Remarks in Lawrence, Massachusetts

August 26, 1902

Here in Lawrence, I am in another of the oldest industrial centres of this country, one of the cities of modern industrialism. It is greatly to your credit that you should have built up such a city of our material prosperity. But you have done more than that. I am greeted here today by the members of Needham Post of the Grand Army of the Republic. This is the section of the country in which the first blood was shed in the Revolutionary War which made us a nation, and it was here also that the two cities of Lowell and Lawrence gave their sons to pour out their lifeblood, the first of the ocean of lifeblood poured out from '61 to '65 to keep this nation one and great and free. And so it was characteristic of your city, which sent these men to the great war, that when a lesser war came, you, my comrades, men of the 9th Regiment, with whom I served before Santiago, in your turn sprang to the country's call.

And other comrades of yours, younger comrades of yours, men whom we knew, men of the 9th Regiment, other men in the far-off Philippines, have after three years of unspeakable toil and hardship against a cruel, and reckless and elusive foe, finally won victory for the American flag. Our people owe the greatest debt possible to you who fought in the great crisis in the great war, but there is a debt owing also to the men who so gallantly did their duty during the last three years to say that the honor of the flag which you handed to them unstained should be kept undimmed. And now they have fought and their success has meant what the success of the American soldier has always meant You triumphed and your foes and detractors said that as mighty an army as yours was meant the establishment of a despotism in this country, and the minute that the war was over you went back to the plough, to the factory, the farm and the office, and became citizens again.

And now in the Philippines our soldiers have fought and won. To do what? To leave the country and establish the rule of civil authority under the American flag. And now we have brought peace to the islands. They are now better off than ever before. Never in their history has each man had, as he has now, such a good chance for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. You have brought self-governing, individual freedom to the Filipinos of a kind that they should have never known under any anarchic tyranny of their own. Now we will govern the islands well. We will govern them primarily in their interests, but in our own interests also. Whether we will or not, we as a nation front a great destiny. We can decide whether we will do our work badly or well, but we cannot help doing it. We have got to do it somehow, and I ask that all men stand shoulder to shoulder as Americans to see that they do it well.

Theodore Roosevelt, Remarks in Lawrence, Massachusetts Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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