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.

Quote for February 01, 2015 :


The forest reserves themselves are of extreme value to the present as well as the future welfare of all western public-lands States.


Theodore Roosevelt explains the significance of forest conservation in his message to the 58th Congress.

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The surest way to stop progress is to lull ourselves into supineness, whether by the cultivation of a flabby optimism, or of that refined shrinking from the sight or knowledge of evil and suffering which may itself be a very unpleasant form of vicious self-indulgence.

Roosevelt wrote these words on July 15, 1911, in The Outlook. He believed in facing life head-on, unblinkingly, and without illusion. He knew that the future had to be fought for, and that “flabby optimism” did not get the job done.


I have rarely seen Edith enjoy anything more than she did the six days at my ranch, and the trip through the Yellowstone Park; and she looks just as well and young and pretty and happy as she did four years ago when I married her…

Roosevelt wrote these words to his wife Edith’s mother, Gertrude Tyler Carow, on October 18, 1890. Although Edith’s first impressions of the Dakota badlands were not favorable, she warmed up to Roosevelt’s western home enough to understand how it appealed to her husband.

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We paid not the slightest attention to a man’s politics or creed, or where he was born as long as he was an American Citizen; and on an average we obtained far and away the best men that had ever come into the Police Department.

In An Autobiography, Theodore Roosevelt recalls the ways he improved the police force during his two years as a New York Police Commissioner.


There is quite enough sorrow and shame and suffering and baseness in real life, and there is no need for meeting it unnecessarily in fiction.

In this 1905 letter to his son, Kermit, Theodore Roosevelt writes about the portrayal of human suffering in novels.

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As you know, I heartily believe in certain labor unions and I would believe in all labor unions if they were wisely and honestly conducted.

After being misrepresented in several newspapers, Theodore Roosevelt sets the record straight for California newspaper publisher, Harrison Gray Otis.

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I wonder if you know how much good you do when you go into this active, practical work. It is a help to every man in the country who is striving for decent politics.

In this letter dated May 22, 1902, Theodore Roosevelt conveys his pleasure that G. S. Conway accepted an important and challenging position.


Birds that are useless for the table and not harmful to the farm should always be preserved; and the more beautiful they are, the more carefully they should be preserved. They look a great deal better in the swamps and on the beaches and among the trees than they do on hats.

Theodore Roosevelt wrote this passage in The Outlook on September 16, 1911. As a bird lover and an ornithologist, Roosevelt created the National Wildlife Refuge system, then called Federal Bird Sanctuaries.


I do appoint you to visit the Isthmus of Panama without unnecessary delay, to ascertain the present condition of the work on the canal there…

In early 1903, Theodore Roosevelt issued the Isthmian Canal Commission to evaluate the Panama Canal project that the nation would soon be taking on.

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There is so great a charm in absolute solitude, in the wild, lonely freedom of the great plains, that often I would make some excuse and go off entirely by myself. Such rides had a fascination of their own. Hour after hour the wiry pony shuffled onward across the sea of short, matted grass. On every side the plains stretched seemingly limitless.

Roosevelt wrote these marvelous words in Outdoor Pastimes of an American Hunter. Although he came to the badlands of western North Dakota in 1883 to hunt a buffalo, it was this wild solitude that drew him back to the great plains thereafter.


Brutality by a man to a woman, by a grown person to a little child, by anything strong toward anything good and helpless, makes my blood literally boil.

In a letter to author Hamlin Garland, Theodore Roosevelt explains why respect is due to all women, especially mothers.

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