The year was 1902 and America was on the brink of war with Germany over a crisis in Venezuela. Venezuela had defaulted on loans from Britain and Germany and in 1902 the two countries set up a blockade of Venezuelan ports. Fearing that Germany was going to use the conflict as an excuse to obtain Venezuelan real estate, American president, Theodore Roosevelt, dispatched Admiral George Dewey and much of the American naval force to the Caribbean on “maneuvers.” Invoking the Monroe Doctrine, Roosevelt made it clear through diplomatic channels that Germany should submit to arbitration negotiated by the U.S. or face military action. Germany agreed to arbitration with less than twenty-four hours left before the deadline; the blockade ended in February of 1903.
In Africa, the Second Boer WarÂ came to an end with the Treaty at Vereeniging. The Boers gave up their independence in exchange for a general amnesty, protection of the Dutch language, economic considerations, and eventual self-government.
As the winter of 1902 approached, the United States was worried about having enough fuel. Most homes were heated by coal around the turn of the century, and a coal miners’ strike in Pennsylvania had been going on since May. By October the situation was critical. President Roosevelt took the unprecedented step of inviting the United Mine Workers union and mine operators to the White House to negotiate a deal. The miners wanted a raise, shorter hours, and a recognized union. The initial meeting failed to end the strike and Roosevelt had to threaten to send in military forces to operate the mines. Everyone would lose if that happened, and the threat pushed both sides to compromise. The workers got a 10 percent raise and shorter hours, but the union was still not recognized.
An avid hunter, Roosevelt went hunting in November of 1902 in Mississippi. Since he wasnâ€™t having any luck, one of his hosts tied a bear to a tree for him to shoot. Not willing to shoot the tethered creature, he told his benefactors to â€œSpare the bear.â€ Later a popular cartoon depicted the event and an enterprising couple in Brooklyn, New York, created a soft bear toy–Teddy’s Bear. The stuffed bear was a huge hit and teddy bears continue to delight children all over the world.