Quotations from

Teddy Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919), 26th U.S. president

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    Theodore Roosevelt
    26th President of the U.S.
    Oct. 27, 1858, New York City
    Harvard (class of 1880)
    Political Party:
    The Naval War of 1812 (1882)
    Hunting Trips of a Ranchman (1885)
    American Ideals (2 vols., 1897)
    Thomas Hart Benton (1887)
    Ranch Life and Hunting Trail (1888)
    Gouverneur Morris (1888)
    The Winning of the West (4 vols, 1889-96)
    The Wilderness Hunter (1893)
    New York City (1891; revised 1895)
    Hero Tales, from American History (1895) with H. C. Lodge
    Ranch Life and the Hunting-Trail (1896)
    The Rough Riders (1899)
    Big Game Hunting in the Rockies and on the Plains (1899)
    The Strenuous Life (1900)
    Oliver Cromwell (1901)
    The Deer Family (1902), with other authors
    State Papers and Addresses (1905)
    Inaugural Address (1905)
    New York (1906)
    African Game Trails (1910)
    African and European Addresses (1910)
    Autobiography (1913)
    History as Literature (1913)
    Through the Brazilian Wilderness (1914)
    America and the World War (1915)
    A Book-Lover’s Holidays in the Open (1916)
    Theodore Roosevelt’s Letters to His Children (1919)
    Jan. 6, 1919, Oyster Bay, NY

    Other Teddy Roosevelt Sites

    Wikipedia article

    Brief biography

    Theodore Roosevelt Papers from the Library of Congress

    Theodore Roosevelt Association

    All About the Man We Know As "Teddy" Roosevelt

    His Life and Times on Film

    Mount Rushmore

    TR's home, Sagamore Hill

    More on Sagamore Hill

    Click on a picture for larger version.

  • A finer body of men has never been gathered by any nation than the men who have done the work of building the Panama Canal; the conditions under which they have lived and have done their work have been better than in any similar work ever undertaken in the tropics; they have all felt an eager pride in their work; and they have made not only America but the whole world their debtors by what they have accomplished.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    A man who is good enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given a square deal afterward. More than that no man is entitled to; and less than that no man shall have.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Springfield, Illinois (July 4, 1903)

    A stream cannot rise larger than its source.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    A typical vice of American politics is the avoidance of saying anything real on real issues.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    All the resources we need are in the mind.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    Americanism is a question of principle, of purpose, of idealism, or character; it is not a matter of birthplace or creed or line of descent.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Washington, DC (1909)

    Americans learn only from catastrophe and not from experience.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    An effort on my part to become a conservative man, in touch with the influential classes.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, giving his reason for having a testimonial dinner for J.P. Morgan, quoted in his biography Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris (2001)

    As a matter of personal conviction, and without pretending to discuss the details or formulate the system, I feel that we shall ultimately have to consider the adoption of some such scheme as that of a progressive tax on all fortunes, beyond a certain amount, either given in life or devised or bequeathed upon death to any individual – a tax so framed as to put it out of the power of the owner of one of these enormous fortunes to hand on more than a certain amount to any one individual; the tax of course, to be imposed by the national and not the state government. Such taxation should, of course, be aimed merely at the inheritance or transmission in their entirety of those fortunes swollen beyond all healthy limits.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech, "The Man With The Muck Rake" (April 15, 1906)

    At the risk of repetition let me say again that my plea is not for immunity to, but for the most unsparing exposure of, the politician who betrays his trust, of the big business man who makes or spends his fortune in illegitimate or corrupt ways. There should be a resolute effort to hunt every such man out of the position he has disgraced. Expose the crime, and hunt down the criminal; but remember that even in the case of crime, if it is attacked in sensational, lurid, and untruthful fashion, the attack may do more damage to the public mind than the crime itself.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech, "The Man With The Muck Rake" (April 15, 1906)

    Avoid the base hypocrisy of condemning in one man what you pass over in silence when committed by another.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    Courtesy is as much a mark of a gentleman as courage.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    Cowardice in a race, as in an individual, is the unpardonable sin.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, quoted in his biography The Rise Of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris (2001)

    Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    Don't hit at all if it is honorably possible to avoid hitting; but never hit soft.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    Envy is as evil a thing as arrogance.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    Every immigrant who comes here should be required within five years to learn English or leave the country.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, Kansas City Star (April 27, 1918)

