Teddy Bears are a common stuffed animal for children, but did you know that this plush toy has a strange connection to the 26th President of the United States? The story came about during a bear hunting trip in Mississippi in 1902.
On November 14, 1902, Teddy Roosevelt was on a bear hunting trip near Onward, Mississippi, with Mississippi Governor Andrew H. Longino. Everyone in the hunting group except for the president had located a bear.
Worried that the president, who was an avid hunter and outdoorsman, would be embarrassed, Roosevelt’s assistants cornered and tied a black bear to a willow tree. They then summoned Roosevelt to the tree and suggested he shoot the bear. When he saw this poor creature tied up to the tree, Roosevelt refused to shoot the bear, viewing this as cheating. The president thought that it was extremely unsportsmanlike to kill a defenseless animal.
This event garnered national attention soon after the hunting trip wrapped up. The situation became the topic of a political cartoon that appeared in The Washington Post. Clifford Berryman drew the bear in this cartoon to appear small and cute to the audience.
After seeing the political cartoon depicting Roosevelt’s mercy, Brooklyn shopkeeper Morris Michtom and his wife Rose created a stuffed bear. They displayed it in their store window with a sign labeled “Teddy’s Bear.” This bear soon garnered attention from the public. Supposedly, Michtom sent a bear to Roosevelt and got permission from the president to use his name for their new toy.
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Early teddy bears were made to look somewhat realistic, with small eyes and extended snouts. Now, most teddy bears have more babylike features to emphasize their cuteness. To this day, the adorable bears continue to be popular worldwide.