Thedore “Teddy” Roosevelt

September 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

Theodore Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States. He was also an accomplished historian and a prolific writer. Born into a wealthy family, Roosevelt first took office at the age of 42, the youngest of any President in U.S. history. He later campaigned, unsuccessfully, for the Progressive or “Bull Moose” party. His fifth cousin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, later became the 32nd President of the United States.


A perfectly stupid race can never rise to a very high plane; the negro, for instance, has been kept down as much by lack of intellectual development as by anything else; but the prime factor in the preservation of a race is its power to attain a high degree of social efficiency. Love of order, ability to fight well and breed well, capacity to subordinate the interests of the individual to the interests of the community, these and similar rather humdrum qualities go to make up the sum of social efficiency. The race that has them is sure to overturn the race whose members have brilliant intellects, but who are cold and selfish and timid, who do not breed well or fight well, and who are not capable of disinterested love of the community. In other words, character is far more important than intellect to the race as to the individual. We need intellect, and there is no reason why we should not have it together with character; but if we must choose between the two we choose character without a moment’s hesitation. ––”Kidd’s ‘Social Evolution,'” in The North American Review, July 1895 (109)

[T]he attitude of the North toward the negro is far from what it should be, and there is need that the North also should act in good faith upon the principle of giving to each man what is justly due him, of treating him on his worth as a man, granting him no special favors, but denying him no proper opportunity for labor and the reward of labor. –– from an address to the Lincoln Dinner in New York, NY, February 13, 1905.

Our effort should be to secure to each man, whatever his color, equality of opportunity, equality of treatment before the law. ––ibid.

If in any community the level of intelligence, morality and thrift among the colored men can be raised, it is, humanly speaking, sure that the same level among the whites will be raised to an even higher degree, and it is no less sure that the debasement of the blacks will in the end carry with it an attendant debasement of the whites. ––ibid.

The problem is so to adjust the relations between two races of different ethnic type that the rights of neither be abridged nor jeoparded; that the backward race be trained so that it may enter into the possession of true freedom — not false freedom — true freedom, while the forward race is enabled lo preserve unharmed the high civilization wrought out by its forefathers. The working out of this problem must necessarily be slow; it is not possible in off-hand fashion to obtain or to confer the priceless boons of freedom, industrial efficiency, political capacity and domestic morality. ––ibid.

[I]t is true of the colored man, as it is true of the white man, that in the long run his fate must depend far more upon his own effort than upon the efforts of any outside friend. That applies to every man. There is not one of us that does not occasionally stumble, and shame to each of us if he does not stretch out a hand to help the brother who thus stumbles. Help him if he stumbles, but remember that if he lies down, there is no use in trying to carry him. It will hurt both of you. Every vicious, venal or ignorant colored man is an even greater foe to his own race than to the community as a whole. The colored man’s self-respect entitles him to do that share in the political work of the country which is warranted by his individual ability and integrity and the position he has won for himself. But the prime requisite of the race is moral and industrial uplifting. ––ibid.

Laziness and shiftlessness, these, and, above all, vice and criminality of every kind, are evils more potent for harm to the black race than all acts of oppression of white men put together. The colored man who fails to condemn crime in another colored man, who fails to cooperate in all lawful ways in bringing colored criminals to justice, is the worst enemy of his own people, as well as an enemy to all the people. Law-abiding black men should, for the sake of their race, be foremost in relentless and unceasing warfare against lawbreaking black men. If the standards of private morality and industrial efficiency can be raised high enough among the black race, then its future on this continent is secure. The stability and purity of the home are vital to the welfare of the black race as they are to the welfare of every race. ––ibid.

The heartiest acknowledgments are due to the ministers, the judges and law officers, the grand juries, the public men, and the great daily newspapers in the South, who have recently done such effective work in leading the crusade against lynching in the South…Let us uphold in every way the hands of the men who have led in this work, who are striving to do all their work in this spirit. ––ibid.

