Last modified on 8 December 2014, at 09:15

Theodore Roosevelt

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

Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. (27 October 18586 January 1919), also known as T.R. or Teddy, was the 26th President of the United States (1901–1909).

See also:
The Strenuous Life: Essays and Addresses (1910)

QuotesEdit

I can be President of the United States, or I can control Alice. I cannot possibly do both.
We need to make our political representatives more quickly and sensitively responsive to the people whose servants they are. … 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.

1880sEdit

  • The light has gone out of my life.
    • Entry in Roosevelt's diary, after which he put a large X, on 14 February 1884, the day in which both his mother and wife died within hours of each other.
  • There is a curse on this house.
    • Theodore repeating what his brother, Elliot Roosevelt, said when Theodore reached his home in New York City to find both mother and wife dying on the evening of 13 February 1884; in this same house their father had also died from stomach cancer on 9 February 1878, at the age of 46.

1890sEdit

  • Of recent years... representative government all over the world has been threatened with a growing paralysis. Legislative bodies have tended more and more to become wholly inefficient for the purposes of legislation. The prime feature in causing this unhealthy growth has been the discovery by minorities that under the old rules of parliamentary procedure they could put a complete stop to all legislative action... If the minority is as powerful as the majority there is no use of having political contests at all, for there is no use in having a majority.
  • We cannot afford merely to sit down and deplore the evils of city life as inevitable, when cities are constantly growing, both absolutely and relatively. We must set ourselves vigorously about the task of improving them; and this task is now well begun.
    • "The City in Modern Life", Literary Essays (vol. 12 of The Works of Theodore Roosevelt, national ed., 1926), p. 226. Book review in The Atlantic Monthly (April 1895).
  • A perfectly stupid race can never rise to a very high plane; the negro, for instance, has been kept down as much by lack of intellectual development as by anything else; but the prime factor in the preservation of a race is its power to attain a high degree of social efficiency. Love of order, ability to fight well and breed well, capacity to subordinate the interests of the individual to the interests of the community, these and similar rather humdrum qualities go to make up the sum of social efficiency. The race that has them is sure to overturn the race whose members have brilliant intellects, but who are cold and selfish and timid, who do not breed well or fight well, and who are not capable of disinterested love of the community. In other words, character is far more important than intellect to the race as to the individual. We need intellect, and there is no reason why we should not have it together with character; but if we must choose between the two we choose character without a moment's hesitation.
    • Responding to the social theories of Benjamin Kidd, in "Kidd's 'Social Evolution'" in The North American Review (July 1895), p. 109.
  • To borrow a simile from the football field, we believe that men must play fair, but that there must be no shirking, and that the success can only come to the player who hits the line hard.
  • The men of Yale, the men of the universities, all, who, when the country called, went to give their lives, did more than reflect honor upon the universities from which they came. They did that which they could not have done so well in any other way. They showed that when the time of danger comes, all Americans, whatever their social standing, whatever their creed, whatever the training they have received, no matter from what section of the country they have come, stand together as men, as Americans, and are content to face the same fate and do the same duties because fundamentally they all alike have the common purpose to serve the glorious flag of their common country.
  • If we lose the virile, manly qualities, and sink into a nation of mere hucksters, putting gain over national honor, and subordinating everything to mere ease of life, then we shall indeed reach a condition worse than that of the ancient civilizations in the years of their decay.
    • "The Law of Civilization and Decay", The Forum (January 1897), reprinted in American Ideals (1926), vol. 13 of The Works of Theodore Roosevelt, national ed., chapter 15, pp. 259–60.
  • Every man among us is more fit to meet the duties and responsibilities of citizenship because of the perils over which, in the past, the nation has triumphed; because of the blood and sweat and tears, the labor and the anguish, through which, in the days that have gone, our forefathers moved on to triumph.
    • Speech before the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island (June 1897), reported in "Washington’s Forgotten Maxim", American Ideals (1926), vol. 13 of The Works of Theodore Roosevelt, national ed., chapter 12, p. 198.
  • Gentlemen: you have now reached the last point. If anyone of you doesn’t mean business let him say so now. An hour from now will be too late to back out. Once in, you’ve got to see it through. You’ve got to perform without flinching whatever duty is assigned you, regardless of the difficulty or the danger attending it. If it is garrison duty, you must attend to it. If it is meeting fever, you must be willing. If it is the closest kind of fighting, anxious for it. You must know how to ride, how to shoot, how to live in the open. Absolute obedience to every command is your first lesson. No matter what comes you mustn’t squeal. Think it over — all of you. If any man wishes to withdraw he will be gladly excused, for others are ready to take his place.
    • Address to U.S. Army recruits (1898), as quoted in U.S. Army Field Manual 22-5 (1986).
  • Greatness means strife for nation and man alike. A soft, easy life is not worth living, if it impairs the fibre of brain and heart and muscle. We must dare to be great; and we must realize that greatness is the fruit of toil and sacrifice and high courage... We are face to face with our destiny and we must meet it with a high and resolute courage. For us is the life of action, of strenuous performance of duty; let us live in the harness, striving mightily; let us rather run the risk of wearing out than rusting out.
    • Address at the opening of the gubernatorial campaign, New York City (October 5, 1898), reported in "The Duties of a Great Nation", Campaigns and Controversies, vol. 14 of The Works of Theodore Roosevelt, national ed. (1926), chapter 45, p. 291.
  • There are two things that I want you to make up your minds to: first, that you are going to have a good time as long as you live – I have no use for the sour-faced man – and next, that you are going to do something worthwhile, that you are going to work hard and do the things you set out to do.

1900sEdit

I'm as strong as a bull moose and you can use me to the limit.
  • I have always been fond of the West African proverb "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far."
    • Letter to Henry L. Sprague (26 January 1900); this is the first known use of this phrase, which became a signature motto of Roosevelt's after he used it in a speech as Vice-President at the Minnesota State Fair:
There is a homely adage which runs "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far." If the American nation will speak softly and yet build and keep at a pitch of highest training a thoroughly efficient Navy, the Monroe Doctrine will go far. (2 September 1901)
(Accounts of the precise wording with which he introduced this proverb vary. Another version is given below, within a more extensive transcript of the speech.)
  • Death is always and under all circumstances a tragedy, for if it is not, then it means that life itself has become one.
  • I'm as strong as a bull moose and you can use me to the limit.
    • Letter to Mark Hannah (27 June 1900).
  • I can be President of the United States, or I can control Alice. I cannot possibly do both.
    • Response when a dignitary asked if he could better control his daughter, as quoted in Hail to the Chiefs : My Life and Times with Six Presidents (1970) by Ruth Shick Montgomery, and TIME magazine (3 March 1980).
  • 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.
    But there is another harm; and it is evident that we should try to do away with that. The great corporations which we have grown to speak of rather loosely as trusts are the creatures of the State, and the State not only has the right to control them, but it is duty bound to control them wherever the need of such control is shown.
    • Speech at Kennedy Plaza, Providence, Rhode Island (23 August 1902), Presidential Addresses and State Papers (1910), p. 103
Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.
I cannot consent to take the position that the door of hope — the door of opportunity — is to be shut upon any man, no matter how worthy, purely upon the grounds of race or color. Such an attitude would, according to my convictions, be fundamentally wrong.
  • I cannot consent to take the position that the door of hope — the door of opportunity — is to be shut upon any man, no matter how worthy, purely upon the grounds of race or color. Such an attitude would, according to my convictions, be fundamentally wrong.
  • The first requisite of a good citizen in this Republic of ours is that he shall be able and willing to pull his weight; that he shall not be a mere passenger, but shall do his share in the work that each generation of us finds ready to hand; and, furthermore, that in doing his work he shall show, not only the capacity for sturdy self-help, but also self-respecting regard for the rights of others.
    • Speech at New York (11 November 1902).
  • Our aim is not to do away with corporations; on the contrary, these big aggregations are an inevitable development of modern industrialism, and the effort to destroy them would be futile unless accomplished in ways that would work the utmost mischief to the entire body politic. We can do nothing of good in the way of regulating and supervising these corporations until we fix clearly in our minds that we are not attacking the corporations, but endeavoring to do away with any evil in them. We are not hostile to them; we are merely determined that they shall be so handled as to subserve the public good. We draw the line against misconduct, not against wealth.
    • State of the Union address (2 December 1902).
  • A man who is good enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards. More than that no man is entitled to, and less than that no man shall have.
    • Speech at Springfield, Illinois (4 July 1903).
  • There are good men and bad men of all nationalities, creeds and colors; and if this world of ours is ever to become what we hope some day it may become, it must be by the general recognition that the man's heart and soul, the man's worth and actions, determine his standing.
  • 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.
We face the future with our past and our present as guarantors of our promises; and we are content to stand or to fall by the record which we have made and are making.
  • We face the future with our past and our present as guarantors of our promises; and we are content to stand or to fall by the record which we have made and are making.
  • Of all the officers of the Government, those of the Department of Justice should be kept most free from any suspicion of improper action on partisan or factional grounds, so that there shall be gradually a growth, even though a slow growth, in the knowledge that the Federal courts and the representatives of the Federal Department of Justice insist on meting out even-handed justice to all.
    • Letter to Attorney General William H. Moody (August 9, 1904); reported in Homer S. Cummings, Federal Justice (1937), p. 500.
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 better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena...
  • Any country whose people conduct themselves well can count upon our hearty friendship. If a nation shows that it knows how to act with reasonable efficiency and decency in social and political matters, if it keeps order and pays its obligations, it need fear no interference from the United States. Chronic wrongdoing, or an impotence which results in a general loosening of the ties of civilized society, may in America, as elsewhere, ultimately require intervention by some civilized nation, and in the Western Hemisphere the adherence of the United States to the Monroe Doctrine may force the United States, however reluctantly, in flagrant cases of such wrongdoing or impotence, to the exercise of an international police power.
  • It is enough to give any one a sense of sardonic amusement to see the way in which the people generally, not only in my own country but elsewhere, gauge the work purely by the fact that it succeeded. If I had not brought about peace I should have been laughed at and condemned. Now I am over-praised. I am credited with being extremely longheaded, etc. As a matter of fact I took the position I finally did not of my own volition but because events so shaped themselves that I would have felt as if I was flinch- ing from a plain duty if I had acted otherwise. … Neither Government would consent to meet where the other wished and the Japanese would not consent to meet at The Hague, which was the place I desired. The result was that they had to meet in this country, and this necessarily threw me into a position of prominence which I had not sought, and indeed which I had sought to avoid — though I feel now that unless they had met here they never would have made peace.
  • It is a very poor thing, whether for nations or individuals, to advance the history of great deeds done in the past as an excuse for doing poorly in the present; but it is an excellent thing to study the history of the great deeds of the past, and of the great men who did them, with an earnest desire to profit thereby so as to render better service in the present. In their essentials, the men of the present day are much like the men of the past, and the live issues of the present can be faced to better advantage by men who have in good faith studied how the leaders of the nation faced the dead issues of the past. Such a study of Lincoln's life will enable us to avoid the twin gulfs of immorality and inefficiency—the gulfs which always lie one on each side of the careers alike of man and of nation. It helps nothing to have avoided one if shipwreck is encountered in the other. The fanatic, the well-meaning moralist of unbalanced mind, the parlor critic who condemns others but has no power himself to do good and but little power to do ill—all these were as alien to Lincoln as the vicious and unpatriotic themselves. His life teaches our people that they must act with wisdom, because otherwise adherence to right will be mere sound and fury without substance; and that they must also act high-mindedly, or else what seems to be wisdom will in the end turn out to be the most destructive kind of folly.
  • This country has nothing to fear from the crooked man who fails. We put him in jail. It is the crooked man who succeeds who is a threat to this country.
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.
  • Men with the muckrake are often indispensable to the well-being of society, but only if they know when to stop raking the muck, and to look upward to the celestial crown above them. … If they gradually grow to feel that the whole world is nothing but muck their power of usefulness is gone.
    • Address on the laying of the cornerstone of the House Office Building, Washington, D.C. (14 April 1906).
  • Malefactors of great wealth.
    • Phrase first used in a speech at Provincetown, Massachusetts (20 August 1907).
  • 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.
Discrimination against the holder of one faith means retaliatory discrimination against men of other faiths.
  • You ask that Mr. Taft shall "let the world know what his religious belief is." This is purely his own private concern; it is a matter between him and his Maker, a matter for his own conscience; and to require it to be made public under penalty of political discrimination is to negative the first principles of our Government, which guarantee complete religious liberty, and the right to each to act in religious affairs as his own conscience dictates. Mr. Taft never asked my advice in the matter, but if he had asked it, I should have emphatically advised him against thus stating publicly his religious belief. The demand for a statement of a candidate’s religious belief can have no meaning except that there may be discrimination for or against him because of that belief. Discrimination against the holder of one faith means retaliatory discrimination against men of other faiths. The inevitable result of entering upon such a practice would be an abandonment of our real freedom of conscience and a reversion to the dreadful conditions of religious dissension which in so many lands have proved fatal to true liberty, to true religion, and to all advance in civilization.
To permit every lawless capitalist, every law-defying corporation, to take any action, no matter how iniquitous, in the effort to secure an improper profit and to build up privilege, would be ruinous to the Republic and would mark the abandonment of the effort to secure in the industrial world the spirit of democratic fair dealing.
  • To discriminate against a thoroughly upright citizen because he belongs to some particular church, or because, like Abraham Lincoln, he has not avowed his allegiance to any church, is an outrage against that liberty of conscience which is one of the foundations of American life. You are entitled to know whether a man seeking your suffrages is a man of clean and upright life, honorable in all of his dealings with his fellows, and fit by qualification and purpose to do well in the great office for which he is a candidate; but you are not entitled to know matters which lie purely between himself and his Maker. If it is proper or legitimate to oppose a man for being a Unitarian, as was John Quincy Adams, for instance, as is the Rev. Edward Everett Hale, at the present moment Chaplain of the Senate, and an American of whose life all good Americans are proud then it would be equally proper to support or oppose a man because of his views on justification by faith, or the method of administering the sacrament, or the gospel of salvation by works. If you once enter on such a career there is absolutely no limit at which you can legitimately stop.
  • To permit every lawless capitalist, every law-defying corporation, to take any action, no matter how iniquitous, in the effort to secure an improper profit and to build up privilege, would be ruinous to the Republic and would mark the abandonment of the effort to secure in the industrial world the spirit of democratic fair dealing.
  • Appraisals are where you get together with your team leader and agree what an outstanding member of the team you are, how much your contribution has been valued, what massive potential you have and, in recognition of all this, would you mind having your salary halved.

