"Hyphenated Americans" 1915 and "Shut the Door" Speech 1924. How do President Theodore Roosevelt and Senator Smith’s arguments differ? Do you find their arguments persuasive? Why or why not?

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Roosevelt spoke against "hyphenated Americanism," which he defined as Americans identifying with multiple nationalities and being more loyal to a country outside of the United States. Roosevelt asserts that the foreign-born population must speak English and adopt traditional American ideals. He associates labor disturbances with immigrants who are viewed as...

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Roosevelt spoke against "hyphenated Americanism," which he defined as Americans identifying with multiple nationalities and being more loyal to a country outside of the United States. Roosevelt asserts that the foreign-born population must speak English and adopt traditional American ideals. He associates labor disturbances with immigrants who are viewed as an "industrial asset and not as a human being," advocating for better welfare and provisions for these populations. In the concluding lines of his speech, Roosevelt says,

All of us, no matter from what land our parents came . . . must stand shoulder to shoulder in a united America for the elimination of race and stand for the reign of equal justice both big and small.

Roosevelt's speech is quite mild considering the war-time circumstances and how certain populations of Americans descended from countries with which the United States was at war. He stresses loyalty and assimilation of other races and suggests better quality of life for immigrants. Note that he stresses "the elimination of race," as in racial differences, yet he only refers to immigrants from southern and eastern Europe; non-white immigrants were not permitted entry into the country at this point.

Senator Smith presented his speech shortly after the amendment to restrict immigration was presented in 1924. Smith protests against America's growing reputation of being a "melting pot" of racial and ethnic identities. Smith asserts that the desire for increased land ownership coupled with a congested population is "one of the most prolific causes of war" and that America has reached its healthy limit in terms of immigration. In comparison to Roosevelt's speech, Smith's speech is overtly racist:

I think we now have sufficient population in our country for us to shut the door and to breed up a pure, unadulterated American citizenship . . . Thank God we have in America perhaps the largest percentage of any country in the world of the pure, unadulterated Anglo-Saxon stock; certainly the greatest of any nation in the Nordic breed.

Immigration to America reached its height in the 1910's, and tensions had undoubtedly increased with countries that had fought against the United States in World War I. While Roosevelt's arguments are more moderate and accepting, opinions like that of Senator Smith fueled the strict limitations on immigration present in the 1920s.

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