Thursday, October 1, 2015

Reuters covers Alexander the Great at bat

Ask yourself what Alexander the Great, Thompson Reuters, and the Rosetta Stone have in common with one another. Yep, you guessed it: all three are October posts on Brands In History. Scary, huh. No, but worth dusting off and bringing to the forefront.

Alexander moved into history as fast as he did across the plains of the near east. He was a quick moving storm hitting everything in his path with fury. No one really saw him coming in the way that he did. And like many bright lights that burn out quickly, they leave an indelible mark. Click here to see if that mark was earned. 

Reuters is a great story because the whole speedy news agency concept took flight on a wing and a prayer—literally. And while many thought Reuters would lay an egg, he wound up soaring. Read more here.

MLB playoffs are here, and if you're asking what in Ty Cobb's name that has to do with the Rosetta Stone, a crucial tool in deciphering ancient languages and our understanding of their civilizations, well, click here! But trust me when I tell you, it'll hit you like a Louiville Slugger on a Nolan Ryan fastball. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

The old lion

by Edward Harris

Editor’s note: Below is the final entry in a series on Theodore Roosevelt. It is recommended that visitors read parts one and two before proceeding to part three. Part one delves into the birth and early life of the Teddy Roosevelt brand, whereas part two explores Roosevelt the president as the brand reaches its full blossom. Part three is Roosevelt after the White House—the explorer. 

Therefore, submitted for your approval… 

Part Three of Three: Popular after leaving office in 1909 Roosevelt was sought out to mount a serious run for the presidency again in 1912. Believing that his successor, William Howard Taft, had failed to continue his program of reform, TR threw his hat into the ring as a candidate for the Progressive Party, also known as the Bull Moose Party. Although defeated by Democrat Woodrow Wilson, his efforts resulted in the creation of one of the most significant third parties in U.S. history. 

During his campaigning and while in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Roosevelt was shot in the chest as he entered the auditorium to give a campaign speech. John Schrank, the shooter and a Bavarian immigrant, who tended bar in New York, was immediately arrested. When interrogated by police, it was learned he had shot Roosevelt because he was concerned that a third term would establish a monarchy in the United States. Amazingly, Roosevelt was saved by his heavy wool army overcoat, the fifty page manuscript of his speech folded in half, and a steel glass case, which he carried in his right breast pocket. Still the bullet managed to penetrate five inches deep into his upper chest, lodging near his rib cage. Incredibly, Roosevelt entered the auditorium with blood dripping down his arm, facing a terrified and transfixed audience he roared, “It takes more than that to kill a bull moose!” The audience roared with applause and laughter for several minutes. 

Later in New York’s Madison Garden, Roosevelt delivered what was to be his last great campaign speech. His audience kept up the boisterous cheering for forty-one minutes before he was allowed to begin his speech. The time was 10:03 pm, and he still carried the bullet lodged in his chest. And without the aid of a microphone, Roosevelt delivers one of the greatest speeches of his political career. Several times during the speech, cheering from the audience interrupts him. To the people in the hall, and to millions of Americans, Roosevelt was their hero. Even as he stood on stage, giving his speech, he knew he would lose the election in six days, thus ending his life in the political spotlight. He would later become reviled by many and then ignored. This was what gave Roosevelt nightmares. 

Roosevelt spent that winter hunkered down at Sagamore Hill with his wife, Edith, and youngest daughter, Ethel. He was fifty-four years old and had already lived a full life. In February 1913, a letter arrived from the Museo Social in Buenas Aires that would change his life. Its Board of Directors wanted Roosevelt to be a guest lecturer. This appealed to Roosevelt’s Achilles’ heel, his vanity, especially since he was allowed to define all the terms of his visit while in Argentina. Although Roosevelt inherited a large estate from his father most of the inheritance had been spent on elections and living expenses. He was concerned about what he would be leaving to his children, and was determined to provide them with some inheritance. Kermit, his youngest son, had been working in Brazil for the past year, and he was also driven by the need to spend time with him. 

