Weekly wisdom from the Godfather of The Ripon Society and our Nation's 26th President,
Theodore Roosevelt

August 12, 2014

“Self-reliance is the key to a vigorous life. A man must
look inward to find his own answers.”


– President Theodore Roosevelt, as played by the great Robin Williams
in the 2006 movie, Night at the Museum

August 5, 2014

“The wisdom of one generation may seem the folly of the next.”

History as Literature, 1913

July 29, 2014

“Self-government can never be bestowed by outsiders
upon any people. It must be achieved
by the people themselves.”


– Speech in Washington, DC, January 18, 1909

July 22, 2014

“I advocate preparation for war in order to avert war;
and I should never advocate war unless it
were the only alternative to dishonor.”


An Autobiography, 1913

July 15, 2014

“Better ‘trial and error’ than no trial at all.”

The Foes of Our Own Household, 1917

July 8, 2014

“Wise legislation is vitally important, but honest administration is even more important.”

– Philadelphia, PA, June 21, 1900

July 1, 2014

“The Constitution worked primarily because it was drawn up
by practical politicians.”


– Newburgh, NY, February 28, 1900

June 24, 2014

“It is not worthwhile belonging to a big nation unless the big nation is willing when the necessity arises to undertake a big task.”

– London, England, May 31, 1910

June 17, 2014

“If we are to be a really great people, we must strive in good faith to play a great part in the world. We cannot avoid meeting great
issues. All that we can determine for ourselves is
whether we shall meet them well or ill.”


– Chicago, Illinois, April 10, 1899

June 10, 2014

“The loose tongue and the unready hand make a poor combination.”

– Oyster Bay, New York, July 7, 1915

June 3, 2014

“The farmer is a good farmer who, having enabled the land to support himself and to provide for the education of his children, leaves
it to them a little better than he found it himself.
I believe the same thing of a nation.”


– Osawatomie, Kansas, August 31, 1901

May 27, 2014

“If a public man tries to get your vote by saying that he will do something wrong in your interest, you can be absolutely
that if ever it becomes worth his while he will do
something wrong against your interest.”


– Paris, France, April 23, 1910

May 20, 2014

“No American can overpay the debt of gratitude we all of us owe to the officers and enlisted men of the army and of the navy.”

An Autobiography, 1913

May 13, 2014

“It is always best to look facts squarely in the face, without blinking them, and to remember that, as has been well said, in the long
run even the most uncomfortable truth is a safer
companion than the pleasantest falsehood.”


The Sewanee Review, August 1984

May 6, 2014

“There is no good reason why we should fear the future, but there is every reason why we should face it seriously, neither hiding from ourselves the gravity of the problems before us nor fearing
to approach those problems with the unbending,
unflinching purpose to solve them aright.”


– Inaugural Address, March 4, 1905

April 29, 2014

“Conservation is a great moral issue, for it involves the patriotic duty of insuring the safety and continuation of the nation.”

– Osawatomie, Kansas, August 21, 1910

April 22, 2014

“I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life;
I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives
and led them well.”


– Des Moines, Iowa, November 4, 1910

April 15, 2014

“We should discourage driving property out of the State by
unwise taxation, or levying a tax which is in
effect largely a tax upon honesty.”


– January 2, 1899, Annual Message to Legislature

April 8, 2014

“No public servant who is worth his salt should hesitate to stand by his conscience, and if necessary, to surrender his office
rather than to yield his conscientious conviction
in a case of any importance.”


– New York City, October 20, 1911

April 1, 2014

“No man can render the highest service unless he can act in combination with his fellows, which means a certain
amount of give-and-take between him and them.”


An Autobiography, 1913

March 25, 2014

“I am not a college freshman... and therefore I am not
concerned about my "popularity" save in exactly
so far as it is an instrument which will help me
to achieve my purposes.”


– Letter to Sereno S. Pratt, March 1, 1906

March 18, 2014

“Performance of international duty to others means that in international affairs, in the commonwealth of nations, we shall not only refrain from wronging the weak, but shall, according to our capacity, and as opportunity offers, stand up for the weak when the weak are wronged by the strong.”

– Kansas City, Missouri, May 30, 1916

March 11, 2014

“We Americans have many grave problems to solve, many threatening evils to fight, and many deeds to do, if, as we
hope and believe, we have the wisdom, the strength, and
the courage and the virtue to do them. But we must face
the facts as they are. We must neither surrender
ourselves to foolish optimism, or succumb to
a timid and ignoble pessimism.”


