Theodore Roosevelt: Hunter-Conservationistby R. L. Wilson
Theodore Roosevelt Hunter-Conservationist reflects the zest for life that was so powerfully characteristic of TR. For decades, Roosevelt's big game hunting books have been among the most often quoted and reprinted of works in that genre. But no definitive biography of Roosevelt as the consummate hunter, outdoorsman and arms enthusiast existed until R.L. Wilson's
Theodore Roosevelt Hunter-Conservationist reflects the zest for life that was so powerfully characteristic of TR. For decades, Roosevelt's big game hunting books have been among the most often quoted and reprinted of works in that genre. But no definitive biography of Roosevelt as the consummate hunter, outdoorsman and arms enthusiast existed until R.L. Wilson's pioneering work. Biographers who fail to comprehend Theodore Roosevelt's dedication to that world have missed an essential, and central, component of Roosevelt's life.
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In the fall of 1882 Roosevelt was re-elected to the assembly by a two-to-one majority. His political career was now in high gear. His unswerving commitment to public morality and his shrill opposition to corruption in government heightened his popularity with the voters. As the epitome of the political moralist, Roosevelt’s stature grew by leaps and bounds. His second term as lawmaker came at a time when Grover Cleveland, a Democrat, was governor of New York. Since both Roosevelt and Cleveland opposed machine politics, they were frequently on the same side on various issues, particularly those involving civil service reforms and the denial of special privileges to business corporations. By the end of his second term Roosevelt’s name had become synonymous with political reform. A political leader of the first rank had emerged out of the crucible of New York politics.Roosevelt had a busy summer in 1883: besides working on his campaign for the coming fall elections, he was also making plans for a trip to the Dakota Badlands.His decision to visit the Dakota Territory was inspired by a chance meeting late in May of 1883 with a former U.S. Naval officer, H.H. Gorringe, when Gorringe was in New York promoting the Little Missouri River area as a hunting and ranching paradise. The two men discussed the territory at length. In the summer of 1883 recurring bad health (asthma and “cholera morbus”), the frustrations of a crusading state assemblyman, and his inveterate hankering for hunting adventure and vigorous exercise induced Roosevelt to take a trip West with Gorringe. He wrote Gorringe that:… I am now being forced to make my plans in regard to the political campaign this Autumn, and so I am anxious to fix, as nearly as is convenient to you, what will be about the dates of our departure and return. I am fond of politics, but fonder still of a little big game hunting. If not too much trouble, could you write me … either telling me about what your plans are, or, better still, appointing a day next week, if possible after Wednesday, when I can see you in person, as I will then be in New York, and am anxious to get your advice as to what to take out west. I have a heavy .45-calibre Sharps rifle, and a double barrel No. 10, which ought to be enough of a battery.Gorringe, however, did not go on the proposed trip.When Theodore Roosevelt stepped off the train in Little Missouri, Dakota Territory, on September 7th, 1883, he stepped onto a stage where the Wild West was playing its final act.
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Meet the Author
Author of over 48 books and more than 325 articles, auction catalogues, book introductions and monographs, Wilson’s career in the world of history, art, firearms and hunting began with internships while an undergraduate at Carleton College (Northfield, MN), at the Corcoran Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.), the Royal Armouries, H.M. Tower of London, and the Wadsworth Atheneum (Hartford, CT). He was appointed the Atheneum’s Curator of Firearms at the age of 23. Wilson’s research and writing have led to innumerable trips worldwide, including nine expeditions to Africa (the first in 1970). Among his published works are four official company histories: Colt, Winchester, Ruger and Beretta. More than a dozen of his titles have been published by Random House, Simon & Schuster, Abbeville Press, Crown, and Ballantine. Several of his works are also in French, German and Italian, and six of his books were done in collaboration with renowned photographer, author and adventurer, Peter Beard. The Colt Heritage: The Official History of Colt Firearms, is the only firearms-related book ever nominated for the American Book Award, publishing’s equivalent of an Oscar. Wilson is a professional member of the Boone and Crockett Club, and was co-executive producerwith the Hon. William E. Simonof the hunting and conservation documentary film, “In the Blood.” In 2004 Wilson received the coveted “Jack Slack Writer of the Year” award, from Leupold & Stevens, as well as the “Sport Shooting Ambassador” award from the World Forum on the Future of Sport Shooting Activities.
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