Theodore Roosevelt on Immigrants and being an AMERICAN
"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 man's becoming in very fact 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, and this excludes the red flag, which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization, just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which we are hostile...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
"Americanization" was a favorite theme of Roosevelt's during his later years, when he railed repeatedly against "hyphenated Americans" and the prospect of a nation "brought to ruins" by a "tangle of squabbling nationalities."
He advocated the compulsory learning of English by every naturalized citizen. "Every immigrant who comes here should be required within five years to learn English or to leave the country," he said in a statement to the Kansas City Star in 1918. "English should be the only language taught or used in the public schools."
He also insisted, on more than one occasion, that America has no room for what he called "fifty-fifty allegiance." In a speech made in 1917 he said, "It is our boast that we admit the immigrant to full fellowship and equality with the native-born. In return we demand that he shall share our undivided allegiance to the one flag which floats over all of us."
My grandfather came to America with his family in the 1880s. They learned English (would not speack German again). They didn't consider themselves to be German-Americans - They were Americans and proud to be so. They did their best to be good citizens and to blend in with all the other people here who all had immigrants in their family history. We should all try to blend - not maintain our separateness. The people who came to this country showed real pioneer spirit and great fortitude to leave all behind and start a new life in a strange new world. We should be proud of their spirit and honor their commitment by being good Americans.