Roosevelt indicated that he had been a progressive leader since his main agendas were social and economic welfare. In his speech, he championed for provision of equal opportunities for all Americans. He said that every citizen had equal rights and that workers should be given a chance to provide for themselves and their families. He also said that there should not be special groups to control most of the resources while suffering the majority. He also noted that the control of public corporations by politicians was one of the main ways of promulgating corruption in the country. He insisted on regulations which prevent politicians from funding any organizations to serve the needs of the people. In general, he urged that the needs of the country would always override that of an individual.
He stated that there was a big gap between the rich and the poor. People who were so rich, yet they did not work so much, but there were also hardworking citizens who did not earn as much as they should. He regarded this situation as one of the main to threaten the prosperity and unity of America. He insisted that hard workers should be able to cater for themselves and their families and that no individual deserved special treatment and privileges. He ensured that there was fairness and that there were equal opportunities for individuals to achieve their financial goals. He also pointed out not to be confused with those who are poor because they are lazy and do not want to work. He also added that workers should have better safety and sanitary conditions. There should also be regulations to control child labour and women’s rights at the workplace. In order to provide equal opportunities to all, special groups should be abolished. The state should be free from the influence of parties with special interests. This idea of special interests threatened the political integrity of the country during the slavery era before the civil war. He also said that even the special interest groups were entitled to justice and should not be punished by a mob. According to the Constitution, we are all entitled to the protection of the property regardless of a social status.
All the corporations are expected to obey the law of the land. He also argued that there should be laws which prohibit the use of corporate finances, either indirectly or directly, for political use, and these regulations should be enforced. The funding of political issues by the corporate world, for instance by public service organizations, has led to rampant corruption in the country. To solve this, government supervision on capitalization is very necessary. This includes public service corporations and those to conduct interstate businesses, for instance, railways. He also said that franchises that should not be granted unless for a limited duration, and it should be done with a compensation to the general public. This control should also be extended to regular commodities such as oil, meat or coal. Directors and CEOs of corporations should take responsibility when their companies break the law.
A need to take care of the national interests before the individual ones shoul be inserted. It is wrong for local legislatures to treat national issues as if they were only local ones. Protecting the property was just as important as protecting human welfare. However, when it comes to choosing between the two, human beings are more important. The political representatives should respond to the needs of their people. Incompetent or unfaithful public servants should be promptly removed from office. He also added that every single public officer should be prohibited from performing any acts or getting compensation, either indirectly or directly, from corporations. Other ways to serve the public interest are ensuring that all lawbreakers should be charged, regardless of their social status.
In general, the speech is about catering for the needs of the country. He says that he is not interested in excessive centralization, but in addressing the concerns of the people as a whole. He also said that it is very wrong for organizations which should cater to the public to be controlled by a few individuals. He adds that these individuals should also be subject to the law just like other Americans. He warned against politicization of these organizations. All Americans, both rich and poor have the right to the national resources and justice. There should be better conditions for individuals at the workplace and angry employees should not use mob violence against employers who treat them poorly.
Theodore Roosevelt, “New Nationalism Speech.” (Speech at Osawatomie, KS, August 31, 1910).
P. Scott Corbett, et al. U.S. History, combined volume (Houston: OpenStax, 2014), p. [enter page number cited here].
Thomas Doumaux, “Progressive Era lecture.” (Lecture at Pitt Community College, Winterville, NC, September-October, 2017).