    Every man holds his property subject to the general right of the community to regulate its use to whatever degree the public welfare may require it.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, "The New Nationalism" (August 31, 1910)

    Every reform movement has a lunatic fringe.
    – Theodore Roosevelt (1913)

    Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, Labor Day speech at Syracuse, New York (September 7, 1903)

    Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech before the Hamilton Club, Chicago (April 10, 1899)

    Freedom from effort in the present merely means that there has been effort stored up in the past.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    Germany has reduced savagery to a science, and this great war for the victorious peace of justice must go on until the German cancer is cut clean out of the world body.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Johnstown, Pennsylvania (September 30, 1917)

    Get action. Seize the moment. Man was never intended to become an oyster.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    I am as strong as a bull moose. You may use me as you will.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, reply to reporter on eve of the Progressive Party National Convention (August 7, 1912)

    I am only an average man but, by George, I work harder at it than the average man.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    I believe that the next half century will determine if we will advance the cause of Christian civilization or revert to the horrors of brutal paganism.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    I believe that the officers, and, especially, the directors, of corporations should be held personally responsible when any corporation breaks the law.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, "The New Nationalism" (August 31, 1910)

    I care not what others think of what I do, but I care very much about what I think of what I do. That is character!
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    I don’t pity any man who does hard work worth doing. I admire him. I pity the creature who does not work, at whichever end of the social scale he may regard himself as being.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Chattanooga, Tennessee (September 8, 1902)

    I have always been fond of the West African proverb: "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far."
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    I have not been able to think out any solution of the terrible problem offered by the presence of the Negro on this continent, but of one thing I am sure, and that is that in as much as he is here and can neither be killed nor driven away, the only wise and honorable and Christian thing to do is to treat each black man and each white man strictly on his merits as a man.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, November, 1901, after a furor erupted over the first African-American man (Booker T. Washington) as a dinner guest of a president in the White House, quoted in Roosevelt's biography Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris (2001)

    I keep my good health by having a very bad temper, kept under good control.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    I think there is only one quality worse than hardness of heart and that is softness of head.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    I want to see you shoot the way you shout.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Madison Square Garden, New York (October 1917)

    I wish to preach not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech before the Hamilton Club, Chicago (April 10, 1899)

    If a man continually blusters, if he lacks civility, a big stick will not save him from trouble, but neither will speaking softly avail, if back of the softness, there does not lie strength, power.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    If an American is to amount to anything he must rely upon himself, and not upon the State; he must take pride in his own work, instead of sitting idle to envy the luck of others. He must face life with resolute courage, win victory if he can, and accept defeat if he must, without seeking to place on his fellow man a responsibility which is not theirs.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    If elected, I shall see to it that every man has a square deal, no less and no more.
    – Theodore Roosevelt (November 1904)

    If I have erred, I err in company with Abraham Lincoln.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    If I must choose between righteousness and peace, I choose righteousness.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    If I were an employee, a working man ... or a wage-earner of any sort, I undoubtedly would join a union of my trade... I believe in the union and I believe that all men are morally bound to help to the extent of their powers in the common interests advanced by the union.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    If our political institutions were perfect, they would absolutely prevent the political domination of money in any part of our affairs. We need to make our political representatives more quickly and sensitively responsive to the people whose servants they are. More direct action by the people in their own affairs under proper safeguards is vitally necessary. The direct primary is a step in this direction, if it is associated with a corrupt-practices act effective to prevent the advantage of the man willing recklessly and unscrupulously to spend money over his more honest competitor. It is particularly important that all moneys received or expended for campaign purposes should be publicly accounted for, not only after election, but before election as well. Political action must be made simpler, easier, and freer from confusion for every citizen. I believe that the prompt removal of unfaithful or incompetent public servants should be made easy and sure in whatever way experience shall show to be most expedient in any given class of cases.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, "The New Nationalism" (August 31, 1910)

    In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    In every wise struggle for human betterment one of the main objects, and often the only object, has been to achieve in large measure equality of opportunity. In the struggle for this great end, nations rise from barbarism to civilization, and through it people press forward from one stage of enlightenment to the next. One of the chief factors in progress is the destruction of special privilege. The essence of any struggle for healthy liberty has always been, and must always be, to take from some one man or class of men the right to enjoy power, or wealth, or position, or immunity, which has not been earned by service to his or their fellows. That is what you fought for in the Civil War, and that is what we strive for now.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, "The New Nationalism" (August 31, 1910)

