American Politician, Naturalist, Explorer, Hunter, Author, and Soldier, 26th President of the United States
Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt
American Politician, Naturalist, Explorer, Hunter, Author, and Soldier, 26th President of the United States
When you play, play hard; when you work, don't play at all.
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.
The only time you really live fully is from thirty to sixty. The young are slaves to dreams; the old servants of regrets. Only the middle-aged have all their five senses in the keeping of their wits.
The weakling and the coward are out of place in a strong and free community. In a republic like ours the governing class is composed of the strong men who take the trouble to do the work of government; and if you are too timid or too fastidious or too careless to do your part in this work, then you forfeit your right to be considered one of the governing and you become one of the governed insteadone of the driven cattle of the political arena.
There has never yet been a man in our history who led a life of ease whose name is worth remembering.
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.
We cannot do great deeds unless we're willing to do the small things that make up the sum of greatness.
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.
When your at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hold on.
The man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done.
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 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.
There is a delight in the hardy life of the open.
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 pro?t 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 ?nally precipitated the violent destruction of slavery.
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 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.
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.
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.
The pacifist is as surely a traitor to his country and to humanity as the most brutal warmonger.
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.
There is a homely old 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 the highest training a thoroughly efficient navy, the Monroe Doctrine will go far.
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.
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.
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.