Auburn Native Draper Portrays Theodore Roosevelt at Auburn Memorial Library
Darrel Draper returned to his native Auburn Thursday night, Jan. 26. Draper, a living history re-enactor, portrayed “Theodore Roosevelt: Rough Rider President” at the Auburn Memorial Library. The program was funded by the Nebraska Humanities Council.
The 26th president had many interests and achievements. Draper recalled Roosevelt’s achievements in areas beyond politics.
Theodore Roosevelt was born in New York City. Draper said that he was taught three things to build on: decisive judgment, bold action and courage of perseverance. Roosevelt had asthma as a child. Roosevelt loved books. He wrote more than 40 books.
“Reading opened a whole new world for me,” Draper said of the future president.
Roosevelt’s father was a New York City businessman. His father founded the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New York Metropolitan Hospital. Roosevelt’s father “the greatest person I ever met,” Draper said.
At Harvard, Draper said that Roosevelt excelled in history, science and language. He also was captain of the Harvard rowing and boxing teams. Roosevelt graduated magna cum laude from Harvard.
Elected to the New York State Assembly, Roosevelt was the youngest member at that time. Draper recalled that Roosevelt introduced the most bills of any assemblyman during his first year.
After Roosevelt lost his mother and his wife the same day, Draper said that he destroyed all evidence of his first wife. Roosevelt remarried.
“Nothing can be done about the past. The future is the most important thing.”
After Roosevelt helped in Benjamin Harrison’s successful presidential campaign, he was named federal civil service commissioner. After Harrison lost his re-election bid to Grover Cleveland, Roosevelt was asked to continue in his position. However, he returned to New York City and became the city’s police commissioner. Roosevelt was assistant secretary of the Navy under President McKinley.
During the Spanish American War, Roosevelt commanded the Rough Riders. Draper said that Roosevelt was given a hero’s welcome when he returned to New York City. Roosevelt then was elected governor of New York. In 1900, he was elected vice president with McKinley. When McKinley was assassinated in 1901, Roosevelt was the youngest person to become president. In 1904 he was elected to a full term.
Draper recalled accomplishments of Roosevelt’s administration. Roosevelt negotiated peace between Japan and Russia. That made him the first president to win the Nobel Peace Prize. The U.S. Forest Service was established. The U.S. Navy was strengthened. The Pure Food and Drug Act was signed. The Panama Canal was started. There were 18 national parks created. The most notable national monument established was Devils Tower in Wyoming.
Roosevelt did not seek a second full term in 1908. He hoped that President Taft would continue his programs. In 1912, Roosevelt ran for president on the Progressive ticket. He ran second to Woodrow Wilson and ahead of Taft.
Draper said that Roosevelt was not liked in the South because he spoke against lynching. Roosevelt never received any electoral votes from Southern states, Draper said.
Roosevelt’s four sons served in World War I. One died behind German lines. The three surviving sons also served in World War II. Theodore Jr. founded the American Legion. He also earned the Congressional Medal of Honor for his action at Utah Beach during World War II. Draper said that Henry Fonda, Nebraska native, portrayed Brigadier Gen. Theodore Roosevelt Jr. in The Longest Day. Roosevelt’s daughter, Alice, was an adviser to several presidents.
Draper read two poems from his book, A Prairie Sailor, to end the program.
A fifth generation Nebraskan, Draper is a retired U.S. Navy officer. He is a graduate of the UNO. His other programs include George Drouillard from the Lewis and Clark expedition; Daniel Freeman, the first U.S. homesteader and J. Sterling Morton, founder of Arbor Day.