We have been taught since elementary school that the pilgrims journeyed away from Europe to escape from the oppression of the British king to be free in the new land of the Americas. There's always the story of the landing on Plymouth rock, and thus begins the spread of what sparks the debate of the idealism of what it means to be an American. Within this tale, there is always the mention of the Native Americans, the ones who taught us to farm and understand the ways the North American lands worked in comparison to European ones most of the travelers had previously been accustomed. Here is one point where the ideal becomes fragmented and split: some imagine Squanto, a savior who helped a group who were on the brink of death to survive, and then once the pilgrims had the ability to live on their own means of survival, it's almost as if he was some sort fairy godmother, waved a magic wand, things were better, then 'poofed' into disappearance (at least within storytelling).
Pilgrims are described as colonists and settlers, conquerors of the uncharted territories from sea to shining sea. Yet, whose labor were they living off of freely, exploiting and breeding them as if they were mere animals (and depicted as such in various art and literature)? The slaves they carried across the Atlantic ocean. And what of the Manifest Destiny? What right did we have to take that land, when it was owned by several Native American tribes whom travelers, hunters, and journalists transformed from human beings with various cultures into savages all because of the different ways they lived, their speech, their styles of clothing, and probably more so, their skin color. European Americans even drove Mexicans further and further south, all of this until we have the corners of what we call the United States today.
Yet, Theodore Roosevelt, while of course he did astounding excellencies during his presidency, when he wrote American Ideals, he asked for something that could be considered an impossible task.