The Women Who Propelled Theodore Roosevelt to the White House: Edward O’Keefe

I wanted to tell a story that I felt had been forgotten by time, that these women in Theodore Roosevelt’s life were consequential in our American history. – Edward O’Keefe

In this episode of the Winds of Change podcast, author Edward O’Keefe takes you on a journey through the life of Theodore Roosevelt, offering a fresh perspective on the influential women who shaped the former president’s journey. O’Keefe shares the extensive research process behind his book, “The Loves of Theodore Roosevelt: The Women Who Created a President,” providing captivating stories and historical insights that shed light on Roosevelt’s connections to the West and his progressive views on feminism. With O’Keefe’s passion for historical storytelling and his dedication to uncovering hidden narratives, this episode offers an exploration of Theodore Roosevelt’s life, emphasizing the pivotal roles played by the women around him and the collaborative nature of historical research. History enthusiasts, researchers, and those intrigued by the untold stories of Theodore Roosevelt’s life will find this conversation to be a valuable and engaging exploration of a significant historical figure’s legacy.

Our special guest is Edward O’Keefe:

Edward O’Keefe, the CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation, is a leading authority on Theodore Roosevelt’s life and legacy. He previously spent two decades in broadcast and digital media, during which time he received a Primetime Emmy Award for his work with Anthony Bourdain, two Webby Awards, the Edward R. Murrow Award, and a George Foster Peabody Award for ABC News coverage of 9/11. A former fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, he graduated with honors from Georgetown University. He was born in North Dakota and lives in New York with his wife, daughter, and son

Key Takeaways:

  •  Explore Theodore Roosevelt’s impact in Wyoming and uncover his lesser-known connections to the state’s history and culture.

  •  Discover the significant influence of women on Theodore Roosevelt’s life and how their relationships shaped his journey and decisions.

  •  Uncover the surprising connection between Theodore Roosevelt and Edgar Allan Poe, shedding light on an intriguing aspect of Roosevelt’s life.

  • Learn how nature played a strong role in Theodore Roosevelt’s development and gain insight into how his deep connection with the natural world influenced his leadership and policies.

  • Look out for articles or essays by Edward O’Keefe on the topic of Theodore Roosevelt and Edgar Allan Poe, as there’s more to explore beyond the book.

  • Support Wyoming Humanities and the Winds of Change podcast by engaging with their content and spreading the word about their impactful work.

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00:00:02
             

Welcome to Winds of Change, brought to you by Wyoming Humanities. I am your host, Emy DiGrappa. Winds of change is a unique focus on the people, places, and history of Wyoming. Please sign up for our newsletter by clicking the link in the description. Learn more about us@thinkwy.org dot.         

00:00:21
             

That’s thinkwy four wyoming.org dot. And I am joined by my co hosts, Lucas Fralick and Chloe Flagg. And actually, we’re so excited because Lucas is going to lead our conversation today. Thank you for that tee up. I feel like I could do a home run or a hole in one.         

00:00:48
             

I am not sure if the sports reference is working. It is March Madness, right? So it fits for something.         

00:00:59
             

Yes. So today I have just read an extremely exciting book by author Edward O’Keefe. He is the CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library foundation. He’s just recently published this really terrific book, the Loves of Theodore Roosevelt, the women who created a president. It’s a very exciting time, and we want to welcome ed to the podcast.         

00:01:27
             

How’s it going? Thank you, Emy. Lucas, it’s such a pleasure to be with you. I’m honored to be on winds of change. Great.         

00:01:34
             

Yeah, we’re glad to have you here. We love talking about history on this podcast. It’s one of our main MOs, or at least that’s what I say when I’m driving the bus. So that’s what I’m going to say. So I have a lot of questions, and I know our co hosts probably do, too, and I don’t want to give anything away, but the first question I have, and this is very important, why North Dakota and Theodore Roosevelt?         