    In name we had the Declaration of Independence in 1776; but we gave the lie by our acts to the words of the Declaration of Independence until 1865; and words count for nothing except in so far as they represent acts.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, "The New Nationalism" (August 31, 1910)

    In the first place we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the man's becoming in very fact an American, and nothing but an American.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, letter to the American Defense Society (1919)

    In this country we have no place for hyphenated Americans.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    It behooves every man to remember that the work of the critic is of altogether secondary importance, and that, in the end, progress is accomplished by the man who does things.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    It is better to be faithful than famous.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    It is both foolish and wicked to teach the average man who is not well off that some wrong or injustice has been done him, and that he should hope for redress elsewhere than in his own industry, honesty, and intelligence.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    It is difficult to make our material condition better by the best law, but it is easy enough to ruin it by bad laws.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Providence, Rhode Island (August 23, 1902)

    It is essential that there should be organization of labor. This is an era of organization. Capital organizes and therefore labor must organize.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Milwaukee, Wisconsin (October 14, 1912)

    It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed. In this life we get nothing save by effort.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    It is impossible to win the great prizes of life without running risks, and the greatest of all prizes are those connected with the home.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    It is no limitation upon property rights or freedom of contract to require that when men receive from government the privilege of doing business under corporate form ... they shall do so under absolutely truthful representations ... Great corporations exist only because they were created and safeguarded by our institutions; and it is therefore our right and duty to see that they work in harmony with these institutions.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, December 3, 1901, State of the Union message to Congress, quoted in Roosevelt's biography Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris (2001)

    It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, "Citizenship in a Republic," speech at the Sorbonne, Paris (April 23, 1910)

    It is not what we have that will make us a great nation; it is the way in which we use it.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    It is the duty of all citizens, irrespective of party, to denounce, and, so far as may be, to punish crimes against the public on the part of politicians or officials. But exactly as the public man who commits a crime against the public is one of the worst of criminals, so, close on his heels in the race for iniquitous distinction, comes the man who falsely charges the public servant with outrageous wrongdoing; whether it is done with foul-mouthed and foolish directness in the vulgar and violent party organ, or with sarcasm, innuendo, and the half-truths that are worse than lies, in some professed organ of independence.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Buffalo, New York, "The Duties of American Citizenship" (January 26, 1883)

    It is true of the Nation as well as the individual, that the greatest doer must also be the great dreamer.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    It may be that at some time in the dim future of the race the need for war will vanish: but that time is yet ages distant. As yet no nation can hold its place in the world, or can do any work really worth doing, unless it stands ready to guard its right with an armed hand.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, quoted in his biography The Rise Of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris (2001)

    It [the Civil War] was a heroic struggle; and, as is inevitable with all such struggles, it had also a dark and terrible side. Very much was done of good, and much also of evil; and, as was inevitable in such a period of revolution, often the same man did both good and evil. For our great good fortune as a nation, we, the people of the United States as a whole, can now afford to forget the evil, or, at least, to remember it without bitterness, and to fix our eyes with pride only on the good that was accomplished.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, "The New Nationalism" (August 31, 1910)

    Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    Let individuals contribute as they desire; but let us prohibit in effective fashion all corporations from making contributions for any political purpose, directly or indirectly.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    ... looked at from the standpoint of the ultimate result, there was little real difference to the Indian whether the land was taken by treaty or by war. ... No treaty could be satisfactory to the whites, no treaty served the needs of humanity and civilization, unless it gave the land to the Americans as unreservedly as any successful war.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    Materially we must strive to secure a broader economic opportunity for all men, so that each shall have a better chance to show the stuff of which he is made.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech, "The Man With The Muck Rake" (April 15, 1906)

    Nine-tenths of wisdom consists in being wise in time.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Lincoln, Nebraska (June 14, 1917)

    No man can be a good citizen unless he has a wage more than sufficient to cover the bare cost of living, and hours of labor short enough so that after his day's work is done he will have time and energy to bear his share in the management of the community, to help in carrying the general load. We keep countless men from being good citizens by the conditions of life with which we surround them. We need comprehensive workmen's compensation acts, both State and national laws to regulate child labor and work for women, and, especially, we need in our common schools not merely education in booklearning, but also practical training for daily life and work. We need to enforce better sanitary conditions for our workers and to extend the use of safety appliances for our workers in industry and commerce, both within and between the States.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, "The New Nationalism" (August 31, 1910)

