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“Two Bees or Not Two Bees—That is the Question!”

Clifford K. Berryman and National Archives and Records AdministrationOctober 28, 1906

U.S. National Archives

U.S. National Archives
United States

This cartoon depicts President Theodore Roosevelt questioning whether to run for a third term of office. Roosevelt was elected Vice President in 1900. Six months into his term, President William McKinley was assassinated, and Roosevelt ascended to the Presidency. After winning the 1904 election, Roosevelt announced that he would honor the Presidential two-term tradition by retiring in 1909. He proved immensely popular, however, and supporters urged him to run for an unprecedented third term. In this cartoon, Roosevelt, dressed as Hamlet, stages an alternative rendition of the famous Shakespearian soliloquy. With the first- and second-term Presidential bees behind him, Roosevelt looks to the third-term bee and wonders, "Two bees or not two bees--that is the question!" Roosevelt ultimately decided not to run in 1908 and instead left the United States to embark on an extended African safari.

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  • Title: “Two Bees or Not Two Bees—That is the Question!”
  • Creator: Clifford K. Berryman, National Archives and Records Administration
  • Date Created: October 28, 1906
  • Original Source: National Archives Catalog

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