00:01:59
             

My first impression would be upstate New York or something, but if you don’t mind giving us a little bit of a background on the Theodore Roosevelt presidential library. Sure. Well, first of all, Lucas, I think, is you, Emy and Chloe can appreciate being out west in Wyoming. Theodore Roosevelt loved the west. He, I like to say, was a New Yorker by birth.         

00:02:25
             

He was a westerner by choice. He, you know, he really, you know, he really felt like he could commune with nature. And you have to imagine as a, as a child growing up with severe asthma in the smog and the dense environmental devastation that would exist in New York City in the 1860s and 1870s, what that breath of fresh air must have felt like when he got off the train in North Dakota, or as he continued out in later years to Wyoming and the western territories as they were expanding and becoming states. It just must have been. I think nature was his classroom and breathing the fresh air, going hunting, being out in the forests and in the mountains, that was his healer.         

00:03:19
             

That was, you know, so specifically, Theodore Roosevelt went to North Dakota first to hunt. Well, actually, he first went in 1880 on what might be considered his bachelor party, and then he returned three years later and to hunt a buffalo. A little bit ironic that he was going to hunt a buffalo because they were going to be extinct. He didn’t quite get the irony in that. But then he came back, and he, after the deaths of his wife and mother on the same day in the same house, February 14, 1884, which perhaps we’ll talk about a bit.         

00:03:53
             

And he lived for the better part of two years in North Dakota and said of those experiences, I never would have been president, but for my time in North Dakota, I really, I believe that North Dakota and nature saved his life. He was abjectly depressed. He really didn’t know what direction his life was going to take. And he lived what he would later call the strenuous life. He was a cowboy and a rancher, and that is what gave him the fortitude to continue and accomplish that he did in his great life.         

00:04:23
             

So, Edward, that is super interesting, and I love that he shared the love that we all have for the west. And so my question for you is, why Theodore Roosevelt? Why did you choose him as the person you would want to write about? Well, I mean, that’s a great question. So I was born in North Dakota.         

00:04:44
             

I was raised in North Dakota. And when you’re born in North Dakota, you get your birth certificate, and then you’re asked Lawrence Welk, Peggy Lee, Roger Maris, or Theodore Roosevelt. Modern North Dakotans might be given Phil Jackson, Chuck Klosterman, Josh. I chose tr. I actually, as a kid, I love traveling out west.         

00:05:12
             

I was born on the eastern side of the state, near the Minnesota border. And it’s a totally different world once you get past Bismarck and you head out west. I spent a lot of time in Medora, North Dakota, where they have a spectacular summer musical that celebrates the life of Tr. That’s the location of Theodore Roosevelt National park, which is the only park named for a person, let alone a president. I spent a lot of time out in Cody, Wyoming.         

00:05:39
             

I’ve spent a lot of time in Montana. And I just felt a kinship with this person who faced such incredible hardship and strenuous tragedy in his life. I mean, if you can recover from the death of your wife and mother and you can recover from so many of the challenges that he had, I think he just serves as an extraordinary example you know, so I’ve always wanted to write about Theodore Roosevelt. I never really had the time to do so. And then I discovered these extraordinary women, I mean, the women in TR’s life who have really been neglected and forgotten by history, his two wives, his two sisters and his mother.         

00:06:28
             

You know, you don’t hear much about Theodore Roosevelt being the product of other people. He is, in essence, the quintessential self-made man. But it turns out that’s a myth, right? No, no. One of us is self-made.         

00:06:41
             

We all need a brother or a mother or sisters or siblings or friends or someone to pick us up when we have hardship in our life and to encourage us to live the best life that we can and to just keep going. I think it really was Theodore Roosevelt’s mother who gave him his best quality, his resilience, I mean, his ability to just, as she said, live for the living and not for the dead. What an incredible message that his mother gave to him. I always just, my being, growing up in North Dakota, traveling out west, loving and admiring the example of TR. But I love him and admire him even more now that I know he didn’t do it alone.         

