Claim: Text reproduces Theodore Roosevelt's words regarding the assimilation of immigrants into American culture.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, 2005]
"In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American ... There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag ... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language ... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."
Theodore Roosevelt 1907
Origins: Theodore Roosevelt was about to finish his first two-year term as governor of the state of New York when the Republican Party chose him as its candidate for vice president in the 1900 national election. The Republicans were victorious at the ballot box that year, but Roosevelt held the vice-presidency for less than a year
Although Roosevelt did not hold public office again after leaving the presidency in 1909 (his efforts to regain the White House as a third party candidate in 1912 proving unsuccessful), he remained active in the public political sphere. In the waning years of his life, as
On 1 February 1916, for example, Roosevelt advocated measures for strengthening and ensuring the "loyalty" of American immigrants:
The encouragement of better housing conditions and a compulsion to learn the English language, Colonel Roosevelt said, would help the process of Americanization.
"We cannot make the Americanization movement a success," Colonel Roosevelt said, "unless we approach it from the economic standpoint. It is true that governmentally Germany is an autocracy. But there has been a great deal more industrial freedom there than many of our old industrial communities. The German Government says we expect you to work out good results, to get together with the laborer, and yourselves decide what you are going to pay to the doctors who are to pass upon the health of the employes, and the amount of damages any employe merits. The Government insists upon a great amount of self-government by the people themselves.
"I feel that by insistence upon proper housing conditions we shall indirectly approach this. I want to see the immigrant know that he has got to spend a certain amount of his money in decent housing; that he will not be allowed to live on $2.50 per month board basis.
"Let us say to the immigrant not that we hope he will learn English, but that he has got to learn it. Let the immigrant who does not learn it go back. He has got to consider the interest of the United States or he should not stay here. He must be made to see that his opportunities in this country depend upon his knowing English and observing American standards. The employer cannot be permitted to regard him only as an industrial asset.
"We must in every way possible encourage the immigrant to rise, help him up, give him a chance to help himself. If we try to carry him he may well prove not well worth carrying. We must in turn insist upon his showing the same standard of fealty to this country and to join with us in raising the level of our common American citizenship.
"If I could I would have the kind of restriction which would not allow any immigrant to come here unless I was content that his grandchildren would be fellow-citizens of my grandchildren. They will not be so if he lives in a boarding house at $2.50 per month with ten other boarders and contracts tuberculosis and contributes to the next generation a body of citizens inferior not only morally and spiritually but also physically."1
Using the motto "America for Americans" for all Americans, whether they were born here or abroad, the former President declared that "the salvation of our people lies in having a nationalized and unified America, ready for the tremendous tasks of both war and peace."
"I appeal to all our citizens," the colonel said, "no matter from what land their forefathers came, to keep this ever in mind, and to shun with scorn and contempt the sinister intriguers and mischiefmakers who would seek to divide them along lines of creed, or birthplace or of national origin."
Col. Roosevelt said he came to St. Louis to speak on Americanism — to speak of and condemn the use of the hyphen "whenever it represents an effort to form political parties along racial lines or to bring pressure to bear on parties and politicians, not for American purposes, but in the interest of some group of voters of a certain national origin or of the country from which they or their fathers came."
He was equally against the native American of the wrong kind and for the immigrant of the right kind, the former President declared, but the immigrant who did not become in good faith an American "is out of place" in the United States. He said each nation should be judged by its conduct and that the United States should oppose encroachment on its own rights, whether Germany, England, France or Russia be guilty of misconduct.
"The effort to keep our citizenship divided against itself," the colonel continued, "by the use of the hyphen and along the lines of national origin is certain to a breed of spirit of bitterness and prejudice and dislike between great bodies of our citizens. If some citizens band together as German-Americans or Irish-Americans, then after a while others are certain to band together as English-Americans or Scandinavian-Americans, and every such banding together, every attempt to make for political purposes a German-American alliance or a Scandinavian-American alliance, means down at the bottom an effort against the interest of straight-out American citizenship, an effort to bring into our nation the bitter Old World rivalries amd jealousies and hatreds."2
In voicing his approval of the recent proclamation by
"This is a nation — not a polyglot boarding house. There is not room in the country for any
"I cannot be with you and so all I can do is to wish you Godspeed," it read. "There may be no sagging back in the fight for Americanism merely because the war is over.
"There are plenty of persons who have already made the assertion that they believe the American people have a short memory and that they intend to revive all the foreign associations which more directly interfere with the complete Americanization of our people. Our principle in this matter should be absolutely simple.
"In the first place we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here does in good faith become an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with every one else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed or birthplace or origin. But this is predicated upon the man’s becoming in very fact an American and nothing but an American.
"If he tries to keep segregated with men of his own origin and separated from the rest of America, then he isn't doing his part as an American.
"We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and this excludes the red flag which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which we are hostile. We have room for but one language here and that is the English language, for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, and American nationality, and not as dwellers in a polyglot boarding house; and we have room for but one soul [sic] loyalty, and that is loyalty to the American people."5
Last updated: 23 September 2015
3. Boston Daily Globe. "'Moral Treason' to Attack Allies." 5 July 1917 (p. 10). 5. The Chicago Daily Tribune. "Abolish Hyphen Roosevelt's Last Words to Public." 7 January 1919 (p. 4). 1. The New York Times. "A Roosevelt Idea Made in Germany." 2 February 1916 (p. 5). 2. The Washington Post. "T.R. Assails Wilson." 1 June 1916 (p. 1). 4. The Washington Post. "Use Only English, Roosevelt Urges." 28 May 1918 (p. 2).