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Roosevelt, Theodore (1858-1919) to Editor of the Herald

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC06945 Author/Creator: Roosevelt, Theodore (1858-1919) Place Written: Oyster Bay, New York Type: Typed letter signed Date: 22 March 1915 Pagination: 2 p. ; 24 x 19.6 cm

Summary of Content: Of the matter Roosevelt comments, "There is something cheap and unpleasant to high-minded Americans in seeing their fellow countrymen go abroad to look on at the agony." With Roosevelt's autograph underlinings and additions.

Background Information:

Full Transcript: March 22nd, 1915.
The Editor of the Herald:
Dear Sir:
I thank you for having sent me the original of Mr. Watson's Sonnet and appreciate not only Mr. Watson's writing ...it but your sending it.
I take this opportunity through the Herald, which has always paid particular attention to Americans who go abroad, to say that I very earnestly hope that this year any Americans who travel in Europe will realize that unless they go there for imperative reasons the burden of proof is on them to justify themselves for going at all. If they go over to render help to the suffering and are able to render it in efficient fashion (and only if they are able to render it in efficient fashion) they do well. If they go there on urgent private business, they are right in going. If they go merely for pleasure, their conduct is very doubtful, even if they behave themselves, for when nations are struggling in great agony and are pouring out like water the life-blood of their best and bravest, there is something cheap and unpleasant to high-minded Americans in seeing their fellow-countrymen go abroad to look on at agony in a spirit of vapid and idle curiosity. The case is much worse, however, if these American tourists either bother the American diplomatic and consular representatives or attempt to visit the fighting lines. The diplomatic and consular representatives of our country are working very hard at this time; and most of them have to deal with the interests of the people [2] of some of the combatants as well as with those of our own people who are legitimately abroad. Not a pound's weight of extra work should be put upon them by any American traveling merely for pleasure. As for visiting the lines where the fighting is going on , any man who is anywhere near one of the battlefields, unless on business[struck: ,] which he is asked to perform by the responsible governmental authorities[inserted: ,] is where he has no business to be. Some time ago I saw that a French officer was reported to have found certain tourists near the battlefront and very promptly put them to work digging trenches [inserted: and kitchen sinks] and performing other offices for the good of the fighters. Such action should receive the cordial support of everyone; and if any American tourist, from motives of idle curiosity or from any other motive save the actual performance of duty which he is asked to perform, visits one of the battlefields, I hope he will meet an officer who will treat him in this fashion.
Yours truly,
Theodore Roosevelt

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People: Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919

Historical Era: Progressive Era to New Era, 1900-1929

Subjects: Progressive EraWorld War IMilitary HistoryGlobal History and CivicsForeign AffairsPresidentVice President

Sub Era: World War I

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