Eagle Archive column, Nov. 18, 2012

In this 1912 photo by Philip Myers, former President Teddy Roosevelt delivers a campaign speech from the front of the American Sentinel newspaper office in Westminster. (Historical photo by Philip Myers / November 17, 2012)

Presidential election politics are over for 2012 (well, sort of), but we can still recall local history related to our nation's chief executives. For instance, the Nov. 15, 1964, edition of the Baltimore Sun's Sunday Magazine carried a story by Philip Myers with the headline, "I Remember … Theodore Roosevelt in Westminster."

"Teddy Roosevelt has always been one of my heroes," Myers wrote, noting that he "remembered the time I saw him in Westminster as one of the biggest moments of my life. It happened in May, 1912; three years after T.R. left the White House. He was making what was to be an unsuccessful bid for the Presidential nomination."

According to research by the Historical Society of Carroll County, "Ex-President and Bull Moose Party candidate Teddy Roosevelt made a whistle-stop appearance in Westminster on May 4, 1912. He delivered a campaign speech from the front of the American Sentinel newspaper office near the intersection of Liberty and E. Main Streets. "The event drew a large crowd. … Roosevelt recognized (Westminster Police Officer) 'Capt.' Weigle who commanded a Gatling gun in support of his Rough Riders charge up San Juan Hill during the Spanish American War."

In 1912, Myers was a freshman at then-Western Maryland College — now McDaniel — and one of his hobbies was photography.


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"News got around, a few days before the event that Theodore Roosevelt was coming through Westminster … during a campaign swing through Maryland. I determined to take his picture," Myers remembered in the Sun piece.

"Saturday (May 4) dawned hot and sunny. By the time the train was to arrive all Westminster, it seemed, was on hand. Finally the train puffed in (and) at the end was the candidate's open-platform car. The crowd tried to push in around the back of the car to get a closer look at the former President when he emerged, but they were kept in check by John Weigle, Westminster's one-man police force.

"Roosevelt was a muscular man who looked dynamic and did everything with great vigor. Amid roars of approval he strode over to the flag-draped platform. There he was introduced by Joseph L. Brooks, editor of the Sentinel, and launched into a rousing speech.

"The former President's speech was short. When it was over everyone applauded and cheered, and then the great man went back to his car and waved good-by from the back platform as the train pulled out."

Roosevelt did not win the presidential election in the fall of 1912, but he certainly won the affection of the citizens of Carroll County.

According to Myers, "The people of Westminster have remembered that day, too, as a highlight of their history. When the Westminster Bicentennial was held ... groups got together to dramatize six moments from the town's history. Teddy Roosevelt's visit was one of them. The re-enactment was called, 'The Charge of the Bull Moose.'"

When he is not walking the railroad tracks waiting for a visit by an American president, Kevin Dayhoff may be reached at kevindayhoff@gmail.com.