Alvey Augustus Adee, Cyclist of Yesteryear

This dignified-looking gentleman is Alvey Augustus Adee, United States Assistant Secretary of State. He posed in 1914 for photographers Harris & Ewing of Washington D.C. Adee (1842-1924) began his public service career in 1869 and continued until the time of his death at age 81 years. During that time he served as acting Secretary of State on two occasions - first, during the Spanish-American War in 1898, and again during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900. 

Adee rode to his office at the State Department when he was in the capital. Indeed it is reported that he was the only Department official allowed to bring his bicycle into the building. Besides using a bicycle for getting around Washington D.C., Adee was well known for his annual bicycling trips through Europe. These apparently began in the 1890s. Adee took as much as two months leave each spring season, touring between 1500 and 2000 miles on each trip. Most often these tours revolved through France, but he also cycled through Italy, Germany, and the Alps regions. In 1895 he rode through England and Scotland where, it is said, he met future President Woodrow Wilson, who was teaching at Princeton University. Presumably, Wilson was able to find time to join Adee on his tour of the country (for more information on Adee, see An Appreciation of Alvey Adee, by Peter Bridges).

In the photo Adee does look to be an experienced urban cyclist, with his handlebar bag, bike bell, and dynamo-light, he looks ready for most anything. I have to believe those pants are cycling-specific too, the way they fit tight at the ankles. As a cyclo-tourist I imagine him leaning toward the luxury side of the activity, rather than camping out each night, but who knows. His adventures might make some interesting reading but, he apparently and unfortunately, kept no diaries or journals during those tours.

Of course, I could be wrong about that. It has been noted of Mr. Adee  that "he is a nook and corner tourist who penetrates everywhere by means of his trusty bicycle." Adee himself, wrote (in Bassett's Scrap Book magazine) "never have I enjoyed anything so much as the cycle tour which I have been having the past two months ... in France this time. I cycled for 56 days, carrying all the clothes I needed. It was the greatest sort of sport."