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Letter to Alice Roosevelt Longworth on the 46th Anniversary of the Death of Theodore Roosevelt.

January 06, 1965

Dear Mrs. Longworth:

On this occasion of the 46th anniversary of the death of your father, President Theodore Roosevelt, I have been thinking over the enormous significance of his contributions to our nation.

President Roosevelt was the first modern President. He converted the Republican Party into a vehicle that was at once venturesome and hardheaded. He developed the doctrine of the Presidency--to use his phrase--as "the steward" of the interests of all the American people, and he pioneered in making the economic and social welfare of the whole population a fundamental concern of Government. Perhaps above all-at a time when American eyes were turned doggedly inward--he recognized that the United States had to play a continuing role in the world and he outlined with farseeing realism the nature of that role.

As Theodore Roosevelt said in 1911: "The United States of America has not the option as to whether it will or will not play a great part in the world. It must play a great part. All that it can decide is whether it will play that part well or badly. And it can play it badly if it adopts the role either of the coward or of the bully... Democratic America can be true to itself, true to the great cause of freedom and justice, only if it shows itself ready and willing to resent wrong from the strong, and desirous of doing generous justice to both strong and weak."

Yours is a proud heritage, my dear Mrs. Longworth, and I would like on this day to express to you something of the gratitude which our nation feels for the wise and vigorous leadership into the twentieth century which President Roosevelt gave us.

With warm personal regards,

Sincerely yours,


[Mrs. Alice Roosevelt Longworth, 2009 Massachusetts Avenue, Northwest, Washington 6, D.C.]

Lyndon B. Johnson, Letter to Alice Roosevelt Longworth on the 46th Anniversary of the Death of Theodore Roosevelt. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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