The Strenuous Life: Essays and Addresses (1900)Edit

Text available available at bartleby.com. Scanned image at theodore-roosevelt.com
The Strenous LifeEdit
"Speech before the Hamilton Club, Chicago, April 10, 1899
I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life.
Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in that grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.
We cannot avoid meeting great issues. All that we can determine for ourselves is whether we shall meet them well or ill.
If we stand idly by, if we seek merely swollen, slothful ease and ignoble peace, if we shrink from the hard contests where men must win at hazard of their lives and at the risk of all they hold dear, then the bolder and stronger peoples will pass us by, and will win for themselves the domination of the world.
  • I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.
  • A life of slothful ease, a life of that peace which springs merely from lack either of desire or of power to strive after great things, is as little worthy of a nation as of an individual. [...] If you are rich and are worth your salt, you will teach your sons that though they may have leisure, it is not to be spent in idleness; for wisely used leisure merely means that those who possess it, being free from the necessity of working for their livelihood, are all the more bound to carry on some kind of non-remunerative work in science, in letters, in art, in exploration, in historical research—work of the type we most need in this country, the successful carrying out of which reflects most honor upon the nation. We do not admire the man of timid peace. We admire the man who embodies victorious effort; the man who never wrongs his neighbor, who is prompt to help a friend, but who has those virile qualities necessary to win in the stern strife of actual life. It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed. In this life we get nothing save by effort. Freedom from effort in the present merely means that there has been stored up effort in the past. A man can be freed from the necessity of work only by the fact that he or his fathers before him have worked to good purpose. If the freedom thus purchased is used aright, and the man still does actual work, though of a different kind, whether as a writer or a general, whether in the field of politics or in the field of exploration and adventure, he shows he deserves his good fortune. But if he treats this period of freedom from the need of actual labor as a period, not of preparation, but of mere enjoyment, even though perhaps not of vicious enjoyment, he shows that he is simply a cumberer of the earth's surface, and he surely unfits himself to hold his own with his fellows if the need to do so should again arise.
  • A mere life of ease is not in the end a very satisfactory life, and, above all, it is a life which ultimately unfits those who follow it for serious work in the world. In the last analysis a healthy state can exist only when the men and women who make it up lead clean, vigorous, healthy lives; when the children are so trained that they shall endeavor, not to shirk difficulties, but to overcome them; not to seek ease, but to know how to wrest triumph from toil and risk.
  • Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in that grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.
  • We cannot, if we would, play the part of China, and be content to rot by inches in ignoble ease within our borders, taking no interest in what goes on beyond them, sunk in a scrambling commercialism; heedless of the higher life, the life of aspiration, of toil and risk, busying ourselves only with the wants of our bodies for the day, until suddenly we should find, beyond a shadow of question, what China has already found, that in this world the nation that has trained itself to a career of unwarlike and isolated ease is bound, in the end, to go down before other nations which have not lost the manly and adventurous qualities. If we are to be a really great people, we must strive in good faith to play a great part in the world.
  • We cannot avoid meeting great issues. All that we can determine for ourselves is whether we shall meet them well or ill.
  • We have a given problem to solve. If we undertake the solution, there is, of course, always danger that we may not solve it aright; but to refuse to undertake the solution simply renders it certain that we cannot possibly solve it aright.
  • No country can long endure if its foundations are not laid deep in the material prosperity which comes from thrift, from business energy and enterprise, from hard, unsparing effort in the fields of industrial activity; but neither was any nation ever yet truly great if it relied upon material prosperity alone. All honor must be paid to the architects of our material prosperity, to the great captains of industry who have built our factories and our railroads, to the strong men who toil for wealth with brain or hand; for great is the debt of the nation to these and their kind. But our debt is yet greater to the men whose highest type is to be found in a statesman like Lincoln, a soldier like Ulysses S. Grant. They showed by their lives that they recognized the law of work, the law of strife; they toiled to win a competence for themselves and those dependent upon them; but they recognized that there were yet other and even loftier duties—duties to the nation and duties to the race. We cannot sit huddled within our own borders and avow ourselves merely an assemblage of well-to-do hucksters who care nothing for what happens beyond. Such a policy would defeat even its own end; for as the nations grow to have ever wider and wider interests, and are brought into closer and closer contact, if we are to hold our own in the struggle for naval and commercial supremacy, we must build up our power without our own borders. We must build the Isthmian Canal, and we must grasp the points of vantage which will enable us to have our say in deciding the destiny of the oceans of the East and the West.
  • Let us, as we value our own self-respect, face the responsibilities with proper seriousness, courage, and high resolve. We must demand the highest order of integrity and ability in our public men who are to grapple with these new problems. We must hold to a rigid accountability those public servants who show unfaithfulness to the interests of the nation or inability to rise to the high level of the new demands upon our strength and our resources. Of course we must remember not to judge any public servant by any one act, and especially should we beware of attacking the men who are merely the occasions and not the causes of disaster.
  • We must see that there is civic honesty, civic cleanliness, civic good sense in our home administration of city, State, and nation. We must strive for honesty in office, for honesty toward the creditors of the nation and of the individual; for the widest freedom of individual initiative where possible, and for the wisest control of individual initiative where it is hostile to the welfare of the many. But because we set our own household in order we are not thereby excused from playing our part in the great affairs of the world. A man's first duty is to his own home, but he is not thereby excused from doing his duty to the State; for if he fails in this second duty it is under the penalty of ceasing to be a freeman. In the same way, while a nation's first duty is within its own borders, it is not thereby absolved from facing its duties in the world as a whole; and if it refuses to do so, it merely forfeits its right to struggle for a place among the peoples that shape the destiny of mankind.
  • If we stand idly by, if we seek merely swollen, slothful ease and ignoble peace, if we shrink from the hard contests where men must win at hazard of their lives and at the risk of all they hold dear, then the bolder and stronger peoples will pass us by, and will win for themselves the domination of the world. Let us therefore boldly face the life of strife, resolute to do our duty well and manfully; resolute to uphold righteousness by deed and by word; resolute to be both honest and brave, to serve high ideals, yet to use practical methods. Above all, let us shrink from no strife, moral or physical, within or without the nation, provided we are certain that the strife is justified, for it is only through strife, through hard and dangerous endeavor, that we shall ultimately win the goal of true national greatness.
National DutiesEdit
Address at the Minnesota State Fair, St. Paul, 2 September 1901, Pdf at theodore-roosevelt.com
A good many of you are probably acquainted with the old proverb: "Speak softly and carry a big stick—you will go far." If a man continually blusters, if he lacks civility, a big stick will not save him from trouble; and neither will speaking softly avail, if back of the softness there does not lie strength, power.
Success comes only to those who lead the life of endeavor.
The chief factor in any man’s success or failure must be his own character—that is, the sum of his common sense, his courage, his virile energy and capacity.
No prosperity and no glory can save a nation that is rotten at heart.
In private life there are few beings more obnoxious than the man who is always loudly boasting; and if the boaster is not prepared to back up his words his position becomes absolutely contemptible.
The first essential of civilization is law. Anarchy is simply the handmaiden and forerunner of tyranny and despotism.
  • Our country has been populated by pioneers, and therefore it has in it more energy, more enterprise, more expansive power than any other in the wide world. [...] They have shown the qualities of daring, endurance, and far-sightedness, of eager desire for victory and stubborn refusal to accept defeat, which go to make up the essential manliness of the American character. Above all, they have recognized in practical form the fundamental law of success in American life—the law of worthy work, the law of high, resolute endeavor. We have but little room among our people for the timid, the irresolute, and the idle; and it is no less true that there is scant room in the world at large for the nation with mighty thews that dares not to be great.
  • Throughout our history the success of the homemaker has been but another name for the up-building of the nation.
  • Poverty is a bitter thing; but it is not as bitter as the existence of restless vacuity and physical, moral, and intellectual flabbiness, to which those doom themselves who elect to spend all their years in that vainest of all vain pursuits—the pursuit of mere pleasure as a sufficient end in itself.
  • The willfully idle man, like the willfully barren woman, has no place in a sane, healthy, and vigorous community. Moreover, the gross and hideous selfishness for which each stands defeats even its own miserable aims. Exactly as infinitely the happiest woman is she who has borne and brought up many healthy children, so infinitely the happiest man is he who has toiled hard and successfully in his life-work. The work may be done in a thousand different ways —with the brain or the hands, in the study, the field, or the workshop—if it is honest work, honestly done and well worth doing, that is all we have a right to ask. Every father and mother here, if they are wise, will bring up their children not to shirk difficulties, but to meet them and overcome them; not to strive after a life of ignoble ease, but to strive to do their duty, first to themselves and their families, and then to the whole state; and this duty must inevitably take the shape of work in some form or other.
  • You, the sons of the pioneers, if you are true to your ancestry, must make your lives as worthy as they made theirs. They sought for true success, and therefore they did not seek ease. They knew that success comes only to those who lead the life of endeavor.
  • It seems to me that the simple acceptance of this fundamental fact of American life, this acknowledgment that the law of work is the fundamental law of our being, will help us to start aright in facing not a few of the problems that confront us from without and from within. As regards internal affairs, it should teach us the prime need of remembering that, after all has been said and done, the chief factor in any man’s success or failure must be his own character—that is, the sum of his common sense, his courage, his virile energy and capacity. Nothing can take the place of this individual factor.
  • Besides each one of us working individually, all of us have got to work together. We cannot possibly do our best work as a nation unless all of us know how to act in combination as well as how to act each individually for himself. The acting in combination can take many forms, but of course its most effective form must be when it comes in the shape of law —that is, of action by the community as a whole through the lawmaking body.
  • But it is not possible ever to insure prosperity merely by law. Something for good can be done by law, and a bad law can do an infinity of mischief; but, after all, the best law can only prevent wrong and injustice, and give to the thrifty, the farseeing, and the hard-working a chance to exercise to best advantage their special and peculiar abilities.
  • No hard-and-fast rule can be laid down as to where our legislation shall stop in interfering between man and man, between interest and interest. All that can be said is that it is highly undesirable, on the one hand, to weaken individual initiative, and, on the other hand, that in a constantly increasing number of cases we shall find it necessary in the future to shackle cunning as in the past we have shackled force. It is not only highly desirable but necessary that there should be legislation which shall carefully shield the interests of wage-workers, and which shall discriminate in favor of the honest and humane employer by removing the disadvantage under which he stands when compared with unscrupulous competitors who have no conscience and will do right only under fear of punishment. Nor can legislation stop only with what are termed labor questions. 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.
  • It is probably true that the large majority of the fortunes that now exist in this country have been amassed not by injuring our people, but as an incident to the conferring of great benefits upon the community; and this, no matter what may have been the conscious purpose of those amassing them. There is but the scantiest justification for most of the outcry against the men of wealth as such; and it ought to be unnecessary to state that any appeal which directly or indirectly leads to suspicion and hatred among ourselves, which tends to limit opportunity, and therefore to shut the door of success against poor men of talent, and, finally, which entails the possibility of lawlessness and violence, is an attack upon the fundamental properties of American citizenship.
  • Our interests are at bottom common; in the long run we go up or go down together. Yet more and more it is evident that the state, and if necessary the nation, has got to possess the right of supervision and control as regards the great corporations which are its creatures; particularly as regards the great business combinations which derive a portion of their importance from the existence of some monopolistic tendency. The right should be exercised with caution and self restraint; but it should exist, so that it may be invoked if the need arises.
  • The man who works, the man who does great deeds, in the end dies as surely as the veriest idler who cumbers the earth’s surface; but he leaves behind him the great fact that he has done his work well. So it is with nations. 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, yet no less surely the nation that has played the part of the weakling must also die; and whereas the nation that has done nothing leaves nothing behind it, the nation that has done a great work really continues, though in changed form, to live forevermore. The Roman has passed away exactly as all the nations of antiquity which did not expand when he expanded have passed away; but their very memory has vanished, while he himself is still a living force throughout the wide world in our entire civilization of today, and will so continue through countless generations, through untold ages.
  • We admit with all sincerity that our first duty is within our own household; that we must not merely talk, but act, in favor of cleanliness and decency and righteousness, in all political, social, and civic matters. No prosperity and no glory can save a nation that is rotten at heart. We must ever keep the core of our national being sound, and see to it that not only our citizens in private life, but, above all, our statesmen in public life, practice the old commonplace virtues which from time immemorial have lain at the root of all true national wellbeing.
  • Exactly as each man, while doing first his duty to his wife and the children within his home, must yet, if he hopes to amount to much, strive mightily in the world outside his home, so our nation, while first of all seeing to its own domestic well-being, must not shrink from playing its part among the great nations without. Our duty may take many forms in the future as it has taken many forms in the past. Nor is it possible to lay down a hard-and-fast rule for all cases. We must ever face the fact of our shifting national needs, of the always-changing opportunities that present themselves. But we may be certain of one thing: whether we wish it or not, we cannot avoid hereafter having duties to do in the face of other nations. All that we can do is to settle whether we shall perform these duties well or ill.
  • Right here let me make as vigorous a plea as I know how in favor of saying nothing that we do not mean, and of acting without hesitation up to whatever we say. A good many of you are probably acquainted with the old proverb: "Speak softly and carry a big stick—you will go far." If a man continually blusters, if he lacks civility, a big stick will not save him from trouble; and neither will speaking softly avail, if back of the softness there does not lie strength, power.
  • In private life there are few beings more obnoxious than the man who is always loudly boasting; and if the boaster is not prepared to back up his words his position becomes absolutely contemptible. So it is with the nation. It is both foolish and undignified to indulge in undue self-glorification, and, above all, in loose-tongued denunciation of other peoples. Whenever on any point we come in contact with a foreign power, I hope that we shall always strive to speak courteously and respectfully of that foreign power.
  • Let us make it evident that we intend to do justice. Then let us make it equally evident that we will not tolerate injustice being done to us in return. Let us further make it evident that we use no words which we are not prepared to back up with deeds, and that while our speech is always moderate, we are ready and willing to make it good. Such an attitude will be the surest possible guarantee of that self-respecting peace, the attainment of which is and must ever be the prime aim of a self-governing people.
  • We most earnestly hope and believe that the chance of our having any hostile military complication with any foreign power is very small. But that there will come a strain, a jar, here and there, from commercial and agricultural—that is, from industrial—competition is almost inevitable. Here again we have got to remember that our first duty is to our own people, and yet that we can best get justice by doing justice. We must continue the policy that has been so brilliantly successful in the past, and so shape our economic system as to give every advantage to the skill, energy, and intelligence of our farmers, merchants, manufacturers, and wage-workers; and yet we must also remember, in dealing with other nations, that benefits must be given where benefits are sought. It is not possible to dogmatize as to the exact way of attaining this end, for the exact conditions cannot be foretold. In the long run, one of our prime needs is stability and continuity of economic policy; and yet, through treaty or by direct legislation, it may, at least in certain cases, become advantageous to supplement our present policy by a system of reciprocal benefit and obligation.
  • The first essential of civilization is law. Anarchy is simply the handmaiden and forerunner of tyranny and despotism. Law and order enforced with justice and by strength lie at the foundations of civilization. Law must be based upon justice, else it cannot stand, and it must be enforced with resolute firmness, because weakness in enforcing it means in the end that there is no justice and no law, nothing but the rule of disorderly and unscrupulous strength. Without the habit of orderly obedience to the law, without the stern enforcement of the laws at the expense of those who defiantly resist them, there can be no possible progress, moral or material, in civilization. There can be no weakening of the law-abiding spirit here at home, if we are permanently to succeed; and just as little can we afford to show weakness abroad.
  • Barbarism has, and can have, no place in a civilized world. It is our duty toward the people living in barbarism to see that they are freed from their chains, and we can free them only by destroying barbarism itself. The missionary, the merchant, and the soldier may each have to play a part in this destruction, and in the consequent uplifting of the people. Exactly as it is the duty of a civilized power scrupulously to respect the rights of all weaker civilized powers and gladly to help those who are struggling toward civilization, so it is its duty to put down savagery and barbarism. As in such a work human instruments must be used, and as human instruments are imperfect, this means that at times there will be injustice; that at times merchant or soldier, or even missionary, may do wrong. Let us instantly condemn and rectify such wrong when it occurs, and if possible punish the wrongdoer. But shame, thrice shame to us, if we are so foolish as to make such occasional wrongdoing an excuse for failing to perform a great and righteous task. Not only in our own land, but throughout the world, throughout all history, the advance of civilization has been of incalculable benefit to mankind, and those through whom it has advanced deserve the highest honor. All honor to the missionary, all honor to the soldier, all honor to the merchant who now in our own day have done so much to bring light into the world’s dark places.
  • We shall make mistakes; and if we let these mistakes frighten us from our work we shall show ourselves weaklings.

Speak softly and carry a big stick (1901)Edit

No hard and fast rule can be laid down as to where our legislation shall stop in interfering between man and man, between interest and interest.
Quotes from a transcription of Roosevelt's speech at the opening of the Minnesota State Fair, as it appeared in the Minneapolis Tribune (3 September 1901)
For further quotes from this speech see "National Duties" subsection in the "The Strenuous Life: Essays and Addresses (1900)" section above.
  • No hard and fast rule can be laid down as to where our legislation shall stop in interfering between man and man, between interest and interest. All that can be said is that it is highly undesirable on the one hand, to weaken individual initiative, and on the other hand, that in a constantly increasing number of cases we shall find it necessary in the future to shackle cunning as in the past we have shackled force.
  • 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 state and the nation toward property.
  • Right here let me make as vigorous a plea as I know how in favor of saying nothing that we do not mean, and of acting without hesitation up to whatever we say. A good many of you are probably acquainted with the old proverb, “Speak softly and carry a big stick — you will go far.” If a man continually blusters, if he lacks civility, a big stick will not save him from trouble, and neither will speaking softly avail, if back of the softness there does not lie strength, power. In private life there are few beings more obnoxious than the man who is always loudly boasting, and if the boaster is not prepared to back up his words, his position becomes absolutely contemptible. So it is with the nation. It is both foolish and undignified to indulge in undue self-glorification, and, above all, in loose-tongued denunciation of other peoples. Whenever on any point we come in contact with a foreign power, I hope that we shall always strive to speak courteously and respectfully of that foreign power.
  • Let us make it evident that we intend to do justice. Then let us make it equally evident that we will not tolerate injustice being done us in return. Let us further make it evident that we use no words which we are not which prepared to back up with deeds, and that while our speech is always moderate, we are ready and willing to make it good. Such an attitude will be the surest possible guarantee of that self-respecting peace, the attainment of which is and must ever be the prime aim of a self-governing people.

Address at Providence (1901)Edit

Address at Providence, Rhode Island (23 August 1902)
  • We are passing through a period of great commercial prosperity, and such a period is as sure as adversity itself to bring mutterings of discontent. At a time when most men prosper somewhat some men always prosper greatly; and it is as true now as when the tower of Siloam fell upon all alike, that good fortune does not come solely to the just, nor bad fortune solely to the unjust. When the weather is good for crops it is also good for weeds.
  • Where men are gathered together in great masses it inevitably results that they must work far more largely through combinations than where they live scattered and remote from one another… Under present-day conditions it is necessary to have corporations in the business world as it is to have organizations, unions, among wage workers.
  • The great corporations which we have grown to speak of rather loosely as trusts are the creatures of the State, and the State not only has the right to control them wherever need of such control is shown… [Applause] The immediate necessity in dealing with trusts is to place them under the real, not the nominal, control of some sovereign to which, as its creatures, the trusts owe allegiance, and in whose courts the sovereign's orders may be enforced. In my opinion, this sovereign must be the National Government.
  • To any nation that stands for human liberties, they have an Ally in the United States.

First Annual Message to Congress (1901)Edit

First annual message to the US Senate and House of Representatives (December 3, 1901)
The personal equation is the most important factor in a business operation; ...the business ability of the man at the head of any business concern, big or little, is usually the factor which fixes the gulf between striking success and hopeless failure.
The fundamental rule in our national life —the rule which underlies all others—is that, on the whole, and in the long run, we shall go up or down together.
Great corporations exist only because they are created and safeguarded by our institutions; and it is therefore our right and our duty to see that they work in harmony with these institutions.
Artificial bodies, such as corporations … should be subject to proper governmental supervision, and full and accurate information as to their operations should be made public regularly at reasonable intervals.
  • The tremendous and highly complex industrial development which went on with ever accelerated rapidity during the latter half of the nineteenth century brings us face to face, at the beginning of the twentieth, with very serious social problems. The old laws, and the old customs which had almost the binding force of law, were once quite sufficient to regulate the accumulation and distribution of wealth. Since the industrial changes which have so enormously increased the productive power of mankind, they are no longer sufficient.
  • The growth of cities has gone on beyond comparison faster than the growth of the country, and the upbuilding of the great industrial centers has meant a startling increase, not merely in the aggregate of wealth, but in the number of very large individual, and especially of very large corporate, fortunes. The creation of these great corporate fortunes has not been due to the tariff nor to any other governmental action, but to natural causes in the business world, operating in other countries as they operate in our own.
  • The process has aroused much antagonism, a great part of which is wholly without warrant. It is not true that as the rich have grown richer the poor have grown poorer. On the contrary, never before has the average man, the wage-worker, the farmer, the small trader, been so well off as in this country and at the present time. There have been abuses connected with the accumulation of wealth; yet it remains true that a fortune accumulated in legitimate business can be accumulated by the person specially benefited only on condition of conferring immense incidental benefits upon others. Successful enterprise, of the type which benefits all mankind, can only exist if the conditions are such as to offer great prizes as the rewards of success.
  • The captains of industry who have driven the railway systems across this continent, who have built up our commerce, who have developed our manufactures, have on the whole done great good to our people. Without them the material development of which we are so justly proud could never have taken place. Moreover, we should recognize the immense importance of this material development of leaving as unhampered as is compatible with the public good the strong and forceful men upon whom the success of business operations inevitably rests. The slightest study of business conditions will satisfy anyone capable of forming a judgment that the personal equation is the most important factor in a business operation; that the business ability of the man at the head of any business concern, big or little, is usually the factor which fixes the gulf between striking success and hopeless failure.
  • An additional reason for caution in dealing with corporations is to be found in the international commercial conditions of to-day. The same business conditions which have produced the great aggregations of corporate and individual wealth have made them very potent factors in international Commercial competition. Business concerns which have the largest means at their disposal and are managed by the ablest men are naturally those which take the lead in the strife for commercial supremacy among the nations of the world. America has only just begun to assume that commanding position in the international business world which we believe will more and more be hers. It is of the utmost importance that this position be not jeoparded, especially at a time when the overflowing abundance of our own natural resources and the skill, business energy, and mechanical aptitude of our people make foreign markets essential. Under such conditions it would be most unwise to cramp or to fetter the youthful strength of our Nation. Moreover, it cannot too often be pointed out that to strike with ignorant violence at the interests of one set of men almost inevitably endangers the interests of all. The fundamental rule in our national life —the rule which underlies all others—is that, on the whole, and in the long run, we shall go up or down together.
  • The mechanism of modern business is so delicate that extreme care must be taken not to interfere with it in a spirit of rashness or ignorance. Many of those who have made it their vocation to denounce the great industrial combinations which are popularly, although with technical inaccuracy, known as "trusts," appeal especially to hatred and fear. These are precisely the two emotions, particularly when combined with ignorance, which unfit men for the exercise of cool and steady judgment. In facing new industrial conditions, the whole history of the world shows that legislation will generally be both unwise and ineffective unless undertaken after calm inquiry and with sober self-restraint. [...] All this is true; and yet it is also true that there are real and grave evils, one of the chief being over-capitalization because of its many baleful consequences; and a resolute and practical effort must be made to correct these evils. There is a widespread conviction in the minds of the American people that the great corporations known as trusts are in certain of their features and tendencies hurtful to the general welfare. This [...] is based upon sincere conviction that combination and concentration should be, not prohibited, but supervised and within reasonable limits controlled; and in my judgment this conviction is right.
  • 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, which frees them from individual responsibility, and enables them to call into their enterprises the capital of the public, they shall do so upon absolutely truthful representations as to the value of the property in which the capital is to be invested. Corporations engaged in interstate commerce should be regulated if they are found to exercise a license working to the public injury. It should be as much the aim of those who seek for social- betterment to rid the business world of crimes of cunning as to rid the entire body politic of crimes of violence. Great corporations exist only because they are created and safeguarded by our institutions; and it is therefore our right and our duty to see that they work in harmony with these institutions.
  • The first essential in determining how to deal with the great industrial combinations is knowledge of the facts—publicity. In the interest of the public, the Government should have the right to inspect and examine the workings of the great corporations engaged in interstate business. Publicity is the only sure remedy which we can now invoke. What further remedies are needed in the way of governmental regulation, or taxation, can only be determined after publicity has been obtained, by process of law, and in the course of administration. The first requisite is knowledge, full and complete—knowledge which may be made public to the world. Artificial bodies, such as corporations and joint stock or other associations, depending upon any statutory law for their existence or privileges, should be subject to proper governmental supervision, and full and accurate information as to their operations should be made public regularly at reasonable intervals.
  • The large corporations, commonly called trusts, though organized in one State, always do business in many States, often doing very little business in the State where they are incorporated. There is utter lack of uniformity in the State laws about them; and as no State has any exclusive interest in or power over their acts, it has in practice proved impossible to get adequate regulation through State action. Therefore, in the interest of the whole people, the Nation should, without interfering with the power of the States in the matter itself, also assume power of supervision and regulation over all corporations doing an interstate business. This is especially true where the corporation derives a portion of its wealth from the existence of some monopolistic element or tendency in its business. There would be no hardship in such supervision; banks are subject to it, and in their case it is now accepted as a simple matter of course. Indeed, it is probable that supervision of corporations by the National Government need not go so far as is now the case with the supervision exercised over them by so conservative a State as Massachusetts, in order to produce excellent results. When the Constitution was adopted, at the end of the eighteenth century, no human wisdom could foretell the sweeping changes, alike in industrial and political conditions, which were to take place by the beginning of the twentieth century. At that time it was accepted as a matter of course that the several States were the proper authorities to regulate, so far as was then necessary, the comparatively insignificant and strictly localized corporate bodies of the day. The conditions are now wholly different and wholly different action is called for. I believe that a law can be framed which will enable the National Government to exercise control along the lines above indicated; profiting by the experience gained through the passage and administration of the Interstate-Commerce Act. If, however, the judgment of the Congress is that it lacks the constitutional power to pass such an act, then a constitutional amendment should be submitted to confer the power.

