Theodore Roosevelt on American Motherhood

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In an effort to boost Anglo-Saxonism in America, President Theodore Roosevelt delivered a speech on American motherhood before the National Congress of Mothers in Washington in 1905. Roosevelt was scared of a potential race suicide for Anglo-Saxon Protestants, which was his description of the downfall of white folks in American society and the increase of representation by immigrants, African Americans, and other races of people. Due to this concern and fear, he encouraged people to start having more children fast and raising them properly so that Anglo-Saxonism remains strong and does not get outnumbered. This speech was delivered as an effort of nation-building domestically in an attempt to assert dominance and establish a culture within America. At this time, Roosevelt and the Anglo-Saxons he is preaching too weren’t shameful or even cautious about who they were excluding. In an article, written by Michael Dunne in 2011, “Exceptionalism of a kind: the political historiography of US foreign relations,” the shame Americans feel in modern society is referred to. Dunne points out that Americans were naive and did horrible things in their early years and that guilt and shame have helped the US to turn into a “beacon for democracy” and most past their societal wrongdoings. Instead of worrying about other cultures and races of people, Roosevelt was direct and straightforward with his message to Anglo-Saxons, which was to grow and spread the race rapidly. Similarly to the example of the Carlisle Indian school’s effort, American exceptionalism and the spread of white American culture is embodied in this speech.

The intelligence of the remark is on a par with its morality; for the most rudimentary mental process would have shown the speaker that if the average family in which there are children contained but two children the nation as a whole would decrease in population so rapidly that in two or three generations it would very deservedly be on the point of extinction, so that the people who had acted on this base and selfish doctrine would be giving place to others with braver and more robust ideals. Nor would such a result be in any way regrettable; for a race that practised such doctrine—that is, a race that practised race suicide—would thereby conclusively show that it was unfit to exist, and that it had better give place to people who had not forgotten the primary laws of their being.