Theodore Roosevelt, Captured on Spinning Wax A Roosevelt impersonator and an Edisonian audiophile bring the former U.S. president’s words to life

Video by Jean Kumagai, IEEE, August 16, 2012

   Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States, was a gifted orator whose animated style, progressive politics, and clipped patrician diction spoke for and to the common people. And though he died in 1919, we still know his distinctive voice because many of his speeches were recorded on early audio equipment—most notably, the wax cylinder phonograph invented by Thomas Edison.

   Recently, at the Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, the former president’s former home on Long Island, N.Y., Roosevelt’s words came to life once more and were once more captured in wax. This time, though, renowned Roosevelt impersonator James Foote spoke the words, while Peter Dilg, a collector of antique audio equipment, expertly manned the Edison recording system. The 1.5-minute speech Foote delivered was originally given by Roosevelt back in 1913 to the Boys Progressive League and contains his memorable exhortation: “Don’t flinch, don’t foul, and hit the line hard.”

   For more about Sagamore Hill, visit the website of the National Park Service. 

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