July 4, 1917: Theodore Roosevelt Speech

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Touching on the matter of language, Col. Roosevelt declared that “We must have in this country but one flag, and for the speech of the people but one language, the English language. During the present war all newspapers published in German, or in the speech of any of our foes, should be required to publish, side by side with the foreign text, columns in English containing the exact translation of everything said in the foreign language. Ultimately this should be done with all newspapers published in foreign languages in this country.”

TR gave a barn burner of a speech on the Fourth of July a century ago to a large audience in Forest Hills in New York City.  I have not found the text of the speech online.  Go here to read a report of the speech which appeared in the New York Times.  In the speech Roosevelt, who spoke and read German due to his student days there, was quite clear that no discrimination should be shown to immigrants as long as they were wholehearted Americans.  A duty of immigrants to these shores was to embrace their new country with love and to shorn themselves of foreign allegiances.  Common sense from our twenty sixth President a hundred years ago.


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