Teddy Roosevelt Whips Young Lady Passing Him on Horseback

Teddy Roosevelt on horseback (History.com)
Teddy Roosevelt on horseback (History.com)

Now, I will quickly caveat this as being unconfirmed, but I am merely surfacing an interesting old story from the Baltimore Sun. This was printed on May 13th, 1912.

TO THE EDITOR OF THE SUN–Sir: Sometime during the latter part of Roosevelt’s administration I remember reading in some of the daily papers a supposedly authentic account of “T. R.’s” riding horseback on a summer’s afternoon in the suburbs of Washington, and it was related that a young lady rider who attempted to pass the Presidential party was struck across the face with a whip by the gentle Teddy as punishment for her lese-majeste. Will you kindly republish the account of the incident as it happened, and oblige many SUN readers?

PHILIP B. GIBSON.

Teddy Roosevelt (Wikipedia)
Teddy Roosevelt (Wikipedia)

Not good. Say it ain’t so, Teddy.

THE SUN’S Washington correspondent, to whom this question was referred, answers it as follows:

Two stories are told concerning the report that former President Roosevelt had acted in a decidedly rude manner toward a young girl while riding in Rock Creek Park one afternoon during the last year of his administration. There is not way to officially confirm either of them. The story which is generally accepted as true around the White House makes the Colonel himself guilty. It seems that the President was riding just beyond the Zoo in Rock Creek Park late one afternoon, accompanied only by an orderly. Two girls, one of them a student in a Washington seminary, and the other the daughter of a well-known resident of the city, were riding in the same direction. Roosevelt passed them at a gallop. The out-of-town girl, discovering after he had passed that it was the President, spurred her horse to overtake Mr. Roosevelt for another look at him. Glancing back Colonel Roosevelt saw what was happening and, as the girl’s horse came alongside him, he slashed at her horse and instead struck the girl across the arms with his riding whip. At the same time he urged his own horse forward and left the frightened young lady behind. Whether or not Roosevelt knew that he had done more than hit the horse is, of course, not known. He showed no signs at the time of having been aware of the fact. The other story is to the same effect in detail up to the point where the girl pressed her horse forward. In this account, the orderly, who was a private in the cavalry seeing a girl driving hard to overtake the President and not knowing perhaps whether she meant harm or not, struck the animal several times and one time struck the girl with his whip. According to this story, the President apparently knew nothing of what was happening, inasmuch as the orderly was riding several paces behind him.–EDITOR THE SUN.

A good story lost to history and an interesting story either way. I’ll leave it up to you to judge.

Teddy Roosevelt riding a moose in the water (seriously?)
Teddy Roosevelt riding a moose in the water (seriously?)

About Tom

Tom founded Ghosts of DC on January 4th, 2012 as a blog to uncover the lost and untold history of Washington, D.C. He has lived in the city for over a decade and loves exploring every corner of the District.

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