Roosevelt’s New Nationalism: The Self & The Nation

In Roosevelt’s New Nationalism, it’s easy to hone in on his political stances and focus on his ideas for progression in the United States. Looking deeper at his rhetoric however, one can see that there is this connection that he is trying to convey between man and the nation. The individual and their country. Roosevelt says many times throughout the essay that he believes that we must be strong individuals in order to have a strong society. “…O my fellow citizens, each one of you carries on your shoulders not only the burden of doing well for the sake of your own country, but the burden of doing well and of seeing that this nation does well for the sake of man kind” (1). This particular quote Roosevelt highlights not only national responsibility, but a global consciousness which one could associate the relevance this would have a few years later for World War One .

To further elaborate on this notion of nationalistic responsibility through individual betterment, Roosevelt remarks about the veterans who fought in the Civil War, “…not only did you render life worth living for our generation, but you justified the wisdom of Washington and Washington’s colleagues” (1). But Roosevelt continues on with this imagery of individual sacrifice for the whole of the nation in times of war. Like mentioned previously he elaborates explicitly about the Civil War and those veterans who fought, but Roosevelt also extends this idea into government and government power, “No man is worth his salt in public life who makes on the stump a pledge which he does not keep after election; and, if he makes such a pledge and does not keep it, hunt him out of public life. I care for the great deeds of the past chiefly as spurs to drive us onward in the present” (1-2).

All of Roosevelt’s rhetoric is deeply imbedded in military jargon, with words like “heroic struggle”, triumph” etc as well as touching upon important American political figures like Washington and Lincoln in order to perpetuate this sense of urgency, and passion within his claims.  His militant diction continues throughout the speech as he touches upon different social issues such as trusts, capital gains, progressive ideals, etc. Roosevelt’s inclusion of the nation and man are unique and relevant for the progressive movement with their ideals of social betterment and individual participation ,and sacrifice for the nation.


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