2015 Theodore Roosevelt Symposium

Theodore Roosevelt and the Law

September 17-19, 2015

cropped TRTheodore Roosevelt’s encounters with law and the legal tradition were anything but abstract. From bringing three boat thieves to justice in Dickinson, North Dakota, in 1886, to his saloon-closing crusade in New York City in the 1890s, to his designation of the Grand Canyon as a national monument under the Antiquities Act of 1906, Roosevelt did almost nothing without bringing his outsized personality and capacity for creating a great story to bear on events. Yet the legal questions Roosevelt encountered in the course of his life are important ones. His contributions to the national debate were important. This symposium considered Theodore Roosevelt and the Law.

“The one all-important foundation of our system of orderly liberty is obedience to law.”

From “The Higher Life in American Cities,” published in The Outlook, December 21, 1895


(subject to change)

Thursday, September 17, 2015


6:00 p.m. 
Registration - May Hall 
7:00 p.m.
Welcome and Introductions
7:30 p.m.
Keynote Address: Kermit Roosevelt III - “Theodore Roosevelt and the U.S. Constitution”
8:30 p.m.
Book Signing with Kermit Roosevelt III

Friday, September 18, 2015

8:00 a.m.
Registration/Breakfast - May Hall
9:00 a.m.
Opening Remarks
9:15 a.m.
Julia Ernst - “Roosevelt, the U.S. Constitution, and the Modern Presidency”
9:45 a.m.
Q & A with Julia Ernst
10:15 a.m.
10:30 a.m.
Doug Ellison - “Roosevelt and Frontier Justice”
11:15 a.m.
Q & A with Doug Ellison
11:45 a.m.
1:00 p.m.
Edward Kohn - “Roosevelt as New York City Police Commissioner”
1:45 p.m.
Q & A with Edward Kohn
2:00 p.m.
Break and Book Signing with Edward Kohn
2:15 p.m.
Harry Lembeck - “Roosevelt and Racial Justice: The Brownsville Incident”
3:00 p.m.
Q & A with Harry Lembeck
3:15 p.m.
Break and Book Signing with Harry Lembeck
4:30 p.m.
5:15 p.m.
7:00 p.m.
“The Trial of Theodore Roosevelt” 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Field trip-Killdeer

8:00 a.m.
Registration for Field Trip/Breakfast - Student Center
8:30 a.m.
Buses leave
9:30 a.m.
Panel with guest scholars - A wide-ranging discussion and synthesis of symposium themes
11:30 a.m.
Lunch and field trip 
4 p.m.
Closing reception at the High Plains Cultural Center in Killdeer

Speakers Include:


RooseveltTitle: “Theodore Roosevelt and the U.S. Constitution”

Biography:  Kermit Roosevelt attended Harvard University, where he studied philosophy, and Yale Law School. After law school, he clerked for Judge Stephen F. Williams on the D.C. Circuit and Justice David Souter on the Supreme Court. He practiced appellate litigation in Chicago for two years before joining the faculty of Penn Law School, where he teaches constitutional law, conflict of laws, and creative writing. He is the author of The Myth of Judicial Activism, a book of constitutional theory, and In the Shadow of the Law, a novel, in addition to numerous law review articles. His most recent novel, Allegiance, set at the Supreme Court during World War II, is scheduled for publication by Regan Arts in August.



Title: “Roosevelt, the U.S. Constitution, and the Modern Presidency”

Biography:  Julia L. Ernst is an Associate Professor at the University of North Dakota School of Law, teaching Constitutional Law, Legislation, Gender and the Law, and International Human Rights. She earned her LL.M. and International Human Rights Certificate at Georgetown, J.D. and M.A. at Michigan, and B.A. at Yale. She taught at Georgetown Law and Georgetown University, and served as executive director of the Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellowship Program, as legislative counsel for a Member of Congress, as legislative counsel for a public interest organization in Washington, DC, and as a lawyer with a Detroit firm. She is a member of Sharon Lutheran Church and lives in Grand Forks with her husband and daughter.


