Much has been said of late about good Americanism. It is right that it should have
been said. And it is right that every chance should be seized to repeat the basic
truths underlying our prosperity and our national existence itself. But it would be
an unusual and much to be wished-for thing, if in the coming presentation of the
issue a new note of fairness and generosity could be struck.
Littleness, meanness, falsehood, extreme partisanship: these are not in accord with
the American spirit. I like to think that in this respect also we are moving forward.
Let me be concrete. We have passed through a great war. An armed conflict which
called forth every resource, every effort, on the part of the whole population. The
war was won by Republicans as well as by Democrats. Men of all parties served in
our armed forces. Men and women of all parties served the government at home.
They strived honestly, as Americans, not as mere partisans. Republicans and Democrats
alike worked in administrative positions, raised Liberty Loans, administered food
control, toiled in munitions plants, built ships. The war was brought to a successful
conclusion by a glorious common effort -- one which in the years to come will be
a national pride.
I feel very certain that our children will come to regard our participation as memorable
for the broad honor and honesty which marked it; for the absence of unfortunate
scandal and for the splendid unity of action which extended to every portion of the
nation. It would therefore not only serve little purpose, but would conform ill to our
high standards, if any person should, in the heat of political rivalry, seek to manufacture
political advantage out of a nationally conducted struggle.
We have seen things on too large a scale to listen at this date to trifles, or to believe
in the adequacy of trifling men. It is that same vision of the higher outlook of national
and individual life which will, I am sure, lead us to demand that the men who represent
us in the affairs of government shall be more than politicians; that they shall subordinate
always the individual ambitions and the party advantage to the national good. In the
long run, the true statements and the honestly forward-looking party will prevail.
Even if a nation entered the war for an ideal, so it has emerged from the war with the
determination that this ideal shall not die. It is idle to pretend that the declaration of
war of April 6, 1917 was a mere act of self-defense, or that the object of our participation
was solely to defeat the military power of the central nations of Europe. We knew then
as a nation, even as we know today, that success on land and sea could be but half a
victory. The other half is not won yet. The cry of the French at Verdun, "They shall
not pass" and the cheer of our own men in the Argonne, "We shall go through," these
were essential glories, yet they are incomplete. To them we must write the binding
finish -- it shall not occur again -- for America demands that the crime of war shall cease.
Roosevelt, Franklin D. "Americanism." 1920 Vice-Presidential Acceptance Speech. Hyde Park, New York. 19 Aug. 1920. Pastdaily.com. Web. 20 Mar. 2016.
In the opening paragraph, lines 1-5, Roosevelt suggests that "an unusual and much to be wished-for thing" would be that