At the Chicago Labor Day Picnic

252 Public Papers of Governor Roosevelt

At the Chicago Labor Day Picnic, September 3, 1900


Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen:

By far the greatest problem, the most far-reaching in its stupendous importance, is that problem, or rather that group of problems, which we have grown to speak of as the labor question. It must be always a peculiar privilege for any thoughtful public man to address a body of men predominantly composed of wage workers, for the foundation of our whole social structure rests upon the material and moral well-being, the intelligence, the foresight, the sanity, the sense of duty and the wholesome patriotism of the wage worker. This is doubly the case now; for, in addition to each man's individual action, you have learned the great lesson of acting in combination. It would be impossible to overestimate the far-reaching influences of, and on the whole, the amount of good done through your associations. In addressing you, the one thing that I wish to avoid is any mere glittering generality, any mere high-sounding phraseology, and above all, any appeal whatsoever made in a demagogic spirit, or in a spirit of mere emotionalism. When we come to dealing with our social and industrial needs, remedies, rights and wrongs, a ton of oratory is not worth anounce of hard-headed, kindly common sense.

The fundamental law of healthy political life in this great republic is that each man shall in deed, and not merely in word, be treated strictly on his worth as a man; that each shall do full justice to his fellow, and in return shall exact full justice from him. Each group of men has its special interests; and yet the higher, the broader and deeper interests are those which apply to all men alike;

 

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