00:07:25
             

Very good. I like that. And it kind of leads into something that I thought of. I did get a copy of your book, so I have a bit of an advantage over my colleagues. There is a, as I was reading throughout your book, there’s this big theme, and I think you do mention this a few times, of Theodore Roosevelt being a very manly man type figure.         

00:07:48
             

He’s built up this cult of myth around himself as the masculine president. But no one ever talks about his 1880 Harvard thesis. It was super feminist, very forward thinking. And I think that was your term, feminist, I think, too, but it was super exciting. And I guess I’m just really curious as why do you think that myth of Roosevelt has persisted for so long?         

00:08:12
             

Well, I think the myth of Roosevelt as a self-made man persisted in part because Theodore Roosevelt created it and the women in his life supported it. They didn’t want necessarily for others to know that they were the hidden hands behind his success. I mean, you mentioned the 1880 senior thesis. In 1880, Theodore Roosevelt calls for women to have the right to vote. That’s 40 years before suffrage.         

00:08:37
             

Although I’ll note after Wyoming, of course, in 1869, as a territory, was the first to call for women to have the right to vote, and a little bit before in 1890, when as a state, they were the first to allow women to vote. So I think in that thesis, he not only calls for suffrage. He calls for women to be judges and lawyers. He says that women should own property. He says that women do not necessarily need to take their husband’s name after marriage.         

00:09:08
             

You know, it’s extraordinarily progressive for the age. And that’s all influenced by Alice Hathaway Lee, his first wife. Now, obviously, he will go on to live a much longer life with his second wife, Edith. But both of them play this incredible role in the decisions he makes, what he does, who he trusts, who he listens to, his sisters. His older sister, Bammy, is.         

00:09:33
             

She is like what Robert F. Kennedy is to John F. Kennedy. There is not a single decision that Theodore Roosevelt makes without consulting his older sister, Bami. And we know practically nothing about her.         

00:09:46
             

You know, we never hear Bami’s name as often as we might hear Robert F. Kennedy relative to John F. Kennedy. And she is so important that Eleanor Roosevelt will say, had Bammy lived 100 years later and been a man, she, not Theodore Roosevelt, would have been president of the United States. I mean, think about that.         

00:10:05
             

That’s a pretty extraordinary statement that Eleanor Roosevelt agrees with in 1955. So Bami must have been a pretty extraordinary, well deserving of a second look in history. So what about you, Edward? What women pick you up in your life? What women inspire you in the work that you do?         

00:10:27
             

Well, thank you for that question, Chloe. I mean, I feel like, you know, my mother was an extraordinary. Is an extraordinary influence on my life. She is someone who, she was a professor at the University of North Dakota. She’s an antiques dealer and probably instilled me with my love of history, because when you’re a kid going to an antique store or a flea market, you got to find something to do.         

00:10:54
             

And I began to collect political memorabilia, buttons, pins, slogans, banners. And it infused me with this love of history. My wife, Allison, is my closest partner and my deepest confidant. I don’t make any decisions in my life without consulting her. I’ve got a wonderful 13 year old daughter, Elsa, who I’m just enjoying getting to know as a person and watching her blossom and bloom.         

00:11:20
             

And I think, again, the interesting part to me about TR’s life is it’s one that allows us to see him celebrating. His mother, his sisters, his wives. I mean, they played such a larger role in his life and legacy than has been previously known. And we all have stories like that. We all have people like that.         

00:11:44
             

I have my mother, I have my wife. I have this retinue of amazing women in my life. I mean, one of my closest colleagues Linda Douglas, whom I worked with at ABC News. I met her on 911 the first day I covered Capitol Hill. I met Linda Douglas, and she’s now godmother to my daughter.         

00:12:03
             

So you just never know in life when these people are going to come in, whether they’re your relatives or your friends or your colleagues, who are going to send you on a new path and give you just the right amount of advice to succeed. Thank you. I love that. I love that. Absolutely.         

