Roosevelt: Kick Out “Hyphenated Americans”

Bulgaria declared war on Serbia. That didn’t keep Malley’s from putting out in its stationery section a full range of “quaint and queer-looking whimsies of every description” for the kids to don for the upcoming Halloween celebration.

Nor did it keep a former president from declaring there is no room in our country for “hyphenated Americans.”

To check out the antiphony of the global and local—the good, the bad, the ugly, and the great store sales—join me for the latest episode of WNHH radio’s “This Day In New Haven History.”

I’ll be reading to you from the pages of the Oct. 13, 1915, New Haven Evening Register, where those stories dominated the coverage.

You can listen by clicking on the below audio.

This week’s episodes are being recorded at the wonderful and under-appreciated Local History Room of the New Haven Free Public Library where I time traveled back a century to read how the past is very much alive today.

In that regard, perhaps most disturbing today is a speech former President Theodore Roosevelt gave at Carnegie Hall, under the newspaper’s subheadline: “No Room Here For Dual Nationality.”

In a speech at that venue to the Knights of Columbus, the pugilistic Roosevelt, trying to urge the country into the European war, declared, “There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americans. When I refer to hyphenated Americans, I do not refer to naturalized Americans. Some of the very best Americans I have known were naturalized Americans born abroad. But a hyphenated American is no American at all!

The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, of preventing all possibility of it continuing to be a nation at all would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities, an intricate knot of German-Americans, Irish-Americans, English-Americans, French-Americans, Scandinavian-Americans, or Italian-Americans, each preserving its separate nationality, each at heart feeling more nationality than with the other citizens of the American Republic.”

Thank you, Colonel Roosevelt, for confirming, with some sad deja vu all over again, the theme of “This Day In New Haven History”— namely that the past, the good and the bad, is very much alive today.

Listen in!

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posted by: Atwater on October 13, 2015  10:51am

I think you misunderstood Roosevelt’s comments. He was simply reiterating a point which was originally made by Alexander Hamilton. American’s first loyalty should be to America and in order to create a national unity we need to drop the hyphens, there is nothing bad about what Roosevelt said, in fact it is a central tenet of American republicanism.

posted by: Walt on October 13, 2015  4:00pm

Not squabbling,  but I am still proudly an Irish-American,  loyal to my country,  a WW2 vet and not ready to ignore my ancestry

Starting with   the Civil War and continuing thru WW 1 and all the wars since   ,  my family has served our country loyally including family members being seriously injured or killed in the hassles.

Not sure why Teddy Roosevelt does not like those who still honor their country of origin, while they proudly serve the USA,  but I do not plan to change.