Today is National American Teddy Bear Day. There are other days that the stuffed bear is honored, but this is the American celebration. Teddy Bears have come a long way, since the first bear was created. We’ve had Teddy Bears, Make Your Own Bears, Care Bears and many other types of stuffed bears. However, do you know that the Teddy Bear was invented in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt? President Roosevelt was on a hunting trip for bears with Governor Andrew Longinonear in Onward, Mississippi on November 14, 1902 . Unfortunately, the Mississippi Governor had not located a single bear. One of Roosevelt’s assistants Holt Collier, who was a born slave and former Confederate cavalryman, cornered and tied a black bear to a willow tree. They yelled for Roosevelt and suggested that he shoot it. Roosevelt found this idea disgusting and refused to shoot the bear. The news of his compassion spread all over the country. The newspaper articles told how the president refused to shoot a bear. This made big news because President Roosevelt was a big game hunter!
Soon a political cartoonist, Clifford Berryman read the articles and decided to jokingly sketch the president’s refusal to shoot the bear. His cartoon appeared in the Washington Post on November 16, 1902. In Brooklyn a candy shop owner, Morris Michtom saw the cartoon and had an idea. Since he and his wife Rose also made stuffed animals, he decided to create a stuffed toy bear. He wanted to dedicate it to the president who refused to shoot a bear and called it ‘Teddy’s Bear’.
Michtom got Roosevelt’s permission to use his name. Soon the toy bears were mass-produced. They were so popular that Michtom founded the Ideal Toy Company. Even today the Teddy Bear is as popular as ever. We can trace its origin back to a fateful hunting trip of President Roosevelt in 1902. National American Teddy Bear Day is observed on November 14 as a remembrance of President Roosevelt’s compassion for a bear and the stuffed bear he made famous.