Quote of the Day

Theodore Roosevelt was a very effective writer and speaker, and he is eminently quotable. For each of the quotes below, the Theodore Roosevelt Center has provided a brief explanation of the setting or the context in which TR made the statement.

The TR Quote of the Day App, available in the Mac App Store or Android Market for your iOS and Android devices, also includes a TR Quiz to test your knowledge about our 26th president.

Featured Quote for July 22, 2018:

I would not do wrong to the great corporation, but I don't intend to rely only the big corporation's good nature to see that the corporation doesn't do harm against us.
This comes from Theodore Roosevelt's New Nationalism program, the ideas he put forth as a governing platform in the 1912 presidential campaign. Roosevelt believed in using the power of the federal government to regulate businesses that did not have the best interests of the public in mind.


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July 21, 2018
[W]hen men are thus entirely loyal to this country it is an outrage to discriminate, or permit discrimination against them, because of where their fathers or they themselves were born.
During World War I, many cases of terrible discrimination against Americans of German descent occurred, and this distressed Theodore Roosevelt mightily. This quote came from a public statement he made in opposition to one such act by vigilantes.
July 20, 2018
[S]trength should go hand in hand with courtesy, with scrupulous regard in word and deed, not only for the rights, but for the feelings, of other countries.
Theodore Roosevelt made this assertion on the necessity of balancing a global foreign presence with the responsibilities of international power in a speech in 1903.
July 19, 2018
While material well-being is never all-sufficient to the life of a nation, yet it is the merest truism to say that its absence means ruin. We need to build a higher life upon it as a foundation; but we can build little indeed unless this foundation of prosperity is deep and broad.
Theodore Roosevelt made this statement in a speech in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1902.
July 18, 2018
Did I ever tell you about my second small boy's names for his Guinea pigs? They included Bishop Doane; Dr. Johnson, my Dutch Reformed pastor; Father G. Grady, the local priest with whom the children had scraped a speaking acquaintance; Fighting Bob Evans, and Admiral Dewey.
Theodore Roosevelt recounted this colorful and ecumenical list of his son's pet names to a friend in 1900. Evans and Dewey were well-known naval commanders.
July 17, 2018
She was beautiful in face and form and lovelier still in spirit. As a flower she grew, and as a fair young flower she died. Her life had been always in the sunshine; there had never come to her a single great sorrow; and none ever knew her who did not love and revere her for her bright and sunny temper and her saintly unselfishness.
So Theodore Roosevelt described his wife, Alice Hathaway Lee Roosevelt, who died on Valentine’s Day in 1884.
July 16, 2018
Our duties are those of peace and not of war. Nevertheless they are of the utmost importance; of importance to ourselves, and of still greater importance to the children who in a few years will take our places as the men and women of this Republic. If we wish to show ourselves worthy heirs of the men of the Civil War, we must do our tasks with the thoroughness with which they did theirs.
Theodore Roosevelt addressed a 1907 Memorial Day celebration in Indianapolis, during the unveiling of a statue to General Lawton, who fought as a youth in the Civil War and rose through the ranks to serve in Cuba and the Philippines. Roosevelt reminded his listeners not to be lulled into a peacetime complacency and stressed the duty of military preparedness.
July 15, 2018
[W]e are stirred to awe and wonder and devotion for [Abraham Lincoln,] the great man who, in strength and sorrow bore the people's burdens through the four years of our direst need, and then, standing as high priest between the horns of the altar, poured out his own lifeblood for the Nation whose life he had saved.
Of all the presidents who preceded him, Theodore Roosevelt admired Lincoln the most. This is one of many such paeans TR penned. On this occasion, Roosevelt had been inspired by the unveiling of a statue of Lincoln created by Augustus Saint-Gaudens in December 1908.
July 14, 2018
The war we wage must be waged against misconduct, against wrongdoing wherever it is found; and we must stand heartily for the rights of every decent man, whether he be a man of great wealth or a man who earns his livelihood as a wage-worker or a tiller of the soil.
In this 1908 message to Congress, Theodore Roosevelt called for citizens to become involved in their government. In this speech, he targeted the abuses of corporations, but noted here that misconduct and wrongdoing could be found anywhere--not just in industry.
July 13, 2018
We have gotten past the stage, my fellow citizens, when we are to be pardoned if we treat any part of our country as something to be skinned for two or three years for the use of the present generation, whether it is the forest, the water, the scenery. Whatever it is, handle it so that your children's children will get the benefit of it.
Theodore Roosevelt was believed that Americans had a duty to conserve natural resources for the use of later generations, and he worked diligently to make certain that areas of pristine wilderness, sites of cultural importance, and locations of important natural resources would be protected against thoughtless depletion. This was from a 1903 speech made on the rim of the Grand Canyon.
July 12, 2018
[An] enormous damage, [an] incredible damage, is done to the public, by completely misinforming them as to the character of the decent public servant, and also misinforming them as to the character of that man in public life who is an unworthy public servant.
President Roosevelt railed against libelous newspaper reporting, and decried especially the harm it did to the American public because a democracy depends upon an educated citizenry—not upon voters deliberately misled by the press.
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