Wed, 5 Nov 2008 20:36:23 -0600
While watching last night's election returns, and reflecting on how
much the country has changed I recalled the furor created about 100
years ago by Teddy Roosevelt having dinner in the White House with
Booker T. Washington. As the details were a bit hazy, I dug out a copy
of Edmund Morris' "Theodore Rex" to refresh my memory. While reading
it, I came across the following and thought it might be of interest.
First a little background ..... in 1901, as I said, Roosevelt had
Washington to dinner in the White House. After the firestorm the news
of this visit created, Roosevelt attended a bicentennial ceremony at
Yale that was also attended by Washington.
"Degrees were awarded to a distinguished list of honorees, including
John Hay, Elihu Root, Woodrow Wilson, and the white-suited Mark Twain.
'One name yet remains--' President Arthur Hadley intoned, and was
unable to continue, so loud was the roar for Theodore Roosevelt.
Notwithstanding this expression of support, Roosevelt declined to see
Washington later in the day. At a public reception that evening, he
sat aloof, kneading his silk hat. He seized on Twain and asked whether
it had been 'right' to invite a Negro to the White House. The
novelist, speaking carefully, said that a President was perhaps not as
free as an ordinary citizen to entertain whomever he liked.
Twain's private opinion was that Roosevelt should 'refrain from
offending the nation merely to advertise himself and make a noise.' "