Theodore Roosevelt and One America

In 1907 President Theodore Roosevelt made a speech covering the subject of immigration to America . In his speech he declared that anyone who wants to immigrate to America and become naturalized Americans should be allowed to do so and be treated with the same dignity and respect as anyone who was born in America . He hated discrimination of any kind stating that no one should be denied any of the rights this country has to offer with regard to race, national origin, or religion. His only request to anybody who wanted to become an American was that they learn our countrys language, English, and leave their previous culture and language behind. He believed in Americanization which meant that anybody who wanted to move to America and become an American must become assimilated with our countrys way of life in order to blend in with the rest of the countrys citizens.

President Roosevelt was obviously aware that every country has its own language and ways of life. Any new arrivals to any new country must learn how to speak the official language of that country and learn how the citizens of that country live, as well as the countrys history, in order to be able to survive and thrive in their new home. Roosevelt was reflecting what other countries may demand from new arrivals. He loved America and all Americans that inhabited our country and he believed that the only way to preserve Americas way of life and democracy as we knew it was to make sure that every newcomer to America learned English and left their previous language and culture behind.
Theodore Roosevelt was one of this countrys greatest Presidents and one of the most open minded Presidents for somebody living in the 1900s. His assertion that any new immigrant to American must learn English in order to become a citizen of our country was correct. It makes no sense why any newcomer to our country would not want to learn our native language in order to be able to survive in America . Often when Americans go overseas to other countries, either for business or to relocate, they do learn the countrys native language as well as their way of life, and possibly with countrys history in order to be able to live and thrive in their new home. The same courtesy should be shown to anybody who wants to move to the United States and become a citizen.
However, President Roosevelts other assertion, to have newcomers leave their native language and culture behind while becoming an American is nave. Despite the fact that this was the 1900s, to demand that someone forget where they came from in order to make a better life for themselves is very close minded.

It is not Roosevelts fault that he felt this way though. We take for granted the fact that we know a lot more now about other countries and cultures today because of the technological advances that allow us to view other countries, their inhabitants and their way of life. If we want to learn about another country all we have to do today is read a book, perhaps watch something on the National Geographic Channel, or go on line. Back in the early 1900s if anybody wanted to learn about another country, aside from possibly finding a book written on your country of choice, the only other way to learn about any one particular country would be to travel there. As President Roosevelt did travel to other countries as was customary for all Presidents. Most of the time the mission for traveling to another country was to mostly make the world a better place or possibly do business with them. It is normal when Presidents travel to other countries today because that is what is expected of them. In fact they travel other countries practically everyday because we have the technology to do so. We tend to forget that technology was very limited back in the 1900s and any time a President went to another country was a very big deal and they often times traveled by boat or train. Airplanes were in their infancy at this time. If the technological advances of today were available to President Roosevelt back when he was alive, he might be able to learn more extensively about other countries, their citizens, and their way of life. Therefore, his demand that new immigrants to America forsake their previous language and culture before becoming Americans may not have been part of his plan and the term Americanization may not have ever been uttered. He would instead welcome every new naturalized American and their culture with open arms and relish in the fact that America was one the most diverse nations in the world and truly show that we treat everybody equally in the United States, regardless of race, national origin, or religion.
President Roosevelt was right in the first part to announce that any new immigrants to America must learn English in order to become a citizen. However, Roosevelt was extremely wrong to also demand that new immigrants leave their native language and culture behind as another prerequisite to becoming an American. America is supposed to have the greatest melting pot in the world, where all of our citizens are a blend of other cultures from all over the globe. In order to make immigrants feel they made the right choice when coming to this country is to bring their culture and language with them so we can learn about their culture and become more open minded and better educated to all of our neighbors in this big world. The more we learn about others, the more we will be able understand and respect everyone. The more we start respecting everyone, their will be no conflicts. When there are no conflicts, there will be no wars. When there are no wars, Peace will reign throughout the globe. Of course, with a President like Theodore Roosevelt, who believed war and sport went hand in hand, peace would be the ultimate downfall of America as he knew it.


Post a Comment