Remarks in Old Orchard, Maine

August 26, 1902

It is indeed a pleasure for me to have the chance of visiting your great and beautiful State, and I thank you from my heart for the greeting you have extended to me. In almost every meeting I can see veterans like you, like you over there, and you, with the boy in your arms there, who wear the button that shows that in the times that tried men's souls you proved your truth by your endeavors. In those days Maine was a lesson to all for the way her sons bore themselves in war. Since then and now she is a lesson to us because of the high average of citizenship that shows within her borders and I think that it is the same reason in the one case as in the other. The fact is, that here you have remained on the whole true to the old American theory of treating each man on his worth as a man, without regard to the incidentals of his position.

The State can do much but can't begin to do everything. The State can do something for all of us but not as much as we can do for the State and not as much as each man can and must do for himself. That is going to count in the long run. The Government, national and state, can mighty easily spoil chances for all of us. Bad law will work badly enough, but it is hard for the best of laws to do more than shape conditions so as to give each man a square and fair chance, and then he has got to work out his future for himself.

It is a much easier thing to tell people that you have got a patent recipe that—will save them from having to take trouble themselves than it is to tell them perfectly plain, homely truths. It is an easy thing to make the promise, but it is a much uglier thing afterwards to carry out the promise, and, on the whole, it is not worth while making a promise if you have got to feel ashamed of yourself for breaking it afterward.

Theodore Roosevelt, Remarks in Old Orchard, Maine Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under




Simple Search of Our Archives