Theodore Roosevelt Quotes

Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, 1858 – 1919

Born: 27 October 1858, New York City
Died: 6 January 1919, Oyster Bay, New York

“TR” was sickly and asthmatic as a child, but managed to get into mischief, often involving dead animals which he brought home, studied, and learned to prepare for display. He was educated at home, entering Harvard in 1876; strong in science, philosophy, and rhetoric but coming up short in Latin and Greek. At Harvard he began an exhaustive analysis of the naval battles in the War of 1812 which he published soon after graduation, it was the first balanced analysis of the subject and was immediately adopted by the newly-created Naval War College and a copy was purchased for every major ship in the US Navy. He married Alice Hathaway Lee in 1880, but two days after the birth of their daughter Alice, his mother died of typhoid fever and his wife died of renal failure in a span of twelve hours. He decamped for North Dakota, raising cattle and serving as deputy sheriff until a severe winter wiped out his herd. After returning to New York and remarrying he continued his historical work, serving as president of the American Historical Association. He served on the US Civil Service Commission, the New York City Police Commission, and was named Assistant Secretary of the Navy. When the Spanish-American war broke out, Roosevelt organized the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, known to the press as the Rough Riders they made good copy going up San Juan Hill in Cuba, even if Roosevelt was the only one with a horse. Returning to civilian life Roosevelt was elected governor of New York and became the scourge of the corrupt political machines. To get rid of him, they talked William McKinley into picking TR as his running mate, which backfired when McKinley died six months into his term. He fought monopolists, created the Forest Service and supported other conservation measures, and built the Panama Canal. Four years after leaving office he took another run at the presidency, this time as head of his own Bull Moose party, coming in second and getting shot in the process. (He delivered a ninety minute speech before seeing a doctor.) After the campaign he headed an exploratory mission into the Amazon basin, discovering a 625-mile-long river not previously charted, now know as Rio Teodoro. He received both the Medal of Honor and a Nobel Peace Prize (1906), the only person to combine those, and was the youngest person ever to serve as president.

Theodore Roosevelt quotes:

A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car, but if he has a university education he may steal the whole railroad.
    Theodore Roosevelt

A man who is good enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards.
    Theodore Roosevelt

A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.
    Theodore Roosevelt

All the resources we need are in the mind.
    Theodore Roosevelt

Black care rarely sits behind a rider whose pace is fast enough.
    Theodore Roosevelt

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

Don’t hit at all if it is honorably possible to avoid hitting, but never hit soft.
    Theodore Roosevelt

Every special interest is entitled to justice full, fair and complete….but not one is entitled to a vote in Congress, to a voice on the bench or to representation in any public office.
    Theodore Roosevelt

Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.
    Theodore Roosevelt

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.
    Theodore Roosevelt

Hardness of heart is a dreadful quality, but it is doubtful whether in the long run it works more damage than softness of head.
    Theodore Roosevelt

He shows all the backbone of a chocolate eclair.
    Theodore Roosevelt – on President William McKinley

I can be President of the United States, or I can control Alice. I cannot possibly do both.
    Theodore Roosevelt

I care not what others think of what I do, but I care very much about what I think of what I do. That is character!
    Theodore Roosevelt

I must be wanting to be President. Every young man does. But I won’t let myself think of it; I must not, because if I do, I will begin to work for it; I’ll be careful, calculating, cautious in word and act, and so — I’ll beat myself.
    Theodore Roosevelt

I think there is only one quality worse than hardness of heart, and that is softness of head.
    Theodore Roosevelt

I want to see you shoot the way you shout.
    Theodore Roosevelt

I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life.
    Theodore Roosevelt

If a man continually blusters, if he lacks civility, a big stick will not save him from trouble, and neither will speaking softly avail, if back of the softness there does not lie strength, power.
    Theodore Roosevelt

If I have erred, I err in company with Abraham Lincoln.
    Theodore Roosevelt

If the American nation will speak softly and yet continue to build and keep at a pitch of the highest training a thoroughly efficient Navy, the Monroe Doctrine will go far.
    Theodore Roosevelt – speech at Minnesota State Fair (2 September 1901)