But there was another factor involved in his decision. South America’s vast, largely unexplored interior was calling his adventuresome soul and he felt the need for one last adventure. Following his defeat in 1909, he and Kermit went to Africa on a safari, there was only one problem, according to Roosevelt, Africa had become tame and there were no unknown lands left to be explored. So, when he decided to accept the offer to lecture in Brazil, no one who knew Roosevelt was surprised. For Roosevelt this trip would also allow him to return to his youth as a naturalist. When he was only fourteen he was already providing specimens to New York’s American Museum of Natural History, the same museum his father helped found in 1869. Although Roosevelt chose politics over science, he never lost his love for natural history. 

He knew the Argentine museum’s invitation would not cover his plans for exploration while there so he began soliciting help from friends and business contacts made during his long political career. He also sought and gained assistance from the Museum of Natural History. Henry Fairfield Osborne known as “Fair” by Roosevelt had been a friend for several years and was President of the museum. The first scientist to hold this position and would do so for twenty-five years. Together they assembled a team for exploring the Amazon and began to make plans. 

Roosevelt aboard the Vandyck
TR, the Explorer – On the morning of October 4, 1913 he boarded the Vandyck in New York Harbor, a two-year-old, ten-thousand-ton, steamship. Gathered there were ambassadors from Argentina, Brazil, and Chile to wish him success. Also accompanying him was his wife, Ethel, who was eager to visit with Kermit while in South America. Ethel was also concerned about her husband and wanted to be closer to monitor his health. For Roosevelt, this journey also provided the opportunity to separate himself from the doomed Progressive Party, a humiliating defeat, and the self-doubt that had eaten at his psyche now for over a year.

On October 18, 1913 the Vandyck landed in Bahia, Brazil. In the harbor, Kermit waited on a flag-draped launch. Because of TR’s popularity there were thousands of Brazilians waiting to greet him. His reputation was known in South America and he was revered. However, Roosevelt was anxious to get ashore, dispense with the greetings, and leave for the city of Rio de Janeiro. He wanted to be there by October 21 because he was anxious to meet Lauro Muller, Brazil’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. Muller was to act on behalf of Don Domicio de Gama, Brazil’s Ambassador to the United States, who volunteered to help Roosevelt during his expedition efforts in Brazil. It was also de Gama who planned this expedition with the help of Roosevelt’s friend and fellow traveler, George Cherrie. In addition to Cherrie, there were Anthony Fiala, Father John Zahm, Kermit Roosevelt, Frank Harper and Leo Miller who would accompany Roosevelt on the Amazon expedition. 

During his time with Roosevelt, Muller recognized quickly that the trip down the Amazon would not present the challenge Roosevelt desired. With a single question Muller was to change history. He made Roosevelt an offer to go down an unknown river. The river, Rio da Duvida (The River of Doubt) was remote, unknown, mysterious, and by its very name was a warning to would-be explorers. Another significant point that should be known is it was Colonel Candido Mariano da Silva Rondon who discovered the rivers source and named the river. Even when he reported his findings, very little was known about the river’s course or, its character. Randon is significant because he was Brazil’s top guide and would lead the party into the Amazon region. He was not the typical guide; he had spent half his life exploring the Amazon and traversed roughly fourteen thousand miles of wilderness in Brazil that was unmapped and unknown. He also made it clear at the time he was requested to join the expedition, that he would do so provided the expedition would be a scientific endeavor. 

No maps existed, every eddy, waterfall, and direction, were unknown. Both sides of Rio da Duvida were covered in dense jungle, sometimes blocking out the sun for miles. Wild Indians that lived in the jungle preyed on explorers invading their territory. Upon hearing Muller’s proposal to explore this uncharted river, combined with being eager for adventure, Roosevelt’s answer was immediate. This was a perfect storm scenario. Instantly, Muller was regretting his proposal for Roosevelt to descend the River of Doubt. 

