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 16, 2018:

Our duties are those of peace and not of war. Nevertheless they are of the utmost importance; of importance to ourselves, and of still greater importance to the children who in a few years will take our places as the men and women of this Republic. If we wish to show ourselves worthy heirs of the men of the Civil War, we must do our tasks with the thoroughness with which they did theirs.
Theodore Roosevelt addressed a 1907 Memorial Day celebration in Indianapolis, during the unveiling of a statue to General Lawton, who fought as a youth in the Civil War and rose through the ranks to serve in Cuba and the Philippines. Roosevelt reminded his listeners not to be lulled into a peacetime complacency and stressed the duty of military preparedness.


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July 15, 2018
[W]e are stirred to awe and wonder and devotion for [Abraham Lincoln,] the great man who, in strength and sorrow bore the people's burdens through the four years of our direst need, and then, standing as high priest between the horns of the altar, poured out his own lifeblood for the Nation whose life he had saved.
Of all the presidents who preceded him, Theodore Roosevelt admired Lincoln the most. This is one of many such paeans TR penned. On this occasion, Roosevelt had been inspired by the unveiling of a statue of Lincoln created by Augustus Saint-Gaudens in December 1908.
July 14, 2018
The war we wage must be waged against misconduct, against wrongdoing wherever it is found; and we must stand heartily for the rights of every decent man, whether he be a man of great wealth or a man who earns his livelihood as a wage-worker or a tiller of the soil.
In this 1908 message to Congress, Theodore Roosevelt called for citizens to become involved in their government. In this speech, he targeted the abuses of corporations, but noted here that misconduct and wrongdoing could be found anywhere--not just in industry.
July 13, 2018
We have gotten past the stage, my fellow citizens, when we are to be pardoned if we treat any part of our country as something to be skinned for two or three years for the use of the present generation, whether it is the forest, the water, the scenery. Whatever it is, handle it so that your children's children will get the benefit of it.
Theodore Roosevelt was believed that Americans had a duty to conserve natural resources for the use of later generations, and he worked diligently to make certain that areas of pristine wilderness, sites of cultural importance, and locations of important natural resources would be protected against thoughtless depletion. This was from a 1903 speech made on the rim of the Grand Canyon.
July 12, 2018
[An] enormous damage, [an] incredible damage, is done to the public, by completely misinforming them as to the character of the decent public servant, and also misinforming them as to the character of that man in public life who is an unworthy public servant.
President Roosevelt railed against libelous newspaper reporting, and decried especially the harm it did to the American public because a democracy depends upon an educated citizenry—not upon voters deliberately misled by the press.
July 11, 2018
Service is the true test by which a man’s worth should be judged.
Theodore Roosevelt spoke often in favor of what we might today call service leadership.
July 10, 2018
Popularity is a good thing, but it is not something for which to sacrifice studies or athletics or good standing in any way; and sometimes to seek it overmuch is to lose it.
To his eldest son Ted, Theodore Roosevelt displays a pragmatic warning against seeking popularity for its own sake. It was written in 1905, when the charismatic and highly visible President Roosevelt was himself near the height of his popularity with the American public.
July 9, 2018
With all volunteer troops, and I am inclined to think with regulars, too, in time of trial, the best work can be got out of the men only if the officers endure the same hardships and face the same risks.
During the 1898 Spanish-American War, Theodore Roosevelt prided himself on close relationships with his troops, and suggested that their mutual admiration for each other was based in part on his willingness to share in their experiences rather than to lord it over them. This quote is from his account of the war, entitled The Rough Riders.
July 8, 2018
The Cubists are entitled to the serious attention of all who find enjoyment in the colored puzzle-pictures of the Sunday newspapers.
Theodore Roosevelt was not a fan of modern art. He wrote a dismissive article in The Outlook magazine after having viewed the famous Armory Show where New Yorkers first viewed Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase. Roosevelt belittled Cubists and Futurists in the same article of March 29, 1913.
July 7, 2018
Immediately after leaving college I went to the legislature. I was the youngest man there, and I rose like a rocket.
This comes from Theodore Roosevelt’s autobiography. After he graduated from Harvard College, Theodore Roosevelt won election to the New York State Assembly and was successful enough to be reelected in 1882 and in 1883. He earned his first sustained and public praise as a reformer in Albany.
July 6, 2018
The storm that is raging in Europe at this moment is terrible and evil; but it is also grand and noble. Untried men who live at ease will do well to remember that there is a certain sublimity even in Milton’s defeated archangel, but none whatever in the spirits who kept neutral, who remained at peace, and dared side neither with hell nor with heaven.
In November 1914 Theodore Roosevelt shot this warning at Americans who did not feel, as he did, that the United States should have entered World War I as soon as Germany had marched through neutral Belgium.
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