Theodore Roosevelt in Puerto Rico

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List of Artifacts in the Collection

United States President Theodore Roosevelt visited the island of Puerto Rico in 1906, initiating a relationship that was layered, and fraught with difficulty.

Overview

Theodore Roosevelt (October 27, 1858–January 6, 1919), also known as T.R., and to the public (but never to friends and intimates) as Teddy, was the 26th President of the United States. A leader of the Republican and of the Progressive Parties, he was a Governor of New York and a professional historian, naturalist, explorer, hunter, author, and soldier. He is most famous for his personality—his energy, his vast range of interests and achievements, his model of masculinity, and his “cowboy” image. Originating from a story from one of Roosevelt's hunting expeditions, teddy bears are named after him.

Roosevelt negotiated for the U.S. to take control of the Panama Canal and its construction in 1904; he felt the Canal's completion was his most important and historically significant international achievement. He was the first American to be awarded the Nobel Prize, which he was awarded in in 1906, for negotiating the peace in the Russo-Japanese War, an interesting irony considering his promotion of national warfare as a useful tool.

El Yunque

1903 On January 17, U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, “by virtue of the power in me vested by Act of Congress”, officially designated Luquillo Forest Reserve, now part of El Yunque National Forest, a National Park. Located on the Caribbean Island of Puerto Rico in the Greater Antilles group, the El Yunque National Forest is the sole tropical rain forest in the U.S. National Forest System. The forest’s relatively small 28,000 acre size belies its importance. It differs significantly from all the other U.S. National Parks because of its year-round tropical climate and immense biodiversity.

The rugged Luquillo Mountains that rise to 3,533 ft. above sea level comprise most of the forest land. Their steep slopes can sometimes receive rainfall of over 200 inches (508 centimeters) at higher elevations. Caressed by gentle easterly winds the forest has an average temperature of 73° F (21° C), and seasonal changes are almost imperceptible.

It is the ideal climate for exuberant tropical vegetation. The rain forest is noted for its biodiversity. It is home to thousands of native plants including 150 fern species, 240 tree species (88 of these are endemic or rare and 23 are exclusively found in this forest). The El Yunque National Forest has no large wildlife species, but hundreds of smaller animals abound in this gentle forest, including the endangered Puerto Rican Parrot (Amazona vittata) the only native parrot in the Antillies.

Sitings of alien transport vessels, and other UFOs have been frequent over the years in the Luquillo Mountains.

Chronology:

  • 1906: On March 9, University of Puerto Rico is founded.

Roosevelt signed an executive order to surrender the Island of Culebra to Navy Control.

  • November 6: Theodore Roosevelt embarked on a 17 day trip to Puerto Rico and Panama, becoming the first U. S. President to make an official visit outside of the U.S.
  • On December 11, during a visit to Puerto Rico, U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt addressed the Puerto Rican Congress and recommended that Puerto Ricans become United States citizens.

In the Roosevelt White House, Puerto Rican coffee was frequently served. Roosevelt never drank liquor but was very fond of coffee. Later, on a trip through Nashville he was served coffee in the dining room of the Hermitage, home of Andrew Jackson. Whether or not Roosevelt uttered the phrase, “good to the last drop,” is questionable. In spite of the testimony of a college student—later the president of the Tennesse Historical Society—coffee drunk at the Hermitage that day may have been “Old King Cole” brand. The Cheek-Neal Company marketed Maxwell House coffee, but only began using references to Theodore Roosevelt in the 1930s. Maxwell House Hotel in Nashville, where the brand name originated, was destroyed in 1961.