Remarks in Fort Worth, Texas

April 08, 1905

Mr. Mayor and fellow citizens:

I trust I need not say how profoundly touched and impressed I am by the greeting I have received today—a greeting which is such as I have received throughout Texas, and, oh! my friends, while thanking you from the bottom of my heart for so much of the greeting as affects me personally, let me say that I appreciate to the full the infinitely deeper significance of the fact that it is the greeting of the great State of Texas to the President of the United States.

My friends of the Civil War, the audience wants to know will it be possible to put the flags down. They have a misguided desire to see me.

And now, fellow Americans, the rest of you, I know, will agree with me in saying that profoundly as I am touched by the greeting of all of you, yet the greeting which touches me most, because it argues to us, much toward the welfare of the country, is the greeting of the veterans of the Civil War, the greeting of the men who wore the blue and the men who wore the gray.

With sincerity of conviction, each fought for the right as it was given him to see the right, and they are now united forever and forever in allegiance to our common flag and our common country. There are present other veterans of the Mexican War, the men who fought to round out the work done by the pioneers of Texas when they established the Republic of Texas; the men who completed the work begun under Thomas Jefferson when the Louisiana purchase added to our domain the country west of the Mississippi, and made us a mighty continental nation.

And let me thank my comrades of the National Guard for the escort they have given me, and for their part in doing their duty in keeping alive the spirit which has always made the sons of Texas the most formidable of foes, as they are the most faithful of friends.

And, my fellow countrymen, I cannot begin to express to you how impressed I have been all during my four days' trip through Texas with your material growth, not only with the view of material prosperity which assuredly looms before you, but with the character of your men and women, and with the steps that you are taking to educate the next generation so that they shall be citizens of benefit to Texas, of benefit to the entire United States.

You have here a territory that is an empire in itself, and you have what counts for more than all else, the stuff out of which good citizen ship is made. We need in this country good laws, and we need fearless and honest officers of the law, but what we need most is the right type of men and women behind the law. If the homes are right, if the average citizen is all right, there is not much question of our getting our problems solved successfully, and we are going to have them solved successfully, because the home is all right, because the average man is a man and the average woman a woman in the true sense of the word.

After all, I have come to the conclusion traveling through this great land of ours from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and over Maine, Washington, and Montana, and Texas, that the chief thing we need is to have Americans know one another. I am willing to bet on the result, if you will just get them together. Now that is what impressed me most in going through this country and speaking to the various audiences, not the points of divergence, which are only small, but the points of fundamental unity. We have got our troubles the same as all nations, some of them belonging to a given locality, but we are going to solve all the problems ahead of us, because, as a nation, I think we have the necessary courage, honesty, and common sense to enable us to work out our salvation.

And now, here at Fort Worth, I want to say a word of special greeting to the representatives of the great industry in which I have always felt a peculiar interest, the stockmen. I lived a number of years in a cow country myself, and always look back not only with keen pleasure to that time, but with the realization of what it taught me. But things were a little different from what they were in the East, and it gave me a chance to realize the immense importance of a matter which concerns Western Texas a little, and which concerns still more the Rocky Mountain States, and that is the question of irrigation; and there is nothing that I am prouder of in connection with my administration than in having done my part in making the movement for irrigation a national one.

Here in Texas you have rivers and harbors, and we want to improve them nationally so as to make them navigable; and on the other hand, you have regions where we want to take care of the head waters of the stream so that the farmer in security can take care of his crops.

Texas has such an enormous extent of territory, a territory so widely diversified that almost all the things which culminate in some particular State come to the front in Texas, and, therefore, we have a right to expect that, more than almost any other State, Texas shall contribute to the aggregate of our national wealth; and let me repeat here what I have said to various audiences, and I mean it literally, every word of it. I did not need to come here in order to be a good citizen, and a good American, but if I had needed it, I would have got what I needed here. And, although I came to Texas a pretty good American, I want you to understand that I feel that no President, no matter who he may be, while he is President, can afford not to come to Texas, for he will leave a better American than he was when he came.

Theodore Roosevelt, Remarks in Fort Worth, Texas Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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