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Theodore Roosevelt 1906 White House Letter References the Birth of William Loeb III, Powerful Conservative Publisher of the Manchester Union Leader

President Roosevelt Becomes Godfather to His Secretary William Loeb's New Son!

Framed with Stereoview of President Roosevelt with Secretary Loeb

"Those are first-class stork puzzle cards. Do you know that Mr. Loeb has been in the stork business himself and is now the happy father of a boy!"

This is one of Theodore Roosevelt's humorous and exuberant letters which has the added benefit of being on White House stationary with a White House envelope and mentioning a father and son that had important roles in history.  The Mayor of Alton, Illinois, Edmund Beall, had sent President Roosevelt some stork puzzle cards and in this letter President Roosevelt thanks him for them and references Mr. Loeb, who was also in the "stork business" by being the recent father of a baby boy.

The Mr. Loeb referenced in the letter who had a baby boy was William Loeb, Secretary to the President.  The boy who was born to TR's secretary, William Loeb III, became a powerful figure in the Republican party as the publisher and editor of the only statewide newspaper in New Hampshire, the Manchester Union Leader. Loeb was born on December 26, 1905, about a week before Roosevelt mentioned him in our letter. Loeb's birth would have been on his mind not only because of the recent birth of one of his closest aides, but because he also was the boy's godfather!

TR dictating to William Loeb II in 1905 photograph and William Loeb III, his godson the powerful publisher

The Manchester Union Leader was important because of the critical role of the New Hampshire Primary in making or breaking Presidential aspirations and Loeb was an outspoken conservative who had a considerable influence, especially on Republican nominees. Loeb was publisher and editor of the influential newspaper from 1946 through 1982, spanning Presidents Harry Truman though Ronald Reagan.

The senior Loeb, Roosevelt's secretary, played a leading role in two memorable stories about Roosevelt, how he became President and how he chose his successor. The first story comes from two sources:

First this account of he accession to the Presidency from Theodore Roosevelt: An Intimate Biography by William Roscoe Thayer:

On Friday, September 7, 1901, banner headlines of extra editions of Buffalo’s newspapers shouted "McKinley Shot!" These awful words reached Vice-President Theodore Roosevelt at Isle LaMotte, Lake Champlain where he was a guest of the Vermont Fish and Game Club. He immediately made his way to Buffalo.

Ansley Wilcox later wrote, "...I met him on Saturday noon (Sept. 7)...and a brief conversation resulted in his coming to stay at my house...until the following Tuesday (Sept. 10). At that point signs were very encouraging and it was thought that President McKinley would recover from his wounds."...it was thought best that the Vice-President should go away in order to impress the public with that confidence..." Leaving his itinerary with Ansley Wilcox in case he should be needed, Vice-President Roosevelt left Buffalo to join his family vacation in the Adirondacks at the Tahawus Club.

In the early morning hours of Friday, September 13, Mr. Wilcox was aroused by a messenger with the news of President McKinley’s worsening condition and was advised to contact and send for the Vice-President. A telephone call was made to Roosevelt’s Secretary William Loeb, who had remained in Albany in case of such a turn of events. Receiving the message Loeb immediately arranged for a special train and by 8:00 a.m. that morning (Fri. Sept.13), he was in North Creek ready to escort Theodore Roosevelt back to Buffalo. Meanwhile, Loeb telephoned this message from the President’s cabinet to Tahawus Post Office, the end of the telephone line:

Hon. T. Roosevelt

The President appears to be dying and members of the cabinet in Buffalo think you should lose no time in coming.

Elihu Root

All Friday morning and afternoon, William Loeb, was making arrangements to bring Theodore Roosevelt from the Tahawus Club to the train Station at North Creek, a trip that was to be accomplished in 3 stages over a 35-mile trail which had been made treacherous by three days of rain.

