September 29, 2010
In my first review of the Symposium, I covered the lectures and panels. Now, I’d like to let you know what happened once the lectures were done. Friday night, Dr. Tim Justus, chair of the Dickinson State University Music department, and a musical ensemble, presented a program, “Music in the White House: 1901-1909.” The musical selections were pieces that would have been heard regularly in the Roosevelt White House during social occasions. The program included three John Philip Sousa marches, “Le Coin Des Enfants” by Claude Debussy and several ragtime pieces. Alice Roosevelt was the first to request a rag piece at the White House in 1906. The United States Marine Corps Band responded with Scot Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag,” which was also played during this concert. Dr. Bruce Southard, Director of Choral Activities at DSU, joined the ensemble to perform popular vocal pieces of the time including “Shine On Harvest Moon” and “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” I thought this was a fitting ending to a day where we had discussed so often how Theodore Roosevelt was a man of his time and context. Listening to this music put me right back into the Victorian state of mind.
Saturday dawned chilly and gray but we set off to Medora for an adventure. We spent the morning at the Chuckwagon restaurant listening to two short presentations: Clay Jenkinson discussed the occasions when Roosevelt’s presidency was predicted by his contemporaries, and Valerie Naylor, superintendent of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, discussed how Roosevelt came to be on Mount Rushmore.
After those talks, the guest speakers assembled for a final forum assessing Roosevelt’s presidency. Participants asked insightful questions, and I found it interesting to hear each of the guest scholars weigh in on the major themes of the symposium. The audience clearly enjoyed themselves.
After the morning presentations, it was time to have some fun! We always plan to take participants out into Roosevelt’s badlands, and this year three excursions were offered. Two hikes, one to the Petrified Forest in Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the other through a prairie dog town to the old park entrance, with an added element of adventure this year: Wet and muddy conditions and cold temperatures tested the metal of those who signed up.
For the less hardy among the group, the third excursion remained indoors, with visits to the Chateau de Mores, a site maintained by the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and the Panama Canal museum displays at the Bully Pulpit Golf Course Clubhouse. Most participants also had the opportunity to visit Roosevelt’s Maltese Cross Cabin, which stands on the grounds of the visitors’ center at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The symposium officially concluded Saturday afternoon with a reception at the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame.
It was, to use a Rooseveltian word, a strenuous three days of lectures, panels, and exploration, but I enjoyed every moment and hope every one of our attendees did, as well. As I noted in my last Symposium post, we will be posting video and transcripts of the lectures and panels as we receive them so look for that at our Symposium page and here as well!