Page images




PARTIES are good as instruments, and only as instruments. The thing that Americans should recollect is that what matters is not the opinions that divide them one from another so much as it is the great fundamentals upon which they are united. We must have our differences; and it would be a very unhealthy thing if all of us thought alike. We need the friction with people different from ourselves; and my experience with my fellow countrymen is that there will always be plenty of them who will think different ways. We need the intellectual differences that come from such friction, and we must resolutely, but with mutual respect and forbearance among ourselves, battle for our respective opinions. That is good and wholesome; but it is not merely good and wholesome, but vital, to remember that on the really great issues we must all unite.1



No man is a good American who is not, of course, an American first-an American before he is a member of any section of the American people such as a party or a class. I hold that the only real service which a party man can render his party is to make that party more responsive to the needs of the American people."

1 Speech at Sioux Falls, South Dakota, September 3, 1910. This and the succeeding excerpt are from The New Nationalism. Copyright, 1910. The Outlook Company, publishers.

Speech at Kansas City, Missouri, September 1, 1910.


To discriminate against a thoroughly upright citizen because he belongs to some particular church, or because, like Abraham Lincoln, he has not avowed his allegiance to any church, is an outrage against that liberty of conscience which is one of the foundations of American life. You are entitled to know whether a man seeking your suffrages is a man of clean and upright life, honorable in all of his dealings with his fellows, and fit by qualification and purpose to do well in the great office for which he is a candidate; but you are not entitled to know matters which lie purely between himself and his Maker. If it is proper or legitimate to oppose a man for being a Unitarian, as was John Quincy Adams, for instance, as is the Rev. Edward Everett Hale, at the present moment Chaplain of the Senate, and an American of whose life all good Americans are proud then it would be equally proper to support or oppose a man because of his views on justification by faith, or the methods of administering the sacrament, or the gospel of salvation by works. If you once enter on such a career there is absolutely no limit at which you can legitimately stop.

So much for your objections to Mr. Taft because he is a Unitarian. Now, for your objections to him because you think his wife and brother to be Roman Catholics. As it happens, they are not; but if they were, or if he were a Roman Catholic himself, it ought not to affect in the slightest degree any man's supporting him for the

position of President. You say that "the mass of the voters that are not Catholics will not support a man for any office, especially for President of the United States, who is a Roman Catholic." I believe that when you say this you foully slander your fellow countrymen. I do not for one moment believe that the mass of our fellow citizens, or that any considerable number of our fellow citizens, can be influenced by such narrow bigotry as to refuse to vote for any thoroughly upright and fit man because he happens to have a particular religious creed. Such a consideration should never be treated as a reason for either supporting or opposing a candidate for a political office. Are you aware that there are several States in this Union where the majority of the people are now Catholics? I should reprobate in the severest terms the Catholics who in those States (or in any other States) refused to vote for the most fit man because he happened to be a Protestant; and my condemnation would be exactly as severe for Protestants who, under reversed circumstances, refused to vote for a Catholic. In public life I am happy to say that I have known many men who were elected, and constantly reëlected, to office in districts where the great majority of their constituents were of a different religious belief. I know Catholics who have for many years represented constituencies mainly Protestant, and Protestants who have for many years represented constituencies mainly Catholic; and among the Congressmen whom I knew particularly well was one man of Jewish faith who represented a district in which there were hardly any Jews at all. All of these men by their very existence in political life refute the slander you have uttered against your fellow Americans.

I believe that this Republic will endure for many centuries. If so there will doubtless be among its Presidents Protestants and Catholics, and, very probably at some time, Jews. I have consistently tried while President to act in relation to my fellow Americans of Catholic faith as I hope that any future President who happens to be a Catholic will act towards his fellow Americans of Protestant faith. Had I followed any other course I should have felt that I was unfit to represent the American people.

In my Cabinet at the present moment there sit side by side Catholic and Protestant, Christian and Jew, each man chosen because in my belief he is peculiarly fit to exercise on behalf of all our people the duties of the office to which I have appointed him. In no case does the man's religious belief in any way influence his discharge of his duties, save as it makes him more eager to act justly and uprightly in his relations to all men. The same principles that have obtained in appointing the members of my Cabinet, the highest officials under me, the officials to whom is entrusted the work of carrying out all the important policies of my administration, are the principles upon which all good Americans should act in choosing, whether by election or appointment, the men to fill any office from the highest to the lowest in the land.1

1 Letter to Mr. J. C. Martin, November 6, 1908.



THE effort to combine fealty to the flag of an immigrant's natal land with fealty to the flag of his adopted land, in practice means not merely disregard of, but hostility to, the flag of the United States. When two flags are hoisted on the same pole, one is always hoisted undermost. The hyphenated American always hoists. the American flag undermost. The American citizen of German birth or descent who is a good American and nothing but a good American, and whose whole loyalty is undividedly given to this country and its flag, stands on an exact level with every other American, and is entitled to precisely the same consideration and treatment as if his ancestors had come over on the Mayflower or had settled on the banks of the James three centuries ago. I am partly of German blood, and I am exactly as proud of this blood as of the blood of other strains that flows in my veins. But I am an American, and nothing else!

The Americans of German origin have been a peculiarly valuable element in our population. I believe that they are, in overwhelming proportion, thoroughgoing Americans. As I have said, I am partly of German blood. A large number of my closest friends, a large number of the men whom I most respect and honor in American life, are Americans of German parentage or descent or of German birth. One such American, a descendant of one of Blucher's colonels, sat in my Cab


« PreviousContinue »