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Title: Address of President Roosevelt at the Lincoln dinner of the Republican club of the city of New York, Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, February 13, 1905
Author: Roosevelt, Theodore
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Address of President Roosevelt at the Lincoln dinner of the Republican club of the city of New York, Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, February 13, 1905" ***

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                     AT THE LINCOLN DINNER OF THE
                    REPUBLICAN CLUB OF THE CITY OF
                NEW YORK [Illustration] WALDORF-ASTORIA
                HOTEL [Illustration] FEBRUARY 13, 1905


                      GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE


In his second inaugural, in a speech which will be read as long as the
memory of this nation endures, Abraham Lincoln closed by saying:

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the
right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish
the work we are in; * * * to do all which may achieve and cherish a
just and lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations.”

Immediately after his reelection he had already spoken thus:

“The strife of the election is but human nature practically applied
to the facts of the case. What has occurred in this case must ever
recur in similar cases. Human nature will not change. In any future
great national trial, compared with the men of this, we shall have
as weak and as strong, as silly and as wise, as bad and as good. Let
us, therefore, study the incidents of this as philosophy to learn
wisdom from, and none of them as wrongs to be revenged. * * * May not
all having a common interest reunite in a common effort to (serve)
our common country? For my own part, I have striven and shall strive
to avoid placing any obstacle in the way. So long as I have been here
I have not willingly planted a thorn in any man’s bosom. While I
am deeply sensible to the high compliment of a reelection, and duly
grateful, as I trust, to Almighty God for having directed my countrymen
to a right conclusion, as I think, for their own good, it adds nothing
to my satisfaction that any other man may be disappointed or pained by
the result.

“May I ask those who have not differed with me to join with me in this
same spirit toward those who have?”

This is the spirit in which mighty Lincoln sought to bind up the
nation’s wounds when its soul was yet seething with fierce hatreds,
with wrath, with rancor, with all the evil and dreadful passions
provoked by civil war. Surely this is the spirit which all Americans
should show now, when there is so little excuse for malice or rancor or
hatred, when there is so little of vital consequence to divide brother
from brother. [Applause.]

Lincoln, himself a man of southern birth, did not hesitate to appeal
to the sword when he became satisfied that in no other way could the
Union be saved, for high though he put peace he put righteousness still
higher. [Applause.] He warred for the Union; he warred to free the
slave; and when he warred he warred in earnest, for it is a sign of
weakness to be half-hearted when blows must be struck. [Applause.] But
he felt only love, a love as deep as the tenderness of his great and
sad heart, for all his countrymen alike in the North and in the South,
and he longed above everything for the day when they should once
more be knit together in the unbreakable bonds of eternal friendship.

We of to-day, in dealing with all our fellow-citizens, white or
colored, North or South, should strive to show just the qualities that
Lincoln showed: His steadfastness in striving after the right, and
his infinite patience and forbearance with those who saw that right
less clearly than he did; his earnest endeavor to do what was best,
and yet his readiness to accept the best that was practicable when
the ideal best was unattainable; his unceasing effort to cure what was
evil, coupled with his refusal to make a bad situation worse by any
ill-judged or ill-timed effort to make it better.

The great civil war in which Lincoln towered as the loftiest figure
left us not only a reunited country, but a country which has the proud
right to claim as its own the glory won alike by those who wore the
blue and by those who wore the gray, by those who followed Grant and
by those who followed Lee [applause]; for both fought with equal
bravery and with equal sincerity of conviction, each striving for the
light as it was given him to see the light; though it is now clear
to all that the triumph of the cause of freedom and of the Union was
essential to the welfare of mankind. [Applause.] We are now one people,
a people with failings which we must not blink, but a people with great
qualities in which we have the right to feel just pride.

All good Americans who dwell in the North must, because they are good
Americans, feel the most earnest friendship for their fellow-countrymen
who dwell in the South, a friendship all the greater because it is
in the South that we find in its most acute phase one of the gravest
problems before our people: the problem of so dealing with the man of
one color as to secure him the rights that no one would grudge him if
he were of another color. [Applause.] To solve this problem it is, of
course, necessary to educate him to perform the duties, a failure to
perform which will render him a curse to himself and to all around him.

Most certainly all clear-sighted and generous men in the North
appreciate the difficulty and perplexity of this problem, sympathize
with the South in the embarrassment of conditions for which she is
not alone responsible, feel an honest wish to help her where help
is practicable, and have the heartiest respect for those brave and
earnest men of the South who, in the face of fearful difficulties,
are doing all that men can do for the betterment alike of white and
of black. The attitude of the North toward the negro is far from what
it should be and there is need that the North also should act in good
faith upon the principle of giving to each man what is justly due him,
of treating him on his worth as a man, granting him no special favors,
but denying him no proper opportunity for labor and the reward of
labor. [Applause.] But the peculiar circumstances of the South render
the problem there far greater and far more acute.

Neither I nor any other man can say that any given way of approaching
that problem will present in our time even an approximately perfect
solution, but we can safely say that there can never be such solution
at all unless we approach it with the effort to do fair and equal
justice among all men; and to demand from them in return just and
fair treatment for others. Our effort should be to secure to each man,
whatever his color, equality of opportunity, equality of treatment
before the law. As a people striving to shape our actions in accordance
with the great law of righteousness we can not afford to take part
in or be indifferent to the oppression or maltreatment of any man
who, against crushing disadvantages, has by his own industry, energy,
self-respect, and perseverance struggled upward to a position which
would entitle him to the respect of his fellows, if only his skin were
of a different hue. [Applause.]

Every generous impulse in us revolts at the thought of thrusting down
instead of helping up such a man. To deny any man the fair treatment
granted to others no better than he is to commit a wrong upon him――a
wrong sure to react in the long run upon those guilty of such denial.
The only safe principle upon which Americans can act is that of “all
men up,” not that of “some men down.” [Applause.] If in any community
the level of intelligence, morality, and thrift among the colored men
can be raised, it is, humanly speaking, sure that the same level among
the whites will be raised to an even higher degree; and it is no less
sure that the debasement of the blacks will in the end carry with it an
attendant debasement of the whites. [Applause.]

The problem is so to adjust the relations between two races of
different ethnic type that the rights of neither be abridged nor
jeoparded; that the backward race be trained so that it may enter into
the possession of true freedom, while the forward race is enabled to
preserve unharmed the high civilization wrought out by its forefathers.
The working out of this problem must necessarily be slow; it is not
possible in offhand fashion to obtain or to confer the priceless boons
of freedom, industrial efficiency, political capacity, and domestic
morality. Nor is it only necessary to train the colored man; it is
quite as necessary to train the white man, for on his shoulders rests
a well-nigh unparalleled sociological responsibility. It is a problem
demanding the best thought, the utmost patience, the most earnest
effort, the broadest charity, of the statesman, the student, the
philanthropist; of the leaders of thought in every department of our
national life. The church can be a most important factor in solving it
aright. But above all else we need for its successful solution the
sober, kindly, steadfast, unselfish performance of duty by the average
plain citizen in his everyday dealings with his fellows. [Applause.]

The ideal of elemental justice meted out to every man is the ideal we
should keep ever before us. It will be many a long day before we attain
to it, and unless we show not only devotion to it, but also wisdom and
self-restraint in the exhibition of that devotion, we shall defer the
time for its realization still further. In striving to attain to so
much of it as concerns dealing with men of different colors, we must
remember two things.

In the first place, it is true of the colored man, as it is true of the
white man, that in the long run his fate must depend far more upon his
own effort than upon the efforts of any outside friend. [Applause.]
Every vicious, venal, or ignorant colored man is an even greater foe to
his own race than to the community as a whole. [Applause.] The colored
man’s self-respect entitles him to do that share in the political
work of the country which is warranted by his individual ability and
integrity and the position he has won for himself. But the prime
requisite of the race is moral and industrial uplifting.

Laziness and shiftlessness, these, and above all, vice and criminality
of every kind, are evils more potent for harm to the black race than
all acts of oppression of white men put together. The colored man who
fails to condemn crime in another colored man, who fails to cooperate
in all lawful ways in bringing colored criminals to justice, is the
worst enemy of his own people, as well as an enemy to all the people.
Law-abiding black men should, for the sake of their race, be foremost
in relentless and unceasing warfare against law-breaking black men.
If the standards of private morality and industrial efficiency can
be raised high enough among the black race, then its future on this
continent is secure. The stability and purity of the home is vital to
the welfare of the black race, as it is to the welfare of every race.

In the next place the white man, who, if only he is willing, can help
the colored man more than all other white men put together, is the
white man who is his neighbor, North or South. Each of us must do his
whole duty without flinching, and if that duty is national it must
be done in accordance with the principles above laid down. But in
endeavoring each to be his brother’s keeper it is wise to remember
that each can normally do most for the brother who is his immediate
neighbor. If we are sincere friends of the negro let us each in his own
locality show it by his action therein, and let us each show it also
by upholding the hands of the white man, in whatever locality, who is
striving to do justice to the poor and the helpless, to be a shield to
those whose need for such a shield is great.

The heartiest acknowledgments are due to the ministers, the judges and
law officers, the grand juries, the public men, and the great daily
newspapers in the South, who have recently done such effective work in
leading the crusade against lynching in the South; and I am glad to say
that during the last three months the returns, as far as they can be
gathered, show a smaller number of lynchings than for any other three
months during the last twenty years. Let us uphold in every way the
hands of the men who have led in this work, who are striving to do all
their work in this spirit. I am about to quote from the address of the
Right Reverend Robert Strange, Bishop Coadjutor of North Carolina, as
given in the Southern Churchman of October 8, 1904:

The Bishop first enters an emphatic plea against any social
intermingling of the races; a question which must, of course, be left
to the people of each community to settle for themselves, as in such a
matter no one community――and indeed no one individual――can dictate to
any other; always provided that in each locality men keep in mind the
fact that there must be no confusing of civil privileges with social
intercourse. [Applause.] Civil law can not regulate social practices.
Society, as such, is a law unto itself, and will always regulate its
own practices and habits. Full recognition of the fundamental fact that
all men should stand on an equal footing, as regards civil privileges,
in no way interferes with recognition of the further fact that all
reflecting men of both races are united in feeling that race purity
must be maintained. The Bishop continues:

“What should the white men of the South do for the negro? They must
give him a free hand, a fair field, and a cordial godspeed, the two
races working together for their mutual benefit and for the development
of our common country. He must have liberty, equal opportunity to make
his living, to earn his bread, to build his home. He must have justice,
equal rights, and protection before the law. He must have the same
political privileges; the suffrage should be based on character and
intelligence for white and black alike. He must have the same public
advantages of education; the public schools are for all the people,
whatever their color or condition. The white men of the South should
give hearty and respectful consideration to the exceptional men of the
negro race, to those who have the character, the ability and the desire
to be lawyers, physicians, teachers, preachers, leaders of thought
and conduct among their own men and women. We should give them cheer
and opportunity to gratify every laudable ambition, and to seek every
innocent satisfaction among their own people. Finally, the best white
men of the South should have frequent conferences with the best colored
men, where, in frank, earnest, and sympathetic discussion they might
understand each other better, smooth difficulties, and so guide and
encourage the weaker race.”

Surely we can all of us join in expressing our substantial agreement
with the principles thus laid down by this North Carolina bishop, this
representative of the Christian thought of the South. [Applause.]

I am speaking on the occasion of the celebration of the birthday of
Abraham Lincoln, and to men who count it their peculiar privilege
that they have the right to hold Lincoln’s memory dear, and the duty
to strive to work along the lines that he laid down. We can pay most
fitting homage to his memory by doing the tasks allotted to us in the
spirit in which he did the infinitely greater and more terrible tasks
allotted to him.

Let us be steadfast for the right; but let us err on the side of
generosity rather than on the side of vindictiveness toward those who
differ from us as to the method of attaining the right. Let us never
forget our duty to help in uplifting the lowly, to shield from wrong
the humble; and let us likewise act in a spirit of the broadest and
frankest generosity toward all our brothers, all our fellow-countrymen;
in a spirit proceeding not from weakness but from strength, a spirit
which takes no more account of locality than it does of class or of
creed; a spirit which is resolutely bent on seeing that the Union which
Washington founded and which Lincoln saved from destruction shall grow
nobler and greater throughout the ages. [Cheers and applause.]

I believe in this country with all my heart and soul. I believe that
our people will in the end rise level to every need, will in the end
triumph over every difficulty that rises before them. I could not have
such confident faith in the destiny of this mighty people if I had it
merely as regards one portion of that people. [Applause.] Throughout
our land things on the whole have grown better and not worse, and this
is as true of one part of the country as it is of another. I believe
in the southerner as I believe in the northerner. I claim the right to
feel pride in his great qualities and in his great deeds exactly as I
feel pride in the great qualities and deeds of every other American.
[Applause.] For weal or for woe we are knit together, and we shall go
up or go down together; and I believe that we shall go up and not down,
that we shall go forward instead of halting and falling back, because
I have an abiding faith in the generosity, the courage, the resolution,
and the common sense of all my countrymen. [Applause.]

The Southern States face difficult problems; and so do the Northern
States. Some of the problems are the same for the entire country.
Others exist in greater intensity in one section; and yet others exist
in greater intensity in another section. But in the end they will all
be solved; for fundamentally our people are the same throughout this
land; the same in the qualities of heart and brain and hand which have
made this Republic what it is in the great to-day; which will make it
what it is to be in the infinitely greater to-morrow. [Applause.] I
admire and respect and believe in and have faith in the men and women
of the South as I admire and respect and believe in and have faith
in the men and women of the North. All of us alike, Northerners and
Southerners, Easterners and Westerners, can best prove our fealty to
the Nation’s past by the way in which we do the Nation’s work in the
present; for only thus can we be sure that our children’s children
shall inherit Abraham Lincoln’s single-hearted devotion to the great
unchanging creed that “righteousness exalteth a nation.” [Cheers and

                   *       *       *       *       *

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Address of President Roosevelt at the Lincoln dinner of the Republican club of the city of New York, Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, February 13, 1905" ***

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