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The Spirit of Teddy Roosevelt

Dare Greatly!

Karen and Jay celebrate the positive energy and wonderful spirit of Teddy Roosevelt!

Vigor. Enthusiasm. Bold adventure. Boundless energy. An infectious spirit. These are the attributes that define our 26th President Teddy Roosevelt. And we are especially excited to be highlighting the indomitable spirit of this man today, as October 27th is actually his birthday. Born in 1858, Roosevelt would be 165 years old if he were alive today – and my guess is that if he were alive today, and in his prime, he could make a great contribution to our nation – in so many ways.

He was a champion of conservation and the environment, creating more than two hundred parks and bird sanctuaries, along with helping to save the American buffalo. He was a world leader for peace who brought the war between Russia and Japan to an end through the historic Peace Treaty, signed in Portsmouth, NH, and for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize. He was a tireless fighter for the common man – known at the ‘trust buster,’ in taking on the monopolies, trusts, and special interests. All marvelous attributes and areas where a good dose of Teddy Roosevelt today, could certainly go a long way in support of America.

As the youngest man ever to assume the Presidency, Teddy Roosevelt never deviated from his convictions, passions, and promises. As a young man with asthma, people said he would live a short life, with much of what he wanted to achieve out of reach because of his poor health. Through the power of the human spirit and an extensive exercise regimen that he maintained at his father’s gym, Teddy grew to face his health challenges head on and made fitness a priority. I recall a story where Roosevelt hosted a delegation visiting from France by scheduling a day of exercise, physical events, and more. Following the series of events, a member of the delegation said he was too tired to debate any issue and would never question the good intentions Roosevelt held.

When tragedy struck and his mother and wife passed away at almost the same time, he did not retreat. He regrouped and moved on with steadfast courage. He chose not to simply enjoy the ‘comfortable life,’ but instead embraced what he called the ‘strenuous life.’ He consistently took risks and engaged in daring and potentially dangerous initiatives – for example, his founding of the Rough Riders - a cavalry regiment that fought heroically during the Spanish-American War. He put his love of country ahead of his own well-being and returned home as a hero.

Our national park system saw one of its greatest expansions under Roosevelt, protecting over 230 million acres of public land. His administration helped lay the groundwork for many of the environmental and conservation innovations that allow us to drink clean water, enjoy state and national parks, and benefit from the incredible topography our nation has to offer. Roosevelt's legacy as a reformer, conservationist, and advocate for a government that works for the people has had a lasting impact on American politics and helped set the stage for future regulatory reforms that shaped the 20th century and the growth of our nation.

Very surprisingly, and thankfully, I even had the opportunity to appear with Teddy recently – impromptu – when on a run in New York City, I happened to come across him at his birthplace. You might enjoy taking a quick look at this video – and listening to what Teddy has to say.

Teddy Saves the Buffalo in NH!

Conservation is alive and well in the state of New Hampshire. This tradition has been in place for well over 100 years and has attracted national conservation figures who have both come from and come to New Hampshire, especially one president.

Known by many as "Teddy" (a nickname he actually disliked, preferring the name TR), Roosevelt was elected Vice-President of the United States in 1900. He then became President shortly thereafter due to the assassination of President McKinley in 1901. One year later, in 1902, while campaigning during the midterm elections, he visited New Hampshire and other New England states to rally support for candidates across the region. This is when his relationship with the Granite State began. While in New Hampshire as President, he visited his Secretary of State John Hay at Hay's beautiful estate known as "The Fells" on the shores of Lake Sunapee in Newbury, New Hampshire. Also, on this trip, he visited nearby Newport, which led to an interesting connection for the national conservation of a national treasure, the American Buffalo.

While in Newport, Roosevelt, known as "the hunter," made a trip to Corbin Park, a well-known hunting preserve on the outskirts of town. Around the same time, a naturalist who worked at Corbin Park named Ernest Harold Baynes had just started raising buffalo in nearby Meriden, NH, to supplement the declining herd in the west. Roosevelt was intrigued by the New Hampshire-based "buffalo (or bison) initiative." In true TR fashion, he got so excited that, along with Baynes, he helped found the American Bison Society. Not surprisingly, due to TR's enthusiastic nature and force of personality, he was named president of the organization.

