Theodore Roosevelt sitting astride a horse and holding a musket.

Quote From Theodore Roosevelt on Immigration and Assimilation?

Claim

U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt said that immigrants should assimilate and become "loyal Americans."

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A purported quote from former United States President Theodore Roosevelt expressing his views about immigrants, saying that they should assimilate, become loyal Americans, and speak English, reappears periodically via forwarded emails and on social media, generally with the following commentary:

The year is 1907…..but the speaker knew what he was talking about. READ PRINT UNDER PICTURE

Theodore Roosevelt’s ideas on immigrants and being an AMERICAN in 1907.

“In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person’s becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American…There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag… We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language… and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”

Theodore Roosevelt 1907

Every American citizen needs to read this!

KEEP THIS MOVING!

The Truth:

The quote is mostly authentic; some of the wording is different from the original. Also, it was written in a letter by Roosevelt on January 3, 1919, not 1907, to the president of the American Defense Society. It was read publicly at a meeting on January 5, 1919. Roosevelt died the next day, on January 6, 1919.

Theodore Roosevelt was the 26th president of the United States, and the youngest to ever occupy the Oval Office. He was vice president to President William McKinley, and when McKinley was assassinated in 1901, Roosevelt took over at age 42. (At age 43, President John F. Kennedy was the youngest to ever be elected President; Roosevelt was re-elected, but by then, in 1904, he was 45.)

TRSite.org, a website devoted to all things Theodore Roosevelt and maintained by the National Park Service, explains some of the context around his site and what was happening during that time. “Between 1900 and 1915, more than 15 million immigrants arrived in the United States,” says the site:

That was about equal to the number of immigrants who had arrived in the previous 40 years combined. Not only were the numbers of immigrants swelling, the countries from which they came had changed dramatically as well. Unlike earlier immigrants, the majority of the newcomers after 1900 came from non-English speaking European countries. The so-called “new immigrants” had difficulty adjusting to life here. At the same time, the United States had difficulty absorbing the immigrants. Most of the immigrants chose to settle in American cities, where jobs were located. As a result, the cities became ever more crowded. In addition, city services often failed to keep up with the flow of newcomers. Most of the immigrants did find jobs, although they often worked in jobs that most native-born Americans would not take.

The actual text from Roosevelt’s letter is below. There are a few minor differences from the original, such as changing “man” to “person,” but the content is virtually identical:

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 very 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.