After his post-presidential safari, Theodore Roosevelt toured Europe and served as a special ambassador for the United States at the funeral of King Edward VII. He was a busy man; delivering speeches, feted at every stop, and entertained by royalty. He spoke at the University of Cambridge and was greeted by the students like other prominent visitors. In a lengthy letter to David Gray, Roosevelt described the joke that the students at Cambridge played on him.
“In Cambridge everything was more informal, and it was largely a reception by the students themselves. They greeted me just as the students of our own colleges would have greeted me. On my arrival they had formed in two long ranks, leaving a pathway for me to walk between them, and at the final turn in this pathway they had a Teddy Bear seated on the pavement with outstretched paw to greet me; and when I was given my degree in the chapel the students had rigged a kind of pulley arrangement by which they tried to let down a very large Teddy Bear upon me as I took the degree – I was told that when Kitchener was given his degree they let down a Mahdi upon him, and a monkey on Darwin under similar circumstances. I spoke in the Union to the students, and it was exactly and precisely as if I had been speaking to the Harvard students in the Harvard Union. They understood everything I said and every allusion with exactly the same quickness that the Harvard boys would have shown, and responded to precisely the same appeals. Indeed I was interested to find that there was such exact similarity. And how beautiful Cambridge is!”
University of Cambridge, photo by Andrew Gunn and available from Wikimedia Commons.