00:12:21
             

And I want to make sure that since we’re talking about Wyoming, I want to make sure that I made sure to take a look at some of the TR and Wyoming. And I wanted to share with you that on May 30, 1903, when Theodore Roosevelt was president of the United States, he came and stayed overnight in Laramie. Then he rode horseback to Cheyenne and delivered the Memorial day address to 20,000 people. And I thought you might appreciate hearing some of this. It’s very consonant to what we were just talking about, Chloe.         

00:12:52
             

Each of us is his brother’s keeper. Each of us is the keeper of his sons, the son of. Each one of us is the keeper of the generations that are to come after us. And we must strive so to handle ourselves that when those generations arise, they will find that we have taken the right steps in the beginning, the solution of the problems that will confront them as they confront us. And we must attack them in the spirit of courage, in a spirit of love, and also in a spirit of common sense.         

00:13:22
             

Imagine the president of the United States coming to Cheyenne and on Memorial Day saying, we need to attack our problems with courage, love, and common sense. Amazing. I had no idea. I had no idea. He has a rich history, has a great history in Wyoming.         

00:13:39
             

The first national monument that he declared, devil’s Tower. He declared five national forests in Wyoming. And of course, since he was the first candidate to embrace suffrage in the 1912 campaign, he made his way to Wyoming looking for votes. And he said in August 27, 1910, when he appeared again in Cheyenne, Wyoming, he said, the whole nation must be as progressive as the west is. Yes, I love that.         

00:14:11
             

And I’ve never, I’ve known a few times of Roosevelt’s journeys throughout Wyoming, but mainly in my corner around Newcastle and Buffalo, those sort of things. But, yeah, this speech from 1903, that’s super enlightening for me. That’s really cool. I have no idea. Very inspiring words.         

00:14:31
             

You know, I mean, as I talk about in the loves of Theodore Roosevelt, the women who created a president, Theodore Roosevelt loved and respected women. He listened to women. I mean, it wasn’t just his two wives, his two sisters and his mother. Edith Wharton was a frequent correspondent with Troy. Of course, Ida B.         

00:14:53
             

Wells was advocating for black rights and equality. And what I find fascinating about TR is there is an evolution in his thinking. The last speech he’ll ever deliver in his life, November 2, 1918, is at Carnegie hall in front of a mixed race audience. W. E.         

00:15:15
             

  1. Dubois is on stage with him, and he says that if he’s elected in 1920, which, of course, he will not be, because he’ll die in 1919 at age 60. But he says in that final speech of his life that equality with me is not a mere form of words, and that he will fight for an equal America such that if you look at those words, you think, wow, this is a person who might just put a stake in the heart of Jim Crow 45 years before the civil rights bill. I mean, but he wasn’t that progressive when he was president. You know, he didn’t do all the things that he could have done on black rights.         

00:15:52
             

He didn’t do all that he could have done on suffrage. But he is amazingly progressive for his time in terms of child labor, in terms of food safety, in terms, of course, of conservation and environmentalism. I mean, just an amazing track record and such a game changing presidency. I mean, he opened the door to the american century, but here it is. These women that we have known very little about are kicking him through it so good.         

00:16:23
             

Yeah, I felt that way, too, when I was reading through this book because it was very enlightening. There’s so much I just had no clue about. And I think you do a great job by the way, of pointing that out, why that’s the case. But something that really struck me as I was reading, it’s very, I think it’s a fairly common thing that Theodore Roosevelt had a lot of health problems growing up. It was almost at risk of death and several times, if I understand it.         

00:16:50
             

But what was really surprising was that his siblings, too, had some, had health issues also, which I was really surprised to learn. How do you think that shaped Tr. S character? That is. I’m so glad you’re asking that question, Lucas, because, again, the story that’s told, and it’s deserved story, is that TR is asthmatic and has these incredible health problems.         

