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.

Featured Quote for June 24, 2018:

[T]here is a growing determination that no man shall amass a great fortune by special privilege, by chicanery and wrong-doing, so far as it is in the power of legislation to prevent; and that a fortune, however amassed, shall not have a business use that is antisocial.
President Theodore Roosevelt spoke these words in 1907. By “antisocial” he meant opposed to the general welfare of Americans as a whole.


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June 13, 2018
Let me insist again, for fear of possible misconstruction, upon the fact that our duty is twofold, and that we must raise others while we are benefitting ourselves.
This idea of helping others for the benefit of all was embraced by most Progressive Era reformers. The National Association of Colored Women's Clubs featured it in their motto "Lifting as We Climb," and it was the bedrock belief of settlement house workers, temperance activists, civil service activists, and others who hoped to bring about a more equitable society in the U.S.A.
June 12, 2018
I'm no orator, and in writing I'm afraid I'm not gifted at all, except perhaps that I have a good instinct and a liking for simplicity and directness. If I have anything at all resembling genius it is the gift for leadership.
This was Theodore Roosevelt’s assessment of himself in his middle years. Historians have generally concurred.
June 11, 2018
[I]n the long run, in the great battle of life, no brilliancy of intellect, no perfection of bodily development, will count when weighed in the balance against that assemblage of virtues, active and passive, of moral qualities, which we group together under the name of character….
Theodore Roosevelt wrote this in 1900, after he had been shaped by his wartime experiences but before he entered the presidency. It was another restatement of what he believed to be the most important determinant for success in life: a moral character.
June 10, 2018
The corner-stone of the Republic lies in our treating each man on his worth as a man, paying no heed to his creed, his birthplace, or his occupation, asking not whether he is rich or poor, whether he labors with head or hand; asking only whether he acts decently and honorably in the various relations of his life, whether he behaves well to his family, to his neighbors, to the State. We base our regard for each man on the essentials and not the accidents.
President Theodore Roosevelt spoke these words at the Jamestown Exposition in Virginia on April 26, 1907.
June 9, 2018
Many regions in the United States where life is now absolutely comfortable and easy-going offered most formidable problems to the first explorers a century or two ago. We must not fall into the foolish error of thinking that the first explorers need not suffer terrible hardships, merely because the ordinary travelers, and even the settlers who come after them, do not have to endure such danger, privation, and wearing fatigue.
Theodore Roosevelt knew whereof he spoke. He had come to Dakota Territory in 1883 when the industrial infrastructure could deliver him, in some comfort, to one of the last frontier regions. In 1914, his journey down the River of Doubt in South America was harrowing and it exacted most of his vitality (and almost his life) before he emerged from the wilderness.
June 8, 2018
[S]ocial consciousness is the only effective antidote to the class consciousness of the Socialist.
Theodore Roosevelt believed that the Socialist Party in the U.S. was attempting to base itself upon “class consciousness,” which he worried about, but felt would be doomed to failure in this democratic republic.
June 7, 2018
On the whole I am friendly to England. I do not at all believe in being over-effusive or in forgetting that fundamentally we are two different nations; but yet the fact remains, in the first place, that we are closer in feeling to her than to any other nation; and in the second place, that probably her interest and ours will run on rather parallel lines in the future.
Theodore Roosevelt was an Anglophile, within limits. He believed the “Anglo-Saxon peoples” had a special destiny in the world. At the same time, he let nothing cloud his 100% Americanism. He wrote these words in a letter to Henry Cabot Lodge on June 19, 1901, a few months before he ascended to the Presidency.
June 6, 2018
No other animal, not the lion himself, is so constant a theme of talk, and a subject of such unflagging interest round the camp-fires of African hunters and in the native villages of the African wilderness, as the elephant. Indeed the elephant has always profoundly impressed the imagination of mankind. It is, not only to hunters, but to naturalists, and to all people who possess any curiosity about wild creatures and the wild life of nature, the most interesting of all animals.
Theodore Roosevelt saw no contradiction between his love of the natural world, including majestic creatures like the elephant, and his passion for hunting big game. During his yearlong Africa safari, Roosevelt and his son Kermit killed eleven elephants. This passage comes from Roosevelt’s book, African Game Trails, published in 1910.
June 5, 2018
I am not in the least surprised about the mental telepathy; there is much in it and in kindred things which are real and which at present we do not understand.
Theodore Roosevelt wrote this to his daughter in 1906, when mental telepathy resurfaced as a fad considered the purview of “cranks” and crackpots (like socialist author Sinclair Lewis). TR either voiced a kind response to Ethel or gave evidence that like Hamlet, he believed there were "more things in heaven and on earth than are dreamt of in our philosophies."
June 4, 2018
I urge you to have the widest toleration in matters of opinion, but to have no toleration at all when it comes to matters of the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule.
Theodore Roosevelt called these "the fundamental, essential principles, which must live in the heart of every American citizen, and by which every man asking place or political power must be tested" in an 1899 speech in New York.
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