American History through the Concepts of Civic and Racial Nationalism
Being a New York City police commissioner and assistant secretary to the navy in 1890s, Theodore used his powers to mastermind the war between America and Spain over the insurrection in Cuba. He was so occupied with the fight until he resigned his position and raised a volunteer cavalry regiment, the Rough Riders. Theodore led the rough Riders to Cuba, and it’s through his tireless efforts that the troop emerged victorious on a decider battle. He then returned to America and became the US’s president in 1901. As a president, Roosevelt helped the US to heal the social, economic and political wounds and revive its historic promise (Gerstle, p22).
However, Roosevelt’s racial nationalism greatly informed his motive for the war in Cuba. He had a bad attitude towards the Cubans as well as the other Latin American groups, whom he judged as racially inferior to be entrusted with leadership (p16). In addition, Roosevelt segregated the blacks from his regiment claiming that they were still inferior to win any battle. Deep in his heart, Roosevelt knew very well that the Rough Riders wouldn’t have won the great battles, were it not for the efforts of those black soldiers in the cavalry long before he rose to power. Roosevelt claimed that the American culture originated from the England or Anglo-Saxon by labelling the backwoodsmen as Scotch-Irish. These sentiments were viewed as a supporting statement to J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur. In his book Letter from an American Farmer, John de Crevecoeur stated that; “He is either a European or European’s descendant, hence that unique mixture which is only present in America. I can tell you a family whose granddad was an English, married a Dutch wife and his son married a lady of French origin, not forgetting his four sons who have married from four different nations” (St, John C. J. H, p126)
Most of the scholars ended up labelling Roosevelt’s nationalism concepts as ethnicity. It was perceived to be an entity outside the history that could wipe off all the evils of modernity; materialism, corruption racial mixing and promiscuity. This saw many American individuals and groups and individuals subscribing to the nationalist's ideology, a successful example being Ku Klux Klan. In his words, Roosevelt celebrated hybrid by stating that world’s greatest persons originated from melting pots. He made a claim in his statement that as a result of the interaction, we’re now a people of the same blood. He, however, demeans some groups such as the Italians, the Jews, Chinese and Huns by referring to them as “rubbish of the earth" (Gerstle, p34).
In conclusion, the current nation-building can be deemed as a concept of Theodore Roosevelt, who tirelessly helped the nation pursue their vision, but in the nationalist’s perspective (Gerstle, p46). The chief elements such as 100% Americanization programs, subordination of the inferior racial groups were all mastermind measures from Roosevelt. These visions have helped America to soar to greater levels in their quest for socio-economic and political prosperity, as well as fight against the extreme racialism
Gerstle, Gary. American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001. Print.
St, John C. J. H, and Warren B. Blake. Letters from an American Farmer. London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1912. Print.