Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) was president of the United States 1901-1909. He was a soldier, an explorer, and a politician, and he was celebrated for his «Rough Riders», who fought in the Spanish-American War. As vice president of the United States, he became the twenty-sixth president upon the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901. In 1904, Roosevelt ran for the presidency and was elected.
While bear hunting around Sunflower River in 1902, Roosevelt was led to a bear cub tied to a tree by his hosts to make it easy for him to shoot. Teddy, as the president was affectionately called, refused to shoot the small bear, insisting that it be released and freed. Newspapers throughout the country carried the story, and Clifford K. Berryman, a cartoonist for the Washington Post, drew a cartoon titled «Drawing the Line in Mississippi», a pun on the border dispute between Mississippi and Louisiana. The incident enhanced Roosevelt’s popularity with the people as well as his reputation as a conservationist.
A stuffed bear to commemorate this act of kindness was manufactured, after receiving the presidents’s permission to use his name. A Brooklynite, Morris Michton, and his wife, Rose, sewed and put together many bears, and a distinctive business was born when the bears were placed on the commercial market. This business, under the name Ideal Toy Company, started in the back room of a corner candy store and grew into one of the largest toy companies in America.
Even today, teddy bears, more popular than ever, are in every toy store and in almost every home.