Forum, April 1894

March 5, 2014

“There can be no higher international duty than to safeguard the existence and independence of industrious, orderly states, with
a high personal and national standard of conduct, but
without the military force of the great powers.”


The Outlook, September 23, 1914

February 25, 2014

“Good weapons are necessary, but if you put the best weapon that
can be invented into the hands of a coward, he will be
beaten by a brave man with a club.”


– Kansas City, Missouri, May 1, 1903

February 18, 2014

“As a people we are indeed beyond measure fortunate in the characters of the two greatest of our public men, Washington and Lincoln. … Each had lofty ideas, but each in striving to attain these lofty ideas was guided by the soundest common sense.”

– Hodgenville, Kentucky, February 12, 1909

February 11, 2014

“The administration of the government, the enforcement of the laws, must be fair and honest. The laws are not to be administered either
in the interest of the poor man or the interest of the rich man.
They are simply to be administered justly.”


– Charleston, SC, April 9, 1902

February 4, 2014

“The only effective way to help any man is
to help him to help himself.”


– Oxford University, June 7, 1910

January 28, 2014

“I have a very strong feeling that it is a president’s duty to get on with Congress if he possibly can, and that it is a reflection upon
him if he and Congress come to a complete break.”


– Letter to Theodore Roosevelt Jr., January 31, 1909

January 21, 2014

“In the long run, the man who makes a substantial contribution
toward uplifting any part of the community has helped
to uplift all of the community.”


– Preface to Booker T. Washington, August 28, 1916

January 14, 2014

“The noblest of all forms of government is self-government;
but it is also the most difficult.”


– Fifth Annual Message to Congress, December 5, 1905

January 7, 2014

“In dealing with all these social problems, with the intimate relations of the family, with wealth in private use and business use, with
labor, with poverty, the one prime necessity is to remember
that, though hardness of heart is a great evil, it is
no greater an evil than softness of head.”


– Oxford University, June 7, 1910

December 17, 2013

“There is one quality which perhaps, strictly speaking, is as much intellectual as moral, but which is too often wholly lacking in men of high intellectual ability, and without which real character cannot
exist – namely, the fundamental gift of commonsense.”


The Outlook, November 8, 1913

December 11, 2013

“The man who, in the long run, will count for most in bettering municipal life is the man who actually steps down into the
hurly-burly, who is not frightened by the sweat and
the blood, and the blows of friends and foes.”


The Outlook, December 21, 1895

December 3, 2013

“The good citizen is the man who, whatever his wealth or his poverty, strives manfully to do his duty to himself, to his family, to his neighbor, to the state; who is incapable of the baseness
which manifests itself either in arrogance or envy, but
who while demanding justice for himself is no less
scrupulous to offer justice to others.”


– New York State Fair, September 7, 1903

November 26, 2013

“Americanism is not a matter of birthplace, of ancestry, of creed, of occupation. Americanism is a matter of the spirit that is within,
of a man’s soul. From the time when we first became an
independent Nation to the present moment there has
never been a generation in which some of our most
distinguished and most useful men were not
born on the other side of the Atlantic.”


– New York City, February 14, 1905

November 19, 2013

“The tyranny of politicians with a bureaucracy behind them and a mass of ignorant people supporting them would be just as
insufferable as the tyranny of big corporations.”


The Outlook, June 19, 1909

November 12, 2013

“No other citizens deserve so well of the Republic as the veterans, the survivors of those who saved the Union. They did the one
deed which if left undone would have meant that
all else in our history went for nothing.”


– First Annual Message to Congress, December 3, 1901

November 5, 2013

“All that the law can do is to shape things that no injustice shall be done by one to the other, and that each man shall be given
the first chance to show the stuff there is in him.”


– Kansas City, Missouri, May 1, 1903

October 29, 2013

“A broken promise is bad enough in private life. It is worse in the field of politics. No man is worth his salt in public life who makes on the stump a pledge which he does not keep after election.”

– Osawatomie, Kansas, August 31, 1910

October 22, 2013

“I believe in realizable ideals and in realizing them, in preaching
what can be practiced and then in practicing it.”


An Autobiography, 1913

October 16, 2013

“Public servants must be given ample power to enable them to do their work. Remember that. If you tie the hands of a public servant so that he cannot do ill, you tie his hands so that he cannot do well …
Leave his hands free. Give him the chance to do the job,
and turn him out if he does not do the job well.”


