26th President. Typed letter signed (TLS) “T. Roosevelt”, May 30, 1913, headed “Marquette, Michigan”, to George Omwater of Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, in full:
I wish I could accept your invitation and speak in one of the few Reformed Church colleges in the country, but I am not going with Mr. Bok, nor am I going by automobile to the Hill School. So it will not be possible. I thank you and appreciate your asking me.
Mailing fold, else clean example.
A VERY uncommon letter sent right in the middle of TR’s famous libel lawsuit.
According to the Theodore Roosevelt Center:
On May 26, 1913, a trial started in Marquette, Michigan. Theodore Roosevelt had sued the editor of the Iron Ore newspaper, George Newett, for libel. Accusations of drunkenness had followed Roosevelt throughout the 1912 presidential campaign, rumors which were re-printed and discussed in both Republican and Democratic newspapers. Finally, Roosevelt lost patience. He sued after Newett printed the following:
Roosevelt lies and curses in a most disgusting way; he gets drunk, too, and that not infrequently, and all his intimates know about it. All who oppose him are wreckers of the country, liars, knaves, and undesirables. He alone is pure and entitled to a halo. Rats. For so great a fighter, self-styled, he is the poorest loser we ever knew!
When Roosevelt arrived in Marquette for the trial, he was buoyed by the support he received at the train station. He also had the pleasure of watching Newett’s defense go up in smoke quickly once the trial began. Roosevelt had an impressive array of men come and vouch that he was not a drunkard. The witnesses included Gifford Pinchot, Robert Bacon, Jacob Riis, and TR’s cousin Emlen Roosevelt. Newett’s star witness, a journalist who had sworn he’d seen Roosevelt drunk, was forced to flee the country because of grand larceny charges before the start of the trial.
In the end, Newett read a statement of retraction in court and Roosevelt waived damages. The trial had been more about restoring Roosevelt’s good name, damaged by the 1912 presidential campaign, to its former national hero glory.