    No man can do both effective and decent work in public life unless he is a practical politician on the one hand, and a sturdy believer in Sunday-school politics on the other. He must always strive manfully for the best, and yet, like Abraham Lincoln, must often resign himself to accept the best possible.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Buffalo, New York, "The Duties of American Citizenship" (January 26, 1883)

    No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we require him to obey it. Obedience to the law is demanded as a right; not asked as a favor.
    – Theodore Roosevelt (December 7, 1903)

    No man is justified in doing evil on the ground of expediency.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, The Strenuous Life: Essays and Addresses (1900)

    No man is worth his salt who is not ready at all times to risk his body, to risk his well-being, to risk his life in a great cause.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    No man should receive a dollar unless that dollar has been fairly earned. Every dollar received should represent a dollar's worth of service rendered – not gambling in stocks, but service rendered. The really big fortune, the swollen fortune, by the mere fact of its size acquires qualities which differentiate it in kind as well as in degree from what is possessed by men of relatively small means. Therefore, I believe in a graduated income tax on big fortunes, and in another tax which is far more easily collected and far more effective – a graduated inheritance tax on big fortunes, properly safeguarded against evasion and increasing rapidly in amount with the size of the estate.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, "The New Nationalism" (August 31, 1910)

    No people is wholly civilized where a distinction is drawn between stealing an office and stealing a purse.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, acceptance speech at Chicago, Illinois, upon his nomination for president on an independent ticket (June 22, 1912)

    Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty ... I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led diffcult lives and led them well.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    Now, it is very necessary that we should not flinch from seeing what is vile and debasing. There is filth on the floor, and it must be scraped up with the muck rake; and there are times and places where this service is the most needed of all the services that can be performed. But the man who never does anything else, who never thinks or speaks or writes, save of his feats with the muck rake, speedily becomes, not a help but one of the most potent forces for evil ...
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech, "The Man With The Muck Rake" (April 15, 1906)

    Old age is like everything else. To make a success of it, you've got to start young.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    One of our defects as a nation is a tendency to use what have been called "weasel words." When a weasel sucks eggs the meat is sucked out of the egg. If you use a "weasel word" after another there is nothing left of the other.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech, May 31, 1916, St. Louis, Missouri

    One of the fundamental necessities in a representative government such as ours is to make certain that the men to whom the people delegate their power shall serve the people by whom they are elected, and not the special interests. I believe that every national officer, elected or appointed, should be forbidden to perform any service or receive any compensation, directly or indirectly, from interstate corporations; and a similar provision could not fail to be useful within the States.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, "The New Nationalism" (August 31, 1910)

    One seemingly very necessary caution to utter is, that a man who goes into politics should not expect to reform everything right off, with a jump. I know many excellent young men who, when awakened to the fact that they have neglected their political duties, feel an immediate impulse to form themselves into an organization which shall forthwith purify politics everywhere, national, State, and city alike; and I know of a man who having gone round once to a primary, and having, of course, been unable to accomplish anything in a place where he knew no one and could not combine with anyone, returned saying it was quite useless for a good citizen to try to accomplish anything in such a manner. To these too hopeful or too easily discouraged people I always feel like reading Artemus Ward's article upon the people of his town who came together in a meeting to resolve that the town should support the Union and the Civil War, but were unwilling to take any part in putting down the rebellion unless they could go as brigadier-generals.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Buffalo, New York, "The Duties of American Citizenship" (January 26, 1883)

    Old age is like everything else. To make a success of it, you've got to start young.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    Only those who are fit to live do not fear to die. And none are fit to die who have shrunk from the joy of life and the duty of life. Both life and death are parts of the same great adventure.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    Our country offers the most wonderful example of democratic government on a giant scale that the world has ever seen; and the peoples of the world are watching to see whether we succeed or fail.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    Peace is normally a great good, and normally it coincides with righteousness, but it is righteousness and not peace which should bind the conscience of a nation as it should bind the conscience of an individual; and neither a nation nor an individual can surrender conscience to another’s keeping.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, Sixth annual message to Congress (December 4, 1906)

