United States. President (1901-1909 : Roosevelt).

Addresses and presidential messages of Theodore Roosevelt, 1902-1904; online

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past if he does not back up the army and the navy of


the present. If we are farsighted in our patriotism, there
will be no let-up in the work of building, and of keeping
at the highest point of efficiency, a navy suited to the
part the United States must hereafter play in the world,
and of making and keeping our small regular army,
which in the event of a great war can never be anything
but the nucleus around which our volunteer armies must
form themselves, the best army of its size to be found
among the nations.

So much for our duties in keeping unstained the honor
roll our fathers made in war. It is of even more instant
need that we should show their spirit of patriotism in
the affairs of peace. The duties of peace are with us al-
ways ; those of war are but occasional ; and with a nation
as with a man, the worthiness of life depends upon the
way in which the everyday duties are done. The home
duties are the vital duties. The nation is nothing but the
aggregate of the families within its border; and if the
average man is not hard-working, just, and fearless in his
dealings with those about him, then our average of public
life will in the end be low ; for the stream can rise no
higher than its source. But in addition we need to re-
member that a peculiar responsibility rests upon the man
in public life. We mean in the capital of the nation, in
the city which owes its existence to the fact that it is the
seat of the National Government. It is well for us in
this place, and at this time, to remember that exactly as
there are certain homely qualities the lack of which will
prevent the most brilliant man alive from being a useful
soldier to his country, so there are certain homely quali-
ties for the lack of which in the public servant no shrewd-
ness or ability can atone. The greatest leaders, whether
in war or in peace, must of course show a peculiar quality
of genius; but the most redoubtable armies that have
ever existed have been redoubtable because the average
soldier, the average officer, possessed to a high degree


such comparatively simple qualities as loyalty, courage,
and hardihood. And so the most successful governments
are those in which the average public servant possesses
that variant of loyalty which we call patriotism, together
with common sense and honesty. We can as little afford
to tolerate a dishonest man in the public service as a
coward in the army. The murderer takes a single life ;
the corruptionist in public life, whether he be bribe-giver
or bribe-taker, strikes at the heart of the commonwealth.
In every public service, as in every army, there will be
wrongdoers, there will occur misdeeds. This cannot be
avoided ; but vigilant watch must be kept, and as soon as
discovered the wrongdoing must be stopped and the
wrongdoers punished. Remember that in popular gov-
ernment we must rely on the people themselves alike for
the punishment and the reformation. Those upon whom
our institutions cast the initial duty of bringing malefac-
tors to the bar of justice must be diligent in its discharge;
yet in the last resort the success of their efforts to purge
the public service of corruption must depend upon the
attitude of the courts and of the juries drawn from the
people. Leadership is of avail only so far as there is wise
and resolute public sentiment behind it.

In the long run, then, it depends upon us ourselves,
upon us, the people as a whole, whether this Government
is or is not to stand in the future as it has stood in the
past ; and my faith that it will show no falling off is based
upon my faith in the character of our average citizenship.
The one supreme duty is to try to keep this average high.
To this end it is well to keep alive the memory of those
men who are fit to serve as examples of what is loftiest
and best in American citizenship. Such a man was Gen-
eral Sherman. To very few in any generation is it given
to render such services as he rendered ; but each of us in
his degree can try to show something of those qualities of
character upon which, in their sum, the high worth of


Sherman rested, — his courage, his kindliness, his clean
and simple living, his sturdy good sense, his manliness
and tenderness in the intimate relations of life, and
finally, his inflexible rectitude of soul, and his loyalty
to all that in this free republic is hallowed and symbolized
by the national flag.


