•  Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace N.H.S.

    Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace

    National Historic Site New York

The Story of the Teddy Bear

Replica of original Teddy Bear

A replica of the original Teddy Bear.

NPS

Did you know that the Teddy Bear was invented in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt? It all began when Theodore Roosevelt was on a bear hunting trip near Onward, Mississippi on November 14, 1902. He had been invited by Mississippi Governor Andrew H. Longino, and unlike other hunters in the group, had not located a single bear.

Roosevelt's assistants, led by Holt Collier, a born slave and former Confederate cavalryman, cornered and tied a black bear to a willow tree. They summoned Roosevelt and suggested that he shoot it. Viewing this as extremely unsportsmanlike, Roosevelt refused to shoot the bear. The news of this event spread quickly through newspaper articles across the country. The articles recounted the story of the president who refused to shoot a bear. However, it was not just any president, it was Theodore Roosevelt the big game hunter!

 
Clifford Berryman's cartoon.

Clifford Berryman's 1902 cartoon that lampooned T.R.'s bear hunt

A political cartoonist by the name of Clifford Berryman read the article and decided to lightheartedly lampoon the president's refusal to shoot the bear. Berryman's cartoon appeared in the Washington Post on November 16, 1902. A Brooklyn candy shop owner by the name of Morris Michtom saw the cartoon and had an idea. He and his wife Rose were also makers of stuffed animals, and Michtom decided to create a stuffed toy bear and dedicate it to the president who refused to shoot a bear. He called it 'Teddy's Bear'.

After receiving Roosevelt's permission to use his name, Michtom mass produced the toy bears which were so popular that he soon founded the Ideal Toy Company. To this day the Teddy Bear has worldwide popularity and its origin can be traced back to Theodore's fateful hunting trip in 1902.

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