Address at Redlands, California

May 07, 1903

Mr. Chairman, Mr. Mayor, Mr. Governor, and You, My Fellow-Americans, Men and Women of California:

I am glad indeed to have the chance to visit this wonderful and beautiful State. And yet, first, let me tell you, my fellow-citizens, I did not need to come here to be one of you and devoted to your interests. I know California. I know what her sons and daughters are and what they have done, for if I did not I would augur myself but a poor American. Rarely have I enjoyed a day more than this. I waked up coming through the Mojave Desert, and all that desert needs is water, and I believe you are going to get it. Then we came down into this wonderful garden spot, and though I had been told all about it, told about the fruits and the flowers, told of the wonderful fertility and thought I knew about it, it was not possible in advance to realize all the fertility, all the beauty, that I was to see. Indeed I congratulate myself on having had the chance to visit you. [Applause]

Coming today over the mountain range, coming down here, seeing what you have done, makes me realize more and more how much this whole country should lay stress on what can be done by the wise use of water, and, therefore, the wise use of the forests on the mountains. [Applause] When I come to California I can sit at the feet of Gamaliel and learn about forestry and water. I do not have to preach it. All I can do is to ask you to go ahead and follow your own best practice. The people of our country have grown to realize and are more and more in practice showing that they realize how indispensable it is to preserve the great forests on the mountains and to use aright the water supply that those forests conserve. This whole country here in Southern California shows what can be done by irrigation, what can be done by settlers foresighted enough to use the resources in such way as to perpetuate and better, not exhaust, them. We have passed the time when we could afford to let any man skin the country and leave it. [Applause] Forestry, irrigation, all the efforts of the nation and the State governments, all the efforts of individuals and of local associations are to be bent to the object of building up the interests of the home-maker. The man we want to favor is the man who comes to live, and whose interest it is that his children and his children's children shall enjoy to an even greater degree what he has enjoyed himself. He is the man whom we must encourage in every possible way; and it is because he is awake to his true interests that the marvelous progress has been made, largely through forestry, largely through irrigation, here in California and elsewhere in the mighty Western land which forms the major half of this republic. [Applause] I think our citizens are more and more realizing that they wish to perpetuate the things that are of use and also the things that are of beauty. You in California are preserving your great natural scenery, your great objects of nature, your valleys, your giant trees. You are preserving them because you realize that beauty has its place as well as use, because you wish to make of this State even more than it now is the garden spot of the continent, the garden spot of the world. [Applause] Here in Southern California I wish to congratulate you upon the way in which your citizens have built up these new cities, of which I speak in well nigh the newest. These new cities and this new country in fashion illustrate the efforts of the pioneer, of the early settler, of the man who first turns to account virgin soil, and yet have been fortunate enough to escape the roughness, the rawness, that too often necessarily accompanies such early settlement. Already in what you have done, you people of this new land, you have been fortunate to set examples which it would be well for the cities and the country districts of older lands to follow. [Applause] Because, fundamentally, men and women whom I am addressing, we must remember that much though climate and soil can do, it is man himself who does most. I congratulate you upon your astounding material prosperity. I congratulate you upon your fruit farms, your orchards, your ranches, upon your cities, upon your industrial and agricultural development, but above all I congratulate you on the quality of your citizenship. [Applause] I am gla4 to meet you and to be greeted by you. I know the rest of you will not grudge my saying that among all of you who have greeted me, I prize most the presence of the men who fought in the great war. [Applause] Two years ago you came here to welcome your comrade, my chief and predecessor in office, President McKinley. [Applause] He had fought in the war in which you fought. He had done his part in the work that you did, the work which, if left undone, would have meant that today we had neither country nor President. [Applause] Now we of the younger generation are bound in honor and in good faith to carry on the work that he and you did in war, the work that he did in peace.

The lessons you taught were not lessons of war only, they are lessons to be applied in peace just as much. In the war it was necessary to have training; it was necessary to have arms, but the thing that was fundamental was to have men. [Applause] And you won because you had in you the quality which drove you forward to victory. You won because in the iron times you showed that you could recognize each man for his naked worth as a man. [Applause] You fought for liberty under the law, through the law—not license—not any spirit that rises above the law; the self-governing liberty of self-governing, self-restraining freemen who know that anarchic violence, that disorder of any kind, is the hand-maiden of tyranny, the foe of freedom. [Applause]

I greet you first, you on whose conduct we must model ours, and next I greet the future. I am very glad, my fellow-citizens, that you do so well with fruits, crops, and all of that, but I am even more pleased that you do as well with children. [Applause] To the children I have got but one word to say, and that applies just as well to the grown-up people, too. I believe in play and I believe in work. Play hard while you play, and when you work do not play at all. [Applause] That is common sense for all of us.

