Teddy Roosevelt in Baltimore

This is something I found a couple of weeks ago and have been meaning to share.

On September 28, 1918, former president Theodore Roosevelt visited Baltimore and delivered a speech at Oriole Park on Greenmount Avenue to extol the Fourth Liberty Loan (ie., war bonds), and this video shows TR and dignitaries delivering a speech in front of probably 20,000 enthusiastic Baltimoreans.

This video was an unexpected find — I was looking for pictures of the old wooden ballpark — and didn’t expect to find film footage of Oriole Park, even if it’s of a political rally rather than in-game action. It looks to me that TR is speaking from roughly where the brewing vats for Peabody Heights Brewery, which sits on the site of the old ballpark, are now. The ballpark burned down in 1944.

Edmund Morris’ three volume biography of Roosevelt gives some background, but says nothing specifically of his appearance in Baltimore.:

Roosevelt was loath to divide what was left of his energy between politics and war work, saying that he would tour in the fall only on behalf of Secretary [of the Treasury William G.] McAdoo’s fourth “Liberty Loan” appeal. Extra military funds were urgently needed: the number of soldiers, sailors, and marines in service was now approaching three million, and the latest registration had increased the pool of potential draftees to an almost incredible twenty-four million — one and a half times as much as the total manpower of Britain and France. Roosevelt’s still-smoldering anger toward Woodrow Wilson was fueled by this evidence of how the nation could have armed itself after the sinking of the Lusitania, shortening the war and saving countless lives. Quentin’s included, perhaps.

Colonel Roosevelt, page 540

Careful observers will note that Roosevelt is wearing a mourning band for his son Quentin, who was shot down by German aviators on July 14th.

It’s tempting to think that my great-grandfather, and perhaps his thirteen year-old son, could have been in the crowd; I’m told that TR was his favorite president, and perhaps he took a streetcar up from Federal Hill to see the former president speak that day. He’d have been a week from turning thirty-nine. My grandfather wouldn’t be born for another three years.

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