A Square Deal (1903)Edit

Speech to farmers at the New York State Agricultural Association, Syracuse, New York (7 September 1903).
A healthy republican government must rest upon individuals, not upon classes or sections.
The good citizen is the man who, whatever his wealth or his poverty, strives manfully to do his duty to himself, to his family, to his neighbor, to the States; who is incapable of the baseness which manifests itself either in arrogance or in envy, but who while demanding justice for himself is no less scrupulous to do justice to others.
Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.
Life can mean nothing worth meaning, unless its prime aim is the doing of duty, the achievement of results worth achieving.
The joy of life is won in its deepest and truest sense only by those who have not shirked life's burdens.
  • It cannot be too often repeated that in this country, in the long run, we all of us tend to go up or go down together. If the average of well-being is high, it means that the average wage-worker, the average farmer, and the average business man are all alike well-off. If the average shrinks, there is not one of these classes which will not feel the shrinkage. Of course, there are always some men who are not affected by good times, just as there are some men who are not affected by bad times. But speaking broadly, it is true that if prosperity comes, all of us tend to share more or less therein, and that if adversity comes each of us, to a greater or less extent, feels the tension.
  • The welfare of each of us is dependent fundamentally upon the welfare of all of us, and therefore in public life that man is the best representative of each of us who seeks to do good to each by doing good to all; in other words, whose endeavor it is not to represent any special class and promote merely that class's selfish interests, but to represent all true and honest men of all sections and all classes and to work for their interests by working for our common country. We can keep our government on a sane and healthy basis, we can make and keep our social system what it should be, only on condition of judging each man, not as a member of a class, but on his worth as a man. It is an infamous thing in our American life, and fundamentally treacherous to our institutions, to apply to any man any test save that of his personal worth, or to draw between two sets of men any distinction save the distinction of conduct, the distinction that marks off those who do well and wisely from those who do ill and foolishly. There are good citizens and bad citizens in every class as in every locality, and the attitude of decent people toward great public and social questions should be determined, not by the accidental questions of employment or locality, but by those deep-set principles which represent the innermost souls of men.
  • The failure in public and in private life thus to treat each man on his own merits, the recognition of this government as being either for the poor as such or for the rich as such, would prove fatal to our Republic, as such failure and such recognition have always proved fatal in the past to other republics. A healthy republican government must rest upon individuals, not upon classes or sections. As soon as it becomes government by a class or by a section, it departs from the old American ideal.
  • Many qualities are needed by a people which would preserve the power of self- government in fact as well as in name. Among these qualities are forethought, shrewdness, self-restraint, the courage which refuses to abandon one's own rights, and the disinterested and kindly good sense which enables one to do justice to the rights of others. Lack of strength and lack of courage and unfit men for self-government on the one hand; and on the other, brutal arrogance, envy -- in short, any manifestation of the spirit of selfish disregard, whether of one's own duties or of the rights of others, are equally fatal.
  • In the history of mankind many republics have risen, have flourished for a less or greater time, and then have fallen because their citizens lost the power of governing themselves and thereby of governing their state; and in no way has this loss of power been so often and so clearly shown as in the tendency to turn the government into a government primarily for the benefit of one class instead of a government for the benefit of the people as a whole.
  • The outcome was equally fatal, whether the country fell into the hands of a wealthy oligarchy which exploited the poor or whether it fell under the domination of a turbulent mob which plundered the rich. In both cases there resulted violent alternations between tyranny and disorder, and a final complete loss of liberty to all citizens -- destruction in the end overtaking the class which had for the moment been victorious as well as that which had momentarily been defeated. The death-knell of the Republic had rung as soon as the active power became lodged in the hands of those who sought, not to do justice to all citizens, rich and poor alike, but to stand for one special class and for its interests as opposed to the interests of others.
  • The average American knows not only that he himself intends to do what is right, but that his average fellow countryman has the same intention and the same power to make his intention effective. He knows, whether he be business man, professional man, farmer, mechanic, employer, or wage-worker, that the welfare of each of these men is bound up with the welfare of all the others; that each is neighbor to the other, is actuated by the same hopes and fears, has fundamentally the same ideals, and that all alike have much the same virtues and the same faults. Our average fellow citizen is a sane and healthy man who believes in decency and has a wholesome mind. He therefore feels an equal scorn alike for the man of wealth guilty of the mean and base spirit of [arrogance]] toward those who are less well off, and for the man of small means who in his turn either feels, or seeks to excite in others the feeling of mean and base envy for those who are better off. The two feelings, envy and arrogance, are but opposite sides of the same shield, but different developments of the same spirit.
  • The good citizen is the man who, whatever his wealth or his poverty, strives manfully to do his duty to himself, to his family, to his neighbor, to the States; who is incapable of the baseness which manifests itself either in arrogance or in envy, but who while demanding justice for himself is no less scrupulous to do justice to others.
  • Such laws as the franchise-tax law in this State, which the Court of Appeals recently unanimously decided constitutional -- such a law as that passed in Congress last year for the purpose of establishing a Department of Commerce and Labor, under which there should be a bureau to oversee and secure publicity from the great corporations which do an interstate business -- such a law as that passed at the same time for the regulation of the great highways of commerce so as to keep these roads clear on fair terms to all producers in getting their goods to market -- these laws are in the interest not merely of the people as a whole, but of the propertied classes. For in no way is the stability of property better assured than by making it patent to our people that property bears its proper share of the burdens of the State; that property is handled not only in the interest of the owner, but in the interest of the whole community.
  • Among ourselves we differ in many qualities of body, head, and heart; we are unequally developed, mentally as well as physically. But each of us has the right to ask that he shall be protected from wrong-doing as he does his work and carries his burden through life. No man needs sympathy because he has to work, because he has a burden to carry. Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing; and this is a prize open to every man, for there can be no better worth doing than that done to keep in health and comfort and with reasonable advantages those immediately dependent upon the husband, the father, or the son. There is no room in our healthy American life for the mere idler, for the man or the woman whose object it is throughout life to shirk the duties which life ought to bring. Life can mean nothing worth meaning, unless its prime aim is the doing of duty, the achievement of results worth achieving.
  • From the greatest to the smallest, happiness and usefulness are largely found in the same soul, and the joy of life is won in its deepest and truest sense only by those who have not shirked life's burdens.
  • As it is with the soldier, so it is with the civilian. To win success in the business world, to become a first-class mechanic, a successful farmer, an able lawyer or doctor, means that the man has devoted his best energy and power through long years to the achievement of his ends. So it is in the life of the family, upon which in the last analysis the whole welfare of the nation rests. The man or woman who, as bread-winner and home-maker, or as wife and mother, has done all that he or she can do, patiently and uncomplainingly, is to be honored; and is to be envied by all those who have never had the good fortune to feel the need and duty of doing such work.
  • It is not enough to be well-meaning and kindly, but weak; neither is it enough to be strong, unless morality and decency go hand in hand with strength. We must possess the qualities which make us do our duty in our homes and among our neighbors, and in addition we must possess the qualities which are indispensable to the make-up of every great and masterful nation -- the qualities of courage and hardihood, of individual initiative and yet of power to combine for a common end, and above all, the resolute determination to permit no man and no set of men to sunder us one from the other by lines of caste or creed or section. We must act upon the motto of all for each and each for all. There must be ever present in our minds the fundamental truth that in a republic such as ours the only safety is to stand neither for nor against any man because he is rich or because he is poor, because he is engaged in one occupation or another, because he works with his brains or because he works with his hands. We must treat each man on his worth and merits as a man. We must see that each is given a square deal, because he is entitled to no more and should receive no less.
  • Finally, we must keep ever in mind that a republic such as ours can exist only by virtue of the orderly liberty which comes through the equal domination of the law over all men alike, and through its administration in such resolute and fearless fashion as shall teach all that no man is above it and no man below it.

Address at the Prize Day Exercises at Groton School (1904)Edit

If a boy has not got pluck and honesty and common-sense he is a pretty poor creature; and he is a worse creature if he is a man and lacks any one of those three traits.
A sound body is good; a sound mind is better; but a strong and clean character is better than either.
The life that is worth living, and the only life that is worth living, is the life of effort, the life of effort to attain what is worth striving for.
Happiness can not come to any man capable of enjoying true happiness unless it comes as the sequel to duty well and honestly done.
Life is as if you were traveling a ridge crest. You have the gulf of inefficiency on one side and the gulf of wickedness on the other, and it helps not to have avoided one gulf if you fall into the other.
Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars, but remember to keep your feet on the ground.
Our public life depends upon men who take an active interest in that public life; who are bound to see public affairs honestly and competently managed; but who have the good sense to know what honesty and competency actually mean.

Address at the Prize Day Exercises at Groton School, Groton, Massachusetts (May 24, 1904) Source: Presidential Addresses and State Papers Volume III 'April 7, 1904, to May 9, 1905' by Theodore Roosevelt, The Review of Reviews Company, New York (1910), p. 8-20

  • I want to speak to you first of all as regards your duties as boys; and in the next place as regards your duties as men; and the two things hang together. The same qualities that make a decent boy make a decent man. They have different manifestations, but fundamentally they are the same. If a boy has not got pluck and honesty and common-sense he is a pretty poor creature; and he is a worse creature if he is a man and lacks any one of those three traits.
  • Because much has been given to you, therefore we have a right to expect much from you; and we have a right to expect that you shall begin to give that much just as soon as you leave school and go to college, so that you shall count when you are there.
  • Now, there are in our civic and social life very much worse creatures than snobs, but none more contemptible. [...] If you have any stuff in you at all, and try to amount to anything in after life, you will not remain snobs even if you start as such. It will be taken out of you very soon and very roughly if you go into any real work. Go into politics, go to your district convention, and try to carry it on the snob basis and see how far you will get. The thing that will strike you in just about a week is that there are a whole lot of able people sliding around this planet. The fact that the individual opposed to you does not wear a cravat, and does wear a saw-edge collar, does not imply that you are going to carry the convention against him!
  • You will soon find that it is not his clothes but his political sense and energy that control. You will find that if you expect to do anything there will be mighty little temptation to try to treat the men with whom you are working on any basis save the fundamental democratic basis of what they amount to, and what you can show you amount to as compared to them. So that if you go into life to do anything, it is perfectly useless for me to tell you to get rid of snobbery, because you will have to. It is just as true in every other field as in politics. Every man who works in philanthropy and he can do nothing in philanthropy unless he combines a very earnest desire to accomplish what is decent with the determination to accomplish it in practical fashion [...] if he goes into philanthropy and tries to do something in a college settlement, tries to do his part in working to disentangle the tangled knot of our social and civic life, he will find just as soon as he gets interested in his work he wont care and won't know who the people are who are with him except as he judges them by their fruits. The interest that you take in him is, can a given man accomplish something? If he can not, then let him give place to the man who can.
  • I believe with all my heart in athletics, in sport, and have always done as much thereof as my limited capacity and my numerous duties would permit; but I believe in bodily vigor chiefly because I believe in the spirit that lies back of it. If a boy can not go into athletics because he is not physically able to, that does not count in the least against him. He may be just as much of a man in after life as if he could, because it is not physical address but the moral quality behind it which really counts. But if he has the physical ability and keeps out because he is afraid, because he is lazy, because he is a mollycoddle, then I haven't any use for him. If he has not the right spirit, the spirit which makes him scorn self-indulgence, timidity and mere ease, that is if he has not the spirit which normally stands at the base of physical hardihood, physical prowess, then that boy does not amount to much, and he is not ordinarily going to amount to much in after life. Of course, there are people with special abilities so great as to outweigh even defects like timidity and laziness, but the man who makes the Republic what it is, if he has not courage, the capacity to show prowess, the desire for hardihood; if he has not the scorn of mere ease, the scorn of pain, the scorn of discomfort (all of them qualities that go to make a man's worth on an eleven or a nine or an eight); if he has not something of that sort in him then the lack is so great that it must be amply atoned for, more than amply atoned for, in other ways, or his usefulness to the community will be small. So I believe heartily in physical prowess, in the sports that go to make physical prowess. I believe in them not only because of the amusement and pleasure they bring, but because I think they are useful. Yet I think you had a great deal better never go into them than to go into them with the idea that they are the chief end even of school or college; still more of life.
  • Remember that in life, and above all in the very active, practical, workaday life on this continent, the man who wins out must be the man who works. He can not play all the time. He can not have play as his principal occupation and win out. Let him play; let him have as good a time as he can have. I have a pity that is akin to contempt for the man who does not have as good a time as he can out of life. But let him work. Let him count in the world. When he comes to the end of his life let him feel he has pulled his weight and a little more. A sound body is good; a sound mind is better; but a strong and clean character is better than either.
  • Of course, the worst of all lives is the vicious life; the life of a man who becomes a positive addition to the forces of evil in a community. Next to that and when I am speaking to people who, by birth and training and standing, ought to amount to a great deal, I have a right to say only second to it in criminality comes the life of mere vapid ease, the ignoble life of a man who desires nothing from his years but that they shall be led with the least effort, the least trouble, the greatest amount of physical enjoyment or intellectual enjoyment of a mere dilettante type. The life that is worth living, and the only life that is worth living, is the life of effort, the life of effort to attain what is worth striving for.
  • If there ever was a pursuit which stultified itself by its very conditions, it is the pursuit of pleasure as the all-sufficing end of life. Happiness can not come to any man capable of enjoying true happiness unless it comes as the sequel to duty well and honestly done. To do that duty you need to have more than one trait.
  • You need a great many qualities to make a successful man on a nine or an eleven; and just so you need a great many different qualities to make a good citizen. In the first place, of course it is al most tautological to say that to make a good citizen the prime need is to be decent, clean in thought, clean in mind, clean in action; to have an ideal and not to keep that ideal purely for the study to have an ideal which you will in good faith strive to live up to when you are out in life. If you have an ideal only good while you sit at home, an ideal that nobody can live up to in outside life, then I advise you strongly to take that ideal, examine it closely, and then cast it away. It is not a good one. The ideal that it is impossible for a man to strive after in practical life is not the type of ideal that you wish to hold up and follow. Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars, but remember to keep your feet on the ground. Be truthful; a lie implies fear, vanity or malevolence; and be frank; furtiveness and insincerity are faults incompatible with true manliness. Be honest, and remember that honesty counts for nothing unless back of it lie courage and efficiency. If in this country we ever have to face a state of things in which on one side stand the men of high ideals who are honest, good, well-meaning, pleasant people, utterly unable to put those ideals into shape in the rough field of practical life, while on the other side are grouped the strong, powerful, efficient men with no ideals: then the end of the Republic will be near. The salvation of the Republic depends the salvation of our whole social system depends upon the production year by year of a sufficient number of citizens who possess high ideals combined with the practical power to realize them in actual life.
  • You often hear people speaking as if life was like striving upward toward a mountain peak. That is not so. Life is as if you were traveling a ridge crest. You have the gulf of inefficiency on one side and the gulf of wickedness on the other, and it helps not to have avoided one gulf if you fall into the other. It shall profit us nothing if our people are decent and ineffective. It shall profit us nothing if they are efficient and wicked. In every walk of life, in business, politics; if the need comes, in war; in literature, science, art, in everything, what we need is a sufficient number of men who can work well and who will work with a high ideal. The work can be done in a thousand different ways. Our public life depends primarily not upon the men who occupy public positions for the moment, because they are but an infinitesimal fraction of the whole. Our public life depends upon men who take an active interest in that public life; who are bound to see public affairs honestly and competently managed; but who have the good sense to know what honesty and competency actually mean. And any such man, if he is both sane and high-minded, can be a greater help and strength to any one in public life than you can easily imagine without having had yourselves the experience. It is an immense strength to a public man to know a certain number of people to whom he can appeal for advice and for backing; whose character is so high that baseness would shrink ashamed before them; and who have such good sense that any decent public servant is entirely willing to lay before them every detail of his actions, asking only that they know the facts before they pass final judgment.
  • Success does not lie entirely in the hands of any one of us. From the day the tower of Siloam fell, misfortune has fallen sometimes upon the just as well as the unjust. We sometimes see the good man, the honest man, the strong man, broken down by forces over which he had no control. If the hand of the Lord is heavy upon us the strength and wisdom of man shall avail nothing. But as a rule in the long run each of us comes pretty near to getting what he deserves. Each of us can, as a rule there are, of course, exceptions finally achieve the success best worth having, the success of having played his part honestly and manfully; of having lived so as to feel at the end he has done his duty; of having been a good husband, a good father; of having tried to make the world a little better off rather than worse off because he has lived; of having been a doer of the word and not a hearer only still less a mere critic of the doers. Every man has it in him, unless fate is indeed hard upon him, to win out that measure of success if he will honestly try.
  • There are two kinds of success to be won. In the first place, there is success in doing the thing that can only be done by the exceptional man. Therefore most of us can not achieve this kind of success. It comes only to the man who has very exceptional qualities. The other kind, a very, very high kind, is the ordinary kind of success, the success that comes to the man who does the things which most men could do, but which they do not do; which comes to the man who develops or possesses to a higher degree the qualities that all of us have to a greater or less extent. In the history of the world some of the men who stand high who stand in all but the very highest places are those who have not possessed any wonderful genius in statecraft, war, art, literature in whatever calling; but who have developed within themselves, by long, patient effort, resolutely maintained in spite of repeated failure, the ordinary, everyday, humdrum qualities of courage, of resolution, of proper appreciation of the relative importance of things; of honesty, of truth, of good sense, of unyielding perseverance. We can each one of us develop to a very high degree these qualities; and if we do so develop them, each one of us is sure of a measure of success [...].

Inaugural Address (1905)Edit

Theodore Roosevelt took his second oath of office of President on 4 March 1905. He had already served for 3 years, coming into office after the death of his predecessor William McKinley on 6 September 1901.
There is no good reason why we should fear the future, but there is every reason why we should face it seriously, neither hiding from ourselves the gravity of the problems before us nor fearing to approach these problems with the unbending, unflinching purpose to solve them aright.
  • Much has been given us, and much will rightfully be expected from us. We have duties to others and duties to ourselves; and we can shirk neither. We have become a great nation, forced by the fact of its greatness into relations with the other nations of the earth, and we must behave as beseems a people with such responsibilities. 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. But justice and generosity in a nation, as in an individual, count most when shown not by the weak but by the strong.
  • While ever careful to refrain from wrongdoing others, we must be no less insistent that we are not wronged ourselves. We wish peace, but we wish the peace of justice, the peace of righteousness. We wish it because we think it is right and not because we are afraid. No weak nation that acts manfully and justly should ever have cause to fear us, and no strong power should ever be able to single us out as a subject for insolent aggression.
  • Power invariably means both responsibility and danger.
  • The conditions which have told for our marvelous material well-being, which have developed to a very high degree our energy, self-reliance, and individual initiative, have also brought the care and anxiety inseparable from the accumulation of great wealth in industrial centers. Upon the success of our experiment much depends, not only as regards our own welfare, but as regards the welfare of mankind. If we fail, the cause of free self-government throughout the world will rock to its foundations, and therefore our responsibility is heavy, to ourselves, to the world as it is to-day, and to the generations yet unborn.
  • There is no good reason why we should fear the future, but there is every reason why we should face it seriously, neither hiding from ourselves the gravity of the problems before us nor fearing to approach these problems with the unbending, unflinching purpose to solve them aright.
  • We know that self-government is difficult. We know that no people needs such high traits of character as that people which seeks to govern its affairs aright through the freely expressed will of the freemen who compose it. But we have faith that we shall not prove false to the memories of the men of the mighty past. They did their work, they left us the splendid heritage we now enjoy. We in our turn have an assured confidence that we shall be able to leave this heritage unwasted and enlarged to our children and our children's children. To do so we must show, not merely in great crises, but in the everyday affairs of life, the qualities of practical intelligence, of courage, of hardihood, and endurance, and above all the power of devotion to a lofty ideal, which made great the men who founded this Republic in the days of Washington, which made great the men who preserved this Republic in the days of Abraham Lincoln.

