The following is a list of quotations attributed to Theodore Roosevelt. Where a source can
be verified, it is noted below along with a brief explanation of the setting or the context
for that quote. This list includes a number of quotations for which a source has not been
verified in Theodore Roosevelt's writings.
The context for many of the quotes included here reflects research that has been conducted
throughout the years by curators of the Theodore Roosevelt Collection at Harvard University,
which is presented here through a cooperation between Harvard College Library and the
Theodore Roosevelt Center. Quotations will be added to this list as staff at both
institutions continue their research.
Featured Quote for December:
We, here in America, hold in our hands the hope of the world, the fate of the coming years; and shame and disgrace will be ours if in our eyes the light of high resolve is dimmed, if we trail in the dust the golden hopes of men. If on this new continent we merely build another country of great but unjustly divided material prosperity, we shall have done nothing; and we shall do as little if we merely set the greed of envy against the greed of arrogance, and thereby destroy the material well-being of all of us. To turn this Government either into government by a plutocracy or government by a mob would be to repeat on a larger scale the lamentable failures of the world that is dead.
To the Indians here I want to say a word of welcome. In my regiment I had a good many Indians. They were good enough to fight and to die, and they are good enough to have me treat them exactly as squarely as any white man. There are many problems in connection with them. We must save them from corruption and brutality; and I regret to say that at times we must save them from unregulated Eastern philanthropy. All I ask is a square deal for every man. Give him a fair chance. Do not let him wrong any one, and do not let him be wronged.
Instead of speaking softly and carrying a big stick, President Wilson spoke bombastically and carried a dish rag.
Democracy to be successful, must mean self-knowledge, and above all, self-mastery.
I don’t for a moment believe that we can turn back the wheels of progress.
Is America a weakling, to shrink from the work of the great world powers? No! The young giant of the West stands on a continent and clasps the crest of an ocean in either hand. Our nation, glorious in youth and strength, looks into the future with eager eyes and rejoices as a strong man to run a race.
Don't hit a man at all if you can avoid it, but if you have to hit him, knock him out.
No man is more apt to be mistaken than the prophet of evil.
It is a good thing that the guard around the tomb of Lincoln should be composed of colored soldiers. It was my own good fortune at Santiago to serve beside colored troops. A man who is good enough to shed his blood for the country is good enough to be given a square deal afterward. More than that no man is entitled to, and less than that no man shall have.
There are many qualities which we need in order to gain success, but the three above all—for the lack of which no brilliancy and no genius can atone—are Courage, Honesty and Common Sense.
A foolish optimist is only less noxious that an utter pessimist.