roosevelt, having wanted his whole life to be the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral, finally got at least half of his wish when, on January 8, 1919, he was buried, quietly, in his parish church in Oyster Bay. Reporters watching as President Wilson read the message that Roosevelt had died, swore he broke into a wide transcendent smile. Why, is the story told here, in one of the very last letters Roosevelt ever wrote…

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December 2010 - March 2013
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Picture of President Kennedy in the limousine in Dallas, Texas, on Main Street, minutes before the assassination. Also in the presidential limousine are Jackie Kennedy, Texas Governor John Connally, and his wife, Nellie. Photographer: Walt Cisco, Dallas Morning News.

The Mortal Presidency Exhibition

January 15, 2018
May 10, 2010 - February 28, 2011
Beverly Hills Public Library, Beverly Hills, CA

The most dangerous job in America is not, as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently announced, fishing. Nor is it logging, flying, or steel manufacturing. The job with the worst mortality rate is the hardest one to get: President of the United States.

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The Idea of Lincoln: Man and Memory

January 1, 2018
May 2008 - December 2009; April 2012 - October 2012

This exhibition features letters in Lincoln’s hand, some of which testify to the mythic idea of him – his kindness, honesty, and mercy; and some reflecting the gritty reality of his life – law cases about hogs, choosing pragmatism over principle, crafting an image.

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Calvin Coolidge Jr.’s Death

By Benjamin Shapell, Sara Willen | July 6, 2017

A heart-broken president mourns his teenage son.

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Theodore Roosevelt, circa 1911. Library of Congress LC-DIG-ppmsca-36665.

The United States Enters First World War

By Benjamin Shapell, Sara Willen | April 6, 2017
Theodore Roosevelt Lambastes President Wilson for Refusing to Let Him Lead a Division in World War I

Theodore Roosevelt was dying to serve in World War I. He was, he reminded all who could hear, an ex-Commander in Chief of the United States Army, and ready to once again lead “his” First United States Volunteer Cavalry – the “Rough Riders” – into the fray. But President Wilson, whom Roosevelt detested, refused the appointment

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The Road to the Inauguration: 1905

By Benjamin Shapell, Sara Willen | January 12, 2017

Theodore Roosevelt has a suit made, and re-made, for his 1905 inauguration.

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Wilson wanted to ascertain all the facts; he wanted to reach a determination; he wanted, then and only then, to write the Imperial German government, a sharp letter. He was still gathering information when, on May 7th, another German U-Boat torpedoed and sank the British luxury ocean liner RMS Luisitania, killing 1,198 people, including 128 Americans. This time Wilson did voice a protest – but that was all. “Americans must have a consciousness different from the consciousness of every other nation in the world,” he declared. “There is such a thing as a man being too proud to fight. There is such a thing as a nation being so right that it does not need to convince others by force that it is right.” Roosevelt was apoplectic.

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Presidential Enmity and Amity

By Benjamin Shapell, Sara Willen | April 25, 2013

Theodore Roosevelt hated William Howard Taft; Taft hated Roosevelt; Roosevelt hated Woodrow Wilson. Wilson hated…

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The Death of McKinley and the Presidency of Roosevelt

By Benjamin Shapell, Sara Willen | September 14, 2012

On the day he suddenly becomes president, Roosevelt writes of his heavy and painful task.

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Election Poster fod President Wm. McKinley, Vice President Theo. Roosevelt, c.1900. Source: Library of Congress.

The McKinley Assassination

By Sara Willen, Resident Historian | September 6, 2012

The afternoon that President McKinley was shot point-blank, his Vice President was on an island, xxxxx miles away. VP Theodore Roosevelt wired for news – and predicted a recovery for McKinley who would succumb to his wounds xxxxx days later.

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Theodore Roosevelt in ’12

June 15, 2012
June 2012 - November 2012
June 2012 - November 2012

The Presidential election of 1912 featured old friends publicly transformed into bitter enemies; the creation of a new political party which out-polled the incumbent president; and an assassination attempt on a former president-turned-candidate, running for an unprecedented third term.

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Theodore Roosevelt: the First President to Ride in an Automobile

By Benjamin Shapell, Sara Willen | May 27, 2012

Theodore Roosevelt, horseman, disparages the motor car.

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©Shapell Manuscript Foundation. All Rights Reserved. For more information, please contact us at shapell.org.

The Sinking of the RMS Titanic

By Benjamin Shapell, Sara Willen | April 15, 2012

President William Howard Taft, heartbroken at the loss on the Titanic of his military aide, writes an emotional eulogy.

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The conundrum of the President who is at once both the most common and the rarest in manuscript material, is solved.

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What Education Teaches

January 31, 2011
April 2007 - August 2007

“What Education Teaches” is an exhibit of the original letters of famous people discussing, explicitly or implicitly, what they’ve learned, why they’ve learned it, and how that knowledge has informed their actions. The exhibit featured the autograph material of Mark Twain, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Franklin Roosevelt, and others.

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