– Los Angeles, California, March 21, 1911

October 8, 2013

“The absolute prerequisite for successful self-government in any people is the power of self-restraint which refuses to follow either the wild-eyed extremists of radicalism or the dull-eyed extremists of reaction. Either set of extremists will wreck the nation.”

Kansas City Star, September 12, 1918

October 1, 2013

“Remember what a legislative body is. It is a body whose first duty
is to act, not to talk. The talking comes in merely as
an adjunct to the acting.”


– New York City, March 6, 1891

September 24, 2013

“The really valuable – the invaluable – reform is that
which in actual practice works.”


Metropolitan, May 1917

September 17, 2013

“Taken as a whole there are no better citizens of this country
than the officers and enlisted men of our navy.”


The Outlook, January 7, 1911

September 10, 2013

“Scant attention is paid to the weakling or the coward who babbles of peace; but due heed is given to the strong man with sword girt on thigh who preaches peace, not from ignoble motives, not
from fear or distrust of his own power, but from a
deep sense of moral obligation.”


The Independent, December 21, 1899

September 3, 2013

“World peace must rest on the willingness of nations with courage, cool foresight, and readiness for self-sacrifice to defend the
fabric of international law. No nation can help in securing
an organized, peaceful, and justice-doing world community
until it is willing to run risks and make efforts in order
to secure and maintain such a community.”


Fear God and Take Your Own Part, 1916

August 27, 2013

“The only way in which successfully to oppose wrong which is backed by might is to put over against it right which is backed by might.”

Fear God and Take Your Own Part, 1916

August 20, 2013

“This is a new nation, based on a mighty continent, of
boundless possibilities.”


The Foes of our Household, 1917

August 6, 2013

“Free speech, exercised both individually and through a free press, is a necessity in any country where the people are themselves free.”

Kansas City Star, May 7, 1918

July 30, 2013

“Don’t be content with mere effervescent denunciation of one thing or another. Evil can’t be done away with through one spasm of virtue.”

– Address to the City Club of New York, May 9, 1899

July 23, 2013

“The importance of a promise lies not in making it, but in keeping it.”

An Autobiography, 1913

July 17, 2013

“Nine-tenths of wisdom is being wise in time, and if a country lets the time for wise action pass, it may bitterly repent when a generation later it strives under disheartening difficulties to do what could
have been done so easily if attempted at the right moment.”


– Letter to Edward Grey, November 15, 1913

July 9, 2013

“The insistence upon having only the perfect cure often
results in securing no betterment whatever.”


– Letter to Ray Stannard Baker, November 20, 1905

July 2, 2013

“It is a good thing to read the Declaration of Independence every Fourth of July; it is a good thing to talk of what Washington and
his fellows did for us; but what counts most is how we live
up to the lessons that we read or that we speak of.”


– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, November 5, 1902

June 25, 2013

“The candidate is the candidate of a party; but if the president is worth his salt he is the president of the whole people”

– Little Rock, Arkansas, October 25, 1905

June 18, 2013

“No man is fit for control who does not possess intelligence, self-respect, and respect for the just rights of others.”

The Foes of Our Own Household, 1917

June 11, 2013

“Not only should there be complete liberty in matters of religion
and opinion, but complete liberty for each man to lead his
life as he desires, provided only that in so he
does not wrong his neighbor.”


– Paris, France, April 23, 1910

June 4, 2013

“Power always brings with it responsibility. You cannot have power to work well without having so much power as to be able
to work ill, if you turn yourselves that way.”


– Milwaukee, Wisconsin, September 7, 1910

May 28, 2013

“On this day, the 30th of May, we call to mind the deaths of those who died that the nation might live, who wagered all that life holds dear
for the great prize of death in battle, who poured out their blood
like water in order that the mighty national structure raised by
the fair-seeing genius of Washington, Franklin, Marshall,
Hamilton and the other great leaders of the Revolution,
great framers of the Constitution, should not
crumble into meaningless ruins.”


– Arlington, VA, May 30, 1902

May 21, 2013

“We are not to be excused if we fail to hold our public men to a rigid accountability if they fail, in their turn, to see that we have proper legislation and proper administration. No public man
worth his salt will be other than glad to be held
accountable in that fashion.”


