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 July 24, 2014 :


May I ask that you have sent to Sargent the letter which has gone to him in your care? I was greatly pleased that he said he would paint my picture for the White House. He is of course the one artist who should paint the portrait of an American President.


Through letters such as this, to the Secretary of the U.S. Embassy in London, Roosevelt was able to arrange for artist John Singer Sargent to visit the White House and create Roosevelt’s official portrait.

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Previous Quotes:

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The twilights were not long; and when the night fell, stars new to northern eyes flashed glorious in the sky. Above the horizon hung the Southern Cross, and directly opposite in the heavens was our old friend the Wain, the Great Bear, upside down and pointing to a North Star so low behind a hill that we could not see it.

Theodore Roosevelt described the East African landscape and unique night sky in chapter two of African Game Trails.

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…as soon as a man ceases to improve he goes backward.

Wrapped up in World War I, Theodore Roosevelt was writing to his son about promotions within the army. However, his words serve as a reminder to pursue self-improvement and progress through all walks of life.

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I think I should have had rather a rough time had I been obliged to put up with the hotel accommodation (in Mandan); for it was a vile building entered through an underground drinking saloon, and my room contained two beds, and two fellow boarders – one of them my old friend the horse thief Calamity Joe, now out on bail.

Roosevelt was in town for the business of indicting the boat thieves. To his luck, he met some familiar faces and was invited to stay with the Selmes family, a crowd much more elegant than that at the hotel.

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We came upon their camp by surprise and, covering them with our cocked rifles, held them up and disarmed them in the most approved western fashion.

Like a scene from a western dime novel, Roosevelt and his “determined allies” travelled the icy Little Missouri River, located the thieves who had stolen their boat, and brought them to justice. Roosevelt described it all to his sister, Anna, in 1886.

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Foolhardiness does not imply bravery. A prize-fighter who refused to use his guard would be looked upon as exceptionally brainless, not as exceptionally brave….

This quote comes from the last page of Theodore Roosevelt’s book The Naval War of 1812, where he analyzed the actions of the captain of one of the ships involved. His sentiment, however, certainly has a broader and more universal application.


American politics are of a kaleidoscopic character. There is no use in looking ahead as regards one’s personal interests, though there is every use in shaping one’s career so as to conduct it along firmly settled great principles and policies.

Theodore Roosevelt concluded that, in a changing political environment, the most important thing was to serve in the most influential position possible. At the time, Roosevelt felt that serving as governor of New York was his most effective place in American politics. His peers felt the same way; that is why they set him up for the vice-presidency.

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The few delicacies – if beans and tomatoes can be called such – which they have had I have had to purchase myself; and all this weighs on me a good deal, for I am proud of them beyond measure and I hate to see them needlessly suffer, all the more because they never grumble.

In July of 1898, Theodore Roosevelt sent an update on the declining condition of the Rough Riders, as they awaited their chance to travel back to the United States.

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I shall read the “Poor Priest” with the greatest interest, but I do not know whether I shall try the experiment of telling exactly what I think of it or not.

To protect friendships and feelings, Roosevelt had become reluctant to give open and honest criticism to friends. He explained his philosophy on the matter before reading and responding to Annie Nathan Meyer’s new book Robert Anny’s: Poor Priest.

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…these men are not to be appointed for political reasons; that they are to be good plainsmen and mountain men, able to walk and ride and lie out at night, as any such first-class man must be able to do.

Early in his presidency, Theodore Roosevelt described the qualities he expected from the men chosen to range the Black Hills Forest Reserve.

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…in the year these distinguished representatives of the French nation come here to be present at the unveiling of a monument to the gallantry of the French soldiers and sailors who fought for America in the Revolution, a picture of my action in Cuba by the brush of so eminent a painter as yourself should hang in the Salon.

Both France and the United States celebrated the Rochambeau Statue, to commemorate the past and strengthen the future of Franco-American relations. However, President Roosevelt had his own reason to celebrate, as he happily received proofs of the artist E. Jean Delahaye’s recent rendition of “The Battle of San Juan Hill.”

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