00:17:16
             

As a child, when we say asthma, he was choking for breath. I mean, he would cough so violently that blood would come out. His mother would have to massage his chest to get the blood to come out so he could clear his lungs and quite literally breathe. I mean, the first line of the loves of Theodore Roosevelt is from the very beginning, the survival of Theodore Roosevelt was in doubt. And that’s not hyperbole.         

00:17:49
             

That’s not an exaggeration. I mean, this is an era in which infant mortality is atrocious. I mean, his family really didn’t know whether he would live. And it’s his mother who’s there soothing him. It’s his mother that is the one that is giving him the care that he needs to make it to adolescence and adulthood.         

00:18:09
             

But as you point out, Lucas, his older sister Bami is providing an incredible example. She has a congenital spinal defect so bad that they will note she can’t stand for more than a few seconds before her countenance expresses pain. His younger sister Connie also has terrible asthma. And so he has around him these examples of fortitude, resilience, and survival. I mean, Bami’s story of resilience over ill health is just as inspiring, if not more so than Theodore Roosevelt’s.         

00:18:46
             

And, you know, you don’t outgrow asthma. I mean, David McCullough points out in mornings on horseback that he dealt with asthma his entire life. He just found ways to survive and overcome it, in particular, by finding solace in nature, by seeking fresh air, by getting good exercise, by doing the things that made his body feel better in an age where that was just not very common. Absolutely. Yeah.         

00:19:19
             

Thank you. It was just something that really struck me. I just had no clue about those issues. I didn’t know. I mean, everyone knows about his issues, right?         

00:19:30
             

But to think, you know, you always think like, oh, that’s, you know, that’s one of however many kids that has those issues. How awful. How terrible. But to learn that it was. Yeah.         

00:19:38
             

Truly a whole family that was against odds all the time and, like, breeding resilience between themselves, I’m sure, just like constantly, constantly supporting each other. Well, and, Chloe, it’s extra. These, you know, again, Theodore Roosevelt is not the Roosevelt that we know from Mount Rushmore as a child. He’s a kind of introspective, geeky naturalist. He’s a taxidermist, right?         

00:20:10
             

He doesn’t, he lives a life of the mind. And in books, he’s not out in nature because he never feels well. I mean, he can’t quite literally go outside because when he does, he, you know, his lungs will feel like they’re collapsing on him. He’s ghostly in his complexion. He’s got an undersized physique.         

00:20:29
             

When he stands, it draws a comparison to a stork because he has this habit of propping one leg on the knee of the other and reading a book in his hand. So his mother also recognizes he needs friends, and he finds they begin to homeschool their own children, and his aunt is actually the homeschool teacher, and they have a neighborhood child, Edith Corot, who joins them in their homeschooling. Edith Corot will go on to be Theodore Roosevelt’s second wife. I say that she is kind of his first love and second wife, but it’s amazing to think that his mother recognized that this kind of unusual, precocious child needed to have friends, wanted to find some community for him, and did so in this extraordinary child who will grow into this extraordinary woman, Edith Corot. I mean, Edith is so forgotten in history.         

00:21:33
             

I mean, there’s been only one major biography of her, and she is very arguably one of the most influential first ladies of, of all time. You know, she, too, kicks open the door to the american century. I mean, she’s the one who will renovate the White House and build private quarters and will quite literally put her office next to Theodore Roosevelt. So I say in the loves of Theodore Roosevelt that Edith is in the room where it happened because she designed it that way. They will, they will name the White House before then.         

00:22:12
             

It’s called the executive mansion. They’ll develop what eventually becomes the Rose garden. They’ll entertain over 40,000 guests and create these incredible salons with artists and singers. And exactly what Jacqueline Kennedy later does in the 1960s. She’s modeling what Edith did in the 19 hundreds truck.         

00:22:35
             

Never made a decision in his life without consulting Edith. And especially, of course, once they were in the White House. And Theodore will say, whenever I go against Edith’s judgment, I regret it. What an extraordinary statement. I wish my husband would say that.         