    People ask the difference between a leader and a boss ... The leader works in the open, and the boss in covert. The leader leads, and the boss drives.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Binghamton, New York (October 24, 1910)

    Practical equality of opportunity for all citizens, when we achieve it, will have two great results. First, every man will have a fair chance to make of himself all that in him lies; to reach the highest point to which his capacities, unassisted by special privilege of his own and unhampered by the special privilege of others, can carry him, and to get for himself and his family substantially what he has earned. Second, equality of opportunity means that the commonwealth will get from every citizen the highest service of which he is capable. No man who carries the burden of the special privileges of another can give to the commonwealth that service to which it is fairly entitled.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, "The New Nationalism" (August 31, 1910)

    Probably the greatest harm done by vast wealth is the harm that we of moderate means do ourselves when we let the vices of envy and hatred enter deep into our own natures.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Providence, Rhode Island (August 23, 1902)

    So they have: and so have all others. The weak and the stationary have vanished as surely as, and more rapidly than, those whose citizens felt that within them the lift that impels generous souls to great and noble effort. This is only another way of stating the universal law of death, which is itself part of the universal law of life...
       While the nation that has dared to be great, that has had the will and the power to change the destiny of the ages, in the end must die, ... [it] really continues, though in changed form, to live forevermore.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, referring to the cliche that all great nations come to dust, quoted in his biography Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris (2001)

    Speak softly and carry a big stick.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    Success, the real success, does not depend upon the position you hold but upon how you carry yourself in that position.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    The absence of effective State, and, especially, national, restraint upon unfair money-getting has tended to create a small class of enormously wealthy and economically powerful men, whose chief object is to hold and increase their power. The prime need is to change the conditions which enable these men to accumulate power which is not for the general welfare that they should hold or exercise. We grudge no man a fortune which represents his own power and sagacity, when exercised with entire regard to the welfare of his fellows.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, "The New Nationalism" (August 31, 1910)

    The American people abhor a vacuum.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Cairo, Illinois (October 3, 1907)

    The American people are right in demanding that New Nationalism, without which we cannot hope to deal with new problems. The New Nationalism puts the national need before sectional or personal advantage. It is impatient of the utter confusion that results from local legislatures attempting to treat national issues as local issues. It is still more impatient of the impotence which springs from overdivision of governmental powers, the impotence which makes it possible for local selfishness or for legal cunning, hired by wealthy special interests, to bring national activities to a deadlock. This New Nationalism regards the executive power as the steward of the public welfare. It demands of the judiciary that it shall be interested primarily in human welfare rather than in property, just as it demands that the representative body shall represent all the people rather than any one class or section of the people.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, "The New Nationalism" (August 31, 1910)

    The American people are slow to wrath, but when their wrath is once kindled it burns like a consuming flame.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    The Americans of other blood must remember that the man who in good faith and without reservations gives up another country for this must in return receive exactly the same rights, not merely legal, but social and spiritual, that other Americans proudly possess. We of the United States belong to a new and separate nationality. We are all Americans and nothing else, and each, without regard to his birthplace, creed, or national origin, is entitled to exactly the same rights as all other Americans.
    – Theodore Roosevelt in the Kansas City Star (July 15, 1918)

    The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent, experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it, if it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    The effort to make financial or political profit out of the destruction of character can only result in public calamity. Gross and reckless assaults on character, whether on the stump or in newspaper, magazine, or book, create a morbid and vicious public sentiment, and at the same time act as a profound deterrent to able men of normal sensitiveness and tend to prevent them from entering the public service at any price.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech, "The Man With The Muck Rake" (April 15, 1906)

    The eighth commandment reads, "Thou shalt not steal." It does not read, "Thou shalt not steal from the rich man." It does not read, "Thou shalt not steal from the poor man." It reads simply and plainly, "Thou shalt not steal."
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech, "The Man With The Muck Rake" (April 15, 1906)

    The first requisite of a good citizen in this republic of ours is that he shall be able and willing to pull his weight.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech at New York City (November 11, 1902)

    The government is us; we are the government, you and I.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Asheville, North Carolina (September 9, 1902)

    The immigrant must not be allowed to drift or to be put at the mercy of the exploiter. Our object is not to imitate one of the older racial types, but to maintain a new American type and then to secure loyalty to this type. We cannot secure such loyalty unless we make this a country where men shall feel that they have justice and also where they shall feel that they are required to perform the duties imposed upon them.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech before Knights of Columbus, New York City, (October 12, 1915)

