Roosevelt, at Liberty Rites, Lauds Immigrants’ Role in U.S. Progress

Speaking at ceremonies marking the fiftieth anniversary of the dedication of the Statue of Liberty on Bedloc Island, President Roosevelt paid tribute today to the immigrants who “brought to us strength and moral fiber developed in a civilization centuries old but fired anew by the dream of a better life in America.”

He declared:

“It has not been sufficiently emphasized in the teaching of our history that the overwhelming majority of those who came from the nations of the old world to our American shores were not the laggards, not the timorous, not the failures. They were men and women who had the supreme courage to strike out for themselves, to abandon language and relatives – to start at the bottom without influence, without money and without knowledge of life in a very young civilization. We can say for all America what the Californians say of the Forty-niners. ‘The cowards never started and the weak died by the way.’

“Perhaps Providence did prepare this American continent to be a place of the second chance. Certainly millions of men and women have made it that. They adopted this homeland because in this land they found a home in which the things they most desired could be theirs – freedom of opportunity, freedom of thought, freedom to worship God. Here they found life because here there was freedom to live.”

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