Research Spotlight: Stalking political history

Theodore Roosevelt in New Castle, Wyoming, ca. 1903In every presidential election year, at least a few candidates seek to establish their bona fides as hunters – usually in front of a camera. But the association of politics with hunting in the United States goes back at least to the American Revolution, says Daniel Herman, Research Fellow in SMU’s Clements Center for Southwest Studies.

By that time, average Americans had come to associate political rights with hunting rights and saw any restriction on the latter as an attack on the former, Herman says. Yet in the late 19th century, “gentlemen hunters” tried to restrict hunting rights to themselves as part of a larger effort to buttress their social authority. What emerged was a discourse about the meaning of hunting that broke down old ideas about gentility and sportsmanship and led to a new, democratic cult of hunting in the 20th century.

Herman will discuss his research in a Clements Center Brown Bag Lecture, “Hunting Democracy,” at noon April 16 in the Texana Room, DeGolyer Library. Bring your lunch. (Right, noted presidential sportsman Theodore Roosevelt delivers a speech in New Castle, Wyoming, ca. 1903.)

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