00:22:58
             

Exactly. Exactly. And she was the hidden hand of power. I mean, she was the one behind the scenes advising and guiding him. Interestingly, Henry Stimson, who will span multiple administrations, will go on to be the secretary of defense in world War Two and advised Truman on dropping the atomic bomb.         

00:23:17
             

He’s immortalized in Oppenheimer, both the book and the movie. It’s Henry Stimson who observes of Edith that she is the one who makes the better decisions than the president and that when she is not involved, he tends to make mistakes. So you think about that. You have an older sister, Bami, whom Eleanor Roosevelt says, had she been a man, she would have been president, not Theodore Roosevelt. And you have someone like Edith, his wife, whom many luminaries will all agree she’s the one with better judgment.         

00:23:49
             

I mean, we give all the credit to Theodore Roosevelt, and he is an extraordinary president, but without these women in his life. And they were there from a very young age, showing that courage, showing that resilience, showing that example, he really doesn’t become the person that we all see and know on Mount Rushmore today. Well, I’m going to have to pull all those quotes about women out and post them everywhere. Okay. And so you’ve done such a beautiful job about bringing him to life, making him real, and you can imagine him and experience his life, and you’re doing a beautiful job with that.         

00:24:31
             

And I was wondering, as you were talking about the women in his life and the amount of research you must have had to do. And so I was wondering, how long did you have to research before you could write this book? Well, that’s a great question, Emmy. I mean, the whole project was five years from tip to tail. I did a bulk of the research in 2019 and then into 2020, of course, in 2020, a little thing happened that shut down a lot of research institutions and libraries.         

00:25:07
             

And I’ll have to say I was very benefited by brand new discoveries in this book. While I was researching at Harvard, the Theodore Roosevelt association, which has been chartered for over 100 years, discovered eleven letters that had been locked in a safe since 1954. So probably prior to then had, you know, somebody put them in the safe and who knows who saw them before them, and they, you know, they. That included the first known letter ever written from Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. Trs father, to his son when he was three years old.         

00:25:48
             

And it’s just an extraordinary letter. Theodore Roosevelt’s father had been to visit Abraham Lincoln to advocate for an allotment bill, to basically say for all the Union soldiers who are out in war to send part of their pay back home to support their families. And so TRS dad is walking out of the White House and he sees a statue of Andrew Jackson, which still stands in front of the White House today. And he writes, there is a statue outside the White House, outside the house of the president who governs the whole nation. You know, again, think about this.         

00:26:28
             

He’s writing to, he’s just seen Lincoln. And he’s writing to Theodore Roosevelt, who become president of the United States, and says, there’s a saying on the plaque, I want you to learn it by heart. I want your mother to read it to you so when I come home, you can repeat it to me. And it says, the federal union. It must be preserved.         

00:26:48
             

You know, when I found that I thought, wow, this is, you know, this is extraordinary. I mean, because it also, again, now that’s the relationship of TR and his father. But think about the dynamic that’s happening with his mother. His mother is born in Connecticut but is raised in Georgia. She’s a southerner.         

00:27:06
             

Her two brothers are fighting for the Confederacy. She’s moved to New York. Her mother and sister are living with her. I mean, they are living in a house divided, in a nation divided. And here, for the first time ever, in the loves of Theodore Roosevelt, is definitive proof of that relationship and how they could respectfully continue as husband and wife despite this most profound of differences.         

00:27:32
             

So he’s learning civility. I mean, he’s learning from the example of his parents that even if you have these incredible differences, and what more difference could you have than the civil war? That you can still love one another and move forward productively for country and for family. So the research took an immense amount of time. I was very benefited by some generous authors that when the pandemic came along, they literally said, look, here is the research that I did for my book.         

