Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt

Theodore “Teddy”
Roosevelt
1858
1919

American Politician, Naturalist, Explorer, Hunter, Author, and Soldier, 26th President of the United States

Author Quotes

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.

While my interest in natural history has added very little to my sum of achievement, it has added immeasurably to my sum of enjoyment in life.

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.

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.

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 anyone else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about anyone else.

The worst of all fears is the fear of living.

There is not a man of us who does not at times need a helping hand to be stretched out to him, and then shame upon him who will not stretch out the helping hand to his brother.

Viewed purely in the abstract, I think there can be no question that women should have equal rights with men....Especially as regards the laws relating to marriage there should be the most absolute equality between the two sexes. I do not think the woman should assume the man's name.

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.

We shall make mistakes; and if we let these mistakes frighten us from our work we shall show ourselves weaklings.

While the Jews of the United States have remained loyal to their faith, and their race traditions, they have become indissolubly incorporated in the great army of American Citizenship.

The great virtue of my radicalism lies in the fact that I am perfectly ready, if necessary, to be radical on the conservative side.

The men with the muck-rake are often indispensable to the well-being of society, but only if they know when to stop raking the muck.

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.

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 someday 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.

There is not in all America a more dangerous trait than the deification of mere smartness unaccompanied by any sense of moral responsibility.

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 pro?ts 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.

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.

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.

Willful sterility is, from the standpoint of the nation, from the standpoint of the human race, the one sin for which the penalty is national death, race death; a sin for which there is no atonement. No man, no woman, can shirk the primary duties of life, whether for love of ease and pleasure, or for any other cause, and retain his or her self-respect.

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.

The most practical kind of politics is the politics of decency.

The reactionary is always willing to take a progressive attitude on any issue that is dead.

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 bene?ts outweighed the disadvantages. But nowadays such is not the case.

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.

Author Picture
First Name
Theodore “Teddy”
Last Name
Roosevelt
Birth Date
1858
Death Date
1919
Bio

American Politician, Naturalist, Explorer, Hunter, Author, and Soldier, 26th President of the United States