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 May 28, 2015 :

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I feel I have been a useful citizen, and, though this is a point of very much less importance, I think that in the end decent people will realize that I have done a good deal.

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After serving as a commissioner for a mere ten months, Theodore Roosevelt celebrates his progress in improving the New York City Police Department.

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Previous Quotes:

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05/27/2015

The worst lesson that can be taught any American is to teach him to suspect, to feel jealousy of, and hatred for, his fellow Americans. I believe so thoroughly that the average American is a pretty good fellow that I feel that what we chiefly need is to have him find the viewpoint of any other average American, in order to have them work well together. In the long run out interests are common.

President Roosevelt spoke these words in Mitchell, South Dakota, in the spring of 1903.

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05/26/2015

We could never afford to take overmuch thought for the outsides of books; we were too much interested in their insides.

Theodore Roosevelt reminds us not judge a book by its cover, as he discusses the extensive family library at Sagamore Hill in An Autobiography.

05/25/2015

The principles for which Lincoln contended are elemental and basic. He strove, for peace if possible, but for justice in any event; he strove for a brotherhood of mankind, based on the theory that each man can conserve his own liberty only by paying scrupulous regard to the liberty of others. He strove to bring about that union of kindliness and disinterestedness, with strength and courage upon which as a foundation our institutions must rest if they are to remain unshaken by time.

President Roosevelt states the significance of Abraham Lincoln’s legacy, although he is unable to attend the Republican Club’s Lincoln Dinner, a celebration of that legacy.

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05/24/2015

On the whole the New Englanders have exerted a more profound and wholesome influence upon the development of our common country than has ever been exerted by any other equally numerous body of our people.

In The Winning of the West, Theodore Roosevelt proceeds to explain that although New Englanders led the nation toward independence, they did not lead the way across the western frontier.

05/23/2015

I believe in the men who take the next step; not those who theorize about the 200th step.

Theodore Roosevelt wrote these memorable words to a journalist, Lincoln Steffens, during a discussion of personalities in politics.

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05/22/2015

I am a great believer in our railway system; and the fact that I am very firm in my belief as to the necessity of the government exercising a proper supervision and control over the railroads does not in the least interfere with the other fact that I greatly admire the large majority of the men in all positions, from the top to the bottom, who build and run them.

Railroads were America’s first big business. Much of Theodore Roosevelt’s legislative agenda concerned curtailing their unfair practices. His first significant victory over the trusts was the Northern Securities Case, aimed at a railroad conglomerate. Roosevelt spoke these words in 1907, in Keokuk, Iowa.

05/21/2015

I merely propose that we simplify machinery which, with the growth of the nation, has become hopelessly cumbersome and unwieldy.

In this statement from a speech that was given in Atlanta in 1912, Theodore Roosevelt refers to the national income tax.

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05/20/2015

He [Kermit], and his cousin Jack, and the others of his class at dancing school have all lost so many front teeth that it looks like a class of little ruminants, varied by an occasional narwhal.

In a letter to his sister, Anna, Theodore Roosevelt amusingly describes his seven year old son’s dance class.

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05/19/2015

Here we are working like beavers and we are getting the regiment into shape. It has all the faults incident to an organization whose members have elected their own officers—some good and more very bad—and who have been recruited largely from among classes who, putting it mildly, do not look at life in the spirit of decorum and conventionality that obtains in the East. Nevertheless many of our officers have in them the making of first rate men, and the troopers, I believe, are on the average finer than are to be found in any other regiment in the whole country.

Roosevelt wrote these words to his closest friend Henry Cabot Lodge on May 19, 1898, from San Antonio, Texas, where he was training his rough riders. He regarded his volunteer cavalry unit as the most heterogeneous group of cowboys and Indians ever gathered together for a common purpose.

05/18/2015

…it does not seem to me that it would be honorable for a man who has consistently advocated a warlike policy not to be willing himself to bear the brunt of carrying out that policy.

To support his words with actions, Theodore Roosevelt left his position as assistant secretary of the Navy to join the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry in May of 1898.

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