Food and Theodore Roosevelt

Nov 24, 2014

This week people across the country will sit down, reflect on lives well-lived, and then eat. Theodore Roosevelt’s life was also shaped by food and the people he chose to have at his table. Here is a selection of insights:

  • Roosevelt’s frustration with the quality of the food at Harvard inspired him to foster new connections. In the fall of 1876, TR wrote to Martha Bulloch Roosevelt: “As I am decidedly discontented with the food at Commons I am going to join a table with some of the Boston men—Andrews, Shaw, Hooper, Peters, Lampson …”
  • A family united in praise of a savory meal is a beautiful thing. In January 1903, TR writes to Colin Campbell about some delicious moose meat. “I do not know when I have tasted anything better, and all the family agreed with me.”
  • The food we consume connects back to the larger political picture of agriculture. In July of 1903, Andrew Carnegie was writing to Roosevelt over a food controversy far greater than what kind of meat would be served at the table. Carnegie is concerned about Canadian food products being given preference over British food products. “I shall not fail to give my decided opinion that the agricultural interests, all powerful, will demand retaliation—and get it,” Carnegie writes, with the underline very much his own.
  • TR was always the kind of man who embraced everything life offered. Food was no different. In an 1872 letter to Anna Roosevelt Cowles, TR discussed consuming eight sandwiches and twenty-four peaches while traveling.

If you are traveling this Thanksgiving, please remember to pack your peaches, contemplate the international implications of your food, ponder the moose, and always be aware of the awesome people sharing the table with you. A happy Thanksgiving from the Theodore Roosevelt Center.


Letter from Theodore Roosevelt to Martha Bulloch Roosevelt, October 6, 1876. Theodore Roosevelt Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard University. Electronic copy sponsored by the Theodore Roosevelt Center at Dickinson State University. For reproduction or publication permission, contact the Theodore Roosevelt Collection, Houghton Library.

Posted by Pamela Pierce on Nov 24, 2014 in Current Events  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)  |  Share this post

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