D. C, OCTOBER 25, 1903

Bishop Satterlee, and to you, representatives of the Church,
both at home and abroad, and to all of you, my friends
and fellow-citizens:

I extend greeting, and in your name I especially wel-
come those who are in a sense the guests of the nation
to-day. In what I am about to say to you, I wish to
dwell upon certain thoughts suggested by three different
quotations: In the first place, "Thou shalt serve the
Lord with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all
thy mind" ; the next, "Be ye therefore wise as serpents
and harmless as doves"; and finally, in the Collect which
you. Bishop Doane, just read, " that we being ready,
both in body and soul, may cheerfully accomplish those
things which Thou commandest."

To an audience such as this I do not have to say any-
thing as to serving the cause of decency with heart and
with soul. I want to dwell, however, upon the fact that
we have the right to claim from you not merely that you
shall have heart in your work, not merely that you shall
put your souls into it, but that you shall give the best
that your minds have to it also. In the eternal, the un-
ending warfare for righteousness and against evil, the
friends of what is good need to remember that in addi-



tion to being decent they must be efficient ; that good in-
tentions, high purposes, cannot be in themselves effective,
that they are in no sense a substitute for power to make
those purposes, those intentions felt in action. Of course
we must first have the purpose and the intention. If
our powers are not guided aright, it is better that we
should not have them at all ; but we must have the power
itself before we can guide it aright.

In the second text we are told not merely to be harm-
less as doves, but also to be wise as serpents. One of our
American humorists who veils under jocular phrases
much deep wisdom — one of those men has remarked that
it is much easier to be a harmless dove than a wise ser-
pent. Now, we are not to be excused if we do not show
both qualities. It is not very much praise to give a man
to say that he is harmless. We have a right to ask that
in addition to the fact that he does no harm to anyone
he shall possess the wisdom and the strength to do good
to his neighbor ; that together with innocence, together
with purity of motive, shall be joined the wisdom and
strength to make that purity effective, that motive trans-
lated into substantial result.

Finally, in the quotation from the Collect, we ask that
we may be made ready both in body and in soul that we
may cheerfully accomplish those things that we are com-
manded to do. Ready both in body and in soul : that
means that we must fit ourselves physically and mentally,
fit ourselves to work with the weapons necessary for deal-
ing with this life no less than with the higher, spiritual
weapons; fit ourselves thus to do the work commanded,
and, moreover, to do it cheerfully. Small is our use for
the man who individually helps any of us and shows that
he does it grudgingly. We would rather not be helped
than be helped in such fashion. A favor extended in a
manner which shows that the man is sorry that he has to
grant it is robbed, sometimes of all, and sometimes of


more than all, its benefit. So, in serving the Lord, if we
serve Him, if we serve the cause of decency, the cause of
righteousness, in a way that impresses others with the fact
that we are sad in doing it, our service is robbed of an
immense proportion of its efficacy. We have a right
to ask a cheerful heart, a right to ask a buoyant and
cheerful spirit among those to whom is granted the
inestimable privilege of doing the Lord's work in this
world. The chance to do work, the duty to do work,
is not a penalty, it is a privilege. Let me quote a
sentence that I have quoted once before: "In this life
the man who wins to any goal worth winning almost
always comes to that goal with a burden bound on his
shoulders." The man who does best in this world, the
woman who does best, almost invariably does it because
he or she carries some burden. Life is so constituted
that the man or the woman who has not some responsi-
bility is thereby deprived of the deepest happiness that
can come to mankind, because each and every one of us,
if he or she is fit to live in the world, must be conscious
that responsibility always rests on him or on her — the
responsibility of duty toward those dependent upon us:
toward our families, toward our friends, toward our fel-
low-citizens ; the responsibility of duty to wife and child,
to the State, to the Church. Not only can no man shirk
some or all of those responsibilities, but no man worth his
salt will wish to shirk them. On the contrary, he will
welcome, thrice over, the fortune that puts them upon