    The liar is no whit better than the thief, and if his mendacity takes the form of slander he may be worse than most thieves. It puts a premium upon knavery untruthfully to attack an honest man, or even with hysterical exaggeration to assail a bad man with untruth.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech, "The Man With The Muck Rake" (April 15, 1906)

    The man who does not think it was America’s duty to fight for her own sake in view of the infamous conduct of Germany toward us stands on a level with a man who wouldn’t think it necessary to fight in a private quarrel because his wife’s face was slapped.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Oyster Bay, Long Island (April, 1917)

    The man who loves other countries as much as his own stands on a level with the man who loves other women as much as he loves his own wife.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech at New York City (September 6, 1918)

    The men and women who have the right ideals ... are those who have the courage to strive for the happiness which comes only with labor and effort and self-sacrifice, and those whose joy in life springs in part from power of work and sense of duty.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    The men of wealth who today are trying to prevent the regulation and control of their business in the interest of the public by the proper government authorities will not succeed, in my judgment, in checking the progress of the movement. But if they did succeed they would find that they had sown the wind and would surely reap the whirlwind, for they would ultimately provoke the violent excesses which accompany a reform coming by convulsion instead of by steady and natural growth.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech, "The Man With The Muck Rake" (April 15, 1906)

    The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    The most ultimately righteous of all wars is a war with savages, though it is apt to be also the most terrible and inhuman. The rude, fierce settler who drives the savage from the land lays all civilized mankind under a debt to him. ...[I]t is of incalculable importance that America, Australia, and Siberia should pass out of the hands of their red, black, and yellow aboriginal owners, and become the heritage of the dominant world races.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, The Winning of the West: Book IV (1896)

    The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired, in value.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    The old parties are husks, with no real soul within either, divided on artificial lines, boss-ridden and privilege-controlled, each a jumble of incongruous elements, and neither daring to speak out wisely and fearlessly on what should be said on the vital issues of the day.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech at the Progressive Party Convention, Chicago, Illinois (August 6, 1912)

    The one thing I want to leave my children is an honorable name.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    The only tyrannies from which men, women and children are suffering in real life are the tyrannies of minorities.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    The pacifist is as surely a traitor to his country and to humanity as is the most brutal wrongdoer.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (July 27, 1917)

    The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty-first, the love of soft living, and the get-rich-quick theory of life.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, letter (January 10, 1917)

    The true friend of property, the true conservative, is he who insists that property shall be the servant and not the master of the commonwealth; who insists that the creature of man's making shall be the servant and not the master of the man who made it. The citizens of the United States must effectively control the mighty commercial forces which they have themselves called into being.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, "The New Nationalism" (August 31, 1910)

    The vast individual and corporate fortunes, the vast combinations of capital which have marked the development of our industrial system, create new conditions, and necessitate a change from the old attitude of the state and the nation toward property... More and more it is evident that the Stateand if necessary the nation, has got to possess the right of supervision and control as regards the great corporations which are its creatures.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech at the Minnesota State Fair, 1901, two weeks before becoming president, quoted in his biography Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris (2001)

    The worst of all fears is the fear of living.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and this excludes the red flag, which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization, just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which we are hostile ... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language ... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, letter to the American Defense Society (January 3, 1919)

    There can be no effective control of corporations while their political activity remains. To put an end to it will be neither a short nor an easy task, but it can be done ... Corporate expenditures for political purposes, and especially such expenditures by public-service corporations, have supplied one of the principal sources of corruption in our political affairs.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, "The New Nationalism" (August 31, 1910)

    There has never yet been a man in our history who led a life of ease whose name is worth remembering.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism. The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, of preventing all possibility of its continuing to be a nation at all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech before the Knights of Columbus at New York (1915)

    There is nothing more distressing ... than the hard, scoffing spirit which treats the allegation of dishonesty in a public man as a cause for laughter. Such laughter is worse than the crackling of thorns under a pot, for it denotes not merely the vacant mind, but the heart in which high emotions have been choked before they could grow to fruition.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech, "The Man With The Muck Rake" (April 15, 1906)

