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 March 05, 2015 :


We want to emphasize that we are the heirs of Lincoln’[s] principles and policies, that he is our man…


Theodore Roosevelt encourages fellow Progressive Albert Beveridge to attend the celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.

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Previous Quotes:

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At this moment, my small daughter being out, I am acting as nurse to two wee guinea pigs, which she feels would not be safe save in the room with me – and if I can prevent it I do not intend to have wanton suffering inflicted on any creatures.

Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward had expressed her concern against conducting research on animals. Roosevelt replied in agreement and lightened his response, telling her about his duty pet sitting.

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Good legislation does not secure good government, which can come only through a good administration.

Statement at a Merchant’s Association Dinner in New York City, on May 25, 1900. Roosevelt was a lifelong advocate of civil service reform. He was a U.S. Civil Service Commissioner 1889-95. Roosevelt was not afraid of government. But he expected government to be efficient, frugal, and scrupulously honest.


…speaking generally the boy or man who does one thing with his whole heart and learns how to do it well, will do other things with his whole heart.

President Roosevelt encourages the school children of Sioux Falls to do their best in all endeavors.

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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.


…they say a stout, elderly President cannot afford to take chances!

This excerpt is from a letter dated May 3, 1902 to Margaret Cary, from whose father TR hoped to buy a horse that would be willing to jump higher than four feet. He notes that his current horse hesitates, and that while no harm has been done so far, he wants a horse that is more comfortable with jumping.

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It is an incalculable added pleasure to any one’s sum of happiness if he or she grows to know, even slightly and imperfectly, how to read and enjoy the wonder-book of nature

Roosevelt wrote these words in Outdoor Pastimes of an American Hunter in 1905. TR understood that one must read books to prepare for life in nature, but that all the library study in the world could not fully prepare one for the kinds of insight that can only be gained in the field.


I believe with all my heart in this Nation playing its part manfully and well. I believe that we are now, at the outset of the twentieth centure [sic.], face to face with great world problems; that we can not help playing the part of a great world power…

Theodore Roosevelt compares the duties of a man in his community to the duties of a nation in the worldwide community. He points out the U.S. has taken on an increasingly great role in the world and that role must be carried out with strength and courtesy.

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I am more proud of you, and of the other three, than I can say. And every one who speaks to me of you boys does it with a look and in a tone that makes my heart swell.

In a 1917 letter to his son, Archie, Theodore Roosevelt mentions how proud he is of having all four sons taking part, through military service, in the Great War.

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…it is by no means easy to combine honesty and efficiency; and yet it is absolutely necessary, in order to do any work really worth doing.

Theodore Roosevelt states these words in the preface to American Ideals, a collection of essays for the men who, like Roosevelt, work toward “raising the standard of public life.”


Politics here are in chaos. I should be sure that either party would be defeated if it were not for the fact that the other is its opponent.

Theodore Roosevelt sent an update on domestic politics to Joseph Bucklin Bishop, who worked overseas in the Canal Zone in 1911.

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