In closing I want to call your attention to something
that is especially my business for the time being, and
that is measurably your business all the time, or else you
are unfit to be citizens of this republic : In the seventh
hymn which we sung, in the last line, you all joined in
singing ' ' God save the State. ' ' Do you intend merely to
sing that, or to try to do it? If you intend merely to sing


it, your part in doing it will be but small. The State will
be saved if the Lord puts it into the heart of the average
man so to shape his life that the State shall be worth sav-
ing; and only on those terms. We need civic righteous-
ness. The best constitution that the wit of man has ever
devised, the best institutions that the ablest statesmen in
the world ever have reduced to practice by law or by cus-
tom, will be of no avail if they are not vivified by the
spirit which makes a State great by making its citizens
honest, just, and brave. I do not ask you as practical
believers in applied Christianity to take part one way or
the other in matters that are merely partisan. There are
plenty of questions about which honest men can and do
differ very greatly and very intensely, but as to which the
triumph of either side may be compatible with the welfare
of the State — a lesser degree of welfare or a greater degree
of welfare — but compatible with the welfare of the State.
But there are certain great principles, such as those which
Cromwell would have called ' ' fundamentals, ' ' concerning
which no man has a right to have more than one opinion.
Such a principle is honesty. If you have not honesty in
the average private citizen, or public servant, then all else
goes for nothing. The abler a man is, the more dexter-
ous, the shrewder, the bolder, why, the more dangerous
he is if he has not the root of right living and right
thinking in him — and that in private life, and even more in
public Hfe. Exactly as in time of war, although you need
in each fighting man far more than courage, yet all else
counts for nothing if there is not that courage upon which
to base it ; so in our civil life, although we need that the
average man in private life, that the average public ser-
vant, shall have far more than honesty, yet all other
qualities go for nothing or for worse than nothing unless
honesty underlie them — not only the honesty that keeps
its skirts technically clear, but the honesty that is such
according to the spirit as well as the letter of the law ; the


honesty that is aggressive, the honesty that not merely
deplores corruption, — it is easy enough to deplore corrup-
tion, — but that wars against it and tramples it under foot.
I ask for that type of honesty, I ask for militant honesty,
for the honesty of the kind that makes those who have it
discontented with themselves as long as they have failed
to do everything that in them lies to stamp out dishon-
esty wherever it can be found, in high place or in low.
And let us not flatter ourselves, we who live in countries
where the people rule, that it is ultimately possible for
the people to cast upon any but themselves the responsi-
bilities for the shape the government and the social and
political life of the community assume. I ask, then,
that our people feel quickened within them indignation
against wrong in every shape, and condemnation of that
wrong, whether found in private or in public life. We
have a right to demand courage of every man who wears
the uniform ; it is not so much a credit to him to have
it as it is shame unutterable to him if he lacks it. So
when we demand honesty we demand it not as entitling
the possessor to praise, but as warranting the heartiest
condemnation possible if he lacks it. Surely in every
movement for the betterment of our life, our life social in
the truest and deepest sense, our life political, we have a
special right to ask not merely support, but leadership
from those of the Church. We ask that you here to whom
much has been given will remember that from you rightly
much will be expected in return. For all of us here the
lines have been cast in pleasant places. Each of us has
been given one talent, or five, or ten talents, and each of
us is in honor bound to use that talent or those talents
aright, and to show at the end that he is entitled to the
praise of having done well as a faithful servant.

I greet you this afternoon, and am glad to see you
here, and I trust and believe that after this service
every one of us will go home feeling that he or she


has been warranted in coming here by the way in which
he or she, after going home, takes up with fresh heart,
with fresh courage, and with fresh and higher purpose the
burden of life as that burden has been given to him or to
her to carry.



White House, Washington, October i8, 1902.

My DEAR Mrs. Van Vorst:

I must write you a line to say how much I have ap-
preciated your article, The Woman who Toils. But to me
there is a most melancholy side to it, when you touch
upon what is fundamentally infinitely more important
than any other question in this country — that is, the
question of race suicide, complete or partial.