– San Francisco, California, May 14, 1903

May 14, 2013

“We can as little afford to tolerate a dishonest man in the
public service as a coward in the army.”


– Washington, DC, October 15, 1903

May 7, 2013

“The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty first, the love
of soft living and the get-rich-quick theory of life.”


– Letter to the Proceedings of the Congress
of Constructive Patriotism, January 10, 1917

April 30, 2013

“There are good men and bad men of all nationalities, creeds and colors; and if this world of ours is ever to become what we hope
some day it may become, it must be by the general
recognition that the man’s heart and soul, the
man’s worth and actions, determine
his standing.”


– Letter to Baron d’Estournelles De Constant,
Oyster Bay, New York, September 1, 1903

April 23, 2013

“I have a perfect horror of words that are not backed up by deeds.”

– Oyster Bay, New York, July 7, 1915

April 16, 2013

“To sit home, read one’s favorite paper, and scoff at the misdeeds of the men who do things is easy, but it is markedly ineffective. It is
what evil men count upon the good men’s doing.”


The Outlook, December 21, 1895

April 9, 2013

“Men can never escape being governed. Either they must govern themselves or they must submit to being governed by others.”

– Jamestown, Virginia, April 26, 1907

April 2, 2013

“Reform is always held back by hypocrisy.”

The Outlook, November 11, 1911

March 26, 2013

“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 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.”


– Jamestown, Virginia, April 26, 1907

March 19, 2013

“It either is or ought to be evident to every one that business has to prosper before anybody can get any benefit from it.”

– February 21, 1912, Ohio State Constitutional Convention, Columbus, OH

March 12, 2013

“The first requisite of a good citizen in this Republic of ours is
that he shall be able and willing to pull his weight.”


– New York City, November 11, 1902

March 5, 2013

“It is character that counts in a nation as in a man.”

– Galena, Illinois, April 27, 1900

February 26, 2013

“When the people will not or cannot work together; when they permit groups of extremists to decline to accept anything that does not coincide with their own extreme views, or when they let power
slip from their hands through sheer supine indifference;
then they have themselves chiefly to blame if
the power is grasped by stronger hands.”


Oliver Cromwell, 1900

February 19, 2013

“Avoid the base hypocrisy of condemning in one man what you pass over in silence when committed by another.”

– Cambridge, Massachusetts, March 11, 1890

February 12, 2013

“Lincoln was a great radical. He was of course a wise and cautious radical – otherwise he could have done nothing
for the forward movement.”


The Foes of Our Own Household, 1917

February 5, 2013

“No man is a good citizen unless he so acts as to show that he
actually uses the Ten Commandments, and translates the
Golden Rule into his life conduct.”


– Boy Scouts of America handbook, 1911

January 29, 2013

“Americanism is a question of principle, of purpose, of idealism, of character; ... not a matter of birthplace, or creed,
or line of descent.”


– Washington, DC, November 25, 1908

January 22, 2013

“Our loyalty is due entirely to the United States. It is due to the President only and exactly to the degree in which he efficiently
serves the United States. It is our duty to support him
when he serves the United States well. It is our
duty to oppose him when he serves it badly.”


Kansas City Star, April 6, 1918

January 15, 2013

“All for each, and each for all, is a good motto, but only on condition that each works with might and main to so maintain himself
as not to be a burden to others.”


An Autobiography, 1913

January 8, 2013

“We must remember not to judge any public servant by any one act, and especially should we beware of attacking the men who are
merely the occasions and not the causes of disaster.”


– Chicago, Illinois, April 10, 1899

December 18, 2012

“Self-governing free men must have the power to accept necessary compromises, to make necessary concessions, each sacrificing somewhat of prejudice, even of principle, and every group
must show the necessary subordination of its particular
interest of the community as a whole.”


Oliver Cromwell, 1900

December 11, 2012

“We know that there are in life injustices which we are powerless
to remedy. But we also know that there is much injustice
which can be remedied.”


The Outlook, March 27, 1909

December 4, 2012

“I have a strong feeling that it is a President's duty to get on with Congress if he possibly can, and that it is a reflection upon
him if he and Congress come to a complete break.”


– Letter to Theodore Roosevelt Jr., January 31, 1909

November 27, 2012

“If we fail, the cause of free self-government throughout
the world will rock to its foundations.”


– Inaugural address, March 4, 1905

November 20, 2012

“The only true conservative is the man who resolutely sets
his face toward the future.”