Now that Roosevelt had made his decision to explore the River of Doubt, he had to convince his fellow explorers, and equally important, his financial backers at the Museum of Natural History in Washington DC. When the news of Roosevelt’s decision was presented to Henry Fairfield Osborne, president of the Museum of Natural History, he totally rejected the idea. Osbourne did not want the museum to assume any responsibility should Roosevelt not survive the expedition. 

For the next few months, while correspondence flowed back and forth between Roosevelt and Osborne, TR honored the terms of his agreement, traveling throughout Brazil and South America giving lectures. It was while he was in Chile that he learned not everyone appreciated his tenure as President. One of his significant accomplishments was the negotiation and construction of the Panama Canal. The students at the University of Santiago opposed the canal and everything Roosevelt stood for, while there a heated debate with the former Chilean Ambassador to the United States, who was leading the charge against the Panama Canal, took place and Roosevelt did not back down. In addition to the debate, a speech in Chili won over the crowd of antagonists. Once again he had his audience in his pocket by the time his speech ended. The old lion had entered the den of his detractors and with his debate performance and impassioned speech, had won the crowd over. He never backed down nor apologized for his actions, he knew the Panama Canal was the right decision, and his decision would prove to be on the right side of history. 

With his obligations met, he left to meet Rondon at the juncture of the Paraguay and Apa rivers on Brazil’s southern borders to begin the journey to the headwaters of the River of Doubt. Roosevelt felt like a boy again. He had told Osborne in his last correspondence that he had lived the lives of nine men and that if he was to leave his bones in South America, he was prepared to do so. 
Roosevelt with fellow explorers on the river
The trip was begun, perhaps unwisely, on December 9, 1913, the height of the rainy season. Prior to this expedition, no naturalist had penetrated deep into the central region of Brazil that ran between the mighty Amazon and La Plata river systems. Roosevelt's entourage endured a 900-mile trek, including a 40-day excursion across the Paraguay-Amazon divide, leading to the headwaters of the River of Doubt. 

During this portion of the expedition, a meeting among the group took place and it was decided that Roosevelt and those he selected would descend the River of Doubt, while other members would explore other rivers. Roosevelt's crew consisted of his 24-year-old son Kermit, Colonel Rondon, a naturalist sent by the American Museum of Natural History, named George K. Cherrie, Brazilian Lieutenant Joao Lyra, team physician Dr. Cajazeira, and sixteen highly skilled camaradas, or paddlers. Once the crew reached the River of Doubt, all travel would be made in seven dugout canoes. 

Portage around the rapid
Dangerous rapids were the norm. The river rose and fell in the space of a few hundred yards. In spots, the river narrowed to less than two yards between unforgiving boulders. 

The river claimed its first member of the expedition on March 15 when one of the camaradas, a man named Simplicio, drowned while attempting to rescue Kermit's overturned canoe. The turbulent rapids tossed the fragile boats around and scattered precious food rations. With dwindling food supplies, Roosevelt and his men looked to the jungle shores for sustenance. Monkey meat became a diet staple. 

Along with the lack of food, the men also battled various other jungle perils: fever and painful insect bites. Roosevelt recounted: 
"The little bees were in such swarms as to be a nuisance. Many small stinging bees were with them, which stung badly. We were bitten by huge horse-flies, the size of bumblebees. More serious annoyance was caused by the pium and boroshuda flies during the hours of daylight, and by the polvora, the sand-flies, after dark. ...All of us suffered more or less, our hands and feet swelling slightly..."
Roosevelt himself came so near to death—from a leg injury and a soaring fever—that he counseled the rest to go on without him. They would not. He even considered suicide so the crew would continue on without him.

