Thursday, August 12, 2010


The History of the Teddy Bear

Drawing the Line in Mississippi by Clifford Berryman: This cartoon is believed to have triggered the teddy bear craze in the U.S.

Is your classroom theme BEARS?  This is a cute cutting and pasting activity for young students.  You can use this also to celebrate the TEDDY BEAR.  Tell your students about President Teddy Roosevelt refusing to shoot a bear cub during a hunting trip.  A newspaper told the story using a cartoon drawing.  Morris Michtom, founder of Ideal Toy Company, saw the cartoon and created a stuffed bear, calling it 'Teddy's Bear'.  The rest is history.

In America, the teddy bear, according to tradition, got its start with a cartoon. The cartoon, drawn by Clifford Berryman and titled "Drawing the Line in Mississippi," showed President Theodore Roosevelt refusing to shoot a baby bear. According to this often told tale, Roosevelt had traveled to Mississippi to help settle a border dispute between that state and Louisiana, and his hosts, wanting to please this avid hunter, took him bear hunting. The hunting was so poor that someone finally captured a bear and invited Roosevelt to shoot. Roosevelt's refusal to fire at such a helpless target inspired Berryman to draw his cartoon with its play on the two ways Roosevelt was drawing a line—settling a border dispute and refusing to shoot a captive animal.
The cartoon appeared in a panel of cartoons drawn by Cliffored Berryman in The Washington Post on November 16, 1902. It caused an immediate sensation and was reprinted widely. Apparently this cartoon even inspired Morris and Rose Michtom of Brooklyn, New York, to make a bear in honor of the president's actions. The Michtoms named their bear "Teddy's Bear" and placed it in the window of their candy and stationery store. Instead of looking fierce and standing on all four paws like previous toy bears, the Michtoms' bear looked sweet, innocent, and upright, like the bear in Berryman's cartoon. Perhaps that's why "Teddy's Bear" made a hit with the buying public. In fact, the demand was so strong that the Michtoms, with the help of a wholesale firm called Butler Brothers, founded the first teddy bear manufacturer in the United States, the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company.

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