« PreviousContinue »
inet; and he sat beside another American, a descendant of one of Napoleon's brothers. But each was an American and nothing else! The scientific book of which I was proudest, I wrote in partnership with a close friend, a naturalist who was with me in Africa; he is of German parentage; but he is an American and nothing else. The man who was closest to me politically during the ten years of my service as Governor and President was of German parentage; but he was absolutely straight Amer. ican. Some of the best men in my regiment, including my orderly and one captain, were of German birth or descent; but they were Americans, pure and simple. Among the clergymen, philanthropists, publicists, good citizens of all kinds, with whom I work in heartiest sympathy, an unusually large proportion are of German descent and some of German birth. I get on with these men and women exactly as well as I do with the men and women of Colonial American descent. But I get on with them because they are Americans and nothing else.
I stand for the American citizen of German birth or descent, precisely as I stand for any other American. But I do not stand at all for the German-American, or any other kind of hyphenated American. When I was President I was brought into close contact with many officers of the army and navy. Col. George Washington Goethals has done the best work done by any American of recent years. He is of Dutch parentage. But he is no more a Dutch-American than I am. He is just plain American. Among my military and naval aides were Lee, Grant, Sheridan and Osterhaus, all descended from generals who fought in the Union or Confederate Armies. Two of them were of old Revolutionary stock, Scotch or English. The grandfather of the third was born in Ireland, and the grandfather of the fourth in Germany. But they were all Americans and nothing else. General Wood, of Revolutionary stock, started Cuba on the road to self-government; General Barry, of Irish parentage, commanded the army that rescued Cuba from revolution; and one was exactly as good an American as the other. Among the admirals upon whom I leaned were Dewey, Evans, Taylor, and Cameron Winslow, of Revolutionary stock; and O'Neil and Schroeder, one of Irish and the other of German descent; and the last two were exactly as good Americans as the other four. It would have been a crime as well as a calamity to endeavor to divide all these and all the other fine and gallant officers of our army and navy on lines of birth or national origin or creed. It is no less a crime and a calamity to attempt to divide our citizens as a whole along such lines.
There was never a better American than Jacob Riis, who was born in Denmark and whom I always thought about the best American I ever knew. The Americans in whom I believe include Jews and Catholics and Protestants. They include men of old native American descent and other men of recent German, English, French, Irish, Italian, Scandinavian, Magyar and Slavonic descent; but all are Americans entitled to be treated as such, and claiming to be nothing else. I as emphatically condemn opposition to a good American who happens to be of German birth or descent, because of that fact, as I condemn action by such a man designed to serve not the United States, but some foreign power. I speak against the German-American who seeks to use his American citizenship in the interest of a foreign power and who thereby shows himself an unworthy American. I should speak exactly as quickly against the American of English or French or Scandinavian or Irish descent who was guilty of similar conduct. The following letter which I recently wrote explains itself:
“I am very sorry but I cannot sign that appeal. I do not approve of it. You are asking Americans to proclaim themselves Anglo-Americans, and to sympathize with England on the ground that England is the motherland, and in order to make what you call 'hands across the sea' a matter of living policy. I do not believe that this is the right attitude for Americans to take. England is not my mother-land any more than Germany is my father-land. My mother-land and father-land and my own land are all three of them the United States. I am among those Americans whose ancestors include men and women from many different European countries. The proportion of Americans of this type will steadily increase. I do not believe in hyphenated Americans. I do not believe in German-Americans or Irish-Americans; and I believe just as little in English-Americans. I do not approve of American citizens of German descent forming organizations to force the United States into practical alliance with Germany because their ancestors came from Germany. Just as little do I believe in American citizens of English descent forming leagues to force the United States into an alliance with England because their ancestors came from England. We Americans are a separate people. We are separated from, although akin to, many European peoples. The old Revolutionary stock was predominantly English, but by no means exclusively so; for many of the descendants of the Revolutionary New Yorkers, Pennsylvanians and Georgians have, like myself, strains of Dutch, French, Scotch, Irish, Welsh and German blood in their veins. During the century and a quarter that bas elapsed since we became a nation, there has been far more immigration from Germany and Ireland and probably from Scandinavia than there has been from England. We have a right to ask all of these immigrants and the sons of these immigrants that they become Americans and nothing else; but we have no right to ask that they become transplanted or second-rate Englishmen. Most emphatically I myself am not an Englishman-once-removed! I am straight United States!
"In international matters we should treat each nation on its conduct and without the slightest reference to the fact that a larger or smaller proportion of its blood flows in the veins of our own citizens. I have publicly and emphatically taken ground for Belgium and I wish that the United States would take ground for Belgium, because I hold that this is our duty, and that Germany's conduct toward Belgium demands that we antagonize her in this matter, and that we emphatically and in practical shape try to see that Belgium's wrongs are redressed. Because of the British attitude toward Belgium I have publicly and emphatically approved of her attitude, that is of Great Britain's conduct in living up to her obligations by defending Belgium, even at the cost of war. But I am not doing this on any ground that there is any ‘hands across the sea' alliance, explicit or implicit, with England. I have never used in peace or in war any such expression as 'Hands across the Sea,' and I emphatically disapprove of what it signifies save in so far as it means cordial friendship between us and every other nation that acts in accordance with the standards that we deem just and right. On this ground all Americans, no matter what their race origins, ought to stand together. It is not just that they should be asked to stand with any foreign power on the ground of community of origin between some of them and the citizens of that foreign power. (Signed Theodore Roosevelt.)"
We of America form a new nationality. We are by blood, and we ought to be by feeling, akin to but distinct from every nationality of Europe. If our various constituent strains endeavor to keep themselves separate from the rest of their fellow-countrymen by the use of hyphens, they are doing all in their power to prevent themselves and ourselves from ever becoming a real nationality at
An American who is loyal to this great American nation has two duties, and only two, in international matters. In the first place, he is bound to serve the honor and the interest of the United States. In the second place, he is bound to treat all other nations in accordance with their conduct at any given time, and in accordance with the ultimate needs of mankind at large; and not in accordance with the interests of the European nation from which some or all of his ancestors have come. If he does not act along these lines, he is derelict in his duty to his fellow-citizens and he is guilty of betraying the interests of his country."
1 From Fear God and Take Your Own Part. Copyright, 1916. George H. Doran Company, publishers,