I wish to express my thanks to the men of the National Guard, some of whom wear medals which show that they fought in the same war in which I did. [Applause] Ours was a little war, but we hope that we showed the desire at least not to fall too far short of the standard set by you of the great war. [Applause] I must thank especially the gentleman in the not unfamiliar uniform whom I see before me. [Cheers and applause]

Now just one word in closing. Do you know what strikes me most as I meet you, the people of Southern California, representing a community which has drawn its numbers from all the civilized peoples of the globe, from all the States of the Union? What strikes me most is that good Americans are good Americans from one end of the Union to the other. [Applause] I come to speak to you, and I appeal to you for the same ideals and in the name of the same great principles and the same great men who illustrate those principles as I should speak on the Atlantic seaboard. You, the men of the West, the men preeminently American, the men and women who illustrate in their lives exactly those characteristics which we are proudest to consider as typical of our country, I greet you because I am at home with you. [Applause] Because there is no longer any need of saying that the worst American, the genuine traitor to the country, is the man who would inflame either section against section, or class against class. (Cries of "Good l" Applause.) Good laws can do much. Good administration of the laws can do much. We must have both. [Applause] Law and the honest enforcement and administration of the law can do much, but most of all must be done by the man himself. Nothing can take the place of the exercise of the man's own individual qualities. Just exactly as in battle it is the man behind the gun who counts most, and just exactly as it is true that the change in tactics does not mean any change in the fundamental qualities necessary to make the soldier, so it is true of good citizenship. You and I, you who went to the Philippines, we who fought in the smaller war, we had a small caliber, high-power gun if we were lucky. You did not have it at first in the Philippines, I understand. We had new weapons, we had new tactics, but we did well exactly in proportion as we had the spirit that made you do well from '61 to '65. [Applause] Weapons change and tactics change, but the same kind of men who did well in Caesar's tenth legion would have done well following Grant or Lee in the days before Appomattox. No weapon, no system of tactics, could take the place of the fighting edge in the man, of the courage, resolution, power of individual initiative, readiness to obey and to obey on the instant, power to act by one's self and yet to act in combination with one's fellows. So now it is in citizenship. Something can be done by law, but no law that the wit of man can devise can make out of a man who has not got the spirit of decency and clean living in him a decent man. [Applause] No law that the wit of man can devise will ever make the weakling, the man who does not know how to handle himself, able to hold his own in competition with his fellows. Law can and must secure justice, justice alike to the rich and to the poor, to the man in the country, and the man in the town, to prevent any one from wronging his fellows, and to safeguard him against wrong in return, but after the law has done that it yet remains true, as it will remain true in the future, as it has remained true since history dawned, that the prime factor in working out any man's success must be the sum of that man's own individual qualities. [Applause] We need strong bodies. More than that we need strong minds, and finally we need what counts for more than body, for more than mind—character---character, into which many elements enter, but three above all. In the first place, morality, decency, clean living, the faculty of treating fairly those round about, the qualities that make a man a decent husband, a decent father, a good neighbor, a good man to deal with or to work beside; the quality that makes a man a good citizen of the State, careful to wrong no one; we need that first as the foundation, and if we have not got that no amount of strength or courage or ability can take its place. No matter how able a man is, how good a soldier naturally, if the man were a traitor then the abler he was the more dangerous he was to the regiment, to the army, to the nation. It is so in business, in politics, in every, relation of life. The abler a man is, if he is a corrupt politician, an unscrupulous business man, a demagogic agitator who seeks to set one portion of his fellow men against the other, his ability makes him but by so much more a curse to the community at large. In character we must have virtue, morality, decency, square dealing as the foundation; and it is not enough. It is only the foundation. In war you needed to have the man decent, patriotic, but no matter how patriotic he was if he ran away he was no good. So it is in citizenship; the virtue that stays at home in its own parlor and bemoans the wickedness of the outside world is of scant use to the community. [Applause] We are a vigorous masterful people, and the man who is to do good work in our country must not only be a good man, but also emphatically a man. We must have the qualities of courage, of hardihood, of power to hold one's own in the hurly-burly of actual life. We must have the manhood that shows on fought fields and that shows in the work of the business world and in the struggles of civic life. We must have manliness, courage, strength, resolution, joined to decency and morality, or we shall make but poor work of it. Finally those two qualities by themselves are not enough. In addition to decency, and courage, we must have the saving grace of common sense. We all of us have known decent and valiant fools who have meant so well that it made it all the more pathetic that the effect of their actions was so ill.

Men and women of California, I believe in you, I believe in your future, because I think that the average citizenship of this State has in it just exactly the qualities of which I have spoken.

I believe in the future of this nation because I think that the average citizenship of the nation also is based on those three qualities, the quality of decency, the quality of courage, and the saving grace of common sense. I greet you today. I am glad to be here in your beautiful country. I am glad to see you, men and women of California. I wish you well and I firmly believe that your mighty future will make your past, great though your past is, seem small by comparison. [Cheers and applause]

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

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