TwHP Lessons

Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site: Birthplace of the Modern Presidency

[Cover Photo] Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site. (Photo by K. C. Kratt, Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site)


hile vacationing in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, Vice President Theodore Roosevelt learned the terrible news that President William McKinley was not expected to survive bullet wounds incurred days earlier during an assassination attempt in Buffalo, New York. By the time Roosevelt had completed the exhausting 15-hour journey to Buffalo, President McKinley had indeed succumbed to his injuries. Deeply saddened over McKinley's tragic death, yet knowing that the country must not be long without a leader, Roosevelt arrived at the home of his friend Ansley Wilcox. Here, in the library of this stately Greek Revival house, Roosevelt became the 26th President of the United States.

In his haste to reach Buffalo, Roosevelt had not taken time to gather any formal attire. Just prior to the inauguration ceremony, he borrowed a long frock coat, trousers, waistcoat, four-in-hand tie, and patent leather shoes. Tension and sadness filled the room as Roosevelt raised his right hand and recited the oath taken by every U.S. President. Though shrouded in shock and sadness at the time, Roosevelt's 1901 inauguration marked a turning point in the role of the presidency, launching a dramatic change in national policy and propelling the United States into the realm of world affairs. The house where the inauguration took place has been restored and is open to the public as Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site.


About This Lesson

Getting Started: Inquiry Question

Setting the Stage: Historical Context

Locating the Site: Maps
 1. New York State and surrounding region

Determining the Facts: Readings
 1. "It is a dreadful thing to come into the
 Presidency this way"

 2. Illustrated Buffalo Express,
 September 15, 1901

 3. Roosevelt's First Presidential Proclamation
 4. The Bully Pulpit

Visual Evidence: Images
 1. Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, New York, 1873
 2. Sketch of the inauguration
 3. The Wilcox library today
 4. The Wilcox House, 1901
 5. The Wilcox House, 1971

Putting It All Together: Activities
 1. Where Were You on the Day?
 2. A Snapshot of History
 3. Buildings That Have Witnessed History

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Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site

This lesson is based on Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site, one of the thousands of properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places.



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