In 1902 Teddy Roosevelt hunted bear near Smedes, Mississippi. He didn’t get a bear, as he had hoped. Trip guides tracked a bear with dogs, clubbed it, and tied it up. The bear was offered to TR to shoot.
Teddy refused to shoot it, of course. It was tied up. It was not sporting, not fair, not a match — not the vigorous hunting Roosevelt wanted.
Clifford K. Berryman, a cartoonist for the Washington Post newspaper (he moved to the Washington Star in 1907), captured the moment in a drawing published November 16, 1902. This 1902 cartoon is among the most famous political cartoons ever done.
The good sportsmanship Roosevelt demonstrated echoed long and hard among Americans. His reputation for fair dealing and good sportsmanship increased his popularity immensely.
Berryman continued to use the bear cub in cartoons for the rest of his career.
Teddy Roosevelt cartoon sources:
- TR (TheodoreRoosevelt.com)
- George Washington University, Special Collections and University Archives, Clifford K. Berryman Collection
- America’s Story, Library of Congress
- Theodore Roosevelt Association website