Sunday, November 04, 2012

My Dear Mr. President (Roosevelt, that is)

"Can a dinner change history?" That's the first sentence in the introduction to the book, Guest of Honor by Deborah Davis. This is about a dinner at the White House that shocked the nation.  It was hosted by President Theodore Roosevelt with Booker T. Washington as guest of honor on October 16, 1901.  Why was it shocking? Well this was because Booker T. was a man of color. Up to this point in history, no black man had ever been invited to have dinner at the White House so even Booker T. was shocked by the invitation.

The parallel lives of these two men is what this book is about. Two different races, two different social backgrounds yet they developed a special relationship.  I am on page 188.  Theodore Roosevelt wanted to combine business and pleasure so he extended the "scandalous" dinner invitation.  Booker T. would normally turn down social invitations of this kind to avoid crossing the color line. However this time, on his Tuskegee stationery, Booker T. accepted the invitation with the salutation, "My Dear Mr. President."

The book covers social history in a very interesting way, showing us life in the 19th to early 20th centuries.

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