– Letter to Colonel Thomas Doherty
read March 2, 1912 at a rally at Tremont
Temple in Boston, Massachusetts

October 23, 2012

“Three-o'clock-in-the-morning courage is the most desirable kind.”

An Autobiography, 1913

October 16, 2012

“The man who makes a promise which he does not intend to keep, and does not try to keep, should rightly be adjudged to have forfeited in some degree what should be every man's most
precious possession – his honor.”


– San Francisco, California, May 14, 1903

October 9, 2012

“It is a great mistake to think that the extremist is a
better man than the moderate.”


– Published in the "Churchman," March 17, 1900

October 2, 2012

“Let Teddy Win.”

– Spoken by the spirit of Theodore Roosevelt,
in honor of The Washington Nationals
clinching the National League East

September 25, 2012

“If as a nation we are split into warring camps, if we teach our citizens not to look upon one another as brothers but as enemies divided
by the hatred of creed for creed ... surely we shall fail and
our great democratic experiment on this continent
will go down in crushing overthrow.”


– New York, New York, October 12, 1915

September 18, 2012

“The American public rarely appreciate the high quality of the work done by some of our diplomats - work, usually entirely
unnoticed and unrewarded, which redounds to the
interest and the honor of all of us.”


An Autobiography, 1913

September 11, 2012

“Every feat of heroism makes us forever indebted
to the man who performed it.”


– Des Moines, Iowa, November 4, 1910

September 4, 2012

“It is always easy for an individual or a party to make promises; the strain comes when the party or individual has to make them good.”

– Baltimore, Maryland, February 23, 1889

August 28, 2012

“I believe in the party to which we belong because I believe in the principles for which the Republican Party stood in the days
of Abraham Lincoln; and furthermore, and especially
because I believe in treating those principles not
as dead but as living.”


– At the New York Republican State Convention, Saratoga,
September 27, 1910

August 14, 2012

“Let us insist that the truth be told. The truth only harms weaklings. The American people wish the truth, and can stand the truth.”

Kansas City Star, January 21, 1918

August 7, 2012

“A typical vice of American politics - the avoidance of saying anything real on real issues, and the announcement of radical policies with much sound and fury, and at the same time with a cautious accompaniment of weasel phrases each of which sucks
the meat out of the preceding statement.”


The Outlook, July 27, 1912

July 31, 2012

“The dealings of the United States with foreign powers should be considered from no partisan standpoint. Our party divisions affect ourselves purely; and when we are brought face to face with
a foreign nation we should act as Americans merely.”


The Independent, August 11, 1892

July 24, 2012

“Congress is the legislative body. To legislate means to
make laws, not merely to talk about them.”


Forum, December 1895

July 17, 2012

“It is the people, and not the judges, who are entitled to say what their constitution means, for the constitution is theirs, it belongs
to them and not their servants in office.”


Majority Rule and the Judiciary, July 1, 1912

July 10, 2012

“It is both foolish and wicked to teach the average man who is not well off that some wrong or injustice has been done him, and that
he should hope for redress elsewhere than in his own
industry, honesty and intelligence.”


Review of Reviews, January 1897

July 3, 2012

“So we come here together on the Fourth of July to see what a great people we are; to see how well the generations of our
dead have done their duty.”


– Huntington, New York, July 4, 1903

June 26, 2012

“In the ordinary and low sense which we attach to the words "partisan" and "politician," a judge of the
Supreme Court should be neither.”


– Letter to Henry Cabot Lodge, July 10, 1902

June 19, 2012

“The only effective way to help any man is to help him to help himself; and the worst lesson to teach him is that he can be permanently helped at the expense of someone else.”

– Oxford University, June 7, 1910

June 12, 2012

“When we undertake the impossible, we often fail
to do anything at all.”


– Chicago, Illinois, September 3, 1900

June 5, 2012

“An epidemic of indiscriminate assault upon character
does not good, but very great harm.”


– Washington, DC, April 14, 1906

May 29, 2012

“Viewed from any angle, ignorance is the costliest crop
that can be raised in any part of this Union.”


– Tuskegee, Alabama, October 24, 1905

May 22, 2012

“We cannot do great deeds unless we are willing to do the small things that make up the sum of greatness.”

– New York, New York, May 30, 1899

May 15, 2012

“The point to be aimed at is the protection of the individual against wrong, not the attempt to limit and hamper the
acquisition and output of wealth.”