00:28:03
             

If it can be of use to you, please take it and piece together whatever you couldn’t go back and do. I’m enormously indebted to the authors who came before me. Betty Carolli, doctor Kathy Dalton, Michael Cullinan, any number of authors who literally said, if you need help, I’m here to help you. And this book would not have been the loves of Theodore Roosevelt, would not exist without them. That’s fantastic.         

00:28:29
             

I love that. I love hearing authors helping authors. I love hearing about people helping people, let’s face it. So, Ed, my question for you then, is, when someone puts your feet to the fire, are you a historian or are you an author? I can’t believe I can claim to be either a historian or author, to be honest.         

00:28:52
             

I mean, Chloe, this is my first book. I’ve written research papers. I was in media for 20 years. I worked for ABC News. I worked with, with Tony Bourdain on his incredible program parts unknown.         

00:29:10
             

You know, so I’ve always been a part of really remarkably creative people. But, you know, and I, when I started this, I was telling you, like, writing is a, is a lonely process or a lonely profession. I tell you, it might be lonely, but I was never alone. I mean, the camaraderie that I felt from authors that literally gave their research to help me during the pandemic, or talking with the Theodore Roosevelt association about the letters that were found in the safe from 1954 you know, I guess I like to consider I am a storyteller. I mean, to sort of cheat on your question.         

00:29:51
             

I feel like it is. I would love to consider myself an author and a historian, but. But honestly, there are so many others who dedicate their lives to understanding history. I wanted to tell a story that I felt had been forgotten by time, that these women in Theodore Roosevelt’s life were consequential in our american history. And if I could put forward their story, then perhaps historians, authors, writers, future scholars could take a piece of what I’ve done and go even further.         

00:30:30
             

So I just put the story out there as I saw it, and hopefully others more capable and qualified than me will take it even further. That is very humble of you. I believe, Edward, I am North Dakotan. You can’t. I mean, it’s literally in your blood.         

00:30:52
             

Have you heard the one about the North Dakotan who loved his wife so much, he almost told her? That’s good. That’s good.         

00:31:04
             

So it’s emotion. You’re trying to give me a compliment. I have to immediately say I don’t deserve it and give it back to you, Chloe. Well, regardless, we love a storyteller here at Wyoming humanities, so thank you for telling this story. I’m so excited to dive in.         

00:31:27
             

I cannot wait to read this book. Thank you. Thank you. I hope the loves of Theodore Roosevelt. May 7, just in time for Mother’s Day, a month from father’s day, graduation season.         

00:31:40
             

I mean, this is the loves of TR is the book. Mom can give dad, dad can give mom, and mom and dad can give their grad. So it’s for everybody. That was perfect. It really fits well.         

00:31:52
             

And what you described before is, of course, the historian’s dream. As a historian, uncovering new information and getting help from other historians is, like, the best. I’m a little jealous, but impressed, that’s all positive. It’s a great community. I mean, that’s what I learned.         

00:32:08
             

I mean, you know, I come from the cutthroat world of television, where nobody ever gave you anything. And suddenly a pandemic hits. And Betty Carollio just quickly, you know, she wrote the Roosevelt women in the 1990s. I think it was published in 1999. And it’s an extraordinary book.         

00:32:26
             

It’s vignettes of lots of different women in not just TRS life, FDR’s life, and extraordinary book. And quite literally, she was here in New York and the pandemic hits. I’ve probably asked her 60 some questions, maybe perhaps because of my persistence. She said, look, I’m going to just give you the research. It’s going to fill in the gaps where you can’t.         

00:32:50
             

I literally couldn’t go to the Houghton library or the Library of Congress or other places and fill in the research that I was missing. And there were several times where that research filled in the gap that just, I mean, incredible. I’m so humbled and grateful for those who’ve gone before me, and I hope the loves of Theodore Roosevelt adds to the canon and propels the story of these incredible women forward. Oh, undoubtedly. I would totally agree.         

