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(1905) Theodore Roosevelt, “Lincoln and the Race Problem”

On February 13, 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt gave a speech at the New York City Republican Club as a tribute to Abraham Lincoln.  The speech, which also allowed Roosevelt to expound on his contemporary views of race in the United States, appears below.

In his second inaugural, in a speech which will be read as long as the memory of this Nation endures, Abraham Lincoln closed by saying: With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations.

Immediately after his re-election he had already spoken thus:

The strife of the election is but human nature practically applied to the facts of the case. What has occurred in this case must ever recur in similar cases. Human nature will not change. In any future great National trial, compared with the men of this, we shall have as weak and as strong, as silly and as wise, as bad and as good. Let us, therefore, study the incidents of this as philosophy to learn wisdom from, and none of them as wrongs to be revenged. . . . May not all having a common interest reunite in a common effort to (serve) our common country? For my own pare, I have striven and shall strive to avoid placing any obstacle in the way. So long as I have been here I have not willingly planted a thorn in any mans bosom. While I am deeply sensible to the high compliment of a re-election, and duly grateful, as I trust, to Almighty God for having directed my countrymen to a right conclusion, as I think, for their own good, it adds nothing to my satisfaction that any other man may be disappointed or pained by the result. May I ask those who have not differed with me to join with me in this same spirit toward those who have?

This is the spirit in which mighty Lincoln sought to bind up the Nations wounds when its soul was yet seething with fierce hatreds, with wrath, with rancor, with all the evil

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