He Chose Neither the Nation Nor the Time

Boy in sailor uniform with flag-draped portrait of President McKinley (Courtesy of the Library of Congress).
He was born into the United States and, being but a boy, had little choice when his mother chose to dress him in a sailor uniform, cart him off to a photographer’s, and have him pose with a sword before a large flag-draped portrait of William McKinley (who must have been his mother’s political hero).

The scrawl at the bottom says 1896, so McKinley was not yet the lamented late president but the bright star of the Republican Party, perhaps just newly elected to the White House.

Her son’s doughty if startled expression must have pleased her greatly.  Though cast into an exceedingly strange role, yet he was intent on minding authority.  Politics was all around him, though he understood it but dimly.  He had chosen neither the nation nor the time.

Image: from this source.