An interesting medal of Theodore Roosevelt

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by Parthicus, Dec 5, 2020.

  1. Parthicus

    Parthicus Well-Known Member

    I recently purchased this interesting medal from fellow CoinTalker @lordmarcovan :
    Teddy Roosevelt medal.jpg
    Theodore Roosevelt (1858- 1919) is one of the more fascinating figures in American history. My high school history teacher had a "historical crush" on him, and it's not hard to understand why. Teddy Roosevelt was a driven, hard-working man who accomplished more in a few years than most accomplish in a lifetime, and left the world a significantly better place than it was. I'm especially intrigued by the way he successfully balanced so many seemingly contradictory facets in one person. He was a man of action (outdoorsman, athlete, rancher, soldier) but also an intellectual (Harvard-educated, a prodigious reader, and author of several books including a definitive naval history of the War of 1812). He was a big-game hunter, but also a conservationist who was key to establishing the National Parks system. He was born to great wealth and moved easily in high society, but was also comfortable with hard-working frontier types and promoted progressive legislation that helped the average man at the expense of wealthy industrialists and corporations. This medal is in honor of a lesser-known part of his life, his two-year stint as president of the New York City Police Commission from 1895-1897. (At the time, NYC had a five-member commission; this was later replaced by a single Commissioner.)

    In 1894, a new reformist mayor, William Strong, had been elected and pledged to clean up the city, and he appointed the energetic and equally reform-minded Roosevelt as president of the police commission. Roosevelt worked hard to modernize the police force and root out corruption in the ranks, instituting tests for hiring and promotions, putting in telephone lines for fast communication, and rooting out officers who accepted bribes. He frequently walked the city at night, seeking out officers who were shirking their duty in their assigned beats. He also enthusiastically helped the anti-vice crusade started by the journalist Jacob Riis and Reverend Charles Parkhurst, and cracked down on prostitution, gambling, and the illegal selling of alcohol on Sundays. This campaign was a complete success, and today New York City is known as a squeaky-clean town ;) . He left the commission in 1897, when he was appointed by new President William McKinley to be Assistant Secretary of the Navy.

    This medal was apparently handed out by the NYPD Lieutenants Benevolent Association to attendees at a dinner on February 22, 1919 in honor of Roosevelt. Roosevelt had died on January 6 of that year, but given the lead time required to make the medal and plan the dinner, it is likely that he had been intended to attend the dinner in person. Unfortunately I could not find much information specifically about this medal and the circumstances of its issue, but it's still a nice little tribute to a fascinating man. There are many good books written about Teddy Roosevelt (and several by him), but what most inspired me to get this medal was the book "Island of Vice: Theodore Roosevelt's Quest to Clean Up Sin-loving New York", by Richard Zacks.
    FredJB, lordmarcovan, MIGuy and 8 others like this.
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  3. fretboard

    fretboard Defender of Old Coinage!

    Great looking medal and backstory! :D
    lordmarcovan, MIGuy and Garlicus like this.
  4. CoinBreaux

    CoinBreaux Well-Known Member

    Cool medal! I highly recommending reading Edmund Morrisons's trilogy on Roosevelt.

    Fun fact: A young Roosevelt was captured in a photo of Lincoln's funeral procession.

  5. Terrifrompa

    Terrifrompa Member

    nice medal. thank you for the interesting back round story
    lordmarcovan likes this.
  6. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & Eccentric Moderator

    Your pictures of it look better than mine did. I'm glad it went to someone who appreciated its history. I found that in a rather fun exonumia bulk bag I bought a while back.
  7. Indianhead65

    Indianhead65 Well-Known Member

    Very nice!!
    lordmarcovan likes this.
  8. longnine009

    longnine009 Most Exalted Excellency Supporter

    I read Edmund Morris's first book Rise of Theodore Roosevelt. TR was into some serious journaling that Morris quotes through out the book. Some of it is pretty funny. In one entry he described someone ( I think from Tammany Hall) as an "oily creature with hair protruding from the oil."

    That was a fun read.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2020
    lordmarcovan likes this.
  9. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & Eccentric Moderator

    I did know that, but still find that photo amazing.
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