On April 27, 1913, Theodore Roosevelt with the help of rubber trappers reached the end of the River of Doubt and arrived in Sao Joao. The trip was considered a success in that it provided information necessary to map, for the first time ever, the interior of Brazil. Over 2,000 species of birds and 500 mammals had been collected for further study. The river was renamed Roosevelt River by the Brazilian government.
The trip exacted a heavy toll on the once indefatigable Theodore Roosevelt. Writing to a friend, TR confessed, "The Brazilian wilderness stole away 10 years of my life." Once home, Roosevelt faced detractors who said he did not make the trip that he did. For the next several years he fought for recognition of his Brazilian adventure. Roosevelt got his grand adventure, leaving him with tales that rivaled those from Africa and the Dakotas. 

On January 9, 1919, while with the occupying army in Germany, Kermit received a telegram from his brother Archie, it simply read, “The old lion is dead.” A 60-year old Roosevelt had died in bed at his beloved home, Sagamore Hill. His death was attributed to cardiovascular disease. Two days later, Theodore Roosevelt was buried at Youngs Memorial Cemetery, just down the road from his longtime home. Roosevelt was finally at peace, he had fought the good fight, and he had finished the race, having lived every day of his life like it was his last day.

About Edward Harris - Harris leads an award wining agency and has long been recognized as one of the top marketing leaders in Houston, and for clients nationally and internationally. His B2B branding and marketing expertise has helped many of the major oil companies. as well as vendors who serve the oil & gas industry. Harris is considered one of the original forward thinkers, developing tailored processes that has lead his clients to great success. Read more about Harris on Knights of the Round Table page.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The bully pulpit

by Edward Harris

Editor's note: The entry below is the second in a continuing series on Theodore Roosevelt. It is recommended that visitors read part one before proceeding to part two. Part one delves into the early birth of the Teddy Roosevelt brand, whereas this entry begins to approach Roosevelt the president—the man with bully pulpit.

Therefore, submitted for your approval…

Thomas Nast impression of TR - 1889
Part Two of Three: Thomas Nast was one of the nation's first image-makers and helped transform Roosevelt's cowboy image into the nation's political culture. In a cartoon of 1889, the first year Roosevelt served as the U.S. civil service commissioner in Benjamin Harrison's administration, Nast blended Roosevelt's Wild West bronco busting with current notions of progressive reform. In this remarkably predictive portrayal, Nast successfully projected a youthful and determined cowboy at "Uncle Sam's Ranch," to one who disciplines the out-of-control "Spoils man" with "Civil Service Reform." During the following six years, Roosevelt gained national attention by removing thousands of jobs from political patronage, thus making civil service reform a popular cause. This move surprised the Republican Party machine and provoked the unenthusiastic Harrison to remark that Roosevelt “wanted to put an end to all the evil in the world between sunrise and sunset.”

By the time of the Cuban campaign, Roosevelt's Rough Rider performance completed his evolution from an Easterner to a hardened, purposeful cowboy-cavalry hero. He actually spent time in San Antonio recruiting cowboys in the bar at the Menger Hotel to accompany him on his adventure to Cuba and fight the Spaniards. The Menger is one of Texas’ historic hotels and located next door to the Alamo. The purpose of the campaign was a response to the sinking of the USS Maine, presumed to have been act of war perpetrated by Spanish loyalists in Cuba. At the time, Cuba was fighting for independence from Spain. America drew parallels in its view of Cuba and Spain with America and England. So the incident with the Maine sparked the flash fire that became the Spanish-American War.

Colonel Roosevelt 1898
In this 1898 photo, Colonel Theodore Roosevelt of the Rough Riders prepares to embark for Cuba. Roosevelt as a Rough Rider presents himself as a solid and muscular, mature, battle-ready horseman, ready to charge up San Juan hill and ride confidently into the nation's political consciousness. Nast had successfully remade the youthful Roosevelt, slim, decorated, and slightly built body of the studio photos into a battle-hardened man of action worthy of national acclaim.

