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 September 15, 2014 :


The name Quentin is with us an old family name, coming from a French Huguenot refugee who came to this country over two centuries ago.


Theodore Roosevelt wrote these words to Officer Theodore Quentin in 1902, explaining the origin of the old Roosevelt family name Quentin.

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Previous Quotes:

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I felt at once that he had bad news, and, sure enough, he handed me a telegram saying that the President’s condition was much worse and that I must come to Buffalo immediately.

In An Autobiography, Theodore Roosevelt recalls the events that led to his presidential inauguration in Buffalo, New York on September 14, 1901.


Morally, our ability to do good work in the world depends almost absolutely upon our prepared military ability, and upon our readiness to use such ability in a just cause together with the assurance that we will not use it except in a just cause.

During the early years of World War I, Theodore Roosevelt assured “lovers of peace and lovers of righteousness” that preparedness was a worthy cause.

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With all volunteer troops, and I am inclined to think with regulars, too, in time of trial, the best work can be got out of the men only if the officers endure the same hardships and face the same risks.

During the 1898 Spanish-American War, Theodore Roosevelt prided himself on close relationships with his troops, and suggested that their mutual admiration for each other was based in part on his willingness to share in their experiences rather than to lord it over them. This quote is from his account of the war, entitled The Rough Riders.


Last evening, when the moon rose, from the ranch veranda we could see the river-bed almost dry, the stream having shrunk under the drought till it was little but a string of shallow pools, with between them a trickle of water that was not ankle deep…

Roosevelt wrote these words describing the nearly-dry Little Missouri River that ran through his Elkhorn Ranch in the badlands of Dakota Territory. This excerpt is from a magazine article TR wrote in 1888 entitled, “Sheriff’s Work on a Ranch.”

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We in this country have been very fortunate. Thanks to the teaching and the practice of the men whom we most revere as leaders, of the men like Washington and Lincoln, we have hitherto escaped the twin gulfs of despotism and mob rule, and we have never been in any danger from the worst forms of religious bitterness.

Theodore Roosevelt acknowledges some of his favorite American leaders in this essay, published in The Outlook in 1909.

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The prongbuck [i.e. pronghorn antelope] is the most characteristic and distinctive of American game animals. Zoologically speaking, its position is unique. It is the only hollow-horned ruminant which sheds its horns, or rather the horn sheaths. We speak of it as an antelope, and it does of course represent on our prairies the antelopes of the Old World; but it stands apart from all other horned animals. Its place in the natural world is almost as lonely as that of the giraffe.

Roosevelt wrote this passage in his book Outdoor Pastimes of an American Hunter. He had seen his first pronghorn antelopes in the badlands and prairies of Dakota Territory beginning in 1883. He shot his first pronghorn antelope in June 1884.


To turn from things that are sad – and everything public seems to me to be in uncomfortable shape at the present time – we are very fortunate indeed as regards all the people that are dear to us.

In this letter to his sister-in-law, Emily, Theodore Roosevelt eloquently changes the topic from the developments of the Great War to the blessings of family.

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Chicago looks at me from the perspective of space, which is almost as satisfactory as looking through the perspective of time; and, as she does not feel my rule, was loud in her denunciation of New York for not being grateful to me.

Theodore Roosevelt was a Police Commissioner of New York City when he wrote this sentiment to his sister, Anna Roosevelt Cowles.

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No greater wrong can ever be done than to put a good man at the mercy of a bad, while telling him not to defend himself or his fellows; in no way can the success of evil be made surer and quicker…

In his famous work, The Winning of the West, Theodore Roosevelt illustrates why even peaceful people must learn the strength and courage to face hostility.


In the event of being allowed to raise a division, I should of course strain every nerve to have it ready for efficient action at the earliest moment, so that it would be sent across with the first expeditionary force, if the Department were willing.

Before the U.S. officially entered World War I, Theodore Roosevelt requested to lead a volunteer division and prepare them for war in Europe.

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