O, FOR HISTORY: Teddy Roosevelt visits Indiana in 1902

220px-President_Roosevelt_-_Pach_BrosWhile doing some research for one of my writing projects I discovered President Theodore Roosevelt visited Indiana in 1902.

While passing through a Massachusett’s city, a trolly car ran into the president’s horse-drawn carriage.  The president was propelled from the carriage, landing on his face on the pavement beyond the carnage of the wreck which killed a secret service officer.

Roosevelt, known for his toughness, journeyed on his speaking tour to Nebraska, then to Detroit, Michigan before traveling down through Indiana with stops in Logansport, Kokomo, Tipton, and Noblesville before a major stop in Indianapolis.  It was while making a speech at Monument Circle that pain in his leg from the accident became unbearable – even for The Old Lion.

Roosevelt-in-Tipton-1902

Pres. Roosevelt speaking in Tipton, Indiana, near my hometown, Elwood.

From “When Theodore Roosevelt was Hospitalized at St. Vincent’s”

“Teddy Roosevelt, who was limping noticeably and wincing with pain at almost every step, had to have his infected leg lanced and drained at St. Vincent’s Hospital.

At that time, St. Vincent’s was still located downtown at the corner of South and Delaware Streets, just a short distance from the club. Surgeon Dr. John H. Oliver performed the operation, which kept Roosevelt clear of the threat of blood poisoning.  (Blood poisoning was serious business in those days and usually ended in death.  Tragically, its specter returned to presidential history in 1924, when Calvin Coolidge’s 16-year-old son, Cal, Jr., developed a blister on his toe while playing tennis on the White House lawn.  Young Coolidge died of the resulting infection within a week.)

Doctors examined Roosevelt’s leg wound by natural light coming through a south window of the hospital.  “He took only a local anesthetic,” the Journal reported, “which was applied to the leg.  He seemed to feel that an unnecessary amount of fuss was being made over him. . .”  Yet as the surgery proceeded, the president’s “arms were thrown behind his head with his hands clasped.  Occasionally the pain became so severe that his elbows bent close to the sides of his head as if to ease the pain.  His eyes were closed and his teeth pressed close together.”

Accompanying Roosevelt to St. Vincent’s that day was U.S. Secretary of War Elihu Root.  (In spite of his bellicose job title, Root went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1912 for promoting goodwill between the U.S. and Latin America.)  Root was one of the few government officials allowed inside the building.  An anxious crowd of several hundred Hoosiers gathered outside “and never removed their gaze from the hospital.”  Even Hoosier senators Charles Fairbanks and Albert Beveridge and Governor Winfield Durbin “were challenged by the guard and not permitted to enter.”  Militiamen and Secret Service agents were stationed outside St. Vincent’s.  All was silent, only the clip-clop of the occasional soldier’s horse passing on the street.”

image

St. Vincent’s Hospital, Indianapolis IN

 

About Wright Flyer Guy

Darin is a single adoptive father, a teacher, playwright, and musical theatre director from Kettering, Ohio.
This entry was posted in Elwood, Indiana, Family Ancestry, History Channel, PBS, Politics, Theodore Roosevelt, U.S. History, U.S. Presidents, Uncategorized, Washington, DC and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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