    There is quite enough sorrow and shame amd suffering and baseness in real life, and there is no need for meeting it unnecessarily in fiction.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    There is something to be said for government by a great aristocracy which has furnished leaders to the nation in peace and war for generations; even a Democrat like myself must admit this. But there is absolutely nothing to be said for government by a plutocracy, for government by men very powerful in certain lines and gifted with the "money touch," but with ideals which in their essence are merely those of so many glorified pawnbrokers.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, letter (November 15, 1913)

    Those who oppose all reform will do well to remember that ruin in its worst form is inevitable if our national life brings us nothing better than swollen fortunes for the few and the triumph in both politics and business of a sordid and selfish materialism.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, "The New Nationalism" (August 31, 1910)

    To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    To waste, to destroy, our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, Seventh Annual Message to U.S. Congress (December 3, 1907)

    Toward all other nations, large and small, our attitude must be one of cordial and sincere friendship. We must show not only in our words, but in our deeds, that we are earnestly desirous of securing their good will by acting toward them in a spirit of just and generous recognition of all their rights.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, "Inaugural Address" (March 1904)

    Unrestrained greed means the ruin of the great woods and the drying up of the sources of the rivers.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, on clear-cutting of forests, while governor of New York, quoted in his biography Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris (2001)

    War with evil; but show no spirit of malignity toward the man who may be responsible for the evil. Put it out of his power to do wrong.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    We are fighting in the quarrel of civilization against barbarism, of liberty against tyranny. Germany has become a menace to the whole world. She is the most dangerous enemy of liberty now existing.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Oyster Bay, Long Island (April 1917)

    We can no more and no less afford to condone evil in the man of capital than evil in the man of no capital.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech, "The Man With The Muck Rake" (April 15, 1906)

    We cannot afford to continue to use hundreds of thousands of immigrants merely as industrial assets while they remain social outcasts and menaces any more than fifty years ago we could afford to keep the black man merely as an industrial asset and not as a human being. We cannot afford to build a big industrial plant and herd men and women about it without care for their welfare. We cannot afford to permit squalid overcrowding or the kind of living system which makes impossible the decencies and necessities of life. We cannot afford the low wage rates and the merely seasonal industries which mean the sacrifice of both individual and family life and morals to the industrial machinery.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech before Knights of Columbus, New York City (October 12, 1915)

    We demand that big business give the people a square deal; in return we must insist that when anyone engaged in big business honestly endeavors to do right he shall himself be given a square deal.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    We must have complete and effective publicity of corporate affairs, so that people may know beyond peradventure whether the corporations obey the law and whether their management entitles them to the confidence of the public. It is necessary that laws should be passed to prohibit the use of corporate funds directly or indirectly for political purposes; it is still more necessary that such laws should be thoroughly enforced. Corporate expenditures for political purposes, and especially such expenditures by public-service corporations, have supplied one of the principal sources of corruption in our political affairs.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, "The New Nationalism" (August 31, 1910)

    We need the iron qualities that go with true manhood. We need the positive virtues of resolution, of courage, of indomitable will, of power to do without shrinking the rough work that must always be done.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    When great nations fear to expand, shrink from expansion, it is because their greatness is coming to an end. Are we, still in the prime of our lusty youth, still at the beginning of our glorious manhood, to sit down among the outworn people, to take our place with the weak and the craven? A thousand times no!
    – Theodore Roosevelt, speech justifying the war against Spain, at Akron, Ohio (September, 1899)

    When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer "Present" or "Not guilty."
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    When you play, play hard; when you work, don't play at all.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell 'em, "Certainly, I can!" Then get busy and find out how to do it.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    Whether the whites won the land by treaty, by armed conflict, or, as was actually the case, by a mixture of both, mattered comparatively little so long as the land was won. It was all-important that it should be won, for the benefit of civilization and in the interests of mankind. It is, indeed, a warped, perverse, and silly morality which would forbid a course of conquest that has turned whole continents into the seats of mighty and flourishing civilized nations. ... It is as idle to apply to savages the rules of international morality which obtain between stable and cultured communities, as it would be to judge the fifth-century English conquest of Britain by the standards of today.
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    Willful sterility is, from the standpoint of the nation, from the standpoint of the human race, the one sin for which the penalty is national death, race death; a sin for which there is no atonement. ... No man, no woman, can shirk the primary duties of life, whether for love of ease and pleasure, or for any other cause, and retain his or her self-respect.
    – Theodore Roosevelt, Sixth Annual Message to Congress (December 3, 1906)

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