"In God we Trust" letter (1907)Edit

My own feeling in the matter is due to my very firm conviction that to put such a motto on coins, or to use it in any kindred manner, not only does not good but does positive harm, and is in effect irreverence which comes dangerously close to sacrilege. A beautiful and solemn sentence such as the one in question should be treated and uttered only with that fine reverence which necessarily implies a certain exaltation of spirit.
Letter written by Theodore Roosevelt to the Reverend Roland C. Dryer of Nunda, New York defending his omission of the motto IN GOD WE TRUST from newly minted $10 and $20 gold coins designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens and published by The New York Times on November 14, 1907. Source: "ROOSEVELT DROPPED 'IN GOD WE TRUST'; President Says Such a Motto on Coin Is Irreverence, Close to Sacrilege. NO LAW COMMANDS ITS USE He Trusts Congress Will Not Direct Him to Replace the Exalted Phrase That Invited Constant Levity"; published by The New York Times on November 14, 1907.
  • When the question of the new coinage came up we looked into the law and found there was no warrant therein for putting 'In God We Trust' on the coins. As the custom, although without legal warrant, had grown up, however, I might have felt at liberty to keep the inscription had I had approved of its being on the coinage. But as I did not approve of it, I did not direct that it should again be put on. Of course the matter of the law is absolutely in the hands of Congress, and any direction of Congress in the matter will be immediately obeyed. At present, as I have said, there is no warrant in law for the inscription.
  • My own feeling in the matter is due to my very firm conviction that to put such a motto on coins, or to use it in any kindred manner, not only does not good but does positive harm, and is in effect irreverence which comes dangerously close to sacrilege. A beautiful and solemn sentence such as the one in question should be treated and uttered only with that fine reverence which necessarily implies a certain exaltation of spirit. Any use which tends to cheapen it, and, above all, any use which tends to secure its being treated in a spirit of levity, is free from every standpoint profoundly to be regretted. It is a motto which it is indeed well to have inscribed on our great national monuments, in our temples of justice, in our legislative halls, and in buildings such as those at West Point and Annapolis - in short, wherever it will tend to arouse and inspire a lofty emotion in those who look thereon. But it seems to be eminently unwise to cheapen such a motto by use on coins, just as it would be to cheapen it by use on postage stamps, or in advertisements.
  • As regards to its use on the coinage we have actual experience by which to go. In all my life I have never heard any human being speak reverently of this motto on the coins or show any sign of having appealed to any high emotion in him. But I have literally hundreds of times heard it used as an occasion of, and incitement to, the sneering ridicule which it is above all things undesirable that so beautiful and exalted a phrase should excite. For example, throughout the long contest, extending over several decades, on the free [silver] coinage question, the existence of this motto on the coins was a constant source of jest and ridicule; and this was unavoidable. Everyone must remember the innumerable cartoons and articles based on phrases like 'In God we trust for the other eight cents'; 'In God we trust for the short weight'; 'In god we trust for the thirty-seven cents we do not pay'; and so forth and so forth. Surely I am well within bounds when I say that a use of the phrase which invites constant levity of this type is most undesirable.
  • If Congress alters the law and directs me to replace on the coins the sentence in question the direction will be immediately put into effect; but I very earnestly trust that the religious sentiment of the country, the sprit of reverence in this country, will prevent any such action being taken. THEODORE ROOSEVELT

Seventh Annual Message (1907)Edit

A heavy progressive tax upon a very large fortune is in no way such a tax upon thrift or industry as a like would be on a small fortune.
Seventh annual message to the US Senate and House of Representatives (3 December 1907), published in A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 1789-1908, Vol. 11, p. 1242
  • A heavy progressive tax upon a very large fortune is in no way such a tax upon thrift or industry as a like would be on a small fortune. No advantage comes either to the country as a whole or to the individuals inheriting the money by permitting the transmission in their entirety of the enormous fortunes which would be affected by such a tax; and as an incident to its function of revenue raising, such a tax would help to preserve a measurable equality of opportunity for the people of the generations growing to manhood. We have not the slightest sympathy with that socialistic idea which would try to put laziness, thriftlessness and inefficiency on a par with industry, thrift and efficiency; which would strive to break up not merely private property, but what is far more important, the home, the chief prop upon which our whole civilization stands. Such a theory, if ever adopted, would mean the ruin of the entire country — a ruin which would bear heaviest upon the weakest, upon those least able to shift for themselves. But proposals for legislation such as this herein advocated are directly opposed to this class of socialistic theories. Our aim is to recognize what Lincoln pointed out: The fact that there are some respects in which men are obviously not equal; but also to insist that there should be an equality of self-respect and of mutual respect, an equality of rights before the law, and at least an approximate equality in the conditions under which each man obtains the chance to show the stuff that is in him when compared to his fellows.

1910sEdit

In every civilized society property rights must be carefully safeguarded; ordinarily, and in the great majority of cases, human rights and property rights are fundamentally and in the long run identical; but when it clearly appears that there is a real conflict between them, human rights must have the upper hand, for property belongs to man and not man to property.
The greatest doer must also be a great dreamer.
If a man does not have an ideal and try to live up to it, then he becomes a mean, base, and sordid creature, no matter how successful.
  • 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 better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming; 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 or defeat.
  • It is a bad thing for a nation to raise and to admire a false standard of success; and there can be no falser standard than that set by the deification of material well-being in and for itself.
  • In every civilized society property rights must be carefully safeguarded; ordinarily, and in the great majority of cases, human rights and property rights are fundamentally and in the long run identical; but when it clearly appears that there is a real conflict between them, human rights must have the upper hand, for property belongs to man and not man to property.
  • Conservation and rural-life policies are really two sides of the same policy; and down at bottom this policy rests upon the fundamental law that neither man nor nation can prosper unless, in dealing with the present, thought is steadily taken for the future.
    • "Rural Life", in The Outlook (August 27, 1910), republished in American Problems (vol. 16 of The Works of Theodore Roosevelt, national ed., 1926), chapter 20, p. 146.
  • 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.
    • Speech before the Colorado Live Stock Association, Denver, Colorado (August 29, 1910); in The New Nationalism (1910), p. 52; inscribed on Cox Corridor II, a first floor House corridor, U.S. Capitol.
  • I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life; I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.
    • Des Moines, IA, November 4, 1910.
  • It is true of the Nation, as of the individual, that the greatest doer must also be a great dreamer.
  • We wish to control big business so as to secure among other things good wages for the wage-workers and reasonable prices for the consumers. Wherever in any business the prosperity of the businessman is obtained by lowering the wages of his workmen and charging an excessive price to the consumers we wish to interfere and stop such practices. We will not submit to that kind of prosperity any more than we will submit to prosperity obtained by swindling investors or getting unfair advantages over business rivals.
  • This country will not be a permanently good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a reasonably good place for all of us to live in.
  • A party should not contain utterly incongruous elements, radically divided on the real issues, and acting together only on false and dead issues insincerely painted as real and vital. It should not in the several States as well as in the Nation be prostituted to the service of the baser type of political boss. It should be so composed that there should be a reasonable agreement in the actions taken by it both in the Nation and in the several States.
    Judged by these standards, both of the old parties break down.
    • "Platform Insincerity" in The Outlook, Vol. 101, No. 13 (27 July 1912), p. 660.
  • The bosses of the Democratic party and the bosses of the Republican party alike have a closer grip than ever before on the party machines in the States and in the Nation. This crooked control of both the old parties by the beneficiaries of political and business privilege renders it hopeless to expect any far-reaching and fundamental service from either.
    • "Platform Insincerity" in The Outlook, Vol. 101, No. 13 (27 July 1912), p. 660.
  • A typical vice of American politics — the avoidance of saying anything real on real issues, and the announcement of radical policies with much sound and fury, and at the same time with a cautious accompaniment of weasel phrases each of which sucks the meat out of the preceding statement.
    • "Platform Insincerity" in The Outlook, Vol. 101, No. 13 (27 July 1912), p. 660.
We stand equally against government by a plutocracy and government by a mob.
  • Political parties exist to secure responsible government and to execute the will of the people. From these great tasks both of the old parties have turned aside. Instead of instruments to promote the general welfare they have become the tools of corrupt interests, which use them impartially to serve their selfish purposes. Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people. To destroy this invisible government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics, is the first task of the statesmanship of the day.
  • Here in the United States we turn our rivers and streams into sewers and dumping-grounds, we pollute the air, we destroy forests, and exterminate fishes, birds, and mammals—not to speak of vulgarizing charming landscapes with hideous advertisements. But at last it looks as if our people were awakening. Many leading men, Americans and Canadians, are doing all they can for the Conservation movement.
    • "Our Vanishing Wildlife", in The Outlook (January 25, 1913); republished in Literary Essays (vol. 12 of The Works of Theodore Roosevelt, national ed., 1926), chapter 46, p. 420.
  • There are plenty of decent legislators, and plenty of able legislators; but the blamelessness and the fighting edge are not always combined. Both qualities are necessary for the man who is to wage active battle against the powers that prey. He must be clean of life, so that he can laugh when his public or his private record is searched; and yet being clean of life will not avail him if he is either foolish or timid. He must walk warily and fearlessly, and while he should never brawl if he can avoid it, he must be ready to hit hard if the need arises. Let him remember, by the way, that the unforgivable crime is soft hitting. Do not hit at all if it can be avoided; but never hit softly.
  • We stand equally against government by a plutocracy and government by a mob. 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.
    • Letter to Sir Edward Grey (15 September 1913).
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.
  • If I must choose between righteousness and peace I choose righteousness.
    • America and the World War (1915).
  • You could no more make an agreement with them than you could nail currant jelly to a wall - and the failure to nail current jelly to a wall is not due to the nail; it is due to the currant jelly.
    • Letter to William Roscoe Thayer (2 July 1915).
  • Americanism means the virtues of courage, honor, justice, truth, sincerity, and hardihood—the virtues that made America. 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.
    • Letter to S. Stanwood Menken, chairman, committee on Congress of Constructive Patriotism (January 10, 1917). Roosevelt’s sister, Mrs. Douglas Robinson, read the letter to a national meeting, January 26, 1917. Reported in Proceedings of the Congress of Constructive Patriotism, Washington, D.C., January 25–27, 1917 (1917), p. 172.
  • The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. 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. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.
    • Kansas City Star (7 May 1918).
  • I have already lived and enjoyed as much life as any nine other men I have known.
    • As quoted in "Roosevelt The Greatest Outdoor Man" by Arthur K. Willyoung in Outing Vol. 74, No. 6 (September 1919), p. 353.
  • Please put out the light, James.
    • Last words, to his valet, James Amos (6 January 1919), as quoted in Adventures of Theodore Roosevelt (1928) by Edwin Emerson, p. 336.
  • We have no choice, we people of the United States, as to whether or not we shall play a great part in the world. That has been determined to us by fate, by the march of events. We have to play that part. All that we can decide is whether we shall play it well or ill.
    • Address at Mechanics' Pavilion San Francisco May 13 1903 books.google.de
    • Quoted in The Audacity of Hope (2006) by Barack Obama, p. 282 as follows: The United States of America has not the option as to whether it will or it will not play a great part in the world … It must play a great part. All that it can decide is whether it will play that part well or badly.

Nobel lecture (1910)Edit

All really civilized communities should have effective arbitration treaties among themselves.
Our words must be judged by our deeds; and in striving for a lofty ideal we must use practical methods; and if we cannot attain all at one leap, we must advance towards it step by step, reasonably content so long as we do actually make some progress in the right direction.
Address at The National Theatre in Oslo, Norway (5 May 1910)
  • In our complex industrial civilization of today the peace of righteousness and justice, the only kind of peace worth having, is at least as necessary in the industrial world as it is among nations. There is at least as much need to curb the cruel greed and arrogance of part of the world of capital, to curb the cruel greed and violence of part of the world of labor, as to check a cruel and unhealthy militarism in international relationships.
  • We must ever bear in mind that the great end in view is righteousness, justice as between man and man, nation and nation, the chance to lead our lives on a somewhat higher level, with a broader spirit of brotherly goodwill one for another. Peace is generally good in itself, but it is never the highest good unless it comes as the handmaid of righteousness; and it becomes a very evil thing if it serves merely as a mask for cowardice and sloth, or as an instrument to further the ends of despotism or anarchy. We despise and abhor the bully, the brawler, the oppressor, whether in private or public life, but we despise no less the coward and the voluptuary. No man is worth calling a man who will not fight rather than submit to infamy or see those that are dear to him suffer wrong. No nation deserves to exist if it permits itself to lose the stern and virile virtues; and this without regard to whether the loss is due to the growth of a heartless and all-absorbing commercialism, to prolonged indulgence in luxury and soft, effortless ease, or to the deification of a warped and twisted sentimentality.
  • Moreover, and above all, let us remember that words count only when they give expression to deeds, or are to be translated into them. The leaders of the Red Terror prattled of peace while they steeped their hands in the blood of the innocent; and many a tyrant has called it peace when he has scourged honest protest into silence. Our words must be judged by our deeds; and in striving for a lofty ideal we must use practical methods; and if we cannot attain all at one leap, we must advance towards it step by step, reasonably content so long as we do actually make some progress in the right direction.
  • All really civilized communities should have effective arbitration treaties among themselves. I believe that these treaties can cover almost all questions liable to arise between such nations, if they are drawn with the explicit agreement that each contracting party will respect the others territory and its absolute sovereignty within that territory, and the equally explicit agreement that (aside from the very rare cases where the nation's honor is vitally concerned) all other possible subjects of controversy will be submitted to arbitration. Such a treaty would insure peace unless one party deliberately violated it. Of course, as yet there is no adequate safeguard against such deliberate violation, but the establishment of a sufficient number of these treaties would go a long way towards creating a world opinion which would finally find expression in the provision of methods to forbid or punish any such violation.
  • Finally, it would be a masterstroke if those great powers honestly bent on peace would form a League of Peace, not only to keep the peace among themselves, but to prevent, by force if necessary, its being broken by others. The supreme difficulty in connection with developing the peace work of The Hague arises from the lack of any executive power, of any police power to enforce the decrees of the court. In any community of any size the authority of the courts rests upon actual or potential force: on the existence of a police, or on the knowledge that the able-bodied men of the country are both ready and willing to see that the decrees of judicial and legislative bodies are put into effect.
  • In new and wild communities where there is violence, an honest man must protect himself; and until other means of securing his safety are devised, it is both foolish and wicked to persuade him to surrender his arms while the men who are dangerous to the community retain theirs. He should not renounce the right to protect himself by his own efforts until the community is so organized that it can effectively relieve the individual of the duty of putting down violence. So it is with nations. Each nation must keep well prepared to defend itself until the establishment of some form of international police power, competent and willing to prevent violence as between nations. As things are now, such power to command peace throughout the world could best be assured by some combination between those great nations which sincerely desire peace and have no thought themselves of committing aggressions. The combination might at first be only to secure peace within certain definite limits and on certain definite conditions; but the ruler or statesman who should bring about such a combination would have earned his place in history for all time and his title to the gratitude of all mankind.

The World Movement (1910)Edit

Speech delivered at the University of Berlin, May 12, 1910. Text at bartleby.com
For weal or for woe, the peoples of mankind are knit together far closer than ever before.
The dreams of golden glory in the future will not come true unless, high of heart and strong of hand, by our own mighty deeds we make them come true.
Unjust war is to be abhorred; but woe to the nation that does not make ready to hold its own in time of need against all who would harm it!
This world movement of civilization, this movement which is now felt throbbing in every corner of the globe, should bind the nations of the world together while yet leaving unimpaired that love of country in the individual citizen which in the present stage of the world's progress is essential to the world's well-being.
Each people can do justice to itself only if it does justice to others.
  • When, in the slow procession of the ages, man was developed on this planet, the change worked by his appearance was at first slight. Further ages passed while he groped and struggled by infinitesimal degrees upward through the lower grades of savagery; for the general law is that life which is advanced and complex, whatever its nature, changes more quickly than simpler and less advanced forms. The life of savages changes and advances with extreme slowness, and groups of savages influence one another but little. The first rudimentary beginnings of that complex life of communities which we call civilization marked a period when man had already long been by far the most important creature on the planet. The history of the living world had become, in fact, the history of man, and therefore something totally different in kind as well as in degree from what it had been before.
  • Throughout their early stages the movements of civilization—for, properly speaking, there was no one movement—were very slow, were local in space, and were partial in the sense that each developed along but few lines. Of the numberless years that covered these early stages we have no record. They were the years that saw such extraordinary discoveries and inventions as fire, and the wheel, and the bow, and the domestication of animals. So local were these inventions that at the present day there yet linger savage tribes, still fixed in the half-bestial life of an infinitely remote past, who know none of them except fire—and the discovery and use of fire may have marked, not the beginning of civilization, but the beginning of the savagery which separated man from brute.
  • [...] the whole world is bound together as never before; the bonds are sometimes those of hatred rather than love, but they are bonds nevertheless. Frowning or hopeful, every man of leadership in any line of thought or effort must now look beyond the limits of his own country. [...] For weal or for woe, the peoples of mankind are knit together far closer than ever before.
  • One of the prime dangers of civilization has always been its tendency to cause the loss of virile fighting virtues, of the fighting edge. When men get too comfortable and lead too luxurious lives, there is always danger lest the softness eat like an acid into their manliness of fibre. The barbarian, because of the very conditions of his life, is forced to keep and develop certain hardy qualities which the man of civilization tends to lose, whether he be clerk, factory hand, merchant, or even a certain type of farmer.
  • [...] in many respects there is a complete lack of analogy between the civilization of to-day and the only other civilization in any way comparable to it, that of the ancient Greco-Roman lands. There are, of course, many points in which the analogy is close, and in some of these points the resemblances are as ominous as they are striking. But most striking of all is the fact that in point of physical extent, of wide diversity of interest, and of extreme velocity of movement, the present civilization can be compared to nothing that has ever gone before. It is now literally a world movement, and the movement is growing ever more rapid and is ever reaching into new fields. Any considerable influence exerted at one point is certain to be felt with greater or less effect at almost every other point. Every path of activity open to the human intellect is followed with an eagerness and success never hitherto dreamed of. We have established complete liberty of conscience, and, in consequence, a complete liberty for mental activity. All free and daring souls have before them a well-nigh limitless opening for endeavor of any kind.
  • Hitherto every civilization that has arisen has been able to develop only a comparatively few activities; that is, its field of endeavor has been limited in kind as well as in locality. There have, of course, been great movements, but they were of practically only one form of activity; and, although usually this set in motion other kinds of activities, such was not always the case. The great religious movements have been the pre-eminent examples of this type. But they are not the only ones. Such peoples as the Mongols and the Phoenicians, at almost opposite poles of cultivation, have represented movements in which one element, military or commercial, so overshadowed all other elements that the movement died out chiefly because it was one-sided. The extraordinary outburst of activity among the Mongols of the thirteenth century was almost purely a military movement, without even any great administrative side; and it was therefore well-nigh purely a movement of destruction. The individual prowess and hardihood of the Mongols, and the perfection of their military organization rendered their armies incomparably superior to those of any European, or any other Asiatic, power of that day. They conquered from the Yellow Sea to the Persian Gulf and the Adriatic; they seized the imperial throne of China; they slew the Caliph in Bagdad; they founded dynasties in India. The fanaticism of Christianity and the fanaticism of Mohammedanism were alike powerless against them. The valor of the bravest fighting men in Europe was impotent to check them. They trampled Russia into bloody mire beneath the hoofs of their horses; they drew red furrows of destruction across Poland and Hungary; they overthrew with ease any force from western Europe that dared encounter them. Yet they had no root of permanence; their work was mere evil while it lasted, and it did not last long; and when they vanished they left hardly a trace behind them. So the extraordinary Phoenician civilization was almost purely a mercantile, a business civilization, and though it left an impress on the life that came after, this impress was faint indeed compared to that left, for instance, by the Greeks with their many-sided development. Yet the Greek civilization itself fell because this many-sided development became too exclusively one of intellect, at the expense of character, at the expense of the fundamental qualities which fit men to govern both themselves and others. When the Greek lost the sterner virtues, when his soldiers lost the fighting edge, and his statesmen grew corrupt, while the people became a faction-torn and pleasure-loving rabble, then the doom of Greece was at hand, and not all their cultivation, their intellectual brilliancy, their artistic development, their adroitness in speculative science, could save the Hellenic peoples as they bowed before the sword of the iron Roman.
  • What is the lesson to us to-day? Are we to go the way of the older civilizations? The immense increase in the area of civilized activity to-day, so that it is nearly coterminous with the world's surface; the immense increase in the multitudinous variety of its activities; the immense increase in the velocity of the world movement—are all these to mean merely that the crash will be all the more complete and terrible when it comes? We can not be certain that the answer will be in the negative; but of this we can be certain, that we shall not go down in ruin unless we deserve and earn our end. There is no necessity for us to fall; we can hew out our destiny for ourselves, if only we have the wit and the courage and the honesty.
  • Personally, I do not believe that our civilization will fall. I think that on the whole we have grown better and not worse. I think that on the whole the future holds more for us than even the great past has held. But, assuredly, the dreams of golden glory in the future will not come true unless, high of heart and strong of hand, by our own mighty deeds we make them come true. We can not afford to develop any one set of qualities, any one set of activities, at the cost of seeing others, equally necessary, atrophied. Neither the military efficiency of the Mongol, the extraordinary business ability of the Phoenician, nor the subtle and polished intellect of the Greek availed to avert destruction.
  • We, the men of to-day and of the future, need many qualities if we are to do our work well. We need, first of all and most important of all, the qualities which stand at the base of individual, of family life, the fundamental and essential qualities—the homely, every-day, all-important virtues. If the average man will not work, if he has not in him the will and the power to be a good husband and father; if the average woman is not a good housewife, a good mother of many healthy children, then the state will topple, will go down, no matter what may be its brilliance of artistic development or material achievement. But these homely qualities are not enough. There must, in addition, be that power of organization, that power of working in common for a common end [...]. Moreover, the things of the spirit are even more important than the things of the body. We can well do without the hard intolerance and arid intellectual barrenness of what was worst in the theological systems of the past, but there has never been greater need of a high and fine religious spirit than at the present time. So, while we can laugh good-humoredly at some of the pretensions of modern philosophy in its various branches, it would be worse than folly on our part to ignore our need of intellectual leadership. [...] our debt to scientific men is incalculable, and our civilization of to-day would have reft from it all that which most highly distinguishes it if the work of the great masters of science during the past four centuries were now undone or forgotten. Never has philanthropy, humanitarianism, seen such development as now; and though we must all beware of the folly, and the viciousness no worse than folly, which marks the believer in the perfectibility of man when his heart runs away with his head, or when vanity usurps the place of conscience, yet we must remember also that it is only by working along the lines laid down by the philanthropists, by the lovers of mankind, that we can be sure of lifting our civilization to a higher and more permanent plane of well-being than was ever attained by any preceding civilization.
  • Unjust war is to be abhorred; but woe to the nation that does not make ready to hold its own in time of need against all who would harm it! And woe thrice over to the nation in which the average man loses the fighting edge, loses the power to serve as a soldier if the day of need should arise!
  • Finally, this world movement of civilization, this movement which is now felt throbbing in every corner of the globe, should bind the nations of the world together while yet leaving unimpaired that love of country in the individual citizen which in the present stage of the world's progress is essential to the world's well-being.
  • Each people can do justice to itself only if it does justice to others; but each people can do its part in the world movement for all only if it first does its duty within its own household. The good citizen must be a good citizen of his own country first before he can with advantage be a citizen of the world at large.