– Annual Message as Governor, Albany, New York, January 3, 1900

May 8, 2012

“If a party raises an issue which it knows is a false issue, merely for the hope of carrying an election, then that party shows in the most striking way that it is the enemy of the country and unfit
to be entrusted with its government.”


– Akron, Ohio, September 23, 1899

May 1, 2012

“A war is primarily won by soldiers; the work of the non-soldiers, however valuable, is merely accessory to the
primary work of the fighting men.”


Metropolitan, September 1917

April 24, 2012

“The distinguishing feature of our American governmental system is the freedom of the individual; it is quite as important to prevent
his being oppressed by many men as it is to save
him from the tyranny of one.”


Thomas H. Benton, 1887

April 17, 2012

“Such a body as the Secret Service … is by far the most efficient
instrument possible to use against crime. Of course
the more efficient an instrument is, the more
dangerous it is if misused.”


– Message to House of Representatives, January 4, 1909

April 10, 2012

“Our country has been populated by pioneers, and therefore it has more energy, more enterprise, more expansive power
than any other in the wide world.”


– St. Paul, Minnesota, September 2, 1901

April 3, 2012

“If you have an ideal only good while you sit at home, an ideal that nobody can live up to in outside life, examine it
closely, and then cast it away.”


– Groton Massachusetts, May 24, 1904

March 27, 2012

“An independent and upright judiciary which fearlessly stands for the right, even against popular clamor, but which also understands
and sympathizes with popular needs, is a great
asset of popular government.”


– Columbus, Ohio, February 21, 1912

March 20, 2012

“We must keep ever in mind that no action of the government, no action by combination among ourselves, can take the place of
the individual qualities to which in the long run every man
must owe the success he can make of life.”


– Providence, Rhode Island, August 23, 1902

March 13, 2012

“Conservation means development as much as it does protection.”

– Osawatomie, Kansas, August 31, 1910

March 6, 2012

“The demagogue, in all his forms, is as characteristic an evil of a
free society as the courtier is of a despotism.”


Forum, February 1895

February 28, 2012

"I believe in making it possible for every man or woman who really desires it to have a higher education, but that this
shall be permissive and not obligatory."


– Baltimore, Maryland, September 28, 1918

February 21, 2012

"It is a great comfort to me to read the life and letters of Abraham Lincoln. I am more and more impressed every day, not only with the man’s wonderful power and sagacity, but with his literally endless patience, and at the same time his unflinching resolution."

– Letter to Kermit Roosevelt, October 2, 1903

February 14, 2012

"Public welfare depends upon general public prosperity, and the reformer whose reforms interfere with the general
prosperity will accomplish little."


The Outlook, November 18, 1914

February 7, 2012

"The vital thing for this nation to do is steadily to cultivate the quality which Washington and those under him so pre-eminently showed during the winter at Valley Forge – the quality of steady adherence to duty in the teeth of difficulty, in the teeth of discouragement, and even disaster, the quality that makes a man do what is straight and decent, not one day when a great crisis comes, but every day, day in
and day out, until success comes at the end."


– at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, June 19, 1904

January 31, 2012

"It is true of the Nation, as of the individual, that the
greatest doer must also be a great dreamer."


– Berkeley, California, 1911

January 24, 2012

"There is one quality which perhaps, strictly speaking, is as much intellectual as moral, but which is too often wholly lacking in
men of high intellectual ability and without which real
character cannot exist—namely, the fundamental
gift of common sense."


The Outlook, November 8, 1913

January 17, 2012

"No laws which the wit of man can devise will avail to make the community prosperous if the average individual lives in such
fashion that his expenditures always exceed his income."


The Outlook, October 5, 1912

January 10, 2012

"Unless this is in very truth a government of, by, and for the people, then both historically and in world interest our national
existence loses most of its point."


The Outlook, January 21, 1911

January 3, 2012

"We, here in America, hold in our hands the hope of the world, the fate of the coming years; and shame and disgrace will be ours
if in our eyes the light of high resolve is dimmed, if we
trail in the dust the golden hopes of men."


– at Carnegie Hall, March 20, 1912

December 27, 2011

"At Sagamore Hill we love a great many things—birds and trees and books, and all things beautiful, and horses and rifles and
children and hard work and the joy of life."


An Autobiography, 1913

December 20, 2011

"Christmas was an occasion of literally delirious joