Address at Oakland, California

May 14, 1903

Mr. Mayor, and You, My Fellow-Citizens, Men and Women of Oakland:

It has been a great pleasure to come into your beautiful city [applause]; and it could not but stir any man's heart to be greeted as you have greeted me, [Applause] I am glad indeed to see you, to see the men, the women, and the children. [Applause] As I drove through your beautiful streets I passed by one house where there was a large family party assembled, and they had a strip of bunting and printed on it were the words : "No Race Suicide Here;" and I got up and bowed my acknowledgments and congratulations. I have been delighted, passing through your streets, to be greeted by the children. They seem all right in quality and all right in quantity. [Applause]

My fellow-citizens, I have enjoyed to the utmost my stay in California, my visits to its greatest cities; I have appreciated your wonderful scenery, your wonderful climate; but most of all have I enjoyed meeting your men and women. It is a great thing to have such agricultural products, such industrial prosperity, as I have seen here; but it is a greater thing to have the right type of citizenship. [Applause]

In thanking all of you for your greeting I am sure that the others will not mind my saying a special word of greeting to two sets of men—first of all to the service men of the Spanish-American War. [Applause] I came aboard to be ferried over your bay today on the dock from which the great majority of our soldiers went to the Philippines. I have seen by the shores of this bay the place where the Eighth Corps was assembled, the Eighth Corps which numbered successively almost a hundred thousand men, so many of whom came from your own Coast, your own State. As I saw my escort, the service men of the Spanish War, marching in the familiar gray campaign hat, blue shirt, khaki trousers and leggings, I was glad that I had the right of comradeship with them [applause], and that I was one of those to whom by good fortune it was given to have the chance to show that at least we desired to do as the men of the great war had done from '61 to '65. Wherever I have been in California I have been greeted by men who wear the button that shows that, like the chief executive of this city, in the times that tried men's souls they were true to their ideals. [Applause] Now I greet you here. I have not got much to say to you, because since I have been in California I have felt a good deal more like learning than teaching; indeed, my fellow-citizens, there have been moments when I have felt that the only thing that marred my visit was the fact that I had to speak. But I am glad to say just this word to you, to greet you, to express the pleasure it has been to me to come here, and finally to say this : I have come from the Atlantic across the continent to the Pacific; I have come from the East through the West, beyond the West, to California [applause]; for California stands by itself; and from one end of this country to the other, addressing any audience, I have felt absolutely at home; I have felt that I was speaking to men and women who felt as I did and thought as I did, to whom I could appeal with the certainty of being understood; because wherever I have spoken I have addressed audiences like this, audiences composed of Americans and nothing else. [Cheers and applause]

Great is your State, oh my fellow-citizens; great is your State, men and women of California, and a great thing it is to be a Californian; but it is even a greater thing to be what all of us are—Americans, the citizens of the greatest republic upon which the sun has ever shone. [Cheers and applause]

Theodore Roosevelt, Address at Oakland, California Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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