Perhaps Roosevelt is most remembered for the words he pinned in a letter to Henry L. Sprague, on January 26, 1900, he wrote, "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far." This statement, which became a slogan, goes a long way in further defining the man and his brand. This proved true during the Boxer rebellion when the marines were sent to rescue missionaries who found themselves in the middle of a civil war in China. The notion being expressed here in this slogan is the opposite of the tactics employed by every contemporary schoolteacher—who begin stern and tough and, when discipline allows, it becomes more easy-going. The 'speak softly...' doctrine was to begin gently, but hold a decisive weapon in reserve. Roosevelt claimed the phrase was of West African origin, but this cannot be corroborated. It is entirely possible that he coined the phrase himself.

Roosevelt with his Rough Riders - Cuba 1899
After serving as governor of New York and McKinley's vice president, Roosevelt became president September 14, 1901 following President McKinley’s assassination. He was 42 years old and remains to this day the youngest person to hold this office. Punch Magazine commemorated the ascent of the nation's favorite cowboy to the highest office. Sending its "best wishes," the magazine pictured the Rough Rider, complete with an American flag saddle blanket, reporting for duty as president of the United States.

By this time, the entire nation knew of Roosevelt’s youthful bodybuilding to overcome frailty, his cowboy and hunting exploits in the Dakotas, his pugnacious style in New York politics, and his bravery under fire in the war against Spain.

Roosevelt's own tireless self-promotion was supported by national magazines and newspapers which faithfully recorded his every move. A million Teddy bears were for sale in New York City alone. This came about following a hunting trip to Mississippi at the invitation of Governor Andrew H. Longino. After three days of hunting, other members of the hunting party had spotted bears, but not Roosevelt.

To avoid failure, the hunting guides tracked down an old black bear that the dogs had trailed and attacked. The guides intentionally tied the bear to a tree and later lead the President to the bear so he would have his trophy. It is said TR took one look at the old bear and refused to shoot it. He did, however, recognize that the bear was injured and suffering and ordered the bear put down to end its suffering. Word of this was soon reported by every major newspaper in America.

Political cartoonist Clifford Berryman picked up on the story, drawing a cartoon depicting how TR refused to shoot the bear while hunting in Mississippi.

Young boys began strengthening regimens, and grown men reveled in what the New York Tribune in 1907 called Roosevelt's "opulent efficiency of mind and body." By then well into his second term, the five-foot-eight Roosevelt weighed over two hundred pounds. He was a "strong, tough man; hard to hurt and harder to stop," remarked his heavyweight sparring partner, a professional boxer who came regularly to the White House for workouts. "His large frame and thick neck gave the impression of a big man," his cousin Nicholas Roosevelt observed, and "his chest was powerful and well developed." General Arthur MacArthur remarked to Roosevelt how pleased he was that at last the nation had a president who could review troops on horseback.

TR, President & Conservationist - After exploring the badlands, TR decided he would venture further west and explore lands that are now known as Yellowstone. Although Yellowstone had become a national park under Ulysses S. Grant’s presidency little had been done to bring the park to the forefront of America’s consciousness. For the west, Roosevelt was its best promoter. His most important legislation as president was in the areas of conservation.

At the urging of Gifford Pinchot, a college-trained forester who argued that the natural resources of the West required scientific management to prevent their depletion by private developers, Roosevelt seized on the 1891 Forest Reserves Act, which empowered the president to set aside public lands as national forests, and used it to increase federal land reserves from approximately 40 million acres when he took office to nearly 200 million acres by the end of his second term.

In 1905, Roosevelt gave Pinchot responsibility for administering this vast domain as head of the newly organized U.S. Forest Service, and ushered in the modern era of western land management, which aims at sustained efficient use of natural resources rather than exploitation and development. Under Pinchot and his successors, much of the West came under bureaucratic control, with local communities and business interests subject to federal regulation in their use of the resources surrounding them.