The New Nationalism (1910)Edit

Speech at Osawatomie, Kansas (31 August 1910), published in The New Nationalism (1910).
On August 31, 1910, President Theodore Roosevelt visited Osawatomie, Kansas and laid out his vision for what he called a "new nationalism." In the speech, he called for the end of special protections for businesses in government. He declared that anyone who worked hard should be able to provide for themselves and their family, and that no one person was more entitled to special privileges than another. He stood by fair play under the rules of the game ensuring the rules made opportunity available to everyone. For more information see New Nationalism wiki enty
It is of little use for us to pay lip-loyalty to the mighty men of the past unless ...
We cannot afford weakly to blind ourselves to the actual conflict which faces us today. The issue is joined, and we must fight or fail.
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. [...] At every stage, and under all circumstances, the essence of the struggle is to equalize opportunity, destroy privilege, and give to the life and citizenship of every individual the highest possible value both to himself and to the commonwealth.
Our government, National and State, must be freed from the sinister influence or control of special interests. [...] now the great special business interests too often control and corrupt the men and methods of government for their own profit. We must drive the special interests out of politics.
Every special interest is entitled to justice-full, fair, and complete [...] but not one is entitled to a vote in Congress, to a voice on the bench, or to representation in any public office.
The Constitution guarantees protection to property, and we must make that promise good. But it does not give the right of suffrage to any corporation.
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.
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 ...
The representative body shall represent all the people rather than any one class or section of the people.
Whenever the alternative must be faced, I am for men and not for property … . I am far from underestimating the importance of dividends; but I rank dividends below human character.
If our political institutions were perfect, they would absolutely prevent the political domination of money in any part of our affairs.
No matter how honest and decent we are in our private lives, if we do not have the right kind of law and the right kind of administration of the law, we cannot go forward as a nation.
The object of government is the welfare of the people. The material progress and prosperity of a nation are desirable chiefly so long as they lead to the moral and material welfare of all good citizens.
  • Our country—this great republic—means nothing unless it means the triumph of a real democracy, the triumph of popular government, and, in the long run, of an economic system under which each man shall be guaranteed the opportunity to show the best that there is in him.
  • 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. This is true everywhere; but, O my friends, it should be truest of all in political life. A broken promise is bad enough in private life. It is worse in the field of politics. No man is worth his salt in public life who makes on the stump a pledge which he does not keep after election; and, if he makes such a pledge and does not keep it, hunt him out of public life. I care for the great deeds of the past chiefly as spurs to drive us onward in the present. I speak of the men of the past partly that they may be honored by our praise of them, but more that they may serve as examples for the future.
  • Even in ordinary times there are very few of us who do not see the problems of life as through a glass, darkly; and when the glass is clouded by the murk of furious popular passion, the vision of the best and the bravest is dimmed.
  • It is of little use for us to pay lip-loyalty to the mighty men of the past unless we sincerely endeavor to apply to the problems of the present precisely the qualities which in other crises enabled the men of that day to meet those crises.
  • We cannot afford weakly to blind ourselves to the actual conflict which faces us today. The issue is joined, and we must fight or fail.
  • 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.
  • At many stages in the advance of humanity, this conflict between the men who possess more than they have earned and the men who have earned more than they possess is the central condition of progress. In our day it appears as the struggle of freemen to gain and hold the right of self-government as against the special interests, who twist the methods of free government into machinery for defeating the popular will. At every stage, and under all circumstances, the essence of the struggle is to equalize opportunity, destroy privilege, and give to the life and citizenship of every individual the highest possible value both to himself and to the commonwealth.
  • 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.
  • I stand for the square deal. But when I say that I am for the square deal, I mean not merely that I stand for fair play under the present rules of the game, but that I stand for having those rules changed so as to work for a more substantial equality of opportunity and of reward for equally good service. One word of warning, which, I think, is hardly necessary in Kansas. When I say I want a square deal for the poor man, I do not mean that I want a square deal for the man who remains poor because he has not got the energy to work for himself. If a man who has had a chance will not make good, then he has got to quit. And you men of the Grand Army, you want justice for the brave man who fought, and punishment for the coward who shirked his work. Is that not so?
  • Now, this means that our government, National and State, must be freed from the sinister influence or control of special interests. Exactly as the special interests of cotton and slavery threatened our political integrity before the Civil War, so now the great special business interests too often control and corrupt the men and methods of government for their own profit. We must drive the special interests out of politics. That is one of our tasks to-day. Every special interest is entitled to justice-full, fair, and complete — and, now, mind you, if there were any attempt by mob-violence to plunder and work harm to the special interest, whatever it may be, that I most dislike, and the wealthy man, whomsoever he may be, for whom I have the greatest contempt, I would fight for him, and you would if you were worth your salt. He should have justice. For every special interest is entitled to justice, but not one is entitled to a vote in Congress, to a voice on the bench, or to representation in any public office. The Constitution guarantees protection to property, and we must make that promise good. But it does not give the right of suffrage to any corporation.
  • 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 called into being.
  • 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. We must have complete and effective publicity of corporate affairs, so that the 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.
  • It has become entirely clear that we must have government supervision of the capitalization, not only of public-service corporations, including, particularly, railways, but of all corporations doing an interstate business. I do not wish to see the nation forced into the ownership of the railways if it can possibly be avoided, and the only alternative is thoroughgoing and effective legislation, which shall be based on a full knowledge of all the facts, including a physical valuation of property. This physical valuation is not needed, or, at least, is very rarely needed, for fixing rates; but it is needed as the basis of honest capitalization.
  • We have come to recognize that franchises should never be granted except for a limited time, and never without proper provision for compensation to the public. It is my personal belief that the same kind and degree of control and supervision which should be exercised over public-service corporations should be extended also to combinations which control necessaries of life, such as meat, oil, or coal, or which deal in them on an important scale. I have no doubt that the ordinary man who has control of them is much like ourselves. I have no doubt he would like to do well, but I want to have enough supervision to help him realize that desire to do well. I believe that the officers, and, especially, the directors, of corporations should be held personally responsible when any corporation breaks the law.
  • Combinations in industry are the result of an imperative economic law which cannot be repealed by political legislation. The effort at prohibiting all combination has substantially failed. The way out lies, not in attempting to prevent such combinations, but in completely controlling them in the interest of the public welfare.
  • 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 to is to change the conditions which enable these men to accumulate power which it 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. Again, comrades over there, take the lesson from your own experience. Not only did you not grudge, but you gloried in the promotion of the great generals who gained their promotion by leading their army to victory. So it is with us. We grudge no man a fortune in civil life if it is honorably obtained and well used. It is not even enough that it should have been gained without doing damage to the community. We should permit it to be gained only so long as the gaining represents benefit to the community.
  • 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.
  • The people of the United States suffer from periodical financial panics to a degree substantially unknown to the other nations, which approach us in financial strength. There is no reason why we should suffer what they escape. It is of profound importance that our financial system should be promptly investigated, and so thoroughly and effectively revised as to make it certain that hereafter our currency will no longer fail at critical times to meet our needs.
  • Justice and fair dealings among nations rest upon principles identical with those which control justice and fair dealing among the individuals of which nations are composed, with the vital exception that each nation must do its own part in international police work. If you get into trouble here, you can call for the police; but if Uncle Sam gets into trouble, he has got to be his own policeman, and I want to see him strong enough to encourage the peaceful aspirations of other people’s in connection with us. I believe in national friendships and heartiest good-will to all nations; but national friendships, like those between men, must be founded on respect as well as on liking, on forbearance as well as upon trust. I should be heartily ashamed of any American who did not try to make the American government act as justly toward the other nations in international relations as he himself would act toward any individual in private relations. I should be heartily ashamed to see us wrong a weaker power, and I should hang my head forever if we tamely suffered wrong from a stronger power.
  • Conservation means development as much as it does protection. I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us. I ask nothing of the nation except that it so behave as each farmer here behaves with reference to his own children. That farmer is a poor creature who skins the land and leaves it worthless to his children. The farmer is a good farmer who, having enabled the land to support himself and to provide for the education of his children, leaves it to them a little better than he found it himself. I believe the same thing of a nation.
  • Moreover, I believe that the natural resources must be used for the benefit of all our people, and not monopolized for the benefit of the few [...]. [...] there are many people who will go with us in conserving the resources only if they are to be allowed to exploit them for their benefit. That is one of the fundamental reasons why the special interests should be driven out of politics. Of all the questions which can come before this nation, short of the actual preservation of its existence in a great war, there is none which compares in importance with the great central task of leaving this land even a better land for our descendants than it is for us, and training them into a better race to inhabit the land and pass it on. Conservation is a great moral issue, for it involves the patriotic duty of insuring the safety and continuance of the nation. Let me add that the health and vitality of our people are at least as well worth conserving as their forests, waters, lands, and minerals, and in this great work the national government must bear a most important part.
  • Nothing is more true than that excess of every kind is followed by reaction; a fact which should be pondered by reformer and reactionary alike. We are face to face with new conceptions of the relations of property to human welfare, chiefly because certain advocates of the rights of property as against the rights of men have been pushing their claims too far. The man who wrongly holds that every human right is secondary to his profit must now give way to the advocate of human welfare, who rightly maintains that 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.
  • . The right to regulate the use of wealth in the public interest is universally admitted. Let us admit also the right to regulate the terms and conditions of labor, which is the chief element of wealth, directly in the interest of the common good. The fundamental thing to do for every man is to give him a chance to reach a place in which he will make the greatest possible contribution to the public welfare. Understand what I say there. Give him a chance, not push him up if he will not be pushed. Help any man who stumbles; if he lies down, it is a poor job to try to carry him; but if he is a worthy man, try your best to see that he gets a chance to show the worth that is in him.
  • 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 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 by which we surround them. We need comprehensive workman’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 book-learning, 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 workers in industry and commerce, both within and between the States. Also, friends, in the interest of the working man himself, we need to set our faces like flint against mob-violence just as against corporate greed; against violence and injustice and lawlessness by wage-workers just as much as against lawless cunning and greed and selfish arrogance of employers.
  • If I could ask but one thing of my fellow countrymen, my request would be that, whenever they go in for reform, they remember the two sides, and that they always exact justice from one side as much as from the other. I have small use for the public servant who can always see and denounce the corruption of the capitalist, but who cannot persuade himself, especially before election, to say a word about lawless mob-violence. And I have equally small use for the man, be he a judge on the bench or editor of a great paper, or wealthy and influential private citizen, who can see clearly enough and denounce the lawlessness of mob-violence, but whose eyes are closed so that he is blind when the question is one of corruption of business on a gigantic scale. Also, remember what I said about excess in reformer and reactionary alike. If the reactionary man, who thinks of nothing but the rights of property, could have his way, he would bring about a revolution; and one of my chief fears in connection with progress comes because I do not want to see our people, for lack of proper leadership, compelled to follow men whose intentions are excellent, but whose eyes are a little too wild to make it really safe to trust them.
  • The State must be made efficient for the work which concerns only the people of the State; and the nation for that which concerns all the people. There must remain no neutral ground to serve as a refuge for lawbreakers, and especially for lawbreakers of great wealth, who can hire the vulpine legal cunning which will teach them how to avoid both jurisdictions.
  • I do not ask for overcentralization; but I do ask that we work in a spirit of broad and far-reaching nationalism when we work for what concerns our people as a whole. We are all Americans. Our common interests are as broad as the continent. I speak to you here in Kansas exactly as I would speak in New York or Georgia, for the most vital problems are those which affect us all alike. The national government belongs to the whole American people, and where the whole American people are interested, that interest can be guarded effectively only by the national government. The betterment which we seek must be accomplished, I believe, mainly through the national government.
  • 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 over division 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.
  • I believe in shaping the ends of government to protect property as well as human welfare. Normally, and in the long run, the ends are the same; but whenever the alternative must be faced, I am for men and not for property, as you were in the Civil War. I am far from underestimating the importance of dividends; but I rank dividends below human character. Again, I do not have any sympathy with the reformer who says he does not care for dividends. Of course, economic welfare is necessary, for a man must pull his own weight and be able to support his family. I know well that the reformers must not bring upon the people economic ruin, or the reforms themselves will go down in the ruin. But we must be ready to face temporary disaster, whether or not brought on by those who will war against us to the knife. Those who oppose 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.
  • 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-services 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.
  • 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.
  • The object of government is the welfare of the people. The material progress and prosperity of a nation are desirable chiefly so long as they lead to the moral and material welfare of all good citizens.
  • No matter how honest and decent we are in our private lives, if we do not have the right kind of law and the right kind of administration of the law, we cannot go forward as a nation. That is imperative; but it must be an addition to, and not a substitute for, the qualities that make us good citizens. In the last analysis, the most important elements in any man’s career must be the sum of those qualities which, in the aggregate, we speak of as character. If he has not got it, then no law that the wit of man can devise, no administration of the law by the boldest and strongest executive, will avail to help him. We must have the right kind of character-character that makes a man, first of all, a good man in the home, a good father, and a good husband-that makes a man a good neighbor. You must have that, and, then, in addition, you must have the kind of law and the kind of administration of the law which will give to those qualities in the private citizen the best possible chance for development. The prime problem of our nation is to get the right type of good citizenship, and, to get it, we must have progress, and our public men must be genuinely progressive.

