Theodore Roosevelt and His Time Shown in His Own Letters - Vol. 1

By Joseph Bucklin Bishop | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXIII
NOTABLE SENTIMENTS IN SPEECHES AND LETTERS-- ALASKA BOUNDARY--WIDE RANGE OF READING

DURING 1903 the President made several speeches on occasions of special moment, in which he uttered sentiments which attracted wide approval, and are as self-revelatory as his letters. Speaking at the grave of Lincoln, Springfield, Illinois, on June 4, he said:

"It seems to me eminently fitting that the guard around the tomb of Lincoln should be composed of colored soldiers. It was my own good fortune at Santiago to serve beside colored troops. A man who is good enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to get a square-deal afterwards. More than that no man is entitled to, and less than that no man shall have."

This declaration called forth the publication of a letter from Lincoln which was said to have been written in 1864, to General James S. Wadsworth, of New York, and which contained the following passage:

"How to better the condition of the colored race has long been a study which has attracted my serious and careful attention; hence I think I am clear and decided as to what course I shall pursue in the premises, regarding it as a religious duty, as the nation's guardian of these people who have so heroically vindicated their manhood on the battlefield, where, in assisting to save the life of the Republic, they have demonstrated their right to the ballot, which is but the humane protection of the Flag they have so fearlessly defended."

In a speech on Labor Day, September 7, 1903, at Syracuse, N. Y., the President said:

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