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Photo of Theodore Roosevelt atop swimming moose debunked

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Avid outdoorsman Theodore Roosevelt led the Rough Riders in the Battle of San Juan Hill, but the robust, larger-than-life president reportedly never rode a moose through water.

Heather Cole, curator of the Theodore Roosevelt Collection, recently debunked the image, which was part of a 1912 collage created by photography firm Underwood and Underwood called “The Race for the White House” that featured Roosevelt as a “promising” third-party candidate for the newly created Progressive (or Bull Moose) Party. It also featured William Howard Taft riding an elephant and Woodrow Wilson atop a donkey, Cole wrote on her blog last week.

“Underwood appears to have cut out an existing photograph of TR riding a horse, and carefully pasted it onto an image of a swimming moose,” Cole wrote. “Under closer examination, one can see that the focus and shadows on TR do not match the moose. Also visible is the white line scratched or painted on the photo to approximate a ripple made by TR’s leg in the water.”

The illustration appeared in the New York Tribune on Sept. 8, 1912.

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