An easy, good-natured kindliness, and a desire to be
"independent," — that is, to live one's life purely accord-
ing to one's own desires, — are in no sense substitutes for
the fundamental virtues, for the practice of the strong
racial qualities without which there can be no strong
races — the qualities of courage and resolution in both
men and women, of scorn of what is mean, base, and
selfish, of eager desire to work or fight or suffer as the
case may be, provided the end to be gained is great
enough, and the contemptuous putting aside of mere
ease, mere vapid pleasure, mere avoidance of toil and
worry. I do not know whether I most pity or despise
the foolish and selfish man or woman who does not under-
stand that the only things really worth having in life are
those the acquirement of which normally means cost and
effort. If a man or woman, through no fault of his or
hers, goes throughout life denied those highest of all joys
which spring only from home life, from the having and
bringing up of many healthy children, I feel for them deep
and respectful sympathy, — the sympathy one extends
to the gallant fellow killed at the beginning of a campaign,
or to the man who toils hard and is brought to ruin by the
fault of others. But the man or woman who deliberately



avoids marriage and has a heart so cold as to know no
passion and a brain so shallow and selfish as to dislike
having children, is in effect a criminal against the race
and should be an object of contemptuous abhorrence by
all healthy people.

Of course no one quality makes a good citizen, and no
one quality will save a nation. But there are certain great
qualities for the lack of which no amount of intellectual
brilliancy or of material prosperity or of easiness of life
can atone, and the lack of which shows decadence and
corruption in the nation, just as much if they are pro-
duced by selfishness and coldness and ease-loving lazi-
ness among comparatively poor people as if they are
produced by vicious or frivolous luxury in the rich. If
the men of the nation are not anxious to work in many
different ways, with all their might and strength, and
ready and able to fight at need, and anxious to be
fathers of families, and if the women do not recognize
that the greatest thing for any woman is to be a good
wife and mother, why, that nation has cause to be alarmed
about its future.

There is no physical trouble among us Americans.
The trouble with the situation you set forth is one of
character, and therefore we can conquer it if we only will.
Very sincerely yours,

Theodore Roosevelt.
Mrs. Bessie Van Vorst,

Philadelphia, Pa.

White House, Washington, November 26, 1902.

My dear Sir:

I am in receipt of your letter of November loth and of

one from Mr. under date of November nth, in

reference to the appointment of Dr. Crum as Collector
of the Port of Charleston.


In your letter you make certain specific charges against
Dr. Crum, tending to show his unfitness in several re-
spects for the office sought. These charges are entitled
to the utmost consideration from me, and I shall go over
them carefully before taking any action. After making
these charges you add, as a further reason for opposition
to him, that he is a colored man, and after reciting the
misdeeds that followed carpet-bag rule and negro domina-
tion in South Carolina, you say that "we have sworn
never again to submit to the rule of the African, and such
an appointment as that of Dr. Crum to any such office
forces us to protest unanimously against this insult to the
white blood"; and you add that you understood me to
say that I would never force a negro on such a commun-
ity as yours. Mr. puts the objection of color first,

saying: "First, he is a colored man, and that of itself
ought to bar him from the office. ' ' In view of these last
statements, I think I ought to make clear to you why I
am concerned and pained by your making them and what
my attitude is as regards all such appointments. How
any one could have gained the idea that I had said I
would not appoint reputable and upright colored men to
office, when objection was made to them solely on ac-
count of their color, I confess I am wholly unable to
understand. At the time of my visit to Charleston last
spring I had made, and since that time I have made, a
number of such appointments from several States in
which there is a considerable colored population. For
example, I made one such appointment in Mississippi,
and another in Alabama, shortly before my visit to
Charleston. I had at that time appointed two colored
men as judicial magistrates in the District of Columbia.
I have recently announced another such appointment for
New Orleans, and have just made one from Pennsylvania.
The great majority of my appointments in every State
have been of white men. North and South alike it has


been my sedulous endeavor to appoint only men of high
character and good capacity, whether white or black.
But it has been my consistent policy in every State
where their numbers warranted it to recognize colored
men of good repute and standing in making appointments
to ofiflce. These appointments of colored men have in
no State made more than a small proportion of the total
number of appointments. I am unable to see how I can
legitimately be asked to make an exception for South
Carolina. In South Carolina, to the four most important
positions in the State I have appointed three men and
continued in office a fourth, all of them white men —
three of them originally gold Democrats — two of them,
as I am informed, the sons of Confederate soldiers. I
have been informed by the citizens of Charleston whom I
have met that these four men represent a high grade of
public service.

