Remarks in Nampa, Idaho

May 28, 1903

My friends and fellow citizens:

It is a very great pleasure to have the chance of greeting you today. Let me say a word of special greeting to the members of the National Guard. For the first time in our history Congress has enacted a measure to provide for an adequately armed National Guard in each of the states; and Idaho is the first State to be taking advantage of the terms of this act. I congratulate Idaho upon this typical instance of progress.

I wish to say what pleasure it has given me to come here and be witnessing with my own eyes what you are doing in this. State with irrigation. Idaho will, I firmly believe—and I base it not merely upon my own observation but upon what I am told by men of judgment dealing within the State—grow with peculiar rapidity and with a peculiar stability of growth during the years now immediately opening. While a great part of the growth will surely be due to the development of her unexplored mineral resources, I think the most permanent and the most useful part of the growth will be the development of her irrigated agriculture.

I do not have to tell you here that when you get irrigation fairly applied, rain is a poor substitute for it. With irrigation, the wonderful fertility of your soil will be given full play, and we shall see a development of fruit and grain products in this State which would have seemed literally incredible even as late as 25 years ago. I have passed through some of the great grazing regions of the State, the regions where cattle and sheep flourish. I congratulate you upon the chances of diversifying your industries, as in the development of all your other industries, so far as the federal and State laws affect them, the one great object ever kept in mind will be the building up of the home-maker, the building up of the man who takes a given quantity of land—a large quantity if it is unirrigated; a much smaller quantity if it is irrigable—and out of that makes a home upon which he intends himself to live, and living, to bring up his children. The citizen who counts in the development of the state is the man or woman who makes this his or her home; for it is upon the quality of the average woman that the future of the State really depends.

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

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