Address at Santa Cruz, California
Mr. Mayor, and You, My Fellow-Citizens:
I thank you for the greeting that you have extended to me. I wish to say a word of special acknowledgment to the men of the Grand Army, to the representatives of the pioneers, to the men who proved their loyalty in the supreme test from '61 to '65, and to the pioneers who showed the same qualities in winning this great West that you of the Civil War showed in your feat. I also wish to say how pleased I am to have had as my escort the men of the Naval Militia. The one thing on which this country must forever be a unit is the navy. We must have a first-class navy. A nation like ours, with the unique position of fronting at once on the Atlantic and the Pacific, a nation forced by the mere fact of destiny to play a great, a mighty, a masterful part in the world, cannot afford to neglect its navy, cannot afford to fail to insist upon the building up of the navy. We must go on with the task as we have begun it. We have a good navy now. We must make it an even better one in the future. We must have an ample supply of the most formidable type of fighting ships; we must have those ships practiced; we must see that not only are our warships the best in the world, but that the men who handle them, the men in the gun turrets, the men in the engine rooms, the men in the conning towers, are also the best of their kind. I think that our navy is already wonderfully good and we must strive to make it even better.
I am about to visit the grove of the great trees. I wish to congratulate you people of California, people of this region, and to congratulate all the country on what you have done in preserving these great trees. Cut down one of these giants and you cannot fill its place. The ages were their architects and we owe it to ourselves and to our children's children to preserve them. Nothing has pleased me more here in California than to see how thoroughly awake you are to preserve the monuments of the past, human and natural. I am glad to see the way in which the old mission buildings are being preserved. This great, wonderful, new State, this State which is itself an empire, situated on the greatest of oceans, should keep alive the sense of historic continuity of its past, and should as one step towards that end preserve the ancient historic landmarks within its limits. I am even more pleased that you should be preserving the great and wonderful natural features here, that you should have in California a park like the Yosemite, that we should have State preserves of these great trees and other preserves where individuals and associations have kept them. We should see to it that no man for speculative purposes or for mere temporary use exploits the groves of great trees. Where the individuals and associations of individuals cannot preserve them, the State, and, if necessary, the nation, should step in and see to their preservation. We should keep the trees as we should keep great stretches of the wildernesses as a heritage for our children and our children's children. Our aim should be to preserve them for use, to preserve them for beauty, for the sake of the nation hereafter.
I shall not try to make any extended address to you. I shall only say how glad I am to be here, bid you welcome with all my heart, and say how thoroughly I believe in you, and that I am a better American for being among you. (Great applause.)
Theodore Roosevelt, Address at Santa Cruz, California Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/297972