Remarks in Waco, Texas

April 06, 1905

Much though you believe in Texas, you cannot believe in it any more than I do. I have been passing through the North and Middle States, and it is borne in on me at every stop what a marvelous heritage you of this great Commonwealth enjoy, and, mind you, anything that tends to the greatness of a part of the United States inevitably tends to the greatness of the whole. All the United States is concerned with the greatness of Texas because every good American feels that he has some part in the ownership of every square foot of American soil. Most assuredly all that I can do will, as a matter of course, be done for the greatness of every portion, South and North, East and West, of our common country. I cannot pledge it in advance, but whatever can be properly done for the Trinity and Brazos rivers, or anything else, shall be done not as a matter of favor to Texas, but exactly as we do it with all similar rivers in any section of the country.

Work of that kind is to be done not on a basis of favoritism, but on a basis of justice to all parts of this republic. Much though I have been impressed with the natural advantages, the thing that really makes me proud of Texas is the men and women. That is what counts. I like your men, and your women even more, and I want to congratulate you on the children. On the quality and quantity.

I wish to express my special gratitude at the escort given me by the National Guard of Texas. When I raised my regiment I tried to get all the Texans in it I could. I had about fifty, and I would have willingly had four times that number. I know the type of the men that Texas sends to war if the need arises. I am not sure, however, that Texas or any other one of our States appreciates to the full the need of encouraging, as it ought to be encouraged, the National Guard, and on behalf of the National Guard I bespeak from Texas this encouragement, so that it shall not only be armed and equipped, but shall have the chance to practice field maneuvers, marches, and markmanship so that it may attain the highest standard of efficiency.

One of the things that have gratified me most is that every place where I have stopped in Texas I have been met by the mingled bands of those who wore the blue and those who wore the gray in the great Civil War. Here in your own town I am met by one of my former comrades, who was in my regiment. He can tell you that in that regiment we had the sons of the Confederate and sons of the Union soldier, and we judged each one by the will and power with which he could serve our common country.

I believe in Texas with all my heart and soul, because I believe in the United States with all my heart and soul. You must bear in mind that in performing the duties of citizenship that come to you, you deal not only with your own concern, but with the concerns of the entire Nation. In public life there is no peculiar genius or brilliancy required so much as we require certain humdrum, every day, commonplace qualities. You need in the first place the quality of honesty. Unless not merely the public man, but the average private citizen, is honest, and I do not mean merely technically honest, I do not mean honest to the extent of keeping out of the penitentiary, I mean genuinely honest—unless he is that, the abler and the more courageous he is, the more dangerous he is. You must have honesty first, but that is not enough. The honest man who is a coward is of no earthly use to himself or any one else. Together with honesty, hand in hand with it, must go courage. You men of the great war know that it was not enough that a man should love his country.

You need to have honesty as the first trait, and courage is equally indispensable, and these two qualities are not enough. In addition to honesty, in addition to courage, we need the saving grace of common sense. If we have these qualities combined in the average man, we can be certain that the problems before our nation will be settled, as I firmly believe they will be settled, aright for future generations.

I thank you for having given me this chance to see you, and I thank from my heart the people of Texas for this magnificent welcome I have received at their hands.

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

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