Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt

Theodore “Teddy”
Roosevelt
1858
1919

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

Author Quotes

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.

War is not merely justifiable, but imperative upon honorable men, upon an honorable nation, where peace can only be obtained by the sacrifice of conscientious conviction or of national welfare.

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.

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 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 most successful politician is he who says what the people are thinking most often in the loudest voice.

The reason fat men are good natured is they can neither fight nor run.

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.

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.

Wars are, of course, as a rule to be avoided; but they are far better than certain kinds of peace.

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.

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.

With self-discipline most anything is possible.

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.

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.

Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people.

Death is always and under all circumstances a tragedy, for if it is not, then it means that life itself has become one.

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.

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 mammalsnot 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.

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...

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.

In life, as in a football game, the principle to follow is: hit the line hard.

It is a bad thing for a nation to raise and to admire a false standard of success; and their can be no falser standard than that set by the deification of material well-being in and for itself.

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