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 18, 2018:

Did I ever tell you about my second small boy's names for his Guinea pigs? They included Bishop Doane; Dr. Johnson, my Dutch Reformed pastor; Father G. Grady, the local priest with whom the children had scraped a speaking acquaintance; Fighting Bob Evans, and Admiral Dewey.
Theodore Roosevelt recounted this colorful and ecumenical list of his son's pet names to a friend in 1900. Evans and Dewey were well-known naval commanders.


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June 17, 2018
It makes small odds to any of us after we are dead whether the next generation forgets us....[I]t seems to me that the only important thing is to be able to feel, when our time comes to go out into the blackness, that those survivors who care for us and to whom it will be a pleasure to think well of us when we are gone shall have that pleasure.
Theodore Roosevelt died peacefully in his sleep on January 6, 1919. He led a full life: author, cattle rancher, big game hunter, ornithologist, reformer, U.S. president, explorer, husband, father, grandfather. His interests ranged from Icelandic folk tales to naval history. In 1904, he wrote this to a friend, suggesting one's true legacy was in the hearts of others.
June 16, 2018
When America’s history is written, when the history of the last century in America is written a hundred years hence, the name of no multimillionaire, who is nothing but a multimillionaire, will appear in that history, unless it appears in some foot-note to illustrate some queer vagary or extravagance. The men who will loom in our history are the men of real achievement of the kind that counts. You can go over them—statesmen, soldiers, wise philanthropists. . . the writer, the man of science, of letters, of art, these are the men who will leave their mark on history.
Theodore Roosevelt delivered these words at the Pacific Theological Seminary in the spring of 1911. He was a man of action and contemplation. Although he is best known for his work as a politician and American statesman, Roosevelt wanted to leave his mark in the world of history and literature.
June 15, 2018
Perhaps there is no more important component of character than steadfast resolution. The boy who is going to make a great man, or is going to count in any way in after life, must make up his mind not merely to overcome a thousand obstacles, but to win in spite of a thousand repulses or defeats. He may not be able to wrest success along the lines on which he originally started. He may have to try something entirely new. On the one hand, he must not be volatile and irresolute, and, on the other hand, he must not fear to try a new line because he has failed in another.
In his essay “Character and Success” Theodore Roosevelt expounded upon the old adage that “character makes the man.”
June 14, 2018
No man is justified in doing evil on the ground of expediency.
Cutting corners, compartmentalizing one's morals, justifying, shifting responsibility, lying: Theodore Roosevelt regarded all of these acts of cowardice with the same disdain.
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.
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