Society, as such, is a law unto itself, and will always regulate its own practices and habits. Full recognition of the fundamental fact that all men should stand on an equal footing as regards civil privileges in no way interferes with recognition of the further fact that all reflecting men of both races are united in feeling that race purity must be maintained. ––ibid.

The first essential in any civilization is that the man and women shall be father and mother of healthy children, so that the race shall increase and not decrease. ––”The Man in the Arena” speech, April 23, 1910.

If the failure [to make children] is due to the deliberate and wilful fault, then it is not merely a misfortune, it is one of those crimes of ease and self-indulgence, of shrinking from pain and effort and risk, which in the long run Nature punishes more heavily than any other. ––ibid.

No refinement of life, no delicacy of taste, no material progress, no sordid heaping up riches, no sensuous development of art and literature, can in any way compensate for the loss of the great fundamental virtues; and of these great fundamental virtues the greatest is the race’s power to perpetuate the race. ––ibid.

Of all the questions which can come before this nation, short of the actual preservation of its existence in a great war, there is none which compares in importance with the great central task of leaving this land even a better land for our descendants than it is for us, and training them into a better race to inhabit the land and pass it on. ––”The New Nationalism” speech, 1910

There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism…The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, of preventing all possibility of its continuing to be a nation at all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities. ––speech before the Knights of Columbus, New York, October 12, 1915.

Americanism is a matter of the spirit and of the soul. Our allegiance must be purely to the United States. We must unsparingly condemn any man who holds any other allegiance. But if he is heartily and singly loyal to this Republic, then no matter where he was born, he is just as good an American as any one else. ––ibid.

The men who do not become Americans and nothing else are hyphenated Americans; and there ought to be no room for them in this country. The man who calls himself an American citizen and who yet shows by his actions that he is primarily the citizen of a foreign land, plays a thoroughly mischievous part in the life of our body politic. He has no place here; and the sooner he returns to the land to which he feels his real heart-allegiance, the better it will be for every good American. There is no such thing as a hyphenated American who is a good American. The only man who is a good American is the man who is an American and nothing else. ––ibid.

[In the Civil War,] Farragut’s father was born in Spain and Sheridan’s father in Ireland; Sherman and Thomas were of English and Custer of German descent; and Grant came of a long line of American ancestors whose original home had been Scotland. But the Admiral was not a Spanish-American; and the Generals were not Scotch-Americans or Irish-Americans or English-Americans or German-Americans. They were all Americans and nothing else. This was just as true of Lee and of Stonewall Jackson and of Beauregard. ––ibid.

For an American citizen to vote as a German-American, an Irish- American, or an English-American, is to be a traitor to American institutions; and those hyphenated Americans who terrorize American politicians by threats of the foreign vote are engaged in treason to the American Republic. ––ibid.

It has recently been announced that the Russian government is to rent a house in New York as a national center to be Russian in faith and patriotism, to foster the Russian language and keep alive the national feeling in immigrants who come hither. All of this is utterly antagonistic to proper American sentiment, whether perpetrated in the name of Germany, of Austria, of Russia, of England, or France or any other country. ––ibid.

Any discrimination against aliens is a wrong, for it tends to put the immigrant at a disadvantage and to cause him to feel bitterness and resentment during the very years when he should be preparing himself for American citizenship. If an immigrant is not fit to become a citizen, he should not be allowed to come here. ––ibid.

No man can be a good citizen if he is not at least in process of learning to speak the language of his fellow-citizens. And an alien who remains here without learning to speak English for more than a certain number of years should at the end of that time be treated as having refused to take the preliminary steps necessary to complete Americanization and should be deported. ––ibid.

If we leave the immigrant to be helped by representatives of foreign governments, by foreign societies, by a press and institutions conducted in a foreign language and in the interest of foreign governments, and if we permit the immigrants to exist as alien groups, each group sundered from the rest of the citizens of the country, we shall store up for ourselves bitter trouble in the future. ––ibid.

Thanks to Theodore-Roosevelt.com, TeachingAmericanHistory.org and VDare.

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