The Progressives, Past and Present (1910)Edit

Theodore Roosevelt, "The Progressives, Past and Present" in: The Outlook, New York, v. 96, No. 1 (September 3, 1910).
In this article Theodore Roosevelt outlines his statements from the New Nationalism speech in more detail because, as he wrotes in his article introduction, "When I came to prepare my speech at Osawatomie, I found I desired to say more than could well go into it [...]." Therefore "part of what I thus wished to say I put in this article"
We must apply new political methods to meet the new political needs, or else we shall stiffer, and our children also.
The greatest evils in our industrial system to-day are those which rise from the abuses of aggregated wealth; and our great problem is to overcome these evils and cut out these abuses. No one man can deal with this matter. It is the affair of the people as a whole.
If we approach the work of reform in a spirit of vindictiveness -- in a spirit of reckless disregard for the right of others or of hatred for men because they are better off than ourselves -- we are sure in the end to do not good but damage to all mankind.
The man of great wealth who accumulates and uses his wealth without regard to ethical standards, who profits by and breeds corruption, and robs and swindles others, is the very worst enemy of property.
The collective power of the State can help; but it is the individual’s own power of self-help which is most important.
The fact that there are dangers in following a given course merely means that we should follow it with a cautious realization of these dangers, and not that we should abandon it, if on the whole it is the right course.
Our democracy depends on individual improvement just as much as upon collective effort to achieve our common social improvement.
To refuse to take, or to permit others to take, wise and practical action for the remedying of abuses is to invite unwise action under the lead of violent extremists.
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.
Full knowledge of the past helps us in dealing with the future.
The destinies of this country should be shaped primarily by moral forces, and by material forces only as they are subordinated to these moral forces.
One end of government should be to achieve prosperity; but it should follow this end chiefly to serve an even higher and more important end - that of promoting the character and welfare of the average man.
In the last analysis, with the nation as with the individual, it is private character that counts for most
Inefficiency is a curse; and no good intention atones for weakness of will and flabbiness of moral, mental, and physical fiber; yet it is also true that no intellectual cleverness, no ability to achieve material prosperity, can atone for the lack of the great moral qualities which are the surest foundation of national might.
  • To my mind the failure resolutely to follow progressive policies is the negation of democracy as well of progress, and spells disaster. But for this very reason I feel concern when progressives act with heedless violence, or go so far and so fast as to invite reaction. The experience of John Brown illustrates the evil of the revolutionary short-cut to ultimate good ends. The liberty of the slave was desirable, but it was not to be brought about by a slave insurrection. The better distribution of property is desirable, but it is not to be brought about by the anarchic form of Socialism which would destroy all private capital and tend to destroy all private wealth. It represents not progress, but retrogression, to propose to destroy capital because the power of unrestrained capital is abused. John Brown rendered a great service to the cause of liberty in the earlier Kansas days; but his notion that the evils of slavery could be cured by a slave insurrection was a delusion analogous to the delusions of those who expect to cure the evils of plutocracy by arousing the baser passions of workingmen against the rich in an endeavor at violent industrial revolution. And, on the other hand, the brutal and shortsighted greed of those who profit by what is wrong in the present system, and the attitude of those who oppose all effort to do away with this wrong, serve in their turn as incitements to such revolution; just as the insolence of the ultra pro-slavery men finally precipitated the violent destruction of slavery.
  • Surely such a union of indomitable resolution in the achievement of a given purpose, with patience and moderation in the policy pursued, and with kindly charity and consideration and friendliness to those of opposite belief, marks the very spirit in which we of to-day should approach the pressing problems of the present. These problems have to do .with securing a more just and generally wide spread welfare, so that there may be a more substantial measure of equality in moral and physical well-being among the people [...].
  • Fundamentally, our chief problem may be summed up as the effort to make men as nearly as they can be made, both free and equal; the freedom and equality necessarily resting on a basis of justice and brotherhood. It is not possible, with the imperfections of mankind, ever wholly to achieve such an ideal, if only for the reason that the shortcomings of men are such that complete and unrestricted individual liberty would mean the negation of even approximate equality, while a rigid and absolute equality would imply the destruction of every shred of liberty. Our business is to secure a practical working combination between the two. This combination should aim, on the one hand to secure to each man the largest measure of individual liberty that is compatible with his fellows getting from life a just share of the good things to which they are legitimately entitled; while, on the other hand, it should aim to bring about among well-behaved, hardworking people a measure of equality which shall be substantial, and which shall yet permit to the individual the personal liberty of achievement and reward without which life would not be worth living, without which all progress would stop, and civilization first stagnate and then go backwards. Such a combination cannot be completely realized. It can be realized at all only by the application of the spirit of fraternity, the spirit of brotherhood. This spirit demands that each man shall learn and apply the principle that his liberty must be used not only for his own benefit but for the interest of the community as a whole, while the community in its turn, acting as a whole, shall understand that while it must insist on its own rights as against the individual, it must also scrupulously safeguard these same rights of the individual.
  • Our whole experiment is meaningless unless we are to make this a democracy in the fullest sense of the word, in the broadest as well as the highest and deepest significance of the word. It must be made a democracy economically, as well as politically. This does not mean that there shall not, be leadership in the economic as in the political world, or that there shall not be ample reward for high distinction and great service.
  • If our farmers now used the wasteful methods that served for their great grand-fathers they would not merely fail in the present, but would work a grave wrong to the American citizens of the future. In the same way we must apply new political methods to meet the new political needs, or else we shall stiffer, and our children also.
  • The greatest evils in our industrial system to-day are those which rise from the abuses of aggregated wealth; and our great problem is to overcome these evils and cut out these abuses. No one man can deal with this matter. It is the affair of the people as a whole. When aggregated wealth demands what is unfair, its immense power can be met only by the still greater power of the people as a whole, exerted in the only way it can be exerted, through the Government; and we must be resolutely prepared to use the power of the Government to any needed extent, even though it be necessary to tread paths which are yet untrod. The complete change in economic conditions means that governmental methods never yet resorted to may have to be employed in order to deal with them. We can not tolerate anything approaching a monopoly, especially in the necessaries of life, except on terms of such thoroughgoing governmental control as will absolutely safe guard every right of the public. Moreover, one of the most sinister manifestations of great corporate wealth during recent years has been its tendency to interfere and dominate in politics.
  • It is not merely that we want to see the game played fairly. We also want to see the rules changed, so that there shall be both less opportunity and less temptation to cheat, and less chance for some few people to gain a profit to which either they are not entitled at all, or else which is so enormous as to be greatly in excess of what they deserve, even though their services have been great. We wish to do away with the profit that comes from the illegitimate exercise of cunning and craft. We also wish to secure a measurable equality of opportunity, a measurable equality of reward for services of similar value. To do all this, two, mutually supplementary movements are necessary. On the one hand, there must be - I think there now is - a genuine and permanent moral awakening, without which no wisdom of legislation or administration really means anything; and, on the other hand, we must try to secure the social and economic legislation without which any improvement due to purely moral agitation is necessarily evanescent.
  • We must set the end in view as the goal; and then, instead of making a fetish of some particular kind of means, we should adopt whatever honorable means will best accomplish the end. In so far as unrestricted individual liberty brings the best results, we should encourage it. But when a point is reached where this complete lack of restriction on individual liberty fails to achieve the best results, then, on behalf of the whole people, we should exercise the collective power of the people, through the State Legislatures in matters of purely local concern, and through the National Legislature when the purpose is so big that only National action can achieve it.
  • There are good people who, being discontented with present-day conditions, think that these conditions can be cured by a return to what they call the “principles of the fathers.” […] But to go back to the governmental theories of a hundred years ago would accomplish nothing whatever; for it was under the conditions of unrestricted individualism and freedom from Government interference, countenanced by those theories, that the trusts grew up, and private fortunes, enormous far beyond the deserts of the accumulators were gathered. […] It may be that, in the past development of our country, complete freedom from all restrictions, and the consequent unlimited encouragement and reward given to the most successful industrial leaders, played a part in which the benefits outweighed the disadvantages. But nowadays such is not the case.
  • Above all, in this speech, as in so many others, he taught a lesson in wise kindliness and charity; an indispensable lesson to us of to-day, for if we approach the work of reform in a spirit of vindictiveness-in a spirit of reckless disregard for the rights of others, or of hatred for men because they are better off than ourselves—we are sure in the end to do not good but damage to all mankind, and especially to those whose especial champions we pro-fess ourselves to be.
  • Violent excess is sure to provoke violent reaction; and the worst possible policy for our country would be one of violent oscillation between reckless upsetting of property rights, and unscrupulous greed manifested under pretense of protecting those rights. The agitator who preaches hatred and practices slander and untruthfulness, and the visionary who promises perfection and accomplishes only destruction, are the worst enemies of reform; and the man of great wealth who accumulates and uses his wealth without regard to ethical standards, who profits by and breeds corruption, and robs and swindles others, is the very worst enemy of property, the very worst enemy of conservatism, the very worst enemy of those “ business interests” that only too often regard him with mean admiration and heatedly endeavor to shield him from the consequences of his iniquity.
  • A great democratic commonwealth should seek to produce and reward that individual distinction which results in the efficient performance of needed work, for such performance is of high value to the whole community. But hand in hand with this purpose must go the purpose which Abraham Lincoln designated as the “amelioration of mankind.” Only by an intelligent effort to realize this joint process of individual and social betterment can we keep our democracy sound.
  • The collective power of the State can help; but it is the individual’s own power of self-help which is most important.
  • Nevertheless, the fact that there are dangers in following a given course merely means that we should follow it with a cautious realization of these dangers, and not that we should abandon it, if on the whole it is the right course.
  • It is just so with personal liberty. The unlimited freedom which the individual property-owner has enjoyed has been of use to this country in many ways, and we can continue our prosperous economic career only by retaining an economic organization which will offer to the men of the stamp of the great captains of industry the opportunity and inducement to earn distinction. Nevertheless, we as Americans must now face the fact that this great freedom which the individual property-owner has enjoyed in the past has produced evils which were’ inevitable from its unrestrained exercise. It is this very freedom - this absence of State ‘and National restraint - that has tended to create a small class of enormously wealthy and economically powerful men whose chief object is to hold and increase their power. Any feeling of special hatred toward these men is as absurd as any feeling of special regard. Some of them have gained their power by cheating and swindling, just as some very small business men cheat and swindle; but, as a whole, big men are no better and no worse than their small competitors, from a moral standpoint. Where they do wrong it is even more important to punish them than to punish as small man who does wrong, because their position makes it especially wicked for them to yield to temptation; but the prime need is to change the conditions which enable them to accumulate a power which it is not for the general welfare that they should hold or exercise, and to make this change not only, without vindictiveness, without doing injustice to individuals, but also in a cautious and temperate spirit, testing our theories by actual practice, so that our legislation may represent the minimum of restrictions upon the individual initiative of the exceptional man which is compatible with obtaining the maximum of welfare for the average man.
  • We grudge no man a fortune which represents merely his own power and sagacity exercised with entire regard to the welfare of his fellows. But the fortune must not only be honorably obtained and well used; it is also essential that it should not represent a necessary incident of widespread, even though partial, economic privation. It is not even enough that the fortune should have been gained without doing damage to the community. We should only permit it to be gained and kept so long as the gaining and the keeping represent benefit to the community.
  • We must make popular government responsible for the betterment both of the individual and of society at large. Let me repeat once more that, while such responsible governmental action is an absolutely necessary thing to achieve our purpose, yet it will be worse than useless if it is not accompanied by a serious effort on the part of the individuals composing the community thus to achieve each for himself a higher standard of individual betterment, not merely material but spiritual and intellectual. In other words, our democracy depends on individual improvement just as much as upon collective effort to achieve our common social improvement. The most serious troubles of the present day are unquestionably due in large part to lack of efficient govern-mental action, and cannot be remedied without such action; but neither can any remedy permanently avail unless back of it stands a high general character of individual citizenship.
  • Any given case must be treated on its special merits. Each community should be required to deal with all that is of merely local interest; and nothing should be undertaken by the Government of the whole country which can thus wisely be left to local management. But those functions of government which no wisdom on the part of the States will enable them satisfactorily to perform must be performed by the National Government. We are all Americans; our common interests are as broad as the continent; the most vital problems are those that affect us all alike. The regulation of big business, and therefore the control of big property in the public interest, are preeminently instances of such functions which can only be performed efficiently and wisely by the Nation; and, moreover, so far as labor is employed in connection with inter-State business, it should also be treated as a matter for the National Government. The National power over inter-State commerce warrants our dealing with such questions as employers’ liability in inter-State business, and the protection and compensation for injuries of railway employees. The National Government of right has, and must exercise its power for the protection of labor which is connected with the instrumentalities of inter-State commerce.
  • The National Government belongs to the whole American people; and where the whole American people are interested that interest can be effectively guarded only by the National Government. We ought to use the National Government as an agency, a tool, wherever it is necessary, in order that we may organize our entire political, economical, and social life in accordance with a far-reaching democratic purpose. We should make the National governmental machinery an adequate and constructive instrument for constructive work in the realization of a National democratic ideal.
  • From the National standpoint nothing can be worse - nothing can be full of graver menace - for the National life than to have the Federal courts active in nullifying State action to remedy the evils arising from the abuse of great wealth, unless the Federal authorities, executive, legislative, and judicial alike, do their full duty in effectually meeting the need of a thoroughgoing and radical supervision and control of big inter-State business in all its forms. Many great financiers, and many of the great corporation lawyers who advise them, still oppose any effective regulation of big business by the National Government, because, for the time being, it serves their interest to trust to the chaos which is caused on the one hand by inefficient laws and conflicting and often unwise efforts at regulation by State governments, and, on the other hand, by the efficient protection against such regulation afforded by the Federal courts. In the end this condition will prove intolerable, and will hurt most of all the very class which it at present benefits. The continuation of such conditions would mean that the corporations would find that they had purchased immunity from the efficient exercise of Federal regulative power at the cost of being submitted to a violent and radical local supervision, inflamed to fury by having repeatedly been thwarted, and not chastened by exercised responsibility. To refuse to take, or to permit others to take, wise and practical action for the remedying of abuses is to invite unwise action under the lead of violent extremists.
  • 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.
  • Corporations are necessary to the effective use of the forces of production and commerce under modern conditions. We cannot effectively prohibit all combinations without doing far-reaching economic harm; and it is mere folly to do as we have done in the past—to try to combine incompatible systems—that is, to try both to prohibit and regulate combinations. Combinations in industry are the result of an imperative economic law which cannot be repealed by political legislation. The effort at prohibiting all combination has substantially failed. The only course left is active corporate regulation – that is, the control of corporations for the common good—the suppression of the evils that they work, and the retention, as far as maybe, of that business efficiency in their use which has placed us in the forefront of industrial peoples.
  • The corporation is the creature of government, and the people have the right to handle it as they desire; all they need pay attention to is the expediency of realizing this right in some way that shall be productive of good and not harm.
  • The corporate manager who achieves success by honest efficiency in giving the best service to the public should be favored because we all benefit by his efficiency. […] he should be helped by the Government because his success is good for the National welfare. But a man who, grasps and holds business power by breaking the industrial efficiency of others, who wins success by methods which are against‘ the public interest and degrading to the public morals, should not be permitted to ‘ exercise such power. Instead of punishing him by a long and doubtful process of the law after the wrong has been com- mitted, there should be such effective Government regulation as to check the evil tendencies at the moment that they start do develop.
  • Overcapitalization in all its shapes is one of the prime evils; for it is one of the most fruitful methods by which unscrupulous men get improper profits, and when the holdings come into innocent hands we are forced into the uncomfortable position of being obliged to reduce the dividends of innocent investors, or of permitting the public and the wage-workers, either or both, to suffer. Such really effective control over great inter-State business can come only from the National Government. The American people demands the new Nationalism needful to deal with the new problems; it puts the National need above sectional, or personal advantage; it is impatient of the utter confusion which results from local legislatures attempting to treat National issues as local issues; it is still more impatient of the National impotence which springs from the over-division of governmental powers; the impotence which makes it possible for local selfishness, or for the vulpine legal cunning which is hired by wealthy special interests, to bring National activities to a deadlock; The control must be exercised in several different ways. It may be that National incorporation is not at the moment possible; but there must be some affirmative. National control, on terms which will secure publicity in the affairs of and complete supervision and control over the big, Nation-wide business corporations ; a control that will prevent and not legalize abuses. […] Such control should protect and favor the corporation which acts honestly, exactly as it should check and punish, when it cannot prevent, every species of dishonesty.
  • The average American citizen should have presented to him in a simple and easily comprehended form the truth about the business affairs that affect his daily life as consumer, employee, employer, as investor, as voter. […] There are concrete instances of unfair competition that can be reached under the Federal criminal legislation, and they should be attacked and destroyed in the courts. But the laws should be such that normally, and save in extraordinary, circumstances, there should be no need of recourse to the courts. What is needed is administrative supervision and control. This should be so exercised that the highways of commerce and opportunity should be open to all; and not nominally open, but really open, a consistent effort being made to deprive every man of any advantage that is not due to his own superiority and efficiency, controlled by moral purpose. […] Not only as a matter of justice and honesty, but as a matter of prime popular interest, we should see that this control is so exercised as to favor a proper return to the upright business manager and honest investor.
  • Inasmuch as it is so often impossible to punish wrongs done in the past, and to prevent the consequences of the wrongs thus committed being felt by one innocent class, without shifting the burden to the shoulders of another innocent class, we ought to provide that hereafter business shall be carried on from its inception in such a way as to prevent swindling. Incidentally, this will also tend to prevent that excessive profit by one man, which may not be swindling, under existing laws, but which nevertheless is against the interest of the commonwealth. To know all the facts is of as much interest to the investor and the wage-worker as to the shipper, the producer, the consumer. Full knowledge of the past helps us in dealing with the future. If we find that high rates are due to overcapitalization n the past, or to any kind of sharp practice in the past, then, whether or not it is possible to take action which will partly remedy the wrong, we are certainly in a better position to prevent a repetition of the wrong.
  • Let me, in closing, put my position in a nutshell. When I say that I am for the square deal, I mean not merely that I stand for fair play under the present rules of the game, but that I stand for having these rules changed so as to work for a more substantial equality of opportunity and of reward for equally good service. So far as possible, the reward should be based upon service; and this necessarily implies that where a man renders us service in return for the fortune he receives, he has the right to receive it only on terms just to the whole people.
  • [T]here should be a heavily progressive National inheritance tax on big fortunes. The really big 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. A heavily progressive inheritance tax on all such fortunes (heaviest on absentees) has the good qualities of an income tax, without its drawbacks; it is far more beneficial to the community at large, and far less burdensome to private individuals, as well as far more easily collected. A moderate, but progressive, income tax, carefully devised to fall genuinely on those who ought to pay, would, I believe, he a good thing; but a heavy and heavily progressive inheritance tax on great fortunes would be a far better thing.
  • I believe in property rights, but I believe in them as adjuncts to, and not as substitutes for human rights. I believe that normally the rights of property coincide with the rights of man; but where they do not, then the rights of man must be; put above the rights of property. I believe in shaping the ends of government to protect property; but wherever the alternative must be faced, I am for man and not for property. I am far from underestimating the importance of dividends, but I rank dividends below human character. I know well that if there is not sufficient prosperity the people will in the end rebel against any system, no matter how exalted morally; and reformers must not bring upon the people permanent economic ruin, or the reforms themselves will go down in the ruin.
  • But we must be ready to face any temporary disaster - whether or not brought on by those who will war against us to the knife — if only through such disaster can we attainour goal.
  • And 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 whatever but a swollen and badly distributed material prosperity. In other words, I feel that material interests are chiefly good, not in themselves, but as an indispensable foundation upon which we should build a higher superstructure, a superstructure without which the foundation becomes worthless. Therefore I believe that the destinies of this country should be shaped primarily by moral forces, and by material forces only as they are subordinated to these moral forces.
  • I believe that material wealth is an exceedingly valuable servant, and a particularly abhorrent master, in our National life. I think one end of government should be to achieve prosperity; but it should follow this end chiefly to serve an even higher and more important end - that of promoting the character and welfare of the average man. In the long run, and inevitably, the actual control of the government will be determined by the chief end which the government subserves. If the end and aim of government action is merely to accumulate general material prosperity, treating such prosperity as an end in itself and not as a means, then it is inevitable that material wealth and the masters of that wealth will dominate and control the course of national action. If, on the other hand, the achievement of material wealth is treated, not as an end of government, but as a thing of great value, it is true—so valuable as to be indispensable—but of value only in connection with the achievement of other ends, then we are free to seek throughour government, and through the supervision of our individual activities, the realization of a true democracy. Then we are free to seek not only the heaping up of material wealth, but a wise and generous distribution of such wealth so as to diminish grinding poverty, and, so far as may be, to equalize social and economic no less than political opportunity.
  • The people as a whole can be benefited morally and materially by a system which shall permit of ample reward for exceptional efficiency, but which shall nevertheless secure to the average man, who does his work faithfully and well, the reward to which he is entitled. Remember that I speak only of the man who does his work faithfully and well. The man who shirks his work, who is lazy or vicious, or even merely incompetent, deserves scant consideration; we may be sorry for his family, but it is folly to waste sympathy on the man himself; and it is also folly for sentimentalists to try to shift the burden of blame from such a man himself to “society” and it is an outrage to give him the reward given to his hard-working, upright, and efficient brother. Still less should we waste sympathy on the criminal; there are altogether too many honest men who need it; and one chief point in dealing with the criminal should be to make him understand that he will be in personal peril if he becomes a lawbreaker. I realize entirely that in the last analysis, with the nation as with the individual, it is private character that counts for most. It is because of this realization that I gladly lay myself open to the charge that I preach too much, and dwell too much upon moral commonplaces; for though I believe with all my heart in the nationalization of this Nation—in the collective use on behalf of the American people of the governmental powers which can be derived only from the American people as a whole—yet I believe even more in the practical application by the individual of those great fundamental moralities.
  • Yet surely it is the duty of every public man to try to make all of us keep in mind, and practice, the moralities essential to the welfare of the American people. It is of vital concern to the American people that the men and women of this great Nation should be good husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters; that we should be good neighbors, one to another, in business and in social life; that we should each do his or her primary duty in the home without neglecting the duty to the State; that we should dwell even more on our duties than on our rights; that we should work hard and faithfully; that we should prize intelligence, but prize courage and honesty and cleanliness even more. Inefficiency is a curse; and no good intention atones for weakness of will and flabbiness of moral, mental, and physical fiber; yet it is also true that no intellectual cleverness, no ability to achieve material prosperity, can atone for the lack of the great moral qualities which are the surest foundation of national might. In this great free democracy, more than in any other nation under the sun, it behooves all the people so to bear themselves that, not with their lips only but in their lives, they shall show their fealty to the great truth pronounced of old—the truth that Righteousness exalteth a nation.

The Rights of the People to Rule (1912)Edit

  • I believe that the majority of the plain people of the United States will, day in and day out, make fewer mistakes in governing themselves than any smaller class or body of men, no matter what their training, will make in trying to govern them.

Address at Milwaukee, Wisconsin (1912)Edit

I don't know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.
Address at Milwaukee, Wisconsin (14 October 1912), delivered just after an assassination attempt upon him by John Schrank. Roosevelt credited the thickness of his prepared speech, which was shot through, as having prevented the bullet from entering his heart.
  • Friends, I shall ask you to be as quiet as possible. I don't know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.
  • First of all, I want to say this about myself: I have altogether too important things to think of to feel any concern over my own death; and now I cannot speak to you insincerely within five minutes of being shot. I am telling you the literal truth when I say that my concern is for many other things.
  • I am in this cause with my whole heart and soul. I believe that the Progressive movement is making life a little easier for all our people; a movement to try to take the burdens off the men and especially the women and children of this country. I am absorbed in the success of that movement.
  • Friends, I will disown and repudiate any man of my party who attacks with such foul slander and abuse any opponent of any other party.
  • I cannot tell you of what infinitesimal importance I regard this incident as compared with the great issues at stake in this campaign, and I ask it not for my sake, not the least in the world, but for the sake of common country, that they make up their minds to speak only the truth, and not use that kind of slander and mendacity which if taken seriously must incite weak and violent natures to crimes of violence. Don't you make any mistake. Don't you pity me. I am all right. I am all right and you cannot escape listening to the speech either.
  • I am all right — I am a little sore. Anybody has a right to be sore with a bullet in him. You would find that if I was in battle now I would be leading my men just the same. Just the same way I am going to make this speech.

