The year is 1919, ninety years ago.
Theodore Roosevelt’s ideas on Immigrants and being an AMERICAN in 1919.
We should insist that if the immigrant who comes here does in good faith become an American and assimilates himself to us he shall be treated on an exact equality with every one else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed or birth-place or origin.
But this is predicated upon the man’s becoming in every fact an American and nothing but an American. If he tries to keep segregated with men of his own origin and separated from the rest of America, then he isn’t doing his part as an American. There can be no divided allegiance here. . . We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language, for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, of American nationality, and not as dwellers in a polyglot boarding-house; and we have room for but one soul loyalty, and that is loyalty to the American people.
These are the true words of Theodore Roosevelt, supposedly taken from a letter written to the President of the American Defense Society on January 3, 1919, three days before he died, ten years after his presidency.
The American Defense Society, who named Roosevelt Honorary President, was ready to launch a campaign to distribute Theodore Roosevelt portraits to schools and organizations in support of their cause, which is what brought Roosevelt to make what would be his last public statement; where he encouraged the United States to “Keep up the Fight for Americanism.”