Remarks in Capitol Square in Richmond, Virginia

October 18, 1905

Mr. Mayor, Governor, and you, my hosts:

One among the very many great Virginians at the time when this nation was born—and I quote, gentlemen, Patrick Henry—said: "We are no longer New Yorkers or New Englanders, Pennsylvanians or Virginians; we are Americans," and surely, Mr. Mayor, the man would be put a poor American who was not touched and stirred to the depths by the reception that I have met with today in this great historic city of America. Coming today by the statues of Stonewall Jackson, in the city of Lee, I felt what a privilege it is that I, as an American, have in claiming that you yourselves have no more right of kinship in Lee and Jackson than I have. I can claim to be a middling good American because my ancestry was half Southern and half Northern; I was born in the East and I have lived a good while in the West so long, in fact, that I do not admit that any man can be a better Westerner than I am.

There was an uncle of mine, now dead, my mother' s brother, who has always been among all the men I have ever met the man who, it seemed to me, came nearest to typifying in the flesh that most beautiful of all characters in fiction, Thackeray's Colonel Newcome—my uncle, James Dunwoody Bulloch, an admiral in the Confederate navy.

In short, gentlemen, I claim to be neither Northerner nor Southerner, neither Easterner nor Westerner, nothing but a good American, pure and simple.

Next only to a man's having worn the blue comes the fact of the man's having worn the gray to entitle him to honor in my sight. Last year I told Gen. Fitzhugh Lee that I wanted to add to my collection of autograph letters of great Americans—Lincoln, Grant, Clay, Jefferson and, Governor, your namesake, Andrew Jackson—that of General Lee, with his photograph. I got from Gen. Fitzhugh Lee a letter of General Lee's and a photograph of him, handed to me after Gen. Fitzhugh Lee's death. I was not able to thank my old and valued friend, the father, but I put the son on my staff, and now I have the grandson of General Grant and the grandnephew of General Lee and the son of "Phil" Sheridan on my staff. I think it is a middling good staff, too.

In my regiment, organized at the beginning of the Spanish-American War, I think that there were more men whose fathers wore the gray than there were men whose fathers wore the blue. The only rivalry that ever entered their heads was rivalry as to which man could show himself best entitled to the praise of having done all that in him lay for our country and our flag.

Theodore Roosevelt, Remarks in Capitol Square in Richmond, Virginia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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