Lucius Littauer, 15, moved to Harvard University in 1874, where he met and lodged with an older student two years before him in his studies. Young Lucius wouldn’t have had a clue that this athletic and incredibly bright 18-year-old had been a sickly child with debilitating asthma.

Lucius Littauer and his roommate Theodore Roosevelt became friends, a relationship that would last the rest of their lives.

Lucius was born in Gloversville in 1859, the first Jewish baby born in the county. His father, Nathan, immigrated from Breslau, Germany and quickly found success as a glove maker. His small business flourished, and Nathan began promoting the city to friends and acquaintances in Germany, resulting in the first wave of Jewish immigrants who settled in Gloversville. The family moved to New York City in 1865, where Lucius spent most of his childhood. After graduating from Harvard, Lucius was named the first head coach of the Harvard Crimson football team in 1881, where he led the team to a 6-1-1 season debut.

After his stint as a coach, Littauer returned to Gloversville and entered his father’s glove business. The Littauer Brothers glove factory in Gloversville and their tannery in Johnstown were extremely successful businesses.

In 1897, Littauer entered the world of politics, where his former boyfriend and roommate TR was already making a name for himself. After serving in the State Assembly and as chairman of the New York Board of Police Commissioners, Roosevelt was appointed Deputy Secretary of the Navy. He was elected governor of New York in 1899. During this time Littauer served in the United States House of Representatives until 1907; Furthermore, he was a delegate to the Republican National Convention four times and regent of New York State from 1912 to 1914.

Littauer was often recognized as one of Teddy’s closest friends and political advisers. Various newspapers recalled an event in which Governor Roosevelt referred to “a Harvard man and congressman who is my closest personal friend and who is also my closest political advisor.” The crowd called out for his name – who was this man? “Lucius Littauer,” replied the governor.

The February 26, 1900 issue of New York World and Journal described Littauer as a 41-year-old man worth $ 2 million, “and despite his wealth, so democratic in his tastes and habits that all men are treated the same whether they are rich or poor”. And, of course, he challenged his old friend in manhood and athleticism contests: “He loves to fish, shoot, and it is hinted that he can put on gloves and give the governor points in boxing.” . . “

Politically, Littauer was interested in tax reforms, the preservation of forests and rivers, and “indeed all the reforms the governor has in mind.” He advised Roosevelt against running for vice president, feeling he was destined for something much bigger. As the newspaper puts it, “There isn’t enough action in this office to suit the Rough Rider.

Littauer did not seek re-election to the Assembly in 1906; it was rumored that he was using his position to secure contracts for army gloves for his Gloversville plant. In a letter dated July 20, 1903, Littauer wrote to Roosevelt: “I will pretend to write to you on matters other than the charges which have been brought against me for participating in the benefits of the army glove contracts although I must tell you that never in my life have I been so touched to my soul, than by the criticisms that have crossed the press, characterizing me as one of the most despicable men: that I had used my position official to get contracts that would benefit my purse. This so-called “Gauntlet scandal,” in which the Littauer brothers made and sold 3,000 gloves to a contractor for the War Department, has been investigated by Secretary of War Elihu Root. Littauer handed over all relevant books and documents, but insisted it was an attempt by his political enemies to discredit him. Root found a violation, but the investigation took so long that the statute of limitations expired before the case was completed. After his term in the Senate ended in 1907, and with all hopes of being appointed to Roosevelt’s cabinet crushed by this incident, Littauer returned to his business in Gloversville.

Throughout his political career, Teddy Roosevelt made several trips to Fulton County. In 1896 he came through the region to support Littauer in his campaign for Congress. More than 2000 people came to see him. When Roosevelt was running for governor, he called at Johnstown and Gloversville on October 22, 1898. The mill whistles sounded for half an hour on his arrival and 7,000 people greeted him in Gloversville. The following year, the Fulton County Fairgrounds saw its biggest crowd of all time when Roosevelt visited again. He spent the night with Littauer.

Roosevelt’s last visit to the region was in October 1914, while campaigning for the progressive candidate for governor Frederick Davenport. An event at the Darling Theater in Gloversville (located on Elm Street) drew huge crowds. Several hundred people lined up in front of the theater an hour and a half before the event. When the theater was packed, there were still nearly 1,500 people crowding Middle and Elm streets. There were lodges reserved for ladies – who had not yet had the right to vote and were often excluded from political gatherings, but the chance to see a former president was enough to allow their presence – and 400 chairs on the stage for important dignitaries. of Gloversville. No political speaker had drawn such a crowd.

The event was chaired by Reverend William Spicer of the First Presbyterian Church of Gloversville, who introduced Roosevelt as “the apostle of the gospel of political freedom”. The Gloversville Military Band marched through the streets before performing inside the theater. the Morning messenger covered the main event. Roosevelt and Davenport both spoke, describing the Progressive Party’s plans for a fair price on gloves, “which will give a fair and equitable share of the profits of the industry to the worker.” the Herald reporter continued, “The applause was particularly enthusiastic and prolonged when [Roosevelt] spoke about local conditions in Gloversville, referring to the strike by glove cutters demanding living wages for their work. (A strike in which Littauer, as president of the Glove Manufacturer’s Association and business owner, was right in the middle.) Of Roosevelt, the newspaper said, “His actions were a little less vigorous than they once were, but nothing was wrong. lacked the great strength of his personality… ”The men and their entourage spent the night at the Kingsborough Hotel before heading out onto the country lane.

Theodore Roosevelt died in his sleep on January 6, 1919, of a blood clot that had traveled to his lungs. “The old lion is dead,” his son Archibald telegraphed to his siblings. Vice President Thomas R. Marshall said: “Death must have put Roosevelt to sleep, because if he had been awake there would have been a fight. Littauer was in his office when news of Roosevelt’s death reached Gloversville. Friends until the end, Littauer said, “Theodore Roosevelt was a great man. He was able to make the most of the talents entrusted to him. He was a lover of humanity, who preached and practiced the brotherhood of men. He was a lover of his country and above all in the defense of Americanism. He was a lover of his family and friends, with a personal attraction that magnetized everyone who came in contact with him. . . His accomplishments have made the world a better place; and left a distinct mark on its time.

Littauer remained one of Gloversville’s premier philanthropists, funding his hospital (named in memory of his father), a public swimming pool and playground, and he donated to other charitable causes. He created the Lucius Littauer Foundation, which still supports organizations in New York and Gloversville to this day. In 1936, he donated $ 2 million to Harvard to build the Graduate School of Public Administration, now called the John F. Kennedy School of Government. When his wife died of pneumonia in 1927, he announced an annual donation of $ 10,000 to the New York University study on disease prevention. Littauer also donated to research to fight diseases like diabetes and cancer, and donated a new building to the School of Speech Disorders in New York. He died on March 22, 1944 in his country house in New Rochelle and was buried there in the Jewish cemetery.