26th President. Typed letter signed (TLS) “Theodore Roosevelt“, “Theodore Roosevelt, Assistant Secretary, Navy Department, Washington” stationery, May 4, 1898, to James Eckles at the Commercial National Bank in Chicago, in full:
I thank you heartily for your kindness. Didn’t Dewey do well?
I will have all the documents I can get sent to you.
Presented custom framed and matted and with an image of TR as a Rough Rider.
On May 1, 1898, Admiral George Dewey destroyed the Spanish Asiatic fleet on Manila Bay in the Philippines. According to the book “Teddy Roosevelt at San Juan: The Making of a President”, “According to Roosevelt, only he in all of Washington had been been prepared for a Pacific triumph of that magnitude. He let everybody know his contribution. ‘Didn’t Admiral Dewey do wonderfully well?’ he rejoiced. ‘I got him the position out there in Asia last year, and I had to beg hard to do it; and the reason I gave was that we might have to send him to Manila. And we sent him – and he went!” The quote used comes from a letter from Theodore Roosevelt to William Wingate Sewall dated the very same date as the letter we offer here.
Just 2 days later – May 6, 1898 – TR would officially resign his post as Assistant Secretary of Navy and volunteered to head a cavalry unit that would fight in Cuba against Spain in the Spanish-American War of 1898. This cavalry unit eventually came to be known as “Roosevelt’s Rough Riders”. Volunteers were assembled from Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Indian Territory and included cowboys, gamblers, hunters, prospectors, Buffalo soldiers, college boys, and Native Americans. The term “Rough Riders” was adapted from Buffalo Bill’s famous rodeo show called “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World”.