Theodore Roosevelt — An Autobiography (1913)Edit

Online PDF and epub at Google Books. Also available at Bartleby.com
An attitude of moderation is apt to be misunderstood when passions are greatly excited and when victory is apt to rest with the extremists on one side or the other; yet I think it is in the long run the only wise attitude...
"Do what you can, with what you've got, where you are."
There were all kinds of things I was afraid of at first, [...] but by acting as if I was not afraid I gradually ceased to be afraid.
The country is the place for children, and if not the country, a city small enough so that one can get out into the country.
The performance of duty, and not an indulgence in vapid ease and vapid pleasure, is all that makes life worth while.
There are dreadful moments when death comes very near those we love, even if for the time being it passes by. But life is a great adventure, and the worst of all fears is the fear of living.
  • It seems to me that, for the nation as for the individual, what is most important is to insist on the vital need of combining certain sets of qualities, which separately are common enough, and, alas, useless enough. Practical efficiency is common, and lofty idealism not uncommon; it is the combination which is necessary, and the combination is rare. Love of peace is common among weak, short-sighted, timid, and lazy persons; and on the other hand courage is found among many men of evil temper and bad character. Neither quality shall by itself avail. Justice among the nations of mankind, and the uplifting of humanity, can be brought about only by those strong and daring men who with wisdom love peace, but who love righteousness more than peace.
  • Facing the immense complexity of modern social and industrial conditions, there is need to use freely and unhesitatingly the collective power of all of us; and yet no exercise of collective power will ever avail if the average individual does not keep his or her sense of personal duty, initiative, and responsibility. There is need to develop all the virtues that have the state for their sphere of action; but these virtues are as dust in a windy street unless back of them lie the strong and tender virtues of a family life based on the love of the one man for the one woman and on their joyous and fearless acceptance of their common obligation to the children that are theirs. There must be the keenest sense of duty, and with it must go the joy of living; there must be shame at the thought of shirking the hard work of the world, and at the same time delight in the many-sided beauty of life.
  • With soul of flame and temper of steel we must act as our coolest judgment bids us. We must exercise the largest charity towards the wrong-doer that is compatible with relentless war against the wrong-doing. We must be just to others, generous to others, and yet we must realize that it is a shameful and a wicked thing not to withstand oppression with high heart and ready hand. With gentleness and tenderness there must go dauntless bravery and grim acceptance of labor and hardship and peril.
  • All for each, and each for all, is a good motto; but only on condition that each works with might and main to so maintain himself as not to be a burden to others.
  • We of the great modern democracies must strive unceasingly to make our several countries lands in which a poor man who works hard can live comfortably and honestly, and in which a rich man cannot live dishonestly nor in slothful avoidance of duty; and yet we must judge rich man and poor man alike by a standard which rests on conduct and not on caste, and we must frown with the same stern severity on the mean and vicious envy which hates and would plunder a man because he is well off and on the brutal and selfish arrogance which looks down on and exploits the man with whom life has gone hard.
  • There were all kinds of things I was afraid of at first, ranging from grizzly bears to ‘mean' horses and gun-fighters; but by acting as if I was not afraid I gradually ceased to be afraid.
  • Women should have free access to every field of labor which they care to enter, and when their work is as valuable as that of a man it should be paid as highly.
  • The performance of duty, and not an indulgence in vapid ease and vapid pleasure, is all that makes life worth while.
  • Among the wise and high-minded people who in self-respecting and genuine fashion strive earnestly for peace, there are the foolish fanatics always to be found in such a movement and always discrediting it — the men who form the lunatic fringe in all reform movements.
    • Ch. VII : The War of American and the Unready.
  • I abhor unjust war. I abhor injustice and bullying by the strong at the expense of the weak, whether among nations or individuals. I abhor violence and bloodshed. I believe that war should never be resorted to when, or so long as, it is honorably possible to avoid it. I respect all men and women who from high motives and with sanity and self-respect do all they can to avert war. I advocate preparation for war in order to avert war; and I should never advocate war unless it were the only alternative to dishonor.
    • Ch. VII : The War of American and the Unready
  • Each nation has its own pet sins to which it is merciful, and also sins which it treats as most abhorrent. In America, we are peculiarly sensitive about big money contributions for which the donors expect any reward. In England, where in some ways the standard is higher than here, such contributions are accepted as a matter of course, nay, as one of the methods by which wealthy men obtain peerages. It would be well-nigh an impossibility for a man to secure a seat in the United States Senate by mere campaign contributions, in the way that seats in the British House of Lords have often been secured without any scandal being caused thereby.
    • Ch. VIII : The New York Governorship
  • I do not believe that it is wise or safe for us as a party to take refuge in mere negation and to say that there are no evils to be corrected. It seems to me that our attitude should be one of correcting evils and thereby showing that, whereas the Populists, Socialists, and others really do not correct evils at all, or else do so at the expense of producing others in aggravated form, on the contrary we Republicans hold the just balance and set ourselves as resolutely against improper corporate influence on the one hand as against demagogy and mob rule on the other. I understand perfectly that such an attitude of moderation is apt to be misunderstood when passions are greatly excited and when victory is apt to rest with the extremists on one side or the other; yet I think it is in the long run the only wise attitude...
    • Ch. VIII : The New York Governorship
  • As regards capital cases, the trouble is that emotional men and women always see only the individual whose fate is up at the moment, and neither his victim nor the many millions of unknown individuals who would in the long run be harmed by what they ask. Moreover, almost any criminal, however brutal, has usually some person, often a person whom he has greatly wronged, who will plead for him. If the mother is alive she will always come, and she cannot help feeling that the case in which she is so concerned is peculiar, that in this case a pardon should be granted. It was really heartrending to have to see the kinfolk and friends of murderers who were condemned to death, and among the very rare occasions when anything governmental or official caused me to lose sleep were times when I had to listen to some poor mother making a plea for a "criminal" so wicked, so utterly brutal and depraved, that it would have been a crime on my part to remit his punishment.
    On the other hand, there were certain crimes where requests for leniency merely made me angry. Such crimes were, for instance, rape, or the circulation of indecent literature, or anything connected with what would now be called the "white slave" traffic, or wife murder, or gross cruelty to women or children, or seduction and abandonment, or the action of some man in getting a girl whom he seduced to commit abortion. In an astonishing number of these cases men of high standing signed petitions or wrote letters asking me to show leniency to the criminal. In two or three of the cases — one where some young roughs had committed rape on a helpless immigrant girl, and another in which a physician of wealth and high standing had seduced a girl and then induced her to commit abortion — I rather lost my temper, and wrote to the individuals who had asked for the pardon, saying that I extremely regretted that it was not in my power to increase the sentence. I then let the facts be made public, for I thought that my petitioners deserved public censure. Whether they received this public censure or not I did not know, but that my action made them very angry I do know, and their anger gave me real satisfaction.
    • Ch. VIII : The New York Governorship
  • There are many kinds of success in life worth having. It is exceedingly interesting and attractive to be a successful business man, or railroad man, or farmer, or a successful lawyer or doctor; or a writer, or a President, or a ranchman, or the colonel of a fighting regiment, or to kill grizzly bears and lions. But for unflagging interest and enjoyment, a household of children, if things go reasonably well, certainly makes all other forms of success and achievement lose their importance by comparison. It may be true that he travels farthest who travels alone; but the goal thus reached is not worth reaching. And as for a life deliberately devoted to pleasure as an end — why, the greatest happiness is the happiness that comes as a by-product of striving to do what must be done, even though sorrow is met in the doing. There is a bit of homely philosophy, quoted by Squire Bill Widener, of Widener's Valley, Virginia, which sums up one's duty in life: "Do what you can, with what you've got, where you are."
    • Ch. IX : Outdoors and Indoors, p. 336; the final statement "quoted by Squire Bill Widener" as well as variants of it, are often misattributed to Roosevelt himself.
    • Variant: Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
      • Attributed to Roosevelt in Conquering an Enemy Called Average (1996) by John L. Mason, Nugget # 8 : The Only Place to Start is Where You Are.
  • The country is the place for children, and if not the country, a city small enough so that one can get out into the country.
    • Ch. IX : Outdoors and Indoors, p. 337.
  • 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. No father and mother can hope to escape sorrow and anxiety, and there are dreadful moments when death comes very near those we love, even if for the time being it passes by. But life is a great adventure, and the worst of all fears is the fear of living.

Ch. IX : Outdoors and Indoors.

  • The idea that our natural resources were inexhaustible still obtained, and there was as yet no real knowledge of their extent and condition. The relation of the conservation of natural resources to the problems of National welfare and National efficiency had not yet dawned on the public mind. The reclamation of arid public lands in the West was still a matter for private enterprise alone; and our magnificent river system, with its superb possibilities for public usefulness, was dealt with by the National Government not as a unit, but as a disconnected series of pork-barrel problems, whose only real interest was in their effect on the reëlection or defeat of a Congressman here and there—a theory which, I regret to say, still obtains.
    • Ch. XI : The Natural Resources of the Nation, p. 386.
  • We demand that big business give the people a square deal; in return we must insist that when any one engaged in big business honestly endeavors to do right he shall himself be given a square deal; and the first, and most elementary, kind of square deal is to give him in advance full information as to just what he can, and what he cannot, legally and properly do. It is absurd, and much worse than absurd, to treat the deliberate lawbreaker as on an exact par with the man eager to obey the law, whose only desire is to find out from some competent Governmental authority what the law is, and then to live up to it. Moreover, it is absurd to treat the size of a corporation as in itself a crime.
    • Appendix A

