Theodore Roosevelt quotes
Birthdate: 27. October 1858
Date of death: 6. January 1919
Other names: Teddy Rosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt Jr. was an American statesman, author, explorer, soldier, and naturalist, who served as the 26th President of the United States from 1901 to 1909. He also served as the 25th Vice President of the United States from March to September 1901 and as the 33rd Governor of New York from 1899 to 1900. As a leader of the Republican Party during this time, he became a driving force for the Progressive Era in the United States in the early 20th century. His face is depicted on Mount Rushmore, alongside those of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln.
Roosevelt was born a sickly child with debilitating asthma, but he successfully overcame his physical health problems by embracing a strenuous lifestyle. He integrated his exuberant personality, vast range of interests, and world-famous achievements into a "cowboy" persona defined by robust masculinity. Home-schooled, he began a lifelong naturalist avocation before attending Harvard College. His book, The Naval War of 1812 , established his reputation as both a learned historian and as a popular writer. Upon entering politics, he became the leader of the reform faction of Republicans in New York's state legislature. Following the near-simultaneous deaths of his wife and mother, he escaped to a cattle ranch in the Dakotas. Roosevelt served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy under President William McKinley, but resigned from that post to lead the Rough Riders during the Spanish–American War. Returning a war hero, he was elected Governor of New York in 1898. After the death of Vice President Garret Hobart, the New York state party leadership convinced McKinley to accept Roosevelt as his running mate in the 1900 election, moving Roosevelt to the prestigious but powerless role of vice president. Roosevelt campaigned vigorously and the McKinley-Roosevelt ticket won a landslide victory based on a platform of peace, prosperity, and conservatism.
Following McKinley's assassination in September 1901, Roosevelt became president at age 42, and remains the youngest president. As a leader of the Progressive movement, he championed his "Square Deal" domestic policies, promising the average citizen fairness, breaking of trusts, regulation of railroads, and pure food and drugs. Making conservation a top priority, he established many new national parks, forests, and monuments intended to preserve the nation's natural resources. In foreign policy, he focused on Central America, where he began construction of the Panama Canal. He expanded the Navy and sent the Great White Fleet on a world tour to project the United States' naval power around the globe. His successful efforts to broker the end of the Russo-Japanese War won him the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize. He avoided the controversial tariff and money issues. Elected in 1904 to a full term, Roosevelt continued to promote progressive policies, but many of his efforts and much of his legislative agenda were eventually blocked in Congress. Roosevelt successfully groomed his close friend, William Howard Taft, and Taft won the 1908 presidential election to succeed him. In polls of historians and political scientists, Roosevelt is generally ranked as one of the five best presidents.
Frustrated with Taft's conservatism, Roosevelt belatedly tried to win the 1912 Republican nomination. He failed, walked out, and founded a third party, the Progressive, so-called "Bull Moose" Party, which called for wide-ranging progressive reforms. The split allowed the Democrats to win the White House. Following his election defeat, Roosevelt led a two-year expedition to the Amazon basin, where he nearly died of tropical disease. During World War I, he criticized President Woodrow Wilson for keeping the country out of the war with Germany, and his offer to lead volunteers to France was rejected. Though he had considered running for president again in 1920, Roosevelt's health continued to deteriorate, and he died in 1919.
Quotes Theodore Roosevelt
1900s, The Strenuous Life: Essays and Addresses (1900), The Strenuous Life
Context: 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.
Context: 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.
„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 http://www.mackinac.org/bio.aspx?ID=104 (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).
This appears to derive from a 1910 advertisement by writer Alfred Henry Lewis for a forthcoming series of biographical articles about Roosevelt: "All activity, Mr. Roosevelt has often shown that it is better to do the wrong thing than do nothing at all. In politics this last is peculiarly true. The best thing is to do the right thing; the next best is to do the wrong thing; the worst thing of all things is to stand perfectly still". (e.g. in La Follette's Magazine https://books.google.com/books?id=RV4CAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA183&dq=%22best+thing%22+%22right+thing%22+%22worst+thing%22+nothing&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjNksu-nZrMAhVDy2MKHSl1Df8Q6AEIIzAB#v=onepage&q=%22the%20best%20thing%20is%20to%20do%20the%20right%20thing%22&f=false (28 May 1910)
As quoted by Jacob A. Riis in Theodore Roosevelt, the Citizen (1904), chapter XVI A Young Men's Hero http://www.bartleby.com/206/16.html
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 Military Quotation Book, Revised and Expanded: More than 1,200 of the Best Quotations About War, Leadership, Courage, Victory, and Defeat (2002) by James Charlton -->
Variant: Do what you can, with what you've got, where you are.
Context: 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."
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Variant: Look Toward the stars but keep your feet firmly on the ground.
Source: The Greatest American President: The Autobiography of Theodore Roosevelt
Variant: No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care
„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.“
Address in Des Moines, Iowa (4 November 1910)
„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.“
Kansas City Star (7 May 1918)
Context: 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.
1910s, The New Nationalism (1910)
Context: 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.
„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.“
1910s, Address to the Knights of Columbus (1915)
Context: 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.