The Story of the Teddy Bear
By John T.R. Howell
The Teddy Bear was named after the original leader of the Rough Riders, our 26th president, Theodore Roosevelt.
In November of 1902, President Roosevelt traveled to the South to help settle a border dispute between Mississippi and Louisiana. During the trip he decided to go hunting for bear. But his hunt was going poorly that day. So, his hunting guides, not wanting the President to go home disappointed, captured a bear, tied it to a tree and invited him to shoot it. But Teddy Roosevelt was a man of great character! He considered firing at such a helpless target to be unsportsmanlike and refused to shoot.
His refusal to shoot the captured bear inspired Washington Post cartoonist Clifford Berryman to draw this cartoon with its play on the two ways Roosevelt was "Drawing the Line in Mississippi" - settling a border dispute and refusing to shoot a captive animal. The good sportsmanship Roosevelt demonstrated sealed his reputation for being fair and increased his popularity with the American people. The cute picture of the bear, with its round ears and large eyes, inspired toymakers to create a sweet, innocent-looking toy bear that sat upright. They received permission from the President to call it "Teddy's Bear".
It was an instant hit with the public, and remains one of the most popular toys in America - The Teddy Bear!