Address to the Knights of Columbus (1915)Edit

Our nation was founded to perpetuate democratic principles. These principles are that each man is to be treated on his worth as a man without regard to the land from which his forefathers came and without regard to the creed which he professes. If the United States proves false to these principles of civil and religious liberty, it will have inflicted the greatest blow on the system of free popular government that has ever been inflicted.
Our duty is to secure each man against any injustice by his fellows.
There is nothing that a man of loose principles and of evil practices in public life so desires as the chance to distract attention from his own shortcomings and misdeeds by exciting and inflaming theological and sectarian prejudice.
There must be complete severance of Church and State; that public moneys shall not be used for the purpose of advancing any particular creed; and therefore that the public schools shall be non-sectarian. As a necessary corollary to this, not only the pupils but the members of the teaching force and the school officials of all kinds must be treated exactly on a par, no matter what their creed; and there must be no [...] discrimination [...].
Americanism is a matter of the spirit and of the soul. Our allegiance must be purely to the United States. We must unsparingly condemn any man who holds any other allegiance. But if he is heartily and singly loyal to this Republic, then no matter where he was born, he is just as good an American as anyone else.
The only man who is a good American is the man who is an American and nothing else.
A republic can't succeed and won't succeed in the tremendous international stress of the modern world unless its citizens possess that form of high-minded patriotism which consists in putting devotion to duty before the question of individual rights.
No justice in legislation or success in business will be of the slightest avail if the nation has not prepared in advance the strength to protect its rights.
Efficiency is as essential as patriotism; one is useless without the other.
Any discrimination against aliens is a wrong, for it tends to put the immigrant at a disadvantage and to cause him to feel bitterness and resentment during the very years when he should be preparing himself for American citizenship.
No man can be a good citizen if he is not at least in process of learning to speak the language of his fellow-citizens.
If we leave the immigrant to be helped by representatives of foreign governments, by foreign societies, by a press and institutions conducted in a foreign language and in the interest of foreign governments, and if we permit the immigrants to exist as alien groups, each group sundered from the rest of the citizens of the country, we shall store up for ourselves bitter trouble in the future.
The immigrant must not be allowed to drift or to be put at the mercy of the exploiter.
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.
As a people we must be united. If we are not united we shall slip into the gulf of measureless disaster. We must be strong in purpose for our own defense and bent on securing justice within our borders. If as a nation we are split into warring camps, if we teach our citizens not to look upon one another as brothers but as enemies divided by the hatred of creed for creed or of those of one race against those of another race, surely we shall fail and our great democratic experiment on this continent will go down in crushing overthrow.
All of us, no matter from what land our parents came, no matter in what way we may severally worship our Creator, must stand shoulder to shoulder in a united America for the elimination of race and religious prejudice. We must stand for a reign of equal justice to both big and small.
Address to the Knights of Columbus, Carnegie Hall, New York (12 October 1915)
  • Four centuries and a quarter have gone by since Columbus by discovering America opened the greatest era in world history. Four centuries have passed since the Spaniards began that colonization on the main land which has resulted in the growth of the nations of Latin-America. Three centuries have passed since, with the settlements on the coasts of Virginia and Massachusetts, the real history of what is now the United States began. All this we ultimately owe to the action of an Italian seaman in the service of a Spanish King and a Spanish Queen. It is eminently fitting that one of the largest and most influential social organizations of this great Republic, a Republic in which the tongue is English, and the blood derived from many sources, should, in its name, commemorate the great Italian. It is eminently fitting to make an address on Americanism before this society. We of the United States need above all things to remember that, while we are by blood and culture kin to each of the nations of Europe, we are also separate from each of them. We are a new and distinct nationality. We are developing our own distinctive culture and civilization, and the worth of this civilization will largely depend upon our determination to keep it distinctively our own. Our sons and daughters should be educated here and not abroad. We should freely take from every other nation whatever we can make of use, but we should adopt and develop to our own peculiar needs what we thus take, and never be content merely to copy.
  • Our nation was founded to perpetuate democratic principles. These principles are that each man is to be treated on his worth as a man without regard to the land from which his forefathers came and without regard to the creed which he professes. If the United States proves false to these principles of civil and religious liberty, it will have inflicted the greatest blow on the system of free popular government that has ever been inflicted. Here we have had a virgin continent on which to try the experiment of making out of divers race stocks a new nation and of treating all the citizens of that nation in such a fashion as to preserve them equality of opportunity in industrial, civil, and political life. Our duty is to secure each man against any injustice by his fellows.
  • One of the most important things to secure for him is the right to hold and to express the religious views that best meet his own soul needs. Any political movement directed against anybody of our fellow- citizens because of their religious creed is a grave offense against American principles and American institutions. It is a wicked thing either to support or to oppose a man because of the creed he professes. This applies to Jew and Gentile, to Catholic and Protestant, and to the man who would be regarded as unorthodox by all of them alike. Political movements directed against men because of their religious belief, and intended to prevent men of that creed from holding office, have never accomplished anything but harm. This was true in the days of the ‘Know-Nothing’ and Native-American parties in the middle of the last century; and it is just as true to-day. Such a movement directly contravenes the spirit of the Constitution itself. Washington and his associates believed that it was essential to the existence of this Republic that there should never be any union of Church and State; and such union is partially accomplished wherever a given creed is aided by the State or when any public servant is elected or defeated because of his creed. The Constitution explicitly forbids the requiring of any religious test as a qualification for holding office. To impose such a test by popular vote is as bad as to impose it by law. To vote either for or against a man because of his creed is to impose upon him a religious test and is a clear violation of the spirit of the Constitution.
  • Moreover, it is well to remember that these movements never achieve the end they nominally have in view. They do nothing whatsoever except to increase among the men of the various churches the spirit of sectarian intolerance which is base and unlovely in any civilization, but which is utterly revolting among a free people that profess the principles we profess. No such movement can ever permanently succeed here. All that it does is for a decade or so to greatly increase the spirit of theological animosity, both among the people to whom it appeals and among the people whom it assails. Furthermore, it has in the past invariably resulted, in so far as it was successful at all, in putting unworthy men into office; for there is nothing that a man of loose principles and of evil practices in public life so desires as the chance to distract attention from his own shortcomings and misdeeds by exciting and inflaming theological and sectarian prejudice.
  • We must recognize that it is a cardinal sin against democracy to support a man for public office because he belongs to a given creed or to oppose him because he belongs to a given creed. It is just as evil as to draw the line between class and class, between occupation and occupation in political life. No man who tries to draw either line is a good American. True Americanism demands that we judge each man on his conduct, that we so judge him in private life and that we so judge him in public life.
  • The line of cleavage drawn on principle and conduct in public affairs is never in any healthy community identical with the line of cleavage between creed and creed or between class and class. On the contrary, where the community life is healthy, these lines of cleavage almost always run nearly at right angles to one another. It is eminently necessary to all of us that we should have able and honest public officials in the nation, in the city, in the state. If we make a serious and resolute effort to get such officials of the right kind, men who shall not only be honest but shall be able and shall take the right view of public questions, we will find as a matter of fact that the men we thus choose will be drawn from the professors of every creed and from among men who do not adhere to any creed.
  • For thirty-five years I have been more or less actively engaged in public life, in the performance of my political duties, now in a public position, now in a private position. I have fought with all the fervor I possessed for the various causes in which with all my heart I believed; and in every fight I thus made I have had with me and against me Catholics, Protestants, and Jews. There have been times when I have had to make the fight for or against some man of each creed on ground of plain public morality, unconnected with questions of public policy. There were other times when I have made such a fight for or against a given man, not on grounds of public morality, for he may have been morally a good man, but on account of his attitude on questions of public policy, of governmental principle. In both cases, I have always found myself 4 fighting beside, and fighting against, men of every creed. The one sure way to have secured the defeat of every good principle worth fighting for would have been to have permitted the fight to be changed into one along sectarian lines and inspired by the spirit of sectarian bitterness, either for the purpose of putting into public life or of keeping out of public life the believers in any given creed. Such conduct represents an assault upon Americanism. The man guilty of it is not a good American. I hold that in this country there must be complete severance of Church and State; that public moneys shall not be used for the purpose of advancing any particular creed; and therefore that the public schools shall be non-sectarian. As a necessary corollary to this, not only the pupils but the members of the teaching force and the school officials of all kinds must be treated exactly on a par, no matter what their creed; and there must be no more discrimination against Jew or Catholic or Protestant than discrimination in favor of Jew, Catholic or Protestant. Whoever makes such discrimination is an enemy of the public schools.
  • What is true of creed is no less true of nationality. There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism. When I refer to hyphenated Americans, I do not refer to naturalized Americans. Some of the very best Americans I have ever known were naturalized Americans, Americans born abroad. But a hyphenated American is not an American at all. This is just as true of the man who puts 'native' before the hyphen as of the man who puts German or Irish or English or French before the hyphen. Americanism is a matter of the spirit and of the soul. Our allegiance must be purely to the United States. We must unsparingly condemn any man who holds any other allegiance. But if he is heartily and singly loyal to this Republic, then no matter where he was born, he is just as good an American as anyone else.
  • 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, an intricate knot of German-Americans, Irish-Americans, English-Americans, French-Americans, Scandinavian-Americans or Italian-Americans, each preserving its separate nationality, each at heart feeling more sympathy with Europeans of that nationality, than with the other citizens of the American Republic. The men who do not become Americans and nothing else are hyphenated Americans; and there ought to be no room for them in this country. The man who calls himself an American citizen and who yet shows by his actions that he is primarily the citizen of a foreign land, plays a thoroughly mischievous part in the life of our body politic. He has no place here; and the sooner he returns to the land to which he feels his real heart allegiance, the better it will be for every good American. There is no such thing as a hyphenated American who is a good American. The only man who is a good American is the man who is an American and nothing else.
  • So it was in the Civil War. Farragut's father was born in Spain and Sheridan's father in Ireland; Sherman and Thomas were of English and Custer of German descent; and Grant came of a long line of American ancestors whose original home had been Scotland. But the Admiral was not a Spanish-American; and the Generals were not Scotch-Americans or Irish-Americans or English-Americans or German-Americans. They were all Americans and nothing else. This was just as true of Lee and of Stonewall Jackson and of Beauregard.
  • When in 1909 our battlefleet returned from its voyage around the world, Admirals Wainwright and Schroeder represented the best traditions and the most effective action in our navy; one was of old American blood and of English descent; the other was the son of German immigrants. But one was not a native-American and the other a German-American. Each was an American pure and simple. Each bore allegiance only to the flag of the United States. Each would have been incapable of considering the interests of Germany or of England or of any other country except the United States.
  • To take charge of the most important work under my administration, the building of the Panama Canal, I chose General Goethals. Both of his parents were born in Holland. But he was just plain United States. He wasn't a Dutch-American; if he had been I wouldn't have appointed him. So it was with such men, among those who served under me, as Admiral Osterhaus and General Barry. The father of one was born in Germany, the father of the other in Ireland. But they were both Americans, pure and simple, and first-rate fighting men in addition.
  • In my Cabinet at the time there were men of English and French, German, Irish, and Dutch blood, men born on this side and men born in Germany and Scotland; but they were all Americans and nothing else; and every one of them was incapable of thinking of himself or of his fellow-countrymen, excepting in terms of American citizenship. If any one of them had anything in the nature of a dual or divided allegiance in his soul, he never would have been appointed to serve under me, and he would have been instantly removed when the discovery was made. There wasn't one of them who was capable of desiring that the policy of the United States should be shaped with reference to the interests of any foreign country or with consideration for anything, outside of the general welfare of humanity, save the honor and interest of the United States, and each was incapable of making any discrimination whatsoever among the citizens of the country he served, of our common country, save discrimination based on conduct and on conduct alone.
  • For an American citizen to vote as a German-American, an Irish-American, or an English-American, is to be a traitor to American institutions; and those hyphenated Americans who terrorize American politicians by threats of the foreign vote are engaged in treason to the American Republic.
  • Now this is a declaration of principles. How are we in practical fashion to secure the making of these principles part of the very fiber of our national life? First and foremost let us all resolve that in this country hereafter we shall place far less emphasis upon the question of right and much greater emphasis upon the matter of duty. A republic can't succeed and won't succeed in the tremendous international stress of the modern world unless its citizens possess that form of high-minded patriotism which consists in putting devotion to duty before the question of individual rights. This must be done in our family relations or the family will go to pieces; and no better tract for family life in this country can be imagined than the little story called 'Mother', written by an American woman, Kathleen Norris, who happens to be a member of your own church.
  • What is true of the family, the foundation stone of our national life, is not less true of the entire superstructure. I am, as you know, a most ardent believer in national preparedness against war as a means of securing that honorable and self-respecting peace which is the only peace desired by all high-spirited people. But it is an absolute impossibility to secure such preparedness in full and proper form if it is an isolated feature of our policy. w:History of Belgium#Occupation_1914-18The lamentable fate of Belgium has shown that no justice in legislation or success in business will be of the slightest avail if the nation has not prepared in advance the strength to protect its rights. But it is equally true that there cannot be this preparation in advance for military strength unless there is a social basis of civil and social life behind it. There must be social, economic, and military preparedness all alike, all harmoniously developed; and above all there must be spiritual and mental preparedness.
  • There must be not merely preparedness in things material; there must be preparedness in soul and mind. To prepare a great army and navy without preparing a proper national spirit would avail nothing. And if there is not only a proper national spirit, but proper national intelligence, we shall realize that even from the standpoint of the army and navy some civil preparedness is indispensable. For example, a plan for national defense which does not include the most far-reaching use and cooperation of our railroads must prove largely futile. These railroads are organized in time of peace. But we must have the most carefully thought out organization from the national and centralized standpoint in order to use them in time of war. This means first that those in charge of them from the highest to the lowest must understand their duty in time of war, must be permeated with the spirit of genuine patriotism; and second, that they and we shall understand that efficiency is as essential as patriotism; one is useless without the other.
  • Again, every citizen should be trained sedulously by every activity at our command to realize his duty to the nation. In France at this moment the workingmen who are not at the front are spending all their energies with the single thought of helping their brethren at the front by what they do in the munition plant, on the railroads, in the factories. It is a shocking, a lamentable thing that many of the trade-unions of England have taken a directly opposite view. I am not concerned with whether it be true, as they assert, that their employers are trying to exploit them, or, as these employers assert, that the labor men are trying to gain profit for those who stay at home at the cost of their brethren who fight in the trenches. The thing for us Americans to realize is that we must do our best to prevent similar conditions from growing up here. Business men, professional men, and wage workers alike must understand that there should be no question of their enjoying any rights whatsoever unless in the fullest way they recognize and live up to the duties that go with those rights. This is just as true of the corporation as of the trade-union, and if either corporation or trade-union fails heartily to acknowledge this truth, then its activities are necessarily anti-social and detrimental to the welfare of the body politic as a whole. In war time, when the welfare of the nation is at stake, it should be accepted as axiomatic that the employer is to make no profit out of the war save that which is necessary to the efficient running of the business and to the living expenses of himself and family, and that the wageworker is to treat his wage from exactly the same standpoint and is to see to it that the labor organization to which he belongs is, in all its activities, subordinated to the service of the nation.
  • Now there must be some application of this spirit in times of peace or we cannot suddenly develop it in time of war. The strike situation in the United States at this time is a scandal to the country as a whole and discreditable alike to employer and employee. Any employer who fails to recognize that human rights come first and that the friendly relationship between himself and those working for him should be one of partnership and comradeship in mutual help no less than self-help is recreant to his duty as an American citizen, and it is to his interest, having in view the enormous destruction of life in [[w:World War I|the present war], to conserve, and to train to higher efficiency, alike for his benefit and for its, the labor supply. In return any employee who acts along the lines publicly advocated by the men who profess to speak for the I.W.W. is not merely an open enemy of business, but of this entire country and is out of place in our government.
  • You, Knights of Columbus, are particularly fitted to play a great part in the movement for national solidarity, without which there can be no real efficiency in either peace or war. During the last year and a quarter it has been brought home to us in startling fashion that many of the elements of our nation are not yet properly fused. It ought to be a literally appalling fact that members of two of the foreign embassies in this country have been discovered to be implicated in inciting their fellow-countrymen, whether naturalized American citizens or not, to the destruction of property and the crippling of American industries that are operating in accordance with internal law and international agreement. The malign activity of one of these embassies has been brought home directly to the ambassador in such shape that his recall has been forced. The activities of the other have been set forth in detail by the publication in the press of its letters in such fashion as to make it perfectly clear that they were of the same general character. Of course, the two embassies were merely carrying out the instructions of their home governments.
  • Nor is it only the Germans and Austrians who take the view that as a matter of right they can treat their countrymen resident in America, even if naturalized citizens of the United States, as their allies and subjects, to be used in keeping alive separate national groups profoundly anti-American in sentiment, if the contest comes between American interests and those of foreign lands in question. It has recently been announced that the Russian government is to rent a house in New York as a national center to be Russian in faith and patriotism, to foster the Russian language and keep alive the national feeling in immigrants who come hither. All of this is utterly antagonistic to proper American sentiment, whether perpetrated in the name of Germany, of Austria, of Russia, of England, or France or any other country.
  • We should meet this situation by on the one hand seeing that these immigrants get all their rights as American citizens, and on the other hand insisting that they live up to their duties as American citizens. Any discrimination against aliens is a wrong, for it tends to put the immigrant at a disadvantage and to cause him to feel bitterness and resentment during the very years when he should be preparing himself for American citizenship. If an immigrant is not fit to become a citizen, he should not be allowed to come here. If he is fit, he should be given all the rights to earn his own livelihood, and to better himself, that any man can have. Take such a matter as the illiteracy test; I entirely agree with those who feel that many very excellent possible citizens would be barred improperly by an illiteracy test. But why do you not admit aliens under a bond to learn to read and write within a certain time? It would then be a duty to see that they were given ample opportunity to learn to read and write and that they were deported if they failed to take advantage of the opportunity.
  • No man can be a good citizen if he is not at least in process of learning to speak the language of his fellow-citizens. And an alien who remains here without learning to speak English for more than a certain number of years should at the end of that time be treated as having refused to take the preliminary steps necessary to complete Americanization and should be deported. But there should be no denial or limitation of the alien's opportunity to work, to own property, and to take advantage of civic opportunities. Special legislation should deal with the aliens who do not come here to be made citizens. But the alien who comes here intending to become a citizen should be helped in every way to advance himself, should be removed from every possible disadvantage, and in return should be required under penalty of being sent back to the country from which he came, to prove that he is in good faith fitting himself to be an American citizen.
  • Therefore, we should devote ourselves as a preparative to preparedness, alike in peace and war, to secure the three elemental things: one, a common language, the English language; two, the increase in our social loyalty citizenship absolutely undivided, a citizenship which acknowledges no flag except the flag of the United States and which emphatically repudiates all duality of intention or national loyalty; and third, an intelligent and resolute effort for the removal of industrial and social unrest, an effort which shall aim equally at securing every man his rights and to make every man understand that unless he in good faith performs his duties he is not entitled to any rights at all.
  • The American people should itself do these things for the immigrants. If we leave the immigrant to be helped by representatives of foreign governments, by foreign societies, by a press and institutions conducted in a foreign language and in the interest of foreign governments, and if we permit the immigrants to exist as alien groups, each group sundered from the rest of the citizens of the country, we shall store up for ourselves bitter trouble in the future.
  • I am certain that the only permanently safe attitude for this country as regards national preparedness for self-defense is along its lines of universal service on the Swiss model. Switzerland is the most democratic of nations. Its army is the most democratic army in the world. There isn't a touch of militarism or aggressiveness about Switzerland. It has been found as a matter of actual practical experience in Switzerland that the universal military training has made a very marked increase in social efficiency and in the ability of the man thus trained to do well for himself in industry. The man who has received the training is a better citizen, is more self-respecting, more orderly, better able to hold his own, and more willing to respect the rights of others and at the same time he is a more valuable and better paid man in his business. We need that the navy and the army should be greatly increased and that their efficiency as units and in the aggregate should be increased to an even greater degree than their numbers. An adequate regular reserve should be established. Economy should be insisted on, and first of all in the abolition of useless army posts and navy yards. The National Guard should be supervised and controlled by the Federal War Department. Training camps such as at Plattsburg should be provided on a nation-wide basis and the government should pay the expenses. Foreign-born as well as native-born citizens should be brought together in those camps; and each man at the camp should take the oath of allegiance as unreservedly and unqualifiedly as the men of its regular army and navy now take it. Not only should battleships, battle cruisers, submarines, ample coast and field artillery be provided and a greater ammunition supply system, but there should be a utilization of those engaged in such professions as the ownership and management of motor cars, in aviation, and in the profession of engineering. Map-making and road improvement should be attended to, and, as I have already said, the railroads brought into intimate touch with the War Department. Moreover, the government should deal with conservation of all necessary war supplies such as mine products, potash, oil lands, and the like. Furthermore, all munition plants should be carefully surveyed with special reference to their geographic distribution and for the possibility of increased munition and supply factories. Finally, remember that the men must be sedulously trained in peace to use this material or we shall merely prepare our ships, guns, and products as gifts to the enemy. All of these things should be done in any event, but let us never forget that the most important of all things is to introduce universal military service. But let me repeat that this preparedness against war must be based upon efficiency and justice in the handling of ourselves in time of peace. If belligerent governments, while we are not hostile to them but merely neutral, strive nevertheless to make of this nation many nations, each hostile to the others and none of them loyal to the central government, then it may be accepted as certain that they would do far worse to us in time of war. If they encourage strikes and sabotage in our munition plants while we are neutral, it may be accepted as axiomatic that they would do far worse to us if we were hostile. It is our duty from the standpoint of self-defense to secure the complete Americanization of our people, to make of the many peoples of this country a united nation, one in speech and feeling, and all, so far as possible, sharers in the best that each has brought to our shores.
  • The foreign-born population of this country must be an Americanized population. No other kind can fight the battles of America either in war or peace. It must talk the language of its native-born fellow-citizens; it must possess American citizenship and American ideals. It must stand firm by its oath of allegiance in word and deed and must show that in very fact it has renounced allegiance to every prince, potentate, or foreign government. It must be maintained on an American standard of living so as to prevent labor disturbances in important plants and at critical times. None of these objects can be secured as long as we have immigrant colonies, ghettos, and immigrant sections, and above all they cannot be assured so long as we consider the immigrant only as an industrial asset. 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. The policy of 'Let alone' which we have hitherto pursued is thoroughly vicious from two standpoints. By this policy we have permitted the immigrants, and too often the native-born laborers as well, to suffer injustice. Moreover, by this policy we have failed to impress upon the immigrant and upon the native-born as well that they are expected to do justice as well as to receive justice, that they are expected to be heartily and actively and single-mindedly loyal to the flag no less than to benefit by living under it.
  • 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. We cannot afford to leave American mines, munitions plants, and general resources in the hands of alien workmen, alien to America and even likely to be made hostile to America by machinations such as have recently been provided in the case of the two foreign embassies in Washington. We cannot afford to run the risk of having in time of war men working on our railways or working in our munition plants who would in the name of duty to their own foreign countries bring destruction to us. Recent events have shown us that incitements to sabotage and strikes are in the view of at least two of the great foreign powers of Europe within their definition of neutral practices. What would be done to us in the name of war if these things are done to us in the name of neutrality?
  • Justice Bowling in his speech has described the excellent fourth degree of your order, of how in it you dwell upon duties rather than rights, upon the great duties of patriotism and of national spirit. It is a fine thing to have a society that holds up such a standard of duty. I ask you to make a special effort to deal with Americanization, the fusing into one nation, a nation necessarily different from all other nations, of all who come to our shores. Pay heed to the three principal essentials: (i) the need of a common language, with a minimum amount of illiteracy; (2) the need of a common civil standard, similar ideals, beliefs, and customs symbolized by the oath of allegiance to America; and (3) the need of a high standard of living, of reasonable equality of opportunity and of social and industrial justice. In every great crisis in our history, in the Revolution and in the Civil War, and in the lesser crises, like the Spanish war, all factions and races have been forgotten in the common spirit of Americanism. Protestant and Catholic, men of English or of French, of Irish or of German, descent have joined with a single-minded purpose to secure for the country what only can be achieved by the resultant union of all patriotic citizens. You of this organization have done a great service by your insistence that citizens should pay heed first of all to their duties. Hitherto undue prominence has been given to the question of rights. Your organization is a splendid engine for giving to the stranger within our gates a high conception of American citizenship. Strive for unity. We suffer at present from a lack of leadership in these matters.
  • Even in the matter of national defense there is such a labyrinth of committees and counsels and advisors that there is a tendency on the part of the average citizen to become confused and do nothing. I ask you to help strike the note that shall unite our people. As a people we must be united. If we are not united we shall slip into the gulf of measureless disaster. We must be strong in purpose for our own defense and bent on securing justice within our borders. If as a nation we are split into warring camps, if we teach our citizens not to look upon one another as brothers but as enemies divided by the hatred of creed for creed or of those of one race against those of another race, surely we shall fail and our great democratic experiment on this continent will go down in crushing overthrow. I ask you here tonight and those like you to take a foremost part in the movement a young men's movement for a greater and better America in the future.
  • All of us, no matter from what land our parents came, no matter in what way we may severally worship our Creator, must stand shoulder to shoulder in a united America for the elimination of race and religious prejudice. We must stand for a reign of equal justice to both big and small. We must insist on the maintenance of the American standard of living. We must stand for an adequate national control which shall secure a better training of our young men in time of peace, both for the work of peace and for the work of war. We must direct every national resource, material and spiritual, to the task not of shirking difficulties, but of training our people to overcome difficulties. Our aim must be, not to make life easy and soft, not to soften soul and body, but to fit us in virile fashion to do a great work for all mankind. This great work can only be done by a mighty democracy, with these qualities of soul, guided by those qualities of mind, which will both make it refuse to do injustice to any other nation, and also enable it to hold its own against aggression by any other nation. In our relations with the outside world, we must abhor wrongdoing, and disdain to commit it, and we must no less disdain the baseness of spirit which lamely submits to wrongdoing. Finally and most important of all, we must strive for the establishment within our own borders of that stern and lofty standard of personal and public neutrality which shall guarantee to each man his rights, and which shall insist in return upon the full performance by each man of his duties both to his neighbor and to the great nation whose flag must symbolize in the future as it has symbolized in the past the highest hopes of all mankind.

Fear God and Take Your Own Part (1916)Edit

  • Christianity is not the creed of Asia and Africa at this moment solely because the seventh century Christians of Asia and Africa had trained themselves not to fight, whereas the Moslems were trained to fight. Christianity was saved in Europe solely because the peoples of Europe fought. If the peoples of Europe in the seventh and eighth centuries, an on up to and including the seventeenth century, had not possessed a military equality with, and gradually a growing superiority over the Mohammedans who invaded Europe, Europe would at this moment be Mohammedan and the Christian religion would be exterminated. Wherever the Mohammedans have had complete sway, wherever the Christians have been unable to resist them by the sword, Christianity has ultimately disappeared. From the hammer of Charles Martel to the sword of Sobieski, Christianity owed its safety in Europe to the fact that it was able to show that it could and would fight as well as the Mohammedan aggressor. ..... The civilization of Europe, American and Australia exists today at all only because of the victories of civilized man over the enemies of civilization because of victories through the centuries from Charles Martel in the eighth century and those of John Sobieski in the seventeenth century. During the thousand years that included the careers of the Frankish soldier and the Polish king, the Christians of Asia and Africa proved unable to wage successful war with the Moslem conquerors; and in consequence Christianity practically vanished from the two continents; and today, nobody can find in them any "social values" whatever, in the sense in which we use the words, so far as the sphere of Mohammedan influences are concerned. There are such "social values" today in Europe, America and Australia only because during those thousand years, the Christians of Europe possessed the warlike power to do what the Christians of Asia and Africa had failed to do — that is, to beat back the Moslem invader.
    • p. 70.

Letter to the American Defense Society (1919)Edit

Letter by then former president Roosevelt (3 January 1919) to Charles Steward Davison, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the American Defense Society
  • 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. If he tries to keep segregated with men of his own origin and separated from the rest of America, then he isn't doing his part as an American. 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, for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, of American nationality, and not as dwellers in a polyglot boarding-house; and we have room for but one soul loyalty, and that is loyalty to the American people.


DisputedEdit

These have been disputed — if better sourcing or reasons to consider them misattributed can be found, they should be moved back into the main sections, or to a "Misattributed" section
  • A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.
    • As quoted in Stepping Stones : The Complete Bible Narratives (1941).
    • See also: Wills, James Austin. The Letters and Speeches of Theodore Roosevelt. Billington and Sons, New York, 1937. Page 86.
  • A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad.
    • As quoted in Art of Communicating Ideas (1952) by William Joseph Grace, p. 389.
  • In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.
    • As quoted by John M. Kost (25 July 1995) in S. 946, the Information Technology Management Reform Act of 1995: hearing before the Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management and the District of Columbia of the Committee on Governmental Affairs (1996).
  • Comparison is the thief of joy.
    • As quoted in Becoming a Great School (2013) by Cooper, Gustafson and Salah, p ix.

Quotes about RooseveltEdit

By sheer force of moral purpose, by clarity of perception, by mastery of detail and benign manipulation of men, he had become, as Henry Adams admiringly wrote him, "the best herder of Emperors since Napoleon. ~ Edmund Morris
Alphabetized by author
  • My dear Roosevelt
    You have established a record as the best herder of Emperors since Napoleon.
    I should long ago have written you my gratitude had not men — and women — taught me to hold my tongue before my betters. On public affairs I am still a scholar, not a professor; and when I think I know enough to help you, I will do it … You have taught us how to herd Emperors, but also you have shown that, of all cattle, Emperors are most easily herded.
    • Henry Brooks Adams, in a letter (6 November 1905), published in ‪Henry Adams : Selected Letters‬ (1992) edited by Ernest Samuels, p. 463.
  • Roosevelt was a great personality, a great activist, a great preacher of the moralities, a great controversialist, a great showman. He dominated his era as he dominated conversations … the masses loved him; he proved to be a great popular idol and a great vote getter.
  • The name Roosevelt has this legendary force in our country at this time.
  • Death had to take him in his sleep, for if he was awake there'd have been a fight.
    • Thomas R. Marshall, Vice-president of the U.S., upon hearing the death of Teddy Roosevelt, as quoted in F.D.R. : 1905-1928‎ (1947) by Elliott Roosevelt, p. 449.
  • The peace the President had made possible at Portsmouth was the result of just such an inexplicable ability to impose his singular charge upon plural power. By sheer force of moral purpose, by clarity of perception, by mastery of detail and benign manipulation of men, he had become, as Henry Adams admiringly wrote him, "the best herder of Emperors since Napoleon."

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