This is a year of a presidential election. An election that has been in the news for a year already and will be gaining a fevered pitch as November draws closer. The political rhetoric and “name calling” has been fast and furious. Everyone knows how powerful words can be and what an impact their meaning has on us. Theodore Roosevelt was no stranger to the power of words and discusses that power in the article The thralldom of names published in the Outlook on June 19, 1909.
Thraldom is defined as a state of being under the control of another person and is compared to bondage and slavery. Roosevelt’s article discusses the impact of words and how we as a people can be led by them and hurt by them. He asks his readers to look honestly at the power of words and think about their impact.
“It behooves our people never to fall under the thralldom of names, and least of all to be misled by designing people who appeal to the reference for or antipathy toward a given name in order to achieve some alien purpose. Of course such misuse of names is as old as the history of what we understand when we speak of civilized mankind.” The thraldom of names. 1909. Theodore Roosevelt Collection. MS Am 1454.3. Harvard College Library.
The Thralldom of Names,1909.Theodore Roosevelt Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard University. Electronic copy sponsored by the Theodore Roosevelt Center at Dickinson State University. For reproduction or publication permission, contact the Theodore Roosevelt Collection, Houghton Library.