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 June 22, 2018:

The men and women who in peace-time fear or ignore the primary and vital duties and the high happiness of family life, who dare not beget and bear and rear the life that is to last when they are in their graves, have broken the chain of creation, and have shown that they are unfit for companionship with the souls ready for the Great Adventure.
Theodore Roosevelt believed that childless couples were merely selfish. He believed that Anglo-Saxon couples had a moral duty to maintain a birth rate equal to that of other ethnic types. He spent a fair portion of his adulthood worrying about what he called “race suicide,” by which he meant exclusively the decline in numbers of Anglo-Saxon Americans. He wrote these words in the Metropolitan in October 1918.


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June 21, 2018
As a nation we have many tremendous problems to work out, and we need to bring every ounce of vital power possible to their solution. No people has ever yet done great and lasting work if its physical type was infirm and weak.
Theodore Roosevelt overcame serious childhood diseases, including asthma, before becoming an advocate for the strenuous life. He believed that urban and industrial life was making the American people effeminate. These words were published in the North American Review in August 1890.
June 20, 2018
In any expedition there are bound to be unforeseen difficulties of every kind, and it is often absolutely impossible for the outside public to say whether a failure is due to some lack of forethought on the part of those engaged in the expedition, or to causes absolutely beyond human control. There is not and cannot be certainty in an affair of this kind—probably there cannot be certainty in any affair, but above all in what by its very nature is so hazardous. The slack or rash man is more likely to fail than the man of forethought; but the hand of the Lord may be heavy upon the wise no less than upon the foolish.
Theodore Roosevelt wrote these somewhat apprehensive words before his famous and late-life expedition on the River of Doubt in the Amazon basin. On that journey, which turned out to be an ordeal, things went terribly wrong. The failures of the expedition were largely beyond human control.
June 19, 2018
We believe in a real, not a sham, democracy. We believe in democracy as regards political rights, as regards education, and, finally, as regards industrial conditions. By democracy we understand securing, as far as it is humanly possible to secure it, equality of opportunity, equality of the conditions under which each man is to show the stuff that is in him and to achieve the measure of success to which his own force of mind and character entitle him.
President Theodore Roosevelt believed passionately in individual initiative and individual responsibility. He wanted the government of the United States to be a neutral referee, to make sure that no single class or entity got special treatment, but he was not an advocate of government welfare.
June 18, 2018
If there is one lesson taught by history it is that the permanent greatness of any State must ultimately depend more upon the character of its country population than upon anything else. No growth of cities, no growth of wealth can make up for a loss in either the number or the character of the farming population. In the United States more than in almost any other country we should realize this and should prize our country population.
Theodore Roosevelt spoke these words at a celebration of the founding of agricultural colleges in Lansing, Michigan, on May 31, 1907. Although he is usually regarded as a statesman who resonated with urbanization and the industrial revolution, here he sounds positively Jeffersonian.
June 17, 2018
It makes small odds to any of us after we are dead whether the next generation forgets us....[I]t seems to me that the only important thing is to be able to feel, when our time comes to go out into the blackness, that those survivors who care for us and to whom it will be a pleasure to think well of us when we are gone shall have that pleasure.
Theodore Roosevelt died peacefully in his sleep on January 6, 1919. He led a full life: author, cattle rancher, big game hunter, ornithologist, reformer, U.S. president, explorer, husband, father, grandfather. His interests ranged from Icelandic folk tales to naval history. In 1904, he wrote this to a friend, suggesting one's true legacy was in the hearts of others.
June 16, 2018
When America’s history is written, when the history of the last century in America is written a hundred years hence, the name of no multimillionaire, who is nothing but a multimillionaire, will appear in that history, unless it appears in some foot-note to illustrate some queer vagary or extravagance. The men who will loom in our history are the men of real achievement of the kind that counts. You can go over them—statesmen, soldiers, wise philanthropists. . . the writer, the man of science, of letters, of art, these are the men who will leave their mark on history.
Theodore Roosevelt delivered these words at the Pacific Theological Seminary in the spring of 1911. He was a man of action and contemplation. Although he is best known for his work as a politician and American statesman, Roosevelt wanted to leave his mark in the world of history and literature.
June 15, 2018
Perhaps there is no more important component of character than steadfast resolution. The boy who is going to make a great man, or is going to count in any way in after life, must make up his mind not merely to overcome a thousand obstacles, but to win in spite of a thousand repulses or defeats. He may not be able to wrest success along the lines on which he originally started. He may have to try something entirely new. On the one hand, he must not be volatile and irresolute, and, on the other hand, he must not fear to try a new line because he has failed in another.
In his essay “Character and Success” Theodore Roosevelt expounded upon the old adage that “character makes the man.”
June 14, 2018
No man is justified in doing evil on the ground of expediency.
Cutting corners, compartmentalizing one's morals, justifying, shifting responsibility, lying: Theodore Roosevelt regarded all of these acts of cowardice with the same disdain.
June 13, 2018
Let me insist again, for fear of possible misconstruction, upon the fact that our duty is twofold, and that we must raise others while we are benefitting ourselves.
This idea of helping others for the benefit of all was embraced by most Progressive Era reformers. The National Association of Colored Women's Clubs featured it in their motto "Lifting as We Climb," and it was the bedrock belief of settlement house workers, temperance activists, civil service activists, and others who hoped to bring about a more equitable society in the U.S.A.
June 12, 2018
I'm no orator, and in writing I'm afraid I'm not gifted at all, except perhaps that I have a good instinct and a liking for simplicity and directness. If I have anything at all resembling genius it is the gift for leadership.
This was Theodore Roosevelt’s assessment of himself in his middle years. Historians have generally concurred.
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