Common Reading

Common Reading 2013: Citizenship in a Republic by Theodore Roosevelt

This address was delivered at Paris’s famed Sorbonne on April 23, 1910, shortly after Roosevelt emerged from an African safari and was touring the Continent. As a former American president, and based even more firmly on a public life that extended nearly thirty years, Roosevelt reflected on what critical factors allow for the functioning of a republic. Figuring that “a democratic republic…represents the most gigantic of social experiments,” Roosevelt consistently points to the needed virtues of individual citizens—those enjoying the benefits of a free society—as absolutely essential to allowing that “experiment” to succeed.  The matters of liberty and freedom, as well as rights and responsibilities—from those in public and private life alike—are considered in this address. Perhaps, more than ever, we need to reflect on Theodore Roosevelt’s investigation of what it truly means to have citizenship in a republic.

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