Remarks in Santa Fe, New Mexico

May 05, 1903

Mr. Governor, Mr. Mayor, ladies and gentlemen:

It is, of course, with a peculiar feeling of pleasure that I come here to New Mexico, from which Territory half (and if my memory serves me correctly—a little over half) of the men of my regiment came. The man is but a poor man wherever he may be born to whom one part of this country is not exactly as dear as any other part. And I should count myself wholly unworthy of the position I hold if I did not strive to represent the people of the mountains and the plains exactly as much as those of the Mississippi Valley or of either coast, Atlantic or Pacific. I know your people, Mr. Governor, and I need not say how fond I am of them, for that you know yourself. How could I help being fond of people with whom I have worked, with whom I marched to battle? The only men here to whom I would doff my hat quicker than to the men of my own regiment are the men of the great war. You know well the claim that comradeship in war makes between man and man; and it has always seemed to me, Mr. Governor, that in a sense my regiment in its composition was a typical American regiment. Its people came from the West chiefly, but some from the East; many from the South, but some from the North, so that every section was represented in it. They varied in birthplace as in creed; some were born on this side of the water, some on the other side; some of their ancestors had come to New Mexico, as did your ancestors, Mr. Governor, when this was already a city and at a time when not one English-speaking community existed on the Atlantic seaboard; some were men whose forefathers were among the early Puritans and Pilgrims; some were of those whose forefathers had settled by the banks of the James even be fore the Puritan and Pilgrim came to this country; but after your people came. There were men in that regiment who themselves were born, or whose parents were born, in England, Ireland, Germany, or Scandinavia, but there was not a man, no matter what his creed, what his birthplace, what his ancestry, who was not an American and nothing else. We had representatives of the real, original, native Americans, because we had no inconsiderable number who were in whole or in part of Indian blood. There was in the regiment but one kind of rivalry among those men, and but one would have been tolerated.

That was the rivalry of each man to see if he could not do his duty a little better than anyone else. Short would have been the shrift of any man who tried to introduce division along lines of section, or creed, or class. We had, serving in the ranks, men of inherited wealth and men who all their lives had earned each day's bread by that day's labor, and they stood on a footing of exact equality. It would not have been any more possible for a feeling of arrogance to exist on one side than for a feeling of rancor and envy to exist on the other.

I appreciate to the full all the difficulties under which you labor, and I think that your progress has been astonishing. I congratulate you upon all that has been done, and I am certain that the future will far more than make good the past. I believe that we have come upon an era of fuller development for New Mexico. That development must of course take place principally through the average of foresight, thrift, industry, energy and will of the citizens of New Mexico; but the government can, and will, help somewhat. This is a great grazing State. Because of the importance of the grazing industry I wish to bespeak your support for the preservation in proper shape of the forest reserves of the State. These forest reserves are created and are kept up in the interest of the home-maker. In many of them there is much natural pasturage. Where that is the case the object is to have that pasturage used by the settlers, by the people of the Territory, not eaten out so that nobody will have the benefit after three years. I want the land preserved so that the pasturage will do, not merely for a man who wants to make a good thing out of it for two or three years, but for the man who wishes to see it preserved for the use of his children and his children's children. That is the way to use the resources of the land. I build no small hope upon the aid that under the wise law of Congress will ultimately be extended to this as to other States and Territories in the way of governmental aid to irrigation. Irrigation is, of course, to be in the future well nigh the most potent factor in the agricultural development of this Territory and one of the factors which will do most toward bringing it up to Statehood. Nothing will count more than development of that kind in bringing the Territory in as a State. That is the kind of development which I am most anxious to see here—the development that means permanent growth in the capacity of the land, not temporary, not the exploiting of the land for a year or two at the cost of its future impoverishment, but the building up of farm and ranch in such shape as to benefit the home-maker whose intention it is that this Territory of the present, this State of the future, shall be a great State in the American Union.

Theodore Roosevelt, Remarks in Santa Fe, New Mexico Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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