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 April:

The geysers, the extraordinary hot springs, the lakes, the mountains, the canyons, and cataracts unite to make this region something not wholly to be paralleled elsewhere on the globe. It must be kept for the benefit and enjoyment of all of us; and I hope to see a steadily increasing number of our people take advantage of its attractions.

President Roosevelt’s speech while laying a cornerstone at the gateway to Yellowstone National Park. He discusses the creation of the park and its purpose. He also thanks the people for their cooperation to prevent acts of vandalism and destruction in the park.

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Quotes:

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April 2016

The amateur athlete who thinks of nothing but athletics, and makes it the serious business of his life, becomes a bore, if nothing worse. A young man who has broken a running or jumping record, who has stroked a winning club crew, or played on his college nine or eleven, has a distinct claim to our respect; but if, when middle-aged, he has still done nothing more in the world, he forfeits even this claim which he originally had.

Roosevelt wrote this in the North American Review in August, 1890. Roosevelt was a lifelong advocate of athletics as part of the school and university curriculum. But he saw athletics as training for adulthood, not a substitute for it.

April 2016

If we are a true democracy, if we really believe in government of the people, by the people and for the people, if we believe in social and industrial justice to be achieved through the people, and therefore in the right of the people to demand the service of all the people, let us make the army fundamentally an army of the whole people.

Roosevelt wrote this in November 1915. At about the same time he warned against a professional army, worrying that “the government has to go into the labor market for its soldiers, and compete against industrialism.”

April 2016

I treated anarchists and the bomb-throwing and dynamiting gentry precisely as I treated other criminals. Murder is murder. It is not rendered one whit better by the allegation that it is committed on behalf of a ‘cause.’

Roosevelt was a law and order man. This statement was from Roosevelt’s 1913 Autobiography.

April 2016

The man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic—the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done.

The idea that “it is not the critic who counts . . . the credit belongs to the man in the arena,” is one of Roosevelt’s central ideas, repeated with slight variations throughout his life. The most famous instance of it was his speech before the Sorbonne on April 23, 1910.

April 2016

I wish Clark University would stand, not for a debate between the forces of good and evil, of courage and cowardice, but for the strongest kind of insistence that this nation be on the side of good against evil and of courage against cowardice.

Theodore Roosevelt argues that the United States needs to be taught of the extreme wickedness and folly of pacifism. He compares pacifism to treason and believes fighting against military readiness is the same as fighting against the United States.

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April 2016

It is true of the Nation, as of the individual, that the greatest doer must also be a great dreamer. Of course, if the dream is not followed by action, then it is a bubble; it has merely served to divert the man from doing something.

Delivered at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, June 21, 1905. Roosevelt was a few months into his second term.

April 2016

No man is fit to live unless he is ready to quit life for adequate cause.

Theodore Roosevelt appreciates the editorial responding to the statement in President Taft's Decoration Day address that the horrors of war necessarily outweigh the benefits that may come of it. Roosevelt agrees with James Andrew Drain in opposing such a statement. He also states that death is not the worst of all possible evils.

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April 2016

The true doctrine to this nation, as to the individuals composing this nation, is not the life of ease, but the life of effort.

President Roosevelt praises the Puritans for their "iron sense of duty" and "will to do the right." Everyone should strive for a "life of effort" and the Puritan's descendants must try to shape modern industrial civilization with the same "justice and fair dealing." These altered conditions call for different laws and government methods, including greater control over business and corporations.

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April 2016

It is true of the Nation, as of the individual, that the greatest doer must also be a great dreamer. Of course, if the dream is not followed by action, then it is a bubble; it has merely served to divert the man from doing something.

Delivered at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, June 21, 1905. Roosevelt was a few months into his second term.

April 2016

It is a good thing that life should gain in sweetness, but only provided that it does not lose in strength. Ease and rest and pleasure are good things, but only if they come as the reward of work well done, of a good fight well won, of strong effort resolutely made and crowned by high achievement.

President Roosevelt praises the Puritans for their "iron sense of duty" and "will to do the right." Everyone should strive for a "life of effort" and the Puritan's descendants must try to shape modern industrial civilization with the same "justice and fair dealing." These altered conditions call for different laws and government methods, including greater control over business and corporations.

View Document of Origin

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