President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt loved the outdoors and hunting all kinds of animals. But it was one creature that he didn't kill that inspired the world-famous teddy bear.
On Nov. 14, 1902 -- 100 years ago -- the president was hunting for bear in Mississippi. He wasn't having any luck, however. There were just no bears to be found. Finally, his hunting dogs tracked down a lone black bear that looked very old and weak.
The men leading the hunt called for Roosevelt to come shoot the captured beast and add it to his trophy collection. But seeing the trembling animal tied to a tree made the president angry. This was no way to hunt, he declared. It wasn't a fair fight. Instead, he ordered that the bear be spared.
News of the president's mercy spread quickly. When a cartoonist at The Washington Post named Clifford Berryman heard what had happened he drew a cartoon called "Drawing the Line in Mississippi." It showed the president turning his back and refusing to shoot the helpless animal. Many people were moved by the drawing, including a man named Morris Michtom, who had come to New York from Russia and opened a toy store.
Inspired by The Washington Post cartoon, Michtom created a cuddly stuffed animal he called "Teddy's bear." When he wrote the president to ask permission to use his nickname, Roosevelt supposedly replied, "I don't think my name will mean much to the bear business, but you're welcome to use it."
It turned out President Roosevelt was wrong. His nickname did wonders for the bear business. And over the last century, millions and millions of kids, and many grown-ups, have had their own "Teddy bear" to hug.
-- Michael Farquhar