The Year Was 1902

Teddy Bear.bmpThe 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 War 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 wasn’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 “Spare the bear.” 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.

2 thoughts on “The Year Was 1902


    25 January 1983 – date my baby was born.

    My baby’s first lullaby was ‘Teddy Bear’s Picnic.’

    It was a musical toy box which I used to wind up whenever my baby started to cry. Immediately he used to stop crying and was fascinated with the sound. He was barely a few days old. Yet he was able to hear. So I used to sing the song.

    Cheers for ‘Teddy Bear’s Picnic.’

    Thanks for cheering me up.

    Baby will be having his lucky birthday as he turns 25 on 25 January 2008.

    Meena Kochak

  2. Enjoyed the bit about Theodore Roosevelt. There is another story about the origin of the “Teddy Bear” that is told at the Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs, CO. Apparently MR Roosevelt stayed at the Hotel Colorado many times while on hunting expeditions and after an unsuccessful day the maids presented him with a bear they had made of pieces of material and then stuffed. But it was his daughter who admired a bear he had killed and said she would call it Teddy.
    This is from the web page of the Hotel Colorado.

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