Famous American Speeches: “Duties of American Citizenship”

America has a long, storied and glorious history. It is built on the backs of legendary figures like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Susan B. Anthony, and many more. Each of these individuals was brilliant, hardworking, charismatic, and brave. Another trait they all shared: a gift for oration. More simply put, they inspired people by delivering historic, revolutionary, heroic speeches.

Long before Theodore Roosevelt was ever elected president of the United States, he served as an assemblyman for the State of New York. During his service, he delivered a speech later titled “Duties of American Citizenship.” Roosevelt viewed American Citizenship as a right that must be earned, maintained, and protected. He thought that involvement in politics was one of primary duties of an American Citizen:

“It ought to be axiomatic in this country that every man must devote a reasonable share of his time to doing his duty in the Political life of the community.”

Roosevelt did not call for absolute dedication to the world of politics. He simply believed that every citizen should be knowledgeable about politics and aware of its current state in the country.

Roosevelt also believed it was every citizen’s duty to work as a productive member of society. He thought that by everyone working together the Country as a whole could become even greater than the sum of all of its rather significant parts. Roosevelt did not want to turn The Nation’s citizens into a bland, mindless workforce. He knew the importance of individuality:

“Each man’s individual temper and convictions must be taken into account. To a certain extent, his work must be done in accordance with his individual beliefs and theories of right and wrong.”

Roosevelt knew the importance of balance. He asked citizens to be active and informed while imploring them to maintain their own individuality and integrity.