I do not intend to appoint any unfit men to office. So
far as I legitimately can I shall always endeavor to pay
regard to the wishes and feelings of the people of each
locality ; but I cannot consent to take the position that
the door of hope — the door of opportunity — is to be shut
upon any man, no matter how worthy, purely upon the
grounds of race or color. Such an attitude would, ac-
cording to my convictions, be fundamentally wrong. If,
as you hold, the great bulk of the colored people are not
yet fit in point of character and influence to hold such
positions, it seems to me that it is worth while putting a
premium upon the effort among them to achieve the
character and standing which will fit them.

The question of "negro domination" does not enter
into the matter at all. It might as well be asserted that
when I was Governor of New York I sought to bring
about negro domination in that State because I appointed
two colored men of good character and standing to re-
sponsible positions — one of them to a position paying a


salary twice as large as that paid in the office now under
consideration — one of them as a director of the Buffalo

Exposition. The question raised by you and Mr.

in the statements to which I refer, is simply whether it is
to be declared that under no circumstances shall any man
of color, no matter how upright and honest, no matter
how good a citizen, no matter how fair in his dealings
with his fellows, be permitted to hold any office under
our government. I certainly cannot assume such an atti-
tude, and you must permit me to say that in my view it
is an attitude no man should assume, whether he looks
at it from the standpoint of the true interest of the white
men of the South or of the colored men of the South, not
to speak of any other section of the Union. It seems to
me that it is a good thing from every standpoint to let
the colored man know that if he shows in marked degree
the qualities of good citizenship — the qualities which in
a white man we feel are entitled to reward — then he will
not be cut off from all hope of similar reward.

Without any regard to what my decision may be on
the merits of this particular applicant for this particular
place, I feel that I ought to let you know clearly my at-
titude on the far broader question raised by you and

Mr. ; an attitude from which I have not varied

during my term of office.

Faithfully yours,

Theodore Roosevelt.

Hon. ,

Charleston, S. C.

White House, Washington, February 24, 1903.

My i>ear Mr. Howell:

I have a high opinion of the gentleman you mention,
and if the opportunity occurs I shall be glad to do any-
thing I can for him.


Now as to what you say concerning Federal appoint-
ments in the South. Frankly, it seems to me that my
appointments speak for themselves and that my policy is
self-explanatory. So far from feeling that they need the
slightest apology or justification, my position is that on
the strength of what I have done I have the right to
claim the support of all good citizens who wish not only
a high standard of Federal service, but fair and equitable
dealing to the South as well as to the North, and a policy
of consistent justice and good-will toward all men. In
making appointments I have sought to consider the feel-
ings of the people of each locality so far as I could con-
sistently do so without sacrificing principle. The prime
tests I have applied have been those of character, fitness,
and ability, and when I have been dissatisfied with what
has been offered within my own party lines I have with-
out hesitation gone to the opposite party — and you are
of course aware that I have repeatedly done this in your
own State of Georgia. I certainly cannot treat mere
color as a permanent bar to holding office, any more than
I could so treat creed or birthplace — always provided that
in other respects the applicant or incumbent is a worthy
and well-behaved American citizen. Just as little will I
treat it as conferring a right to hold office. I have scant

Online LibraryUnited States. President (1901-1909 : Roosevelt)Addresses and presidential messages of Theodore Roosevelt, 1902-1904; → online text (page 20 of 37)