If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.
    Theodore Roosevelt

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.
    Theodore Roosevelt

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

It behooves every man to remember that the work of the critic, is of altogether secondary importance, and that, in the end, progress is accomplished by the man who does things.
    Theodore Roosevelt

It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed. In this life we get nothing save by effort.
    Theodore Roosevelt

It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.
    Theodore Roosevelt

It is not what we have that will make us a great nation; it is the way in which we use it.
    Theodore Roosevelt

Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.
    Theodore Roosevelt

Much has been given us, and much will rightfully be expected from us. We have duties to others and duties to ourselves; and we can shirk neither. We have become a great nation, forced by the fact of its greatness into relations with other nations of the earth, and we must behave as beseems a people with such responsibilities.
    Theodore Roosevelt

Never hit if you can help it, but when you have to, hit hard. Never hit soft. You’ll never get any thanks for hitting soft.
    Theodore Roosevelt

Never trust a man who says he is only a little crooked, and that the crookedness is exercised in your interest.
    Theodore Roosevelt – The New Nationalism (1910)

Never, never, you must never either of you remind a man at work on a political job that he may be President.
    Theodore Roosevelt

Nine-tenths of wisdom is being wise in time.
    Theodore Roosevelt

No man is above the law and no man is below it: nor do we ask any man’s permission when we ask him to obey it.
    Theodore Roosevelt

No man is justified in doing evil on the ground of expedience.
    Theodore Roosevelt

No people ever yet benefited by riches if their prosperity corrupted their virtue.
    Theodore Roosevelt

Of all the questions which can come before this nation, short of the actual preservation of its existence in a great war, there is none which compares in importance with the great central task of leaving this land even a better land for our descendants than it is for us.
    Theodore Roosevelt

Pray not for lighter burdens but for stronger backs.
    Theodore Roosevelt

Preparation for war is the surest guaranty for peace.
    Theodore Roosevelt

Property belongs to man and not man to property.
    Theodore Roosevelt

Rhetoric is a poor substitute for action, and we have trusted only to rhetoric. If we are really to be a great nation, we must not merely talk; we must act big.
    Theodore Roosevelt

Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.
    Theodore Roosevelt – speech at Minnesota State Fair (2 September 1901)

The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.
    Theodore Roosevelt

The biggest corporation, like the humblest private citizen, must be held to strict compliance with the will of the people as expressed in the fundamental law.
    Theodore Roosevelt

The Constitution was made for the people and not people for the Constitution.
    Theodore Roosevelt

The government is us; we are the government, you and I.
    Theodore Roosevelt

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

The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.
    Theodore Roosevelt

The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything.
    Theodore Roosevelt

The spirit of brotherhood recognizes of necessity both the need of self-help and also the need of helping others in the only way which everyone ultimately does great good, that is, of helping them to help themselves.
    Theodore Roosevelt

There has never yet been a man in our history who led a life of ease whose name is worth remembering.
    Theodore Roosevelt

There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism.
    Theodore Roosevelt

There is only one quality worse than hardness of heart and that is softness of head.
    Theodore Roosevelt

This country will not be a permanently good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a reasonably good place for all of us to live in.
    Theodore Roosevelt

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.
    Theodore Roosevelt

To educate a man in mind, and not in morals, is to educate a menace to society.
    Theodore Roosevelt

We can have no 50-50 allegiance in this country. Either a man is an American and nothing else, or he is not an American at all.
    Theodore Roosevelt

We have got but one life here. It pays, no matter what comes after it, to try and do things, to accomplish things in this life and not merely to have a soft and pleasant time.
    Theodore Roosevelt

When great nations fear to expand, shrink from expansion, it is because their greatness is coming to an end. Are we, still in the prime of our lusty youth, still at the beginning of our glorious manhood, to sit down among the outworn people, to take our place with the weak and the craven? A thousand times no!
    Theodore Roosevelt

When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer Present or Not Guilty.
    Theodore Roosevelt

Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em, Certainly I can! – and get busy and find out how to do it.
    Theodore Roosevelt

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