President Theodore Roosevelt visits Chehalis on May 22, 1903.

  • By Alan J. Stein
  • Posted 11/14/2007
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 8373

On May 22, 1903, during the campaign for his forthcoming bid for the presidency, President Theodore Roosevelt  (1858-1919) visits Chehalis and gives a 15-minute speech about hard work from atop the “McKinley Stump.”

Meet and Greet 

Nearly 10,000 people were in attendance when the president’s train pulled into the depot at 11:30 a.m.  Chehalis Mayor Francis Donahoe and U. E. Harmon, chairman of the welcoming committee, greeted the president and escorted him to the McKinley Stump, at the nearby intersection of West Street and Market Boulevard. 

In May 1901, the stump was cut from a 360-year-old Douglas Fir tree near Pe Ell, and transported to Chehalis to serve as a speaking platform for President William McKinley (1843-1901). The trip was cancelled when McKinley’s wife took ill. A few months later, McKinley was assassinated, and Vice-President Roosevelt assumed the presidency.  

In Chehalis, on his way to the platform on top of the stump, President Roosevelt was introduced to Mr. and Mrs. William Hazzard. Their sons, Lieutenants Oliver and Russell Hazzard, were instrumental in the capture of Filipino General, Emilio Aguinaldo, during the Spanish American War.

Stump Speech  

After a short introduction by Mayor Donahoe, Roosevelt began his speech by praising the people of Washington as “true to the practices and principles of the men who fought in the great war.” Referring to a group of veterans from the Grand Army of the Republic, he continued, “With men such as you, and with two of your citizens the father and mother of boys like that, of course you are expansionists. If you were not, I would want to know what is the matter with you.” The audience cheered.  

He congratulated Washington on “its agriculture, its commerce, its lumber, its mines, upon all that it produces, but most of all upon its crop of children.” A large group of school children surrounded the stump, and the president focused on them as he touched on the theme of his speech -- hard work.  

Roosevelt stressed that the idle, whether they were on the top or bottom of the social strata, should be looked upon as objects of pity and contempt. He opined that the only life worth living was a life of hard work, and that those who seek only pleasure would find nothing but misery in the end. “When you play, play hard,” he told the children, “and when you work, don’t play at all.”

Play Ball 

When the president finished his speech, State Senator John Welty presented him with a souvenir piece of ore from the St. Helens mining district. Roosevelt thanked him, and boarded the train, bound for Centralia.

Most of the crowd spent the rest of Friday afternoon enjoying a baseball game between Chehalis and South Bend.

Sources: “At Chehalis, President Talks for Fifteen Minutes in Advocacy of the Strenuous Life,” The Seattle Times, May 23, 1903, p. 2; “Chehalis Gives Warm Welcome,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 23, 1903, p. 14; “McKinley Stump Comes Apart” The Chronicle, October 24, 2007 (http://www.chronline.com/).

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