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 30, 2018
In a certain sense, no man can absolutely make an opportunity. . . Nevertheless, when the chance does come, only the great man can see it instantly and use it aright. In the second place, it must always be remembered that the power of using the chance aright comes only to the man who has faithfully and for long years made ready himself and his weapons for the possible need.
August 29, 2018
At this time it is not necessary to discuss nullification as a constitutional dogma; it is an absurdity too great to demand serious refutation. The United States has the same right to protect itself from death by nullification, secession, or rebellion that a man has to protect himself from death by assassination. Calhoun’s hair-splitting and metaphysical disquisitions on the constitutionality of nullification have now little more practical interest than have the extraordinary arguments and discussions of the schoolmen of the Middle Ages.
August 28, 2018
The Ordinance of 1787 was so wide-reaching in its effects, was drawn in such far-seeing statesmanship, and was fraught with such weal for the nation, that it will ever rank among the foremost of American State papers, coming in that little group which includes the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, Washington’s Farewell Address, and Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and Second Inaugural.
August 27, 2018
The New Nationalism represents the struggle of freemen to gain and to hold the right of self-government as against the special interests, who twist the methods of free government into machinery for defeating the popular will. At every stage, and under all circumstances, the essence of the struggle is to equalize opportunity, to destroy privilege, and to give to the life and the citizenship of every individual in the commonwealth the highest possible value, both to himself and to the nation.
August 26, 2018
As for neutrality, it is well to remember that it is never moral, and may be a particularly mean and hideous form of immorality. . . . It is a wicked thing to be neutral between right and wrong. Impartiality does not mean neutrality.
August 25, 2018
During my term as President I have more than doubled the navy of the United States, and at this moment our battle fleet is doing what no other similar fleet of a like size has ever done—that is, circumnavigating the globe—and is also at this moment in far more efficient battle trim, from the standpoint of battle tactics, and even from the standpoint of gunnery, than when it started out a year ago.
August 24, 2018
In public as in private life a bold front tends to insure peace and not strife. If we possess a formidable navy, small is the chance indeed that we shall ever be dragged into a war to uphold the Monroe Doctrine. If we do not possess such a navy, war may be forced on us at any time.
August 23, 2018
The savage of today shows us what the fancied age of gold of our ancestors was really like; it was an age when hunger, cold, violence, and iron cruelty were the ordinary accompaniments of life.
August 22, 2018
The very pathetic myth of ‘beneficent nature’ could not deceive even the least wise being if he once saw for himself the iron cruelty of life in the tropics. Of course ‘nature’—in common parlance, a wholly inaccurate term, by the way, especially when used as if to express a single entity—is entirely ruthless, no less so as regards types than as regards individuals, and entirely indifferent to good or evil, and works out her ends or no ends with utter disregard of pain and woe.
August 21, 2018
It is an incalculable added pleasure to any one’s sum of happiness if he or she grows to know, even slightly and imperfectly, how to read and enjoy the wonder-book of nature.