Roosevelt's legacy may be ‘national’ for his conservation efforts, but it also has important ties to New Hampshire.

Teddy Roosevelt - The ‘National Parks’ President

Teddy Roosevelt had a deep love for the outdoors and is often celebrated for his significant contributions to conservation and the establishment of the national park system in the United States.

Roosevelt's love for the outdoors was cultivated from a young age. He was an avid hunter, naturalist, and explorer. During his presidency, he prioritized the conservation of natural resources and the preservation of the country's wilderness. He recognized the importance of protecting the nation's natural heritage and the need for sustainable land management.

Roosevelt’s legacy of conservation and protection of our great outdoors cements him as one of the greatest Presidents of all time, and that is why he is forever remembered as one of the four Presidents featured on Mount Rushmore.

Roosevelt’s legacy in regard to national parks includes:

  1. Wind Cave National Park (1903) - The first park established under Roosevelt's administration, protecting a unique cave system in South Dakota.

  2. Crater Lake National Park (1902) - Protecting the stunning Crater Lake in Oregon, it was also established during his presidency.

  3. Mesa Verde National Park (1906) - Preserving ancient Puebloan cliff dwellings in Colorado.

  4. Platt National Park (now part of Chickasaw National Recreation Area) - Established in 1906, it protected mineral springs in Oklahoma.

These early national parks set a precedent for conservation efforts in the United States.

Teddy Roosevelt's dedication to preserving the environment led to the Antiquities Act, which he used to designate 18 national monuments, and the creation of the U.S. Forest Service. His legacy in conservation and the establishment of national parks continues to be celebrated, and his efforts laid the foundation for the extensive national park system we have today.

Positive Profile of the Week: Dayton Duncan - and Teddy

This week we are delighted to highlight a wonderful New Hampshire citizen and amazing talent – Dayton Duncan.

Dayton is a New Hampshire-based storyteller and is celebrated for his collaborative and independent work in the world of documentaries and books. His partnership with Ken Burns on renowned films such as "The Civil War," "Baseball," and "The National Parks" has left an indelible mark on American storytelling. Originally from Indianola, Iowa, Duncan has called New Hampshire home for half a century, residing in Rindge with his wife, Dianne. This love for his adopted state permeates his work, which delves into New Hampshire's rich history, culture, and natural beauty.

I first became aware of Dayton – back many years ago, when he was a young reporter for the Newport Argus-Champion, my hometown newspaper, run by the legendary Ed DeCourcy. At the time, I was a young State Representative writing a weekly column for the paper and could not help but be impressed with Dayton’s work. Turns out I was not the only one as shortly thereafter, Governor Hugh Gallen chose Dayton to be his press secretary. And the rest is history, as they say.

One of Duncan's notable contributions is the 2023 documentary, "The American Buffalo," which pays homage to the iconic bison's near-extinction and triumphant recovery through conservation and Native American efforts - see the article above. This film is a moving testament to the buffalo's significance in American culture.

"Miles From Nowhere," another of Duncan's remarkable works, takes viewers on a journey to the most remote and sparsely populated U.S. counties. This documentary explores the challenges and rewards of life in isolated communities, shedding light on the inhabitants who call these places home.

With a literary flair, Duncan has authored 14 books, including "Grass Roots: One Year in the Life of the New Hampshire Presidential Primary," "Out West: A Journey Through Lewis & Clark's America," and "Seed of the Future: Yosemite and the Evolution of the National Park Idea." His books captivate readers with their engaging writing style and profound insights into American history and culture.

Besides his creative endeavors, Duncan is an advocate for public service, serving on various nonprofit boards, including the National Park Foundation and the American Heritage Rivers Advisory Committee. His contributions extend to lecturing and commenting on American history and culture.

Dayton Duncan's final documentary as he signs off from filmmaking is a testament to his love for New Hampshire and his commitment to sharing the stories that have shaped America. Duncan's storytelling is a priceless contribution to understanding New Hampshire's place in American history and culture especially with his tales of Teddy!

Quotes of the Week: The Spirit of Teddy Roosevelt

“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those timid spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat." - Theodore Roosevelt "The best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing." - Theodore Roosevelt "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far." - Theodore Roosevelt "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming." - Theodore Roosevelt "Believe you can and you're halfway there." - Theodore Roosevelt


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