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 August 31, 2018:
I think very little of mere oratory. I feel an impatient contempt for the man of words if he is merely a man of words. The great speech must always be the speech of a man with a great soul, who has a thought worth putting into words, and whose acts bear out the words he utters; and the occasion must demand the speech.
August 20, 2018
Specialization, like every other good thing, can be carried to excess; and no forms of specialization are less desirable than those which make of the outdoor naturalist a mere collector of ‘specimens,’ and of the indoor naturalist a mere laborious cataloguer and describer of these specimens when collected.
August 19, 2018
If in a given community unchecked popular rule means unlimited waste and destruction of the natural resources—soil, fertility, water-power, forests, game, wild life generally—which by right belong as much to subsequent generations as to the present generation, then it is sure proof that the present generation is not yet really fit for self-control; that it is not yet really fit to exercise the high and responsible privilege of a rule which shall be both by the people and for the people.
August 18, 2018
Timid people, people scant of faith and hope, and good people who are not accustomed to the roughness of the life of effort—are almost sure to be disheartened and dismayed by the work and the worry, and overmuch cast down by the shortcomings, actual or seeming, which in real life always accompany the first stages even of what eventually turn out to be the most brilliant victories.
August 17, 2018
Like all Americans, I like big things; big prairies, big forests and mountains, big wheat-fields, railroads,--and herds of cattle, too,--big factories, steamboats, and everything else. But we must keep steadily in mind that no people were ever yet benefited by riches if their prosperity corrupted their virtue.
August 16, 2018
While the nation that has dared to be great, that has had the will and the power to change the destiny of the ages, in the end must die, yet no less surely the nation that has played the part of the weakling must also die; and whereas the nation that has done nothing leaves nothing behind it, the nation that has done a great deal really continues, though in changed form, to live forevermore.
August 15, 2018
If our population decreases; if we lose the virile, manly qualities, and sink into a nation of mere hucksters, putting gain above national honor, and subordinating everything to mere ease of life; then we shall indeed reach a condition worse than that of the ancient civilizations in the years of their decay.
August 14, 2018
I do not think there is a more impressive sepulcher on earth than [Napoleon’s] tomb; it is grandly simple. I am not very easily awestruck, but it certainly gave me a solemn feeling to look at the plain, red stone bier which contained what had once been the mightiest conqueror the world ever saw.
August 13, 2018
I want to let in light and air, but I do not want to let in sewer-gas. . . . In other words, I feel that the man who in a yellow newspaper or in a yellow magazine makes a ferocious attack on good men or even attacks bad men with exaggeration or for things they have not done, is a potent enemy of those of us who are really striving in good faith to expose bad men and drive them from power.
August 12, 2018
No man, not even the soldier who does his duty, stands quite on the level with the wife and mother who has done her duty.
August 11, 2018
Every great nation owes to the men whose lives have formed part of its greatness not merely the material effect of what they did, not merely the laws they placed upon the statute-books or the victories they won over armed foes, but also the immense but indefinable moral influence produced by their deeds and words themselves upon the national character.