Remarks at the Graduating Exercises of Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts

June 21, 1905

Here in Holy Cross College I want to say one word which ought to be spoken to ears willing to hear it. Here I want to make an appeal for scholarship in all our universities along certain lines. During the last three years I have happened by chance to grow peculiarly interested in the great subject of Celtic literature, and I feel that it is not a credit able thing to the American republic, which has in its citizenship so large a Celtic element, that we should leave it to the good scholars and citizens to be our instructors in Celtic literature. I want to see in Holy Cross, in Harvard, and all the other universities where we can get the chairs endowed, chairs for the study of Celtic literature.

In America we have been given, as a people, exceptional advantages. We are to be held to an exceptional accountability for the use we make of those advantages. We are not to be excused if we fail to do our duty abroad and at home. I want to see this nation not only strong, but just, and not only just, but strong. I want to see us develop as a nation those qualities which we prize in the individual man.

We want to see the individual American a decent man, but nothing but a decent man. I want to see him able to hold his own. I want to see that he does wrong to no one else, and does not suffer wrong himself. It is the same way with this nation. The constant effort of our people should be to see that we do not wrong any other people, that we are prompt to stretch the helping hand of friendship to any other power which we are able to befriend, yet that we make it evident that this attitude springs not from weakness, but from the junction of strength with a sense of justice.

Among our own people what I most desire to see is the union of a lofty sense of the rights of others with the power to act efficiently and effectively. I do not wish in politics two entirely separate groups, one composed of the men who mean well, and cannot do anything, and the other of the men who are thoroughly efficient, but do not mean well at all. I want to see in combination the power of efficient action with the power of fealty to a lofty ideal. What counts is the spirit which makes a man decent and yet sends him out into actual life able to hold his own.

Theodore Roosevelt, Remarks at the Graduating Exercises of Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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