The first week of September in 1910, Teddy Roosevelt addressed over 30,000 citizens at Fargo College, which overlooked Island Park. The former Dakota Territory rancher’s tenure as the nation’s youngest chief executive had ended in March the previous year. Here are some of TR’s remarks after being introduced by the college president.
“The president has rightly said that North Dakota gave me my post-graduate course; but he has not put enough emphasis on the good that course did me. I can never begin to say what I owe to North Dakota. It is not only that I never would have been President if it had not been for my experiences here in North Dakota; that is true, but, it is not only that, because I do not regard holding the office as of very much importance; I do not care a rap for holding an office; what I care for is what a man does in office. And whatever of value there was in my work as President depended largely upon the fact that I knew and sympathized with our people as you can only know and sympathize with these with whom you have worked and with whom you have lived.
Every now and then, my critics – I have several; I wish you to observe the guarded moderation; it has all the charm of under-emphasis – every now and then my critics wonder how I am able to tell popular feeling. Well, I am not always able; but on the occasions they speak of it is not that I feel the popular feeling; it is that I feel that way myself.
I have lived with the ranchman; I have worked with him; I have worked with the man who works with his hands; I have worked with the man of small means, with the typical American; and I know just how he feels, because I have been in his place and I feel that way myself. That is what makes me get along with him.”
Dakota Datebook: Remembering Theodore Roosevelt is written and performed by Steve Stark. Funding provided by the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation.