Saturday, January 5, 2013

Pyle, Taft, and the Panama Canal

On January 5, 1905, Mr. and Mrs. Howard Pyle attended the Cabinet Dinner at the White House, where they dined on Harlequin Sandwiches, Potage Clear Green Turtle, Curled Celery, Terrapin à la Baltimore, Supreme of Chicken Villeroi with fresh mushrooms, Egyptian Quails à l'Estouffade - among other delicacies - and later stayed over night as guests of President Roosevelt.

Also at the dinner was Secretary of War William Howard Taft. After Taft was elected in 1908, Pyle wrote to congratulate him and said:
...I remember sitting at a small table in the White House with you and Mr. Cadwalader after the Cabinet dinner, and hearing you tell Mr. Cadwalader of your intentions concerning the Panama Canal. What you said to Mr. Cadwalader was said so simply and so unaffectedly that I carried away with me the impression that you were one of the strongest men in the world.
Pyle told others of his encounter with Taft that night - Edward Noble Vallandigham, for one, recalled of his friend Pyle:
He became some years ago an enthusiastic admirer of Mr. Roosevelt, and was several times entertained at the White House. Upon one of these occasions he met Mr. Taft, then of the cabinet, heard him talk of the Panama Canal, and came away deeply impressed with his easy mastery of a great subject. “He seemed,” said Pyle, “as familiar with that vast undertaking as I should be with the laying of a drain in my back yard.”
Pyle’s enthusiasm for Taft - which seems to have been kindled 108 years ago tonight - eventually led him to provide some last minute, but apparently invaluable assistance to Taft’s 1908 campaign.

But more on that another time. Now it’s off to bed for the Pyles, where they can digest the above-mentioned items - as well as their Smithfield Ham Glace (Hot) with Madeira sauce and spinach, their Peaches Melba and their Blue Point Oysters - and brace themselves for breakfast with Theodore Roosevelt.

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