Remarks at Watsonville, California

May 11, 1903

My Fellow-Citizens:

I have but a minute here, and I can only express to you my appreciation of your having come out to greet me. This is a great fruit center; California is a great fruit State, a great agricultural State, but, above all, California is a great State for Californians. [Applause]

The thing that has impressed me most in this country coming from the Atlantic to the Pacific is the essential oneness of our people, the fact that good Americans are good Americans from Maine to California, from the Golden Gate to Sandy Hook That is the important part.

Glad though I am to see all your products, I want to congratulate you especially upon one—the children. [Applause] I do not come here to teach; I come hear to learn. It has done me good to be in your State and to meet your people. Until last week I had never been in California, and I go back an even better American than I came, and I think I came out a fairly good one. Things that are truisms, that you expect as simply part of the natural order of events, need to be impressed upon our people as a whole. We need to understand the commanding position already occupied, and the infinitely more commanding position that will be occupied in the future by our nation on the Pacific. This, the greatest of all the oceans, is one which more and more during the century opening must pass under American influence; and as inevitably happens, when a great effort comes, it means that a great burden of responsibility accompanies the effort. A nation cannot be great without paying the price of greatness, and only a craven nation will object to paying that price.

I believe in you, my countrymen; I believe in our people, and therefore I believe that they will dare to be great, therefore I believe they will hail the chance this century brings as one which it should rejoice a mighty and masterful people to have. And we can face the future with the assured confidence of success if only we face it in the spirit in which our fathers faced the problems of the past. [Cheers and applause]

Theodore Roosevelt, Remarks at Watsonville, California Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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