Remarks in Randolph, Vermont

August 30, 1902

Mr. Chief Justice, and you, my fellow citizens:

It is a real pleasure to me to meet you; and I am glad to be introduced by the chief justice of your State. Here in America we pride ourselves on our liberty under the law—a very different thing from lawlessness. Anarchy in any shape or manner—and by anarchy I mean all types of mob violence, the violence of one man or the violence of many by action against the law—anarchy in any shape or way is the surest handmaiden of tyranny. Here it is our own fault as a people if the laws are not what we wish, if we do not have them observed as we wish. There is no excuse in this country for violations of the law. Our safety lies in the sanity, the cool hard-headedness, the self-restraint, mingled with the resolute purpose of our people to get the right law on the statute books, to see that it is then enforced against the great and small with even handed justice, that the rich man and the poor man are held to an equal accountability before it—that no man stands beyond the law—that in the interest of the most powerful man of wealth we enforce the law against him, and thereby show that the law can be invoked for him at need. The orderly, law-abiding liberty of our people is the secret of our success as a nation. It is that spirit that you have shown here in Vermont—the spirit that has made Vermont do far more than her share in national leadership, in example to the nation—the fact that here you have been able to work out a reasonable approximation to the ideal which as a nation I think we have before us—the ideal of treating each man on his worth as a man. I never have felt the slightest sympathy for Vermont; you are not that type— you don't need it. Vermont has practically realized that when you come to judge a man it is an outrage to discriminate for or against him because of his being rich or poor— that you ought to judge him by the stuff that is in him. A little way back I passed by the station at which Senator Morrill used to get on the train. When he was home he lived nine miles from any railroad,—lived as anything but a rich man,—in a village; and yet he was one of the men who throughout this nation counted for most. So Vermont has sent again and again in every war men to the front,—men who were not known to the country because of their great wealth. Don't look down on a man because he is poor, and don't envy him or vilify him because he is rich.

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

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