Friday, February 17, 2017
The Theodore Roosevelt Center (TRC) at Dickinson State University (DSU) recently acquired a series of original letters exchanged between Theodore Roosevelt and a young admirer.
This earnest exchange between former Dickinson resident Teddy Crombie and his hero, Theodore Roosevelt, consists of four letters written between February and October 1912. Crombie was 11 years old when he wrote the first letter in the series to TR from Pompeys Pillar, Montana
An excerpt from this letter states, “You came through here last summer! But I live on a ranch about five miles from town so I didn’t get to see you. I will be twelve years old on April the 5th. I want to join the Boy Scouts if I can. And I hope that I will be able to see you some day.”
He went on to write, “I hope that you will be president and I will try to grow up into as good and honest a man as you are. I wish you success and a handshake.”
Roosevelt answered his letter personally, writing, “I hope that if I get to Montana again, you will be able to get to the railway depot, and that I may have the pleasure of shaking hands with you.” TR also wrote that he hoped Crombie would be able to carry out his desire to join the Boy Scouts, as it is a “fine movement.”
Later that year, the two met in Montana during Roosevelt’s Progressive Party campaign for the presidency, and Crombie accompanied TR on the train for a short way to Billings. Crombie wrote to TR again in October. Not surprisingly, in light of TR’s having been shot during a campaign speech in Milwaukee Oct. 14, Teddy’s second letter was answered by someone else on TR’s behalf.
The correspondence highlights not only Roosevelt’s ability to inspire young people, but also the TRC’s mission in preserving the legacy of America’s 26th president.
The first letter is part of the Theodore Roosevelt Papers at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. It was digitized for the TRC website at www.theodorerooseveltcenter.org some time ago.
The other three letters, until this month, belonged to the prominent Theodore Roosevelt collector Gregory Wynn.
“I was inspired by Theodore Roosevelt myself at about the same age as Teddy Crombie and am an Eagle Scout myself, and so there are personal connections to this trove of letters,” Wynn said. “But they belong in Dickinson with the Theodore Roosevelt Center.”
The original letters from Wynn’s private collection arrived at DSU early this month. The TRC staff have already scanned and cataloged them for inclusion on the website.