He visited Logansport, Indiana to present a speech that was supposed to change the position of the presidency on national issues.
President Theodore Roosevelt found himself in a difficult position in 1902 when Iowa and the Midwest were challenging the Republican Party on their position with tariffs, monopolistic practices and isolationism. It was suggested that he make a tour of the Midwest - an eighteen-day trip with major speeches.
Logansport was to be the third whistle-stop.
The Roosevelt entourage had been touring the eastern states. They had arrived in Pittsfield, Massachusetts for a speech on a beautiful September day. Teddy decided to take a carriage ride through the town. A carriage was prepared for Teddy and his secretary. An FBI agent was to drive the team of horses.
The carriage was driving beside a trolley track which ran through the center of the street. The trolleys had been ordered not to run hat morning.
Yet, as the carriage proceeded down the hill, they could hear a screeching noise behind them. A trolley came wildly down the hill and slammed into the carriage. The president and his secretary were thrown onto the grass at the side of the street. The FBI agent was crushed to death by the wheels of the streetcar. Teddy’s face was
bloodied and his leg injured, but he was able to get up and continue his planned trip. If the trolley had hit the carriage two inches further to the right the president and his secretary would also have been crushed to death.
The driver of the trolley was sent to jail for six months.
Post card image of the Roosevelt car crash.
The president was able to make his speaking engagements for the next few days, shaking hands with as many as fifty-two people per minute for three hours at a time. But, his leg was beginning to cause him great pain.
The train left New York on September 20. He arrived in Cincinnati for his first major address. He managed to make his speech but standing was becoming difficult. The president went to bed immediately upon arriving in Detroit and complained that his leg was throbbing with pain.
NEXT STOP LOGANSPORT
Meanwhile, Logansport had prepared for President Roosevelt’s major address by erecting a large platform at the corner of Seventh and Broadway in front of the High School (later named the Roosevelt Building).
The Roosevelt building on the corner of 7th and E. Broadway (razed).
The train arrived on schedule during a pouring rain. The Elks Band was waiting to lead the procession. Carriages for all of the dignitaries were lined up. The parade moved up Market Street to Ninth Street.
Above: The Elks Band of the time, pictures here marching on another day, on E. Market at 6th Street.
Henry Wiler had decorated the skating rink, as an alternate (dry) place for the president to speak. This is where the city government building stands today. But President Roosevelt insisted that he could speak in the rain.
Cheers rose from the more that 5000 people waiting to hear the speech. Teddy looked out across the sea of
umbrellas and announced that he could speak in the rain if the crowd could put their umbrellas down and
listen to him. The umbrellas all came down and Teddy presented his twenty-seven minute major address
to the issues that were troubling his administration.
Every available policeman of the community was visible surrounding the stage and watching the crowd.
Immediately after the speech, President Roosevelt was assisted down from the stage and down into the street He was having great difficulty walking.
Above: The Pennsylvania Depot built 1882 - razed 1962. Telegrams sent from here to notify Indianapolis surgeons to be prepared for President Roosevelt's arrival.
Telegrams were sent from the Pennsylvania Station to the Columbia Club on the Circle in Indianapolis that the
president was ill.
ON TO INDIANAPOLIS
Four surgeons were waiting and checked the president before he attended a reception for the Indianapolis crowd. He made a few comments to the large crowd and was hurried out to a carriage that rushed him to St. Vincent’s Hospital.
The president refused to have an anesthetic for the operation on his infected leg.
It has been said that Roosevelt didn’t feel that his Vice-president, John Hay, was physically strong enough to carry out the job of president if he, Roosevelt, should die during the operation.
The doctors had to open the large swollen area and drain the collected fluids. He was carried out of the hospital on a stretcher and placed on the Presidential Train for Washington.
The rest of his trip was cancelled. He had a further operation that actually opened the infected area and had the bone scraped to remove the infection.