Theodore Roosevelt on "New Nationalism" (1910)

At the dedication of the John Brown Memorial Park in Kansas, former president Theodore Roosevelt attacked the administration of his successor, President William H. Taft, and started a campaign for a third term. Here are some words from the August 31, 1910 speech that introduced the philosophy of the Progressive Party.

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definitions & notes only words
  1. denounce
    speak out against
    It is half melancholy and half amusing to see the way in which well-meaning people gather to do honor to the men who, in company with John Brown, and under the lead of Abraham Lincoln, faced and solved the great problems of the nineteenth century, while, at the same time, these same good people nervously shrink from, or frantically denounce, those who are trying to meet the problems of the twentieth century
  2. proportion
    relation with respect to comparative quantity or magnitude
    It seems to me that, in these words, Lincoln took substantially the attitude that we ought to take; he showed the proper sense of proportion in his relative estimates of capital and labor, of human rights and property rights.
  3. charity
    a kindly and lenient attitude toward people
    Above all, in this speech, as in many others, he taught a lesson in wise kindliness and charity; an indispensable lesson to us of to-day.
  4. privilege
    a special advantage or benefit not enjoyed by all
    One of the chief factors in progress is the destruction of special privilege.
  5. corrupt
    make illegal payments to in exchange for favors or influence
    Exactly as the special interests of cotton and slavery threatened our political integrity before the Civil War, so now the great special business interests too often control and corrupt the men and methods of government for their own profit.
  6. expenditure
    money paid out; an amount spent
    Corporate expenditures for political purposes, and especially such expenditures by public service corporations, have supplied one of the principal sources of corruption in our political affairs.
  7. corporation
    a business firm recognized by law as a single body
    It has become entirely clear that we must have government supervision of the capitalization, not only of public service corporations, including, particularly, railways, but of all corporations doing an interstate business.
  8. restraint
    a rule or condition that limits freedom
    The absence of effective State, and, especially, national, restraint upon unfair money-getting has tended to create a small class of enormously wealthy and economically powerful men, whose chief object is to hold and increase their power.
  9. interference
    a policy of intervening in the affairs of other countries
    This, I know, implies a policy of a far more active governmental interference with social and economic conditions in this country than we have yet had, but I think we have got to face the fact that such an increase in governmental control is now necessary.
  10. graduated
    marked with or divided into degrees
    Therefore, I believe in a graduated income tax on big fortunes, and in another tax which is far more easily collected and far more effective — a graduated inheritance tax on big fortunes, properly safeguarded against evasion, and increasing rapidly in amount with the size of the estate.
  11. financial
    involving fiscal matters
    It is of profound importance that our financial system should be promptly investigated, and so thoroughly and effectively revised as to make it certain that hereafter our currency will no longer fail at critical times to meet our needs.
  12. secure
    get by special effort
    It is hardly necessary to me to repeat that I believe in an efficient army and a navy large enough to secure for us abroad that respect which is the surest guarantee of peace.
  13. principle
    a basic truth or law or assumption
    Justice and fair dealings among nations rest upon principles identical with those which control justice and fair dealing among the individuals of which nations are composed, with the vital exception that each nation must do its own part in international police work.
  14. conservation
    careful management of the environment and natural resources
    Of all the questions which can come before this nation, short of the actual preservation of its existence in a great war, there is none which compares in importance with the great central task of leaving this land even a better land for our descendants than it is for us, and training them into a better race to inhabit the land and pass it on. Conservation is a great moral issue, for it involves the patriotic duty of insuring the safety and continuance of the nation.
  15. advocate
    a person who pleads for a person, cause, or idea
    The man who wrongly holds that every human right is secondary to his profit must now give way to the advocate of human welfare, who rightly maintains that every man holds his property subject to the general right of the community to regulate its use to whatever degree the public welfare may require it.
  16. contribution
    the part played by a person in bringing about a result
    The fundamental thing to do for every man is to give him a chance to reach a place in which he will make the greatest possible contribution to the public welfare.
  17. sufficient
    of a quantity that can fulfill a need or requirement
    No man can be a good citizen unless he has a wage more than sufficient to cover the bare cost of living, and hours of labor short enough so after his day’s work is done he will have time and energy to bear his share in the management of the community, to help in carrying the general load.
  18. compensation
    something given or received as payment or reparation
    We need comprehensive workman’s compensation acts, both State and national laws to regulate child labor and work for women, and, especially, we need in our common schools not merely education in book-learning, but also practical training for daily life and work.
  19. sanitary
    free from filth and pathogens
    We need to enforce better sanitary conditions for our workers and to extend the use of safety appliances for workers in industry and commerce, both within and between the States.
  20. reform
    a change for the better as a result of correcting abuses
    If I could ask but one thing of my fellow countrymen, my request would be that, whenever they go in for reform, they remember the two sides, and that they always exact justice from one side as much as from the other.
  21. efficiency
    skillfulness in avoiding wasted time and effort
    National efficiency has to do, not only with natural resources and with men, but it is equally concerned with institutions. The State must be made efficient for the work which concerns only the people of the State; and the nation for that which concerns all the people.
  22. nationalism
    the doctrine that your country's interests are superior
    I do not ask for the over centralization; but I do ask that we work in a spirit of broad and far-reaching nationalism where we work for what concerns our people as a whole.
  23. steward
    someone who manages property or affairs for someone else
    This New Nationalism regards the executive power as the steward of the public welfare.
  24. welfare
    a contented state of being happy and healthy and prosperous
    It demands of the judiciary that it shall be interested primarily in human welfare rather than in property, just as it demands that the representative body shall represent all the people rather than any one class or section of the people.
  25. materialism
    a desire for wealth and possessions
    Those who oppose reform will do well to remember that ruin in its worst form is inevitable if our national life brings us nothing better than swollen fortunes for the few and the triumph in both politics and business of a sordid and selfish materialism.
  26. incompetent
    not qualified or suited for a purpose
    I believe that the prompt removal of unfaithful or incompetent public servants should be made easy and sure in whatever way experience shall show to be most expedient in any given class of cases.
  27. prosperity
    a state of growth with rising profits and full employment
    The material progress and prosperity of a nation are desirable chiefly so long as they lead to the moral and material welfare of all good citizens.
  28. character
    attributes that determine one's moral and ethical actions
    We must have the right kind of charactercharacter that makes a man, first of all, a good man in the home, a good father, and a good husband — that makes a man a good neighbor.
  29. administration
    the act of meting out justice according to the law
    You must have that, and, then, in addition, you must have the kind of law and the kind of administration of the law which will give to those qualities in the private citizen the best possible chance for development.
  30. progressive
    favoring or promoting reform, often by government action
    The prime problem of our nation is to get the right type of good citizenship, and, to get it, we must have progress, and our public men must be genuinely progressive.
Created on March 28, 2017 (updated September 9, 2019)

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