Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Notes on "Becoming Teddy Roosevelt"

Vietze, Andrew (2010). Becoming Teddy Roosevelt:  How a Maine guide inspired America's 26th president.  Camden, ME: Downeast.

The Nature of New York
p.20 “...they discovered that both were constantly astonished by the poetry of the natural world. “  (an observation on Sewall and TR’s relationship)
p. 21 “If  he was reflective at all during the latter part o this Maine sojourn, it was not about the death that had so weighed on him just before his arrival, but about how much loved being in the woods.”
p. 21 on Maine routines “They would have harvested the garden, begun to ready their houses for the weather ahead, prepared for another season of cutting trees, and gotten back into the affairs of the town they were building out in the woods.”
p. 24 “‘I made up my mind that I must try to learn so that I would not again be put in such a helpless position.’”  On bullies on the train up to Maine.
p. 25 “With an ocean out one door and the woods out another, these summers were full of magic for the imaginative naturalist, who would happily take off by himself, traipsing in the bushes or down close to the grass.” On his summers in the country.
p. 26 “After discovery, for Roosevelt, came the desire to understand his findings, and then share that understanding with the world.” On observing a dead seal.
p. 28 “She spent hours reading him stories of larger-than-life men and feats of heroism, both fiction and non-fiction, books about knights and sailors and soldiers.” on TR’s mother’s role in his life.

Pine Tree Pioneers
p. 32 “This was the last frontier of New England, a place where stands of spruce stood majestic and tall, never touched by an ax or blase.”  Describing Aroostook County in the 1820’s.
p. 33 ….”the Bloodless Aroostook War or the more colorful Pork and Beans war.”  on establishing the official boundary line between Maine and New Brunswick.
p. 37 “Working ceaselessly Sewall was able to ease the circumstances of the family little by little.  Under is tutelage--and that of a Penobscot Indian neighbor--David and Sam Sewall became fairly expert woodsmen.”
p. 38 “The academy of nature proved to be his favorite classroom, though, and he learned much simply by following his father and older brothers around.”  Bill Sewall’s education
p. 39 “..he brought a gif to his little brother--a compass.  The small instrument gave the boy even more self-confidence than the canoe and the gun had earlier.”  Bill Sewall’s education.
p. 41 “Bill donated his share to and Island Falls man  who had a family to support and no income.  ‘That was the way the old-time people dealt with their neighbors up here in the woods,’ he late explained.”  Bill Sewall’s character
p. 42 “Like so many Mainers then-and even now-life was a seasonal cycle, and every couple of months brought a new occupation.”  Reality of rural Maine life.

A Grander, More Beautiful Sight
p. 48 “‘I have never seen a grander or more beautiful sight than the Northern woods in winter.’” TR on Maine
p. 50 “Dow was able to find the animal’s prints, and they crept along the trail even though it dragged them through cedar swamps, over hardwood ridges, through hemlock woods, and across cranberry bogs.” Will Dow on hunting with TR.
p. 50 “‘The reason he knew so much about everything, I found, was that wherever he went he got in with the right people.’” Sewall on TR’s ways of acquiring knowledge.
p. 51 “‘He said he could read about such things, but here he had first-hand accounts of backwoods life form the men who had lived it and knew what they were talking about.’” Sewall on TR’s ways of acquiring knowledge

Tough as a Pine Knot
p. 59 “‘If I follow my own natural bent I will be a naturalist, for you know how I love nature, the woods, birds and plants and the rough Arab life of the big woods.’” TR on what he would do if he didn’t enter public service
p. 59 “‘...”I don’t know a better or more intelligent race of men than the shrewd, plucky, honest, Yankees--all of them hunters, lumbermen, or small farmers.’” TR on Yankees

Harvard Cool
p. 65 “And enthusiasm, of course, was the trait that all but defined Theodore Roosevelt.”  On his not fitting in at Harvard.
p. 66 “Roosevelt took to college like he did most things--with a zeal that bordered on the manic.”  
p. 67 “Working in a basement lab with a stiff white coat was the last thing Theodore Roosevelt wanted to do.” On his naturalist leanings.
p. 67 “To TR, the wonders of science--its future and frontiers--were out in the fields and forests and sea awaiting discovery.”

Playing the Frontier
p. 75 “‘It was listening to those talks after supper in the old shack on the Cannonball that I first came to understand that the Lord made the earth for all of us and not just for the chosen few.’”  TR out West

Light Comes In; Light Goes Out
p.  83 “...Mary loved the window the Sewall House gave her on the wider world.  This came both from her husband’s unending quest for knowledge and from the many guests who stayed with them.  Bill was keenly interested in the goings-on beyond the limits of Island Falls.  He read the newspaper daily, and both he and Mary regularly visited the community library, which was in Dave Sewall’s house, on the hunt for new books.”  On life and learning in rural Maine.
p. 87 “...his sister Sarah told him to go make his fortune and then ‘return and live in his real home.’” On Sewall’s Maine roots and Western adventure.

Badlands Babies
p. 94 “Bill Sewall was forever impressed by the gumption Roosevelt showed in such situations, describing him as ‘afraid of nothing and nobody’”.  On how they dealt with other people claiming their land out West.

The Beef
p.  111  Bill Sewall on losing money out West.  “‘...Roosevelt did not pretend to be a businessman.  He never cared about making money and he didn’t go to Dakota for the money he expected to make there; he came because he liked the country and he liked the people and he liked the wild, adventurous life.’”

Futures and Fame
p.  145 Bill Sewall on progress. “‘Many changes I have seen during my eighty odd years of life, but I do not believe people are any happier now, for all the improvements and new ways, than we were back in the old days.’”

Czar of Aroostook County

p. 157 “He may have become famous, but he still rose early and worked to make something of each day.”  On Bill Sewall’s work ethic
p. 160 “Somehow Sewall found the stamina to do it all--customs collector, sheriff, guide, logger, farmer, hotelier.”  On his many duties.
p. 162 TR’s achievements.  “TR Came to conservation via his passion for hunting, and Sewall, of course, was his greatest hunting mentor.”
p. 163 “During his tenure, Roosevelt worked tireless at protecting the nation’s natural heritage, saving some 84,000 acres a day. He was actively involved in the creation of 150 national forests, 5 national parks, 4 national game preserves, 18 national monuments (including the Grand Canyon), 24 reclamation projects, and 51 federal bird preserves (including the first, on Pelican Island, Florida).”

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