Remarks at the State Fair Grounds in Concord, New Hampshire

August 28, 1902

Mr. Mayor, men and women of the state of New Hampshire, my fellow citizens, my fellow Americans:

It is a great pleasure to me to be able to come before you, this afternoon, and to thank you, who have greeted meso cordially today. As the mayor pointed out, you of New Hampshire have made your state—you and your forefathers— what it is because you have not sought the mere life of ease, because you have not shrunk from effort, from toil, because you have dared by your labor, and at need, danger. In this life as a rule the job that is easy to do is not very well worth while doing. Now let each man here look back in his life and think what it is that he is proud of in it—what part of it he is glad to hand on as a memory to his sons and daughters. Is it his hours of ease? No, not a bit. Who are the heroes of this nation, who are the two men that you think of at once? Washington and Lincoln. And why? Did either lead a life of ease? Because each one of them all his days worked for himself and worked for others, because one faced death on a score of stricken fields, and one met it at the hands of an assassin for the country's sake. They are the men whom America delights to honor, they and those like them. There has never yet been a man in our history who led a life of ease whose name is worth remembering. Now, understand me. Take holidays. I believe in holidays. I believe in play, and I believe in playing hard while you play, but don't make a business of it.

Do your work and do it up to the handle and then play when you have got time to play, and if you are worth anything enjoy that, too. Now, what is true of the individual is true of the nation. Here in this state the forefathers of your people, as the mayor has said, came to a region where only the strongest and bravest could have wrought success out of griping need. Since then you who have built so well upon the foundations laid deep by your forefathers—how have you done it? You have done it by hard work. It is in the long run the man who counts. Just exactly as in war, though you have got to have the best weapons, yet they are useless if the men behind them don't handle them well; so in peace the best constitution, the legislation, the greatest natural advantages will avail nothing if you have not the right to take the advantage of them. It is not an easy matter to get a law which shall do us great benefit, but it is only too easy to get one which shall do us great harm. About all we have a right to expect from government is that it will see that the cards are not stacked, and if it sees to that then we will abide by the deal.

Now, it is not necessary to say to an audience in this state that the farmer is benefited by the success of the manufacturing center, just as the manufacturing center must in the last resort depend upon the welfare of the country for its success. Speaking broadly, when ever there is a period of prosperity it will benefit all. Now, the grand problem that we should set before us is to keep prosperity, but above all never, under any circumstances, to lend ourselves to the leader ship of any who appeal to the baser passions of mankind, and who, because there is inequality in prosperity, would seek to substitute for that unequal prosperity community in disaster.

Evils have come through our very prosperity, but in warring against the evil let us be exceeding careful not to war against the prosperity.

Now it would be perfectly possible at any time to make it unpleasant for trusts—perfectly possible to prevent big corporations from making money. They did not make any money in 1893—and neither did any cone else. Let us face the fact that there are evils. If any man tells you that he can advance a specific by which all the evils of the body politic will be made to disappear, distrust him, for if he is honest he knows not what he says.

Mankind has moved slowly up through the ages, stumbling, halting, rarely by leaps and bounds, generally by a slow and painful progression. The Millennium is a good way off yet and we are going to succeed now, if, as I believe, we shall succeed, by showing exactly the qualities which our fathers showed when in great crises they succeeded. It is in civil life as it is in military life. The men who fought in the great Civil War, under Grant and Sherman, wore different uniforms from the Continentals who followed Washington, were armed with different weapons and were drilled with different tactics; but the spirit of the man himself was the same. There is not any more possibility of remedying all the ills, social, economic, political, of the body politic by some patent device now than there was such possibility in 1776 or in 1861.

And greater, sad, patient Lincoln led us to victory from '61 to '65 because he did not trust to any mere trick or device, because he drove deep down to the heart of thousands and based his reliance on the fundamental virtues of mankind—the old, old virtues of mankind. That is the spirit we have to show in facing the problems of today. Face the problem; realize its gravity, and then approach it in a spirit that will keep it ever in mind that if we are to succeed at all, it must be by each doing to the best of his capacity his own business, and yet by each remembering that in a sense he is also his brother's keeper.

Theodore Roosevelt, Remarks at the State Fair Grounds in Concord, New Hampshire Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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