TEDDY ROOSEVELT SPEAKS OUT

Compiled by Annette Elam Wetzel

President Theodore RooseveltIn 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt and his wife made a tour of the Southern states. This tour was reported in an article entitled "Visit of the President to the South," which appeared in The Confederate Veteran, Volume XIII, No. 9, November, 1905, pp. 488-490.

It was a "different era" in 1905. President Roosevelt's remarks were very "politically correct" for his day. He, however, managed to pay tribute to all of his heritage. All that is required of our President, or any other politician, today is a simple acknowledgement that all Americans have a right to be proud of their heritage.

Speaking at the State Capitol, Richmond, Virginia, 1905 [p. 488]:
"Last Memorial Day I spoke in Brooklyn at the unveiling of the statue of a Northern general, under the auspices of the Grand Army of the Republic, and that great audience cheered every allusion to the valor and self-devotion of the men who followed Lee as heartily as they cheered every allusion to the valor and devotion of the men who followed Grant.....

"The proud self-sacrifice, the resolute and daring courage, the high and steadfast devotion to the right as each man saw it, whether Northerner or Southerner - these qualities render all Americans forever the debtors of those who in the dark days from 1861-1865 proved their truth by their endeavor. Here around Richmond, here in your own State, there lies battlefield after battlefield, rendered forever memorable by the men who counted death as but a little thing when weighted in the balance against doing their duty as it was given them to see it......"

Speaking at the welcome banquet, Richmond, Virginia, 1905 [pp. 488-489]:
"Coming today by the statue of Stonewall Jackson, in the city of Lee, I felt what a privilege it is that I, as an American, have in claiming that you yourselves have no more right of kinship in Lee and Jackson than I have.

"There was an uncle of mine, now dead, my mother's brother, who has always been, among all the men I have ever met, the man who it seemed to me came nearest to typifying in the flesh that most beautiful of all characters in fiction, Thackeray's Col. Newcome - my uncle, James Dunwoody Bulloch, an admiral in the Confederate Navy....."

Speaking at the R. E. Lee Camp, Soldiers' Home, Richmond, Virginia, 1905 [p. 489]:
"...I honor the State of Virginia because she has taken charge of the Confederate veterans in their old age. All Americans must ever show high honor to the men of the War Between the States, whether they wore the blue or whether they wore the gray, so long as they did their duty as the light was given them to see their duty with all of the strength that was in them. Here I greet you in the shadow of the statue of your commander, Gen. Robert E. Lee. You and he left us memories which are part of the memories bequeathed to the entire country by all the Americans who fought in the War between the States."

Speaking in Charlotte, North Carolina,, 1905 [p. 489]:
"As I got off the train here I was greeted by one citizen of North Carolina...whose greeting pleased and touched me more than the greeting of any man could have touched me. I was greeted by the widow of Stonewall Jackson."

Speaking in Roswell, GA, 1905 [pp. 489-490]:
"It has been my great fortune to have the right to claim that my blood is half Southern and half Northern, and I would deny the right of any man here to feel a greater pride in the deeds of every Southern man than I feel. Of the children, the brothers and sisters of my mother who were born and brought up in that house on the hill there, my two uncles afterwards entered the Confederate service and served in the Confederate navy. One, the youngest man....my uncle, Irving Bulloch....James Dunwoody Bulloch was an admiral in the Confederate service.....Men and women, don't you think that I have the ancestral right to claim a proud kinship with those who showed their devotion to duty as they saw they duty, whether they wore the gray of whether they wore the blue? All Americans who are worthy of the name feel an equal pride in the valor of those who fought on one side or the other, provided only that each did with all his might and soul and strength and mind his duty as it was given him to see his duty."

Mobile, Alabama, 1905 [p. 490]:
"While there was a great demonstration in every city visited, it seemed to be in Mobile that the happiest association occurred. This is perhaps because of the fact that the President's proudest Southern association was through two brothers of his mother who performed service for the Confederacy under Admiral Rafael Semmes on the famous Alabama. The guard of honor on the parade was by members of the Raphael Semmes Camp, United Confederate Veterans. Hon. Oliver J. Semmes, son of the great Confederate admiral, presented to the President and pinned upon the lapel of his coat a handsome souvenir badge, as the gift of the people of Mobile.....The President thanked the people for their magnificent reception, and spoke a special word of greeting to the Confederate veterans who formed a portion of his escort. He referred to the fact that one of his uncles was on the Alabama during the War Between the States. The last time he came through Alabama he said he was going with his own regiment to the Spanish war, and in that regiment were more men whose fathers wore the gray than those who wore the blue....."

[Annette Elam Wetzel is a member of Richmond-Stonewall Jackson Chapter #1705, based in Richmond, Virginia]


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