Roosevelt left the Tahawus Club at 10:30 p.m. Friday, September 13, and traveled by wagon the ten miles to Tahawus post office in two hours. He stopped long enough to contact Loeb in Albany by telephone and drink a cup of coffee. Ten minutes later the journey resumed and the next 9 miles to Aiden Lair were covered in 2 hours and 20 minutes.

At 3:00 a.m. on Saturday, Roosevelt arrived at Aiden Lair and the final relay began. The last 16 miles covered the roughest part of the country so far. There was a misty rain which made the road very slippery and the night "perfectly black." The driver had been put on notice to be ready to leave at anytime since Friday at noon. While waiting in the early morning hours of Sat. Sept. 14, he received a telephone call from Loeb who told him that President McKinley had died in Buffalo at 2:15 a.m. He decided not to tell Roosevelt, feeling that it was not really his place to relay such an important message and further, he did not want to add to his anxiety.

And this short account from Doris Ursitti in the Fall 1991 issue of "The Columns:"

The climbers on Mount Marcy were fifty miles from the end of the railroad and ten miles from the nearest telephone at the lower club-house. They hurried forward on foot, following the trail to the nearest cottage; where a runner arrived with a message, “Come at once.” Further messages awaited them at the lower club-house. President McKinley was dying, and Roosevelt must lose no time. His secretary, William Loeb, telephoned from North Creek, the end of the railroad, that he had had a locomotive there for hours with full steam up. So Roosevelt and the driver of his buckboard dashed on through the night, over the uncertain mountain road, dangerous even by daylight, at breakneck speed. Dawn was breaking when they came to North Creek. There, Loeb told him that President McKinley was dead

The story of Loeb's role in picking Roosevelt's successor comes from An Address by William J. vanden Heuvel On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Theodore Roosevelt’s becoming President of the United States:

As 1908 began, there was no front-runner for the Republican nomination to succeed TR. The conservative leaders in Congress suspected and were fearful that TR would create “a crisis” to justify his re-nomination, setting aside his written pledge not to run. In January 1908 William Loeb, TR’s private secretary, interrupted the President’s breakfast on an early January morning to discuss the upcoming convention. Loeb argued that TR could only sustain the credibility of his promise not to run by endorsing a candidate. Loeb told TR that any nominee could win—naming William Howard Taft, Elihu Root, Charles Evans Hughes and George Cortelyou (the Secretary of the Treasury)—if only TR would back him. In response, TR said that he would favor Elihu Root and authorized Loeb at that moment to go to see Root and make the offer of his endorsement. Root, then Secretary of State, was astonished by Loeb’s message but without hesitation asked him to assure the President of his gratitude but also of his inability to accept because he judged himself to be unelectable. Loeb interrupted the President’s schedule that same day to report on his meeting. TR accepted Root’s decision. He then told Loeb that his choice was William Howard Taft, saying that he had the experience to run the government. Taft could hardly believe his good fortune.

Mayor Ed Beall, who the TR letter is addressed to, would later be a delegate to the 1908 Republican National Convention which nominated Roosevelt's preferred successor, William Howard Taft, to succeed him as President.

The type and signature are a tad light, but perfectly readable. The 7 x 9 inch letter reads as follows:

The White House,

                                                    January 4, 1906

My dear Mr. Mayor:

Those are first-class stork puzzle cards. Do you

know that Mr. Loeb has been in the stork business him-  

self and is now the happy father of a boy!

                         Sincerely yours,

                      Theodore Roosevelt

Ho. Ed. Beall,
Mayor, Alton, Illinois

Also included is "The White House" envelope shown above postmarked Washington, D.C., JAN 4, 2:30PM, 1906 which is enclosed in a plastic sleeve on the back of the framed autograph.

The total package has been framed together as shown below with a brief explanatory note.

This framed White House letter from Theodore Roosevelt has a lot going for it, with its humorous tone and its reference to his secretary and close advisor William Loeb and the birth of his son, the famous publisher of the Manchester Union Leader. The letter provides wonderful associations to President Roosevelt's history and the history of Presidential and Republican politics through the 1980s.

Price: $800

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