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Theodore Roosevelt, Captured on Spinning Wax

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 distinct 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 Historical Site, the former president’s former home on Long Island, New York, Roosevelt’s words came to life once more and once more were 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 two-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!”


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