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 July 21, 2018:

[W]hen men are thus entirely loyal to this country it is an outrage to discriminate, or permit discrimination against them, because of where their fathers or they themselves were born.
During World War I, many cases of terrible discrimination against Americans of German descent occurred, and this distressed Theodore Roosevelt mightily. This quote came from a public statement he made in opposition to one such act by vigilantes.


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June 30, 2018
Night had fallen; a cold wind blew up the valley; the torrent roared as it leaped past us, and drowned our words as we strove to talk over our adventures and success; while the flame of the fire flickered and danced, lighting up with continual vivid flashes the gloom of the forest round about.
This is the conclusion to Theodore Roosevelt’s first chapter, “Hunting the Grisly,” in his book of the same name. It is a lovely example of Roosevelt’s ability to write descriptive prose. Here he draws a word-picture of the end of the hunt and the companionable conversation around the camp fire that stands between the men and the wilderness.
June 29, 2018
If we are not all of us Americans and nothing else, scorning to divide along lines of section, of creed, or of national origin, then the Nation itself will crumble to dust.
When Theodore Roosevelt wrote this sentence to his friend Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge In 1916, Europe had been at war nearly two years. Roosevelt was an outspoken advocate of military preparedness, but he believed that the citizens of the United States had to put aside their differences in order to battle together against outside threats.
June 28, 2018
During the whole period of the marvelous growth of the United States there has been a constant and uninterrupted stream of failure going side by side with the larger stream of success.
Theodore Roosevelt was in most ways a pragmatist. Admitting to mistakes made by the United States was simply being truthful, according to Roosevelt, who believed that great things were possible only with great risk, accompanied by the corresponding potential for failure.
June 27, 2018
The test of a man’s worth to the community is the service he renders to it, and we cannot afford to make this test by material considerations alone.
Later generations would call this thought of Theodore Roosevelt’s volunteerism. During the Progressive Era (c. 1901-1914) Americans of every sort gave selflessly of their time and money for the betterment of society in causes that ranged from child labor to campaign finance reform. Roosevelt’s support for many of the reforms made him the darling of most--but not all--Progressives.
June 26, 2018
It is not possible to lay down an inflexible rule as to when compromise is right and when wrong; when it is a sign of the highest statesmanship to temporize, and when it is merely a proof of weakness. Now and then one can stand uncompromisingly for a naked principle and force people up to it. This is always the attractive course; but in certain great crises it may be a very wrong course.
This is Theodore Roosevelt—before he became President—reflecting upon leadership. During his time in office, his abilities to compromise would be tested many times. As he developed his own legislative agenda, compromise with conservative legislators became more difficult.
June 25, 2018
[A]ll the laws that the wit of man can devise will never make a man a worthy citizen unless he has within himself the right stuff, unless he has self-reliance, energy, courage, the power of insisting on his own rights and the sympathy that makes him regardful of the rights of others.
This line from Theodore Roosevelt’s autobiography is a good summation of his life’s philosophy.
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.
June 23, 2018
The modern “nature faker” is of course an object of derision to every scientist worthy of the name, to every real lover of the wilderness, to every faunal naturalist, to every true hunter or nature lover. But it is evident that he completely deceives many good people who are wholly ignorant of wild life.
In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt entered a public debate about the portrayal of wild animals by certain American authors. It was an unusual move for the chief executive, and he boldly denounced by name those "nature fakers" who gave animals human traits, romanticized them, or were untruthful in other ways. As a respected scientist, his article in Everybody’s Magazine ended the controversy.
June 22, 2018
The men and women who in peace-time fear or ignore the primary and vital duties and the high happiness of family life, who dare not beget and bear and rear the life that is to last when they are in their graves, have broken the chain of creation, and have shown that they are unfit for companionship with the souls ready for the Great Adventure.
Theodore Roosevelt believed that childless couples were merely selfish. He believed that Anglo-Saxon couples had a moral duty to maintain a birth rate equal to that of other ethnic types. He spent a fair portion of his adulthood worrying about what he called “race suicide,” by which he meant exclusively the decline in numbers of Anglo-Saxon Americans. He wrote these words in the Metropolitan in October 1918.
June 21, 2018
As a nation we have many tremendous problems to work out, and we need to bring every ounce of vital power possible to their solution. No people has ever yet done great and lasting work if its physical type was infirm and weak.
Theodore Roosevelt overcame serious childhood diseases, including asthma, before becoming an advocate for the strenuous life. He believed that urban and industrial life was making the American people effeminate. These words were published in the North American Review in August 1890.
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