Teddy Roosevelt Sued an Ishpeming Newspaper for Six Cents: Upper Peninsula, Michigan
Theodore Roosevelt was/is the United States' fourth wealthiest president. With all this money the Roosevelts had, why would our 26th president want to sue a little Upper Peninsula newspaper? And for what? Six cents.
First of all, how did the Roosevelts make all their money in the first place?
Beginning in the 1640s, separate members of the family made their livings in dry goods, real estate, sugar, linseed oil manufacturing, farming, imported furniture, politics, banking, coal, and transportation. Practically every male Roosevelt family member added to the Roosevelt wealth over several generations. By the time Teddy was born, he was set to inherit.
So how would Teddy benefit by suing a newspaper from Ishpeming? The newspaper in question was the Iron Ore which was founded in 1886. Its crime? Stating that Teddy was accused of public drunkenness. The paper's publisher had enough of Roosevelt slamming the steel industry, so he printed his take on Roosevelt's drinking and public drunkenness.
Other papers had printed similar statements, but Teddy had finally had enough and was determined to make an example of the Iron Ore.
In 1913 Roosevelt sought libel damages from the publisher, George Newett. In the newspaper's words, Teddy got "drunk . . . and not that infrequently." Newett defended his decision saying that Roosevelt was a public figure, of whom he could freely write comments and allegations.
However, something happened within that week-long trial...for as it came to an end, Newett told the public, "In the face of the unqualified testimony of so many distinguished men . . . I am forced to conclude that I was mistaken." Seeing a satisfactory victory, Roosevelt withdrew his damage claim and stated he just wanted nominal retribution...which came to six cents. Why? Because according to Roosevelt, six cents was “the cost of a good newspaper.” The Iron Ore paper was only three cents.
By the way, Roosevelt's favorite drink was claimed to be.....milk.
Teddy Roosevelt in Michigan