An Anniversiary Worthy of Note

On this date in 1915, former President Theodore Roosevelt criticized the concept of “hyphenated Americanism”, referring to U.S. citizens who identified themselves by dual nationalities.

… There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism. When I refer to hyphenated Americans, I do not refer to naturalized Americans. Some of the very best Americans I have ever known were naturalized Americans, Americans born abroad. But a hyphenated American is not an American at all. This is just as true of the man who puts “native” before the hyphen as of the man who puts German or Irish or English or French before the hyphen. Americanism is a matter of the spirit and of the soul. Our allegiance must be purely to the United States. We must unsparingly condemn any man who holds any other allegiance. But if he is heartily and singly loyal to this Republic, then no matter where he was born, he is just as good an American as any one else.
The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, of preventing all possibility of its continuing to be a nation at all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities, an intricate knot of German-Americans, Irish-Americans, English-Americans, French-Americans, Scandinavian-Americans or Italian-Americans, each preserving its separate nationality, each at heart feeling more sympathy with Europeans of that nationality, than with the other citizens of the American Republic. The men who do not become Americans and nothing else are hyphenated Americans; and there ought to be no room for them in this country. The man who calls himself an American citizen and who yet shows by his actions that he is primarily the citizen of a foreign land, plays a thoroughly mischievous part in the life of our body politic. He has no place here; and the sooner he returns to the land to which he feels his real heart-allegiance, the better it will be for every good American. There is no such thing as a hyphenated American who is a good American. The only man who is a good American is the man who is an American and nothing else.

10 Responses to “An Anniversiary Worthy of Note”

  1. GALA says:

    Would that be like African-American?

  2. WunderKraut says:

    Home run THS. Home run!
    Truth is a powerful thing.

  3. Blonde-American, Mexican-American, Half-A$$ed-American (Bingley rates a double hyphen), Venusian-American, Orange- Purple- or Pink-American…yup. They all qualify.
    If you have to specify “what-kind” of American you are, in your heart you aren’t really one at all.

  4. Cullen says:

    Does it stem from some sense of identity failure? I mean, folks try to find something special about being more than American … ? Instead of finding strength in national identity.
    Crap, I’m probably reaching there.

  5. I think it’s an entitlement thing, personally.

  6. Mr. Bingley says:

    I’m a ‘Merkun first, dag nabbit!

  7. Crusader says:

    Yeah, the head of a diversity council in the corp I work for was not to keen on that quote when I used it on him a few years ago. Maybe that is why I am still a ‘analyst’ on the phones….hmm.
    Remember that rant of mine, sis?

  8. Oh, I do indeed. A thing of beauty, style and grace.

  9. Nightfly says:

    It’s my observation that the immigrant-Americans of the 1880’s and their families (through WW2) were most proud of the “American” part of it, insisting that the kids learn English and be involved in their neighborhoods, proudly becoming nationalized and just as proudly voting, even while celebrating St. Patty’s or the Feast of San Gennaro etc etc. They found no contradiction in it and it was clear where their loyalties were, as they went to war by the tens of thousands for their new country against the powers of the Old World.

  10. Dave J says:

    As he would’ve said, bully for TR. It’s a shame he died when did: he was planning yet another run for the White House in 1920.

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