00:33:16
             

So as we are nearing the end of our time, sadly, I have so many more questions. But I understand we all have lives beyond this podcast. I know it’s shocking, but it’s true. I always like to ask this question of historians in general just because I think, having written a lot myself, there’s just so much going on. So throughout your research, was there something that showed up that you really wanted to include, like a fun story or an exciting adventure or some theme, but you just had to cut because it didn’t quite flow with the book or for whatever reason, you just had to remove that and store it on the someday folder somewhere?         

00:33:56
             

I love that question, Lucas. Yes, there is. I’ll tell you quickly. I became very obsessed with Theodore Roosevelt’s obsession with Edgar Allan Poe. So, yes, Edgar Allan Poe.         

00:34:13
             

When you think of Theodore Roosevelt, you don’t automatically think of Poe, right? But Theodore Roosevelt’s out in the Badlands of North Dakota. He’s lost his wife, he’s lost his mother. He’s lost his father six years earlier. So really know hes a 25 year old orphan.         

00:34:27
             

And he writes that the Badlands look as though Poe would write, and the descriptions that hes using, hes undoubtedly reading Poe. And then I look at the diary entry that TR wrote after his fathers death, and hes reflecting on whom he will meet and whom he will marry. And he says, a rare and radiant maiden, I hope, obviously from the raven. Right? And then, of course, he loses Alice Hathaway Lee, who shares part of her name, Annabel Lee, in Poe’s poem Annabel Lee.         

00:35:07
             

And he writes, this is what led me to, he writes, the x, the light has gone out of my life. His wife’s nickname, Alice, was Sunshine. He’s speaking both literally and metaphorically, the light, the sunshine of my life has gone out. And then he’s again reflecting and thinking about Poe. So I went and then TR is involved in trying to rescue and preserve Poe’s home in New York.         

00:35:40
             

He’s involved in he references Poe as one of the, you know, probably the greatest american writer. I went off on a tangent on Poe, and the editor was like, what is this? This is. You have gone way off the main point. So there’s a whole chunk of the book about TR and Edgar Allan Poe.         

00:36:04
             

Some of it survives, some of it’s in there. But where. I went on a long tangent on TR and Poe, it’s gotta be an Atlantic article or a New Yorker article, or it’s an article somewhere, someday, somehow, because that, unfortunately, is not all in the book. I’m looking forward to that edition, wherever it ends up being published. There’s a good.         

00:36:26
             

Lucas, you can claim it. There’s a good essay to be written on TR and Poe. I’m telling you, it’s there. There’s hints of it in the loves of Theodore Roosevelt, but there’s a whole essay to be written, apparently not a book, because I tried and they took it out.         

00:36:43
             

Don’t give me ideas.         

00:36:47
             

Yeah, I don’t need more things to write about, I’m sure, but thank you. Thank you. Yes. Ed, thank you so much for your time with us today. If you don’t mind reminding us one more time of when this book is coming out and where people can reach you if you’re on social media or however you want to promote this.         

00:37:09
             

Yes. Well, thank you, Lucas. I appreciate that. The loves of Theodore Roosevelt, the women who created a president, is published on May 7, again, just in time for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. The Loves of Theodore Roosevelt is published by Simon and Schuster.         

00:37:24
             

It’s available wherever books are sold. Please buy it from your local independent bookstore. Buy it from whatever source you would like. But I would be honored and very grateful if your listeners pick up the loves of Theodore Roosevelt and share it with someone in their life whom they love. Thank you so much, Ed.         

00:37:45
             

This has been so fun today. It’s been so awesome to see you and learn so much. Oh, my gosh, I learned so much today. Thank you. Absolutely.         

00:37:54
             

It was wonderful. Emmy Lucas, the Wyoming humanities. I’m enormously pleased to have been with you on winds of change. Well, cool. Thank you so much.         

00:38:06
             

Thank you. Really appreciate your interest in the book and look forward to promoting the podcast, so take care. Yeah, thank you. Thank you. Bye.