Remarks in Louisville, Kentucky

April 04, 1905

Governor Beckham, and you, my fellow Americans:

Surely any man would indeed be gratified to be greeted in this way by such an audience, and be introduced as you have introduced me, Governor Beckham.

As the Governor has so well said, upon all the important questions, the questions that infinitely transcend mere partisan differences, we are fundamentally one. For in the question of foreign and internal politics, the points upon which there can be no proper division on party lines infinitely exceed in number those upon which there can be such divisions, and, Governor Beckham, I shall do all that in me lies to justify the hope to which you have given expression and to try to show myself the President of all the people of the United States.

And, naturally, I feel particularly gratified at seeing here today, joined in this procession, the men who wore the blue and the men who wore the gray. In the dark days—now keep just as quiet as you can; you won't be able to do anything more than see me, anyhow—in the dark days each of you fought for the right as it was given him to see the right, and each of you has left us the right to feel pride not only in your valor, but in our devotion to what you conscientiously believed your duty.

And now we are all one, and as a united people we have the right to feel the same pride in the valor of the man who conscientiously risked his life in the Confederate uniform that we have in the man who fought in the blue. And as I passed by your ranks, oh, my friends in gray, to-day, and saluted the flag of our common country, held up by a man in the gray uniform, I felt that, indeed, we are one, and that we have been able to show mankind the greatest war of the century can be followed by the most perfect union that any nation now knows.

And in coming to this great and beautiful city of yours I wish to congratulate you upon the historic spirit that is found here. I am glad, as I say, of the spirit that makes you wish to dedicate statues like this of Jefferson, and like the great statue of Clay inside of this court house. It is a fine thing to keep to a sense of historic continuity with the past, and there is one statue that I wish the members in the National Congress from Kentucky to see is put up by the National government, and that is a national statue to Andrew Jackson and the victors of the battle of New Orleans. The fight at New Orleans was one in which the whole nation has a care, as far as the glory and the profit went, and the whole Nation, and not any one State, should join in putting that statue up.

I want to thank you, the members of the Liedertafels, for coming here to sing to-day, and I want to say just one thing suggested by your presence. We, as a people, are composed of men of many different stocks from the Old World. Each stock can contribute some thing of great value to our national life. The people of German origin who have come here have contributed much in many different ways, and not the least of what they contributed has been the power to know what the joy of living means. There is one word I wish it were possible to translate, but, as it is not possible, I wish we could adopt it absolutely as it is—"gemuethlichkeit"—for gemuethlichkeit is a mighty valuable asset. I only hope as missionaries you will be able to teach us what it means and how to practice it all through.

Now, I am going to say good-by, because there is a little movement there, and it will be better for the women and small people if I let you get away. Good-by.

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

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