Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt

Theodore “Teddy”
Roosevelt
1858
1919

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

Author Quotes

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.

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.

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

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.

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.

I don't think any President ever enjoyed himself more than I did. Moreover, I don't think any ex-President ever enjoyed himself more.... Success - the real success - does not depend upon the position you hold, but upon how you carry yourself in that position.

If I must choose between righteousness and peace, I choose righteousness.

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.

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.

Men with the muckrake are often indispensable to the well-being of society, but only if they know when to stop raking the muck. An epidemic in indiscriminate assault upon character does not good, but very great harm. There should be relentless exposure of and attack upon every evil practice, whether in politics, in business, or in social life. I hail as a benefactor every writer or speaker, every man who, on the platform, or in book, magazine or newspaper, with merciless severity makes such attack, provided always that he in his turn remembers that the attack is of use only if it is absolutely truthful.

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.

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.

Ours is a government of liberty by, through, and under the law.

Speak softly and carry a big stick. You will go far. (A West African Proverb)

The country's honor must be upheld at home and abroad.

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.

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.

Big jobs usually go to the men who prove their ability to outgrow small ones.

Don't foul, don't flinch - hit the line hard.

For unflagging interest and enjoyment, a household of children, if things go reasonably well, certainly all other forms of success and achievement lose their importance by comparison.

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.

I feel like a Bull Moose.

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.

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.

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