Remarks at Paso Robles, California

May 09, 1903

My Fellow-Citizens:

I cannot say how I have enjoyed the three days I have spent in California. I had heard much and read much of the wonderful beauty of your State, of its climate, of the fertility of its soil, but I had not been able to fix in my mind what it really would be. I think I was a pretty good American when I came here, but I feel that I am a better American now. It has done me good to see you. I congratulate you upon all that you have done in business, in agriculture, in commerce, in industries of all kinds; but most of all I congratulate you and all of us upon the type of citizenship that you have produced. In the last analysis the nation will go up or go down according to the standard of the average man or woman. It is a good thing to have farms, ranches, railroads, factories and commerce, but they will avail nothing if we have not the right type of average citizen to take advantage of them. One thing that has pleased me particularly in coming through your State has been to see the schools, the attention paid to the education of your children. I have been glad to meet the men and women, and I think I have been even gladder to see the children. [Applause] Of course it is the merest truism to say that not all our natural advantages, not all our industrial success will avail unless the American of the future is able to take advantage of the achievements of the past and to turn them to the best possible account. We need the material well-being as the foundation upon which to build and we cannot build unless we have that foundation, but it is only the foundation and upon it must be raised the superstructure of the higher civic life. And for that life you are providing in preparing those of the next generation for the ever higher spiritual, moral and intellectual development. I have been very glad to see you; glad to have come from the Atlantic, from the East, through the West, and now to this West of the West—to California. [Applause] There is another thing I was glad here on the seacoast to see—a vessel of the United States Navy. We have begun to take our position as a world power, a power situated on a continent fronting on two oceans, and we must have a navy to assert our position. [Cheers and applause]

Theodore Roosevelt, Remarks at Paso Robles, California Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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