Theodore Roosevelt: Teddy Bear

Figure 1.--

Any discussion of Theodore Roosevelt would be incomplete without mentioning that one of the classic children's toy, the "Teddy Bear," is named after him. On one of his hunting trips, a bear was brought to him and tied to a tree so he could shoot it. Roosevelt refused to shoot an animal in that manner. Soon cartoonists were drawing Roosevelt with a bear cub. A toy manufacturer asked and received the President's permission to make stuffed bears and the "Teddy Bear" was born. For years it was one of the few dolls or stuffed toys deemed suitable for boys. To this date in remains a favorite with boys and girls.

Avid Hunter

Theodore Roosevelt had by 1902 established himself as a very popular president. The press had taken to calling him "Teddy". He was also an enthusiastic outdoorsman and hunter.

MisHunting Trip

President Roosevelt in 1902 spent 7 days in Misisippi hoping to bag a bear. Presidential hunts at the time involved press coverage. At the time there was not anti-hunting lobby. It was thus embarassing that the President was unable to get his bear. Just in the nick of time before th President was to board the train back to Washington, he was informed that his dog pack had cornered a bear. When he was brought to it he saw that it had been based with rifles and tied to a tree where he could easily shoot it. Roosevely seeing the bear tied to the tree, flatly refused to shoot it seeing te whole thing as unsportsmanlike. Soon newspapers around the country caried front-page acounts of the incident. Left unreported was the fact that when the President left, the injured bear was shot to put it out of its misery.


The Washington Post was one of the papers carrying an account of the incident. At the time, the Post put the cartoons drawn by Clifford Berryman on its front page. Along with the story titled "Bruin Was In Luck". The Berryman cartoon showing a cute bear was capioned, "Draing the line in Mississippi." The cartoon was an immediate succes. The cartoon was picked up by newspapers all over the country. Berryman was besieged for copies. Subsequent renderings made the bear cuter and cuter. Henry Canot Lodge asked Berryman for a copy for the President.

Toy Bears

Morris and Rose Mitchtom, a New York couple, made stuffed bears. When they saw the newspaper article and Berryman cartoon, Mitchtom wrote to President Roosevelt asking the President's permission to name their stuffed bears "Teddy Bears". The Mitchtoms made the first Tedy Bears. This was also the birth of one of Americ' most important toy companies. The company in 1938 changed its name to the Ideal Toy Company. Other companies followed suit. Perhps the most famous company to make early Teddy Bars was the German company Steiff. For years the Teddy Bear was one of the few dolls or stuffed toys deemed suitable for boys. To this date in remains a favorite with boys and girls around the world.


"Bruin Was In Luck," Washington Post, November 16, 1902.

Christopher Wagner

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Created: November 17, 2002
Last changed: November 17, 2002