Old Uncle Victor, like most kids of his generation, had a ‘Teddy Bear’ or two at various stages of his early childhood. Little did he realise the cute and traditional cuddly toy was named after an evil, wicked ‘Racist’! An American President, no less! ‘Teddy’ was the nickname of an American President whose visage is immortalised in a gigantic rock carving on Mount Rushmore. Read on, gentle reader…
Racial Views of Theodore Roosevelt
By Edward Kerling 1994
Theodore Roosevelt, U.S. President from 1901 to 1909, is best known for his exploits with the Rough Riders, his conservation work, his expansion of the public park system, and his admonition to "speak softly but carry a big stick" in foreign affairs. Few today, however, are aware that by current standards Teddy Roosevelt was a ‘White Supremacist’ of the first water.
A central part of Roosevelt's weltblick was evolution, which he accepted as "the fundamental truth" and necessary for "sound scientific thought." A belief in social Darwinism was implicit in his remarks; just as one could trace the rise and fall of members of the animal kingdom, the same could be done for human societies, races and nations. It was from this perspective that Roosevelt was to make all his racial judgments.
In The Winning of the West Roosevelt straightforwardly attributed the rise and spread of civilization, the advances in the conquest of nature, and the achievements in the arts and sciences-progress, unparalleled in human history-to "One race, the so-called White Race, or... more specifically, the group of peoples living in Europe, who undoubtedly have a kinship of blood, who profess the Christian religion, and trace their culture to Greece and Rome."
Roosevelt was generous in sharing the glory equally among his white compeers and did not limit his appreciation to any one branch of the Caucasian racial tree. Beginning with the Iberian people of Portugal and Spain, he believed almost every nation of Europe had sought and found a place in the movement of expansion. Many of Roosevelt's statements during the late 1800s and early 1900s are applicable today. In 1912 he wrote, "The only tyrannies from which men, women, and children are suffering in real life are the tyrannies of minorities." Decades before our current welfare state, he warned: The worst lesson that can be taught a man is to rely upon others and to whine over his sufferings. If an American is to amount to anything he must rely upon himself, and not upon the State; he must take pride in his work, instead of envying the luck of others; he must face life with resolute courage, win victory if he can, and accept defeat if he must, without seeking to place on his fellow men a responsibility which is not theirs.
In 1913, Roosevelt made clear his thoughts on a pure democracy, where the votes of the manufacturer and the farmer are cancelled out in our day by the vote of the parasitic third-generation welfare queen: A vote is like a rifle; its usefulness depends upon the character of the user. The mere possession of the vote will no more benefit men and women not sufficiently developed to use it than the possession of rifles will turn untrained Egyptian fellaheens into soldiers. On the subject of whether whites "owe" American Indians for the land, Roosevelt, the big game hunter, stated: During the past century a good deal of sentimental nonsense has been talked about our taking the Indians' land ....The simple truth is that the [Indians] never had any real ownership in it at all. Where the game was plenty, there they hunted; they followed it when it moved to new hunting grounds, unless they were prevented by stronger rivals, and to most of the land on which we found them they had no stronger claim than that of having a few years previously butchered the original occupants.
Teddy's views on Mexicans were out-and-out ‘racist’: Anyone who has ever been on the frontier and who knows anything whatever of the domineering masterful spirit and bitter race prejudices of the white frontiersmen, will acknowledge at once that it was out of the question that the Texans should long continue under Mexican rule....to expect them to submit to the mastery of the weaker race, which they were supplanting. Whatever might be the pretext alleged for the revolt, the real reasons were to be found in the deeply marked differences of race, and in the absolute unfitness of the Mexicans to govern themselves, to say nothing of governing others.
Viewing blacks as the "White Man's burden," the 26th President stated in 1901 that, since they could "neither be killed nor driven away, I have not been able to think out any solution of the terrible problem offered by the presence of the Negro on this continent. ..."
On the merits of blacks, he was less than charitable. "A perfectly stupid race," he wrote in 1895, "can never rise to a very high place. The Negro, for instance, has been kept down as much by his lack of intellectual development as by anything else." In 1901 he wrote author Owen Wister, "I entirely agree with you that as a race, and in the mass, the Negro [is] altogether inferior to the whites." In 1905 he opined, "Laziness and shiftlessness, these, and above all, vice and criminality of every kind, are evils more potent for harm to the black race than all acts of oppression of white men put together."
Roosevelt gave considerable thought to the scientific aspects of race crossing. In past centuries there had existed a persistent, though by no means exclusive, belief that race-mixing would destroy one or both races involved. He was convinced that when two divergent and persistent human types, such as white and black cross, neither the white nor the black type persists in the mulatto offspring to any degree of purity. Only if the mulatto continued to breed the white or black type exclusively would one of the types reappear in pure form in succeeding generations, thus eliminating one ancestral root. Shortly before his death Roosevelt wrote, all the best men in the United States, not wholly among the whites, but the blacks also, believe in the complete separation of the races so far as marriage is concerned."
Some years earlier, Roosevelt composed a letter to author Hamlin Garland on the theme of Race suicide: A Race whose Men will not work and will not fight ought to die out, and unless it will. ..it generally does. And, of course, if the women flinch from breeding the deserved death of the race takes [place] even quicker. ...
Roosevelt felt that the "Woman who flinched from childbirth" stood on a par "with the soldier who drops his rifle and runs in battle." In his annual presidential message (1904), he charged that a race which does not have plenty of strong healthy children is decadent. He told the English historian George Otto Trevelyan, "The diminishing birthrate among our people is an ugly thing. In New England, for instance, the old stock is not quite holding its own."
In 1911, Roosevelt reviewed Octavia Charles Beale's controversial book, Racial Decay. He heartily approved of the Australian author's thesis that the decline of the birthrate in France, Britain, Australia and New Zealand was due in part to "the capital sin; the cardinal sin against the race and against civilization-willful sterility in marriage...." At its present rate of decline, Roosevelt correctly predicted, the birthrate in Australia would be stationary by 1950: "If this is so, then the men who rally to the battle cry of 'a white Australia' have indeed ground for anxiety as they think of the teeming myriads, steadily increasing north of them."
The possible decline of the white race was a specter that haunted Roosevelt. He feared it would become soft and let itself be pushed out of first place. Five years before his death, he once again insisted, "the fundamental and unpardonable crime against the race [was] the crime of Race Suicide."
All quotations from Theodore Roosevelt on Race, Riots, Reds and Crime. Compiled by Archibald B. Roosevelt (Sons of Liberty, P.O. Box 214, Metairie, LA 70004).