Hot Time in the Old Town: The Great Heat Wave of 1896 and the Making of Theodore Roosevelt

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Hot Time in the Old Town: The Great Heat Wave of 1896 and the Making of Theodore Roosevelt

Author: Edward P. Kohn
Publisher: Basic Books
Copyright: 2010
Pages: 304
Cover Price: $ 27.95

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One of the worst natural disasters in American history, the 1896 New York heat wave killed almost 1,500 people in ten oppressively hot days. The heat coincided with a pitched presidential contest between William McKinley and the upstart Democrat William Jennings Bryan, who arrived in New York City at the height of the catastrophe. As historian Edward P. Kohn shows, Bryan’s hopes for the presidency began to flag amidst the abhorrent heat just as a bright young police commissioner named Theodore Roosevelt was scrambling to mitigate the dangerously high temperatures by hosing down streets and handing out ice to the poor.

A vivid narrative that captures the birth of the Progressive era, Hot Time in the Old Town revives the forgotten disaster that almost destroyed a great American city.

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Background Information

New York City at the mouth of the Hudson River is the largest city in America. In 1896, William McKinley restored Republican control of the White House after the second administration of Grover Cleveland but, shortly after hs re-election to a second term, he was assassinated. William Jennings Bryan was considered one of the most brilliant orators of his era, running three times for president as nominee of the Democratic Party. Theodore Roosevelt was a progressive political leader, conservationist, war hero and adventurer. The Progressive Movement grew out of belief, following the Gilded Age, the government could and should do more to promote the common welfare.