Teddy Roosevelt and Immigrants

Have you seen this before?

Teddy Roosevelt

 

I keep seeing my conservative friends post this or something similar from Roosevelt. I figured I should probably give people some historical context to help them understand what he was talking about.

At the turn of the century, there were many immigrants in this country. The majority came from Germany and Ireland. The people living here did not trust these people. They did not like that they referred to themselves as German-Americans or Irish-Americans. One of the major fears at the beginning of World War I was that if we entered the war and fought the Germans, there could be another civil war in this country.

Seriously, at that point, the country’s demographic had shifted where the German-Americans were becoming the majority. Many people did not know if the German-Americans would ally themselves with the motherland and start fighting over here. However, when we finally did enter the war, we learned fairly quickly that those German-Americans did fight for the land they believed in: the United States of America.

Roosevelt was encouraging those German-Americans (and Irish-Americans, etc) to drop the first part and be fully American. It turns out though, that he was wrong. Those people proved to be Americans, even while still taking pride in their heritage.

I find it interesting that the people I see posting this on social media have either Irish or German names. How funny is it that one hundred years ago those people would have been discriminated against. They would have been mistrusted and told to go back to their own country. People would have demanded they speak English and get rid of all associations with their country of origin. And now those same people are saying the same things about other groups of people.

For those of you that have read this blog for a long time, you may remember that I once wrote something about how people need to start embracing the American side of their heritage. However, I was more ranting about the people whose great-grandparents came from Ireland and they are still saying they are Irish. That is just annoying.

So please, we need to do a better job at accepting people. Latin-Americans, Muslim-Americans, Canadian-Americans, or any others are just Americans who happen to come from somewhere else and enjoy this country enough to want to stay here and make it better.