Theodore Roosevelt Advocates Americanism, 1915
In this article, “Roosevelt on Americanism”, he is explaining his position on immigration which states, “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 as an American than anyone else”. He then address two audiences on what they should do to accomplish what he believes is necessary to succeed.
The first audience he addresses is the so-called “hyphenated” Americans. He clarifies that he is not talking about the naturalized Americans because they perceive themselves to be more American than those who claim to be American. Defining the naturalized American as being born abroad, he says, “But a hyphenated American is not an American at all.” He makes the accusation that if an American voted as a hyphenated American such as German-American, French-American, etc., than they would be a traitor to American institutions and would be engaged in treason to the American Republic.
The second audience he talks about is the immigrants, which are defined as people who come to live permanently in a foreign country. Roosevelt starts off by saying, “The foreign-born population of the country must be an Americanized population…” He says this because they fight wars, talk like, take oaths, pledge allegiance, and maintain a standard of living like an American. He mentions the “Let alone” policy in which we have permitted the immigrants, and too often the native-born laborers as well, to suffer injustice. By doing this they are expected to be heartily, actively, and single-mindedly loyal to the flag no less than to benefit by living under it.
Roosevelt lastly states the things that we cannot afford to do for “free” as a country. These things include, using immigrants as industrial assets, herding men and women without care for their welfare, and paying families low wage rates. The result of doing things will be sabotage and strikes in the view of two great foreign powers of Europe. He asks the question, “What would be done to us in the name of war if these things are done to us in the name of neutrality?” To end this whole thought process of Roosevelt’s he ends the article by saying we should all come together no matter what race or religion we are.
I absolutely loved this article because of how raw he just plainly stated the truth. Even though they were based on the way he viewed things, he had a point. His thesis when he described what Americanism is then his example saying that basically if you call yourself an American but do not show any patriotism, then you are not an American. To me that is the same as calling yourself a Christian, which is being Christ like keeping the commandments as Christ did, but we all know that faith without works is dead. This made me look at myself and ask, “Am I an American?” The only thing that confused me was he kind of contradicted himself at the end saying that no matter what we must come together and be the best Americans that we can be. That is not exactly how I expected it to end but overall I enjoyed digging into the mind of a former president.