Year
1903
Month Day
May 12

Teddy Roosevelt’s trip to San Francisco is captured on film

On May 12, 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt’s trip to San Francisco is captured on moving-picture film, making him one of the first presidents to have an official activity recorded in that medium.

READ MORE: 7 Little-Known Legacies of Teddy Roosevelt 

A cameraman named H.J. Miles filmed the president while riding in a parade in his honor. The resulting short move was titled The President’s Carriage and was later played on “nickelodeons” in arcades across America. The film showed Roosevelt riding in a carriage and escorted by the Ninth U.S. Cavalry Regiment, which was unusual for the time, according to the Library of Congress and contemporary newspapers, because it was an all-black company.

Roosevelt was the first president to take advantage of the impact motion pictures could have on the presidency. The photogenic president encouraged filmmakers to document his official duties and post-presidential personal activities until his death in 1919. He purposely played directly to the camera with huge gestures and thundering speeches. The Library of Congress holds much of the original film footage, including that of his second inaugural ceremony in 1905, a visit to Panama in 1906 and an African safari in 1909. Roosevelt appeared on camera with many notable people of his time, including European kings and queens, as well as Hopi Indians and Masai warriors in Africa. In 1912, Roosevelt’s unsuccessful campaign for president on the Progressive ticket was also captured on film. Later that year, Roosevelt again made two presidential “firsts.” On October 11, 1910, he became the first (former) president to not only fly in an airplane but also to be filmed while flying in an airplane.

Even Roosevelt’s funeral in Oyster Bay, New York, in 1919 was memorialized on camera. The filmmaker documented the procession and memorial service, and included shots of Roosevelt’s successor, William Howard Taft.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Soviet Union lifts its 11-month blockade against West Berlin

On May 12, 1949, an early crisis of the Cold War comes to an end when the Soviet Union lifts its 11-month blockade against West Berlin. The blockade had been broken by a massive U.S.-British airlift of vital supplies to West Berlin’s two million citizens. At the end of World War ...read more

Race car driver A.J. Foyt gets first pro victory

On May 12, 1957, race car driver A.J. Foyt (1935- ) scores his first professional victory, in a U.S. Automobile Club (USAC) midget car race in Kansas City, Missouri. A tough-as-nails Texan, Anthony Joseph Foyt, Jr. raced midget cars—smaller vehicles designed to be driven in races ...read more

Lyndon B. Johnson visits South Vietnam

Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson meets with South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem in Saigon during his tour of Asian countries. Calling Diem the “Churchill of Asia,” he encouraged the South Vietnamese president to view himself as indispensable to the United States and promised ...read more

Bob Dylan walks out on “The Ed Sullivan Show”

By the end of the summer of 1963, Bob Dylan would be known to millions who watched or witnessed his performances at the March on Washington, and millions more who did not know Dylan himself would know and love his music thanks to Peter, Paul and Mary’s smash-hit cover version of ...read more

Celebrated actress Katharine Hepburn is born

On May 12, 1907, Katharine Hepburn, who due to her performances in such films as The Philadelphia Story and On Golden Pond, will become one of the most celebrated actresses of the 20th century, is born in Hartford, Connecticut. The daughter of New England intellectuals who ...read more

Lindergh's Baby

Kidnapped Lindbergh baby found dead

The body of aviation hero Charles Lindbergh’s baby is found on May 12, 1932, more than two months after he was kidnapped from his family’s Hopewell, New Jersey, mansion. Lindbergh, who became the first worldwide celebrity five years earlier when he flew The Spirit of St. Louis ...read more

American freighter ship Mayaguez seized by Cambodian navy

The American freighter Mayaguez is captured by communist government forces in Cambodia, setting off an international incident. The U.S. response to the affair indicated that the wounds of the Vietnam War still ran deep. On May 12, 1975, the U.S. freighter Mayaguez and its 39-man ...read more

Americans suffer worst defeat of revolution at Charleston

After a siege that began on April 2, 1780, Americans suffer their worst defeat of the revolution on May 12, 1780, with the unconditional surrender of Major General Benjamin Lincoln to British Lieutenant General Sir Henry Clinton and his army of 10,000 at Charleston, South ...read more