Title: “Roosevelt and Frontier Justice”

Ellison Biography:  Doug Ellison is an independent historian living at Medora, North Dakota. Doug has written, edited, or co-written six books and many articles of historical non-fiction on personalities and events of the American West. He has been a featured speaker on the History Channel episodes “Outlaws: Ten Most Wanted” and “Custer's Last Man.”

Doug is a native North Dakotan and a former employee of the State Historical Society of North Dakota, serving as Site Supervisor at the Fort Buford and Chateau de Mores Historic Sites. Since 2008 he has served as mayor of Medora, where he and his wife Mary own and operate Western Edge Books and Amble Inn.


Title: “Roosevelt as New York City Police Commissioner”

KohnBiography:  Edward P. Kohn is assistant professor of history and chair of the department of American Culture and Literature at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey. He received his Ph.D. from McGill University, Montreal. A political historian, Kohn has published numerous works on Theodore Roosevelt’s political career in New York. Professor Kohn’s books include Hot Time in the Old Town and Heir to the Empire City: New York and the Making of Theodore Roosevelt.  His most recent project, The Diaries of Theodore Roosevelt, was published by SUNY Press in April. Kohn has appeared on NPR’s “Fresh Air” and Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.



LembeckTitle: “Roosevelt and Racial Justice: The Brownsville Incident”

Biography: Harry Lembeck is an independent historian who is "recovering” from the practice of law with his passion for history. His recent book, Taking on Theodore Roosevelt: How One Senator Defied the President on Brownsville and Shook American Politics, examines the shooting, the investigations, and the efforts made to get the men back into the army, in particular the heroic work of Ohio Senator Joseph B. Foraker.

Lembeck was a participating historian for the production of the PBS documentary Slavery by Another Name, based on the Pulitzer Prize winning book of the same name. He has served on the boards of directors of the Marietta Museum of History; Theatre in the Square, the second largest theater in Georgia; and Bulloch Hall, the historic home in which Theodore Roosevelt’s mother grew up.

Kermit Roosevelt delivers his keynote address, "Theodore Roosevelt and the U.S. Constitution," on September 17, 2015.

Julia Ernst gives her lecture, "Theodore Roosevelt and the Problem of the Constitution" at the 2015 Theodore Roosevelt Symposium.

Doug Ellison gives his lecture, "Roosevelt and Frontier Justice" at the 2015 Theodore Roosevelt Symposium.

Edward Kohn gives his lecture, "There's No Such Thing as a Free Lunch: TR's Saloon-Closing Crusade" at the 2015 Theodore Roosevelt Symposium.

Harry Lembeck gives his lecture, "Roosevelt and Racial Justice: The Brownsville Incident" at the 2015 Theodore Roosevelt Symposium.

TR on trial wide view

 Theodore Roosevelt stands trial.

TR on trial close view

 North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem presides over the trial of Theodore Roosevelt.

Closing panel in Killdeer

 Audience members get ready for the closing panel in Killdeer.

Presenters at closing panel

 Presenters Julia Ernst, Harry Lembeck, Doug Ellison, Ted Kohn, and Clay Jenkinson at the closing panel in Killdeer.

People walking away from bus

 Participants leave the bus for the first stop on the Boat Thieves Trail.

Harry Lembeck

  Presenter Harry Lembeck and his family in the Badlands. 

Presenters in Badlands

 Clay Jenkinson, Doug Ellison, Ted Kohn, Harry Lembeck, and Julia Ernst in the Badlands.

Clay traces boat thieves journey

  Clay Jenkinson traces the journey of the boat thieves on his hand drawn map. 

Gathering outside buses

Participants gather outside the buses.

Hiking on trail

Participants enjoy a beautiful fall day in North Dakota.

Killdeer battlefield

Learning the history of the Killdeer battlefield and Theodore Roosevelt.

Closing reception

Sharon Kilzer and Clay Jenkinson at the closing reception in Killdeer at the High Plains Cultural Center.