Roosevelt initiated similar sweeping change in the West with his support of the National Reclamation Act (or Newlands Act) of 1902, which gave the federal government primary responsibility for dam construction and irrigation projects. A new federal agency, the Reclamation Service, brought scientific expertise and bureaucratic administration to this task, and by 1906 there were water projects underway in all the western states, establishing federal control of the use of this vital resource as well.

Roosevelt also extended federal control over the scenic wonders of the West, using the 1906 Antiquities Act, which had been intended to preserve historic landmarks, to set aside 800,000 acres in Arizona as the Grand Canyon National Monument. All told, he created 16 national monuments, 51 wildlife refuges and five new National Parks, including Crater Lake in Oregon and the Anasazi ruins at Mesa Verde, Colorado. He helped pave the way for eventual recognition of such "national treasures" as natural resources requiring federal management to sustain their use by the west's growing tourist industry into the future.

TR, President & Arbitrator - Aside from his conservation programs, Roosevelt's most significant influence on the history of the west came as a result of his efforts to strengthen American interests in East Asia. He recognized the Pacific as a potential avenue for U.S. trade and sought political stability in the region through improved relations with Japan. In 1905, he negotiated a settlement of the Russo-Japanese War, winning the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts, and in 1907, he worked out what was called a "Gentleman's Agreement" with Japan when he forced San Francisco to end its segregation of Japanese schoolchildren in exchange for a curb on the emigration of Japanese laborers to the United States.

Earlier, in 1905, Roosevelt had used gunboat diplomacy to resolve a similar situation with China, forcing the government there to end a trade boycott protesting the U.S. exclusion of Chinese workers. Both actions showed Roosevelt's sympathy with the longstanding racial prejudices of the West, but underscored as well his conviction that the future of the west lay in the Far East.

TR, President & Statesman – Often considered the first modern President. He significantly expanded the influence and power of the executive office. From 1865 to the beginning of the 1900’s, the power in the national government resided in the U.S. Congress. For the last twenty years of the 1800’s, the executive branch gradually increased its power. Roosevelt recognized this trend, and believing that the President had the right to use all powers except those that were specifically denied him to accomplish his goals seized this opportunity. As a result, the President, rather than Congress or, the political parties, became the center of the American political arena.

As President, Roosevelt challenged the ideas of limited government and individualism. He advocated government regulation to achieve social and economic justice. He used executive orders to accomplish his goals, especially in conservation, and waged an aggressive foreign policy. He was also an extremely popular President and the first to use the media to appeal directly to the people, bypassing the political parties and career politicians. As President, Roosevelt worked to ensure that the government improved the lives of American citizens. His "Square Deal" domestic program reflected the progressive call to reform the American workplace, initiating welfare legislation and government regulation of industry. Indeed, this became a foundation of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, following the great Depression.

TR was also the nation's first environmentalist President, setting aside nearly 200 million acres for national forests, reserves, and wildlife refuges. In foreign policy, Roosevelt wanted to make the United States a global power by increasing its influence worldwide. He led the effort to secure rights to build the Panama Canal, one of the greatest engineering feats at that time. He also issued his "corollary" to the Monroe Doctrine, which established the United States as the "policeman" of the Western Hemisphere. In addition, he used his position as President to help negotiate peace agreements between belligerent nations, believing that the world should settle international disputes through diplomacy rather than war.

Next Post: TR the President was so impactful to the Union that his bust joins the Founding Fathers on Mount Rushmore. It was during his watch that the foundations set for an America that would come after World War II. But Roosevelt did not stop after being president. Unlike others, he did not fade into the backroom of the American public psyche. His brand continued to feed a hungry American expectation.

About Edward Harris - Harris leads an award wining agency and has long been recognized as one of the top marketing leaders in Houston, and for clients nationally and internationally. His B2B branding and marketing expertise has helped many of the major oil companies. as well as vendors who serve the oil & gas industry. Harris is considered one of the original forward thinkers, developing tailored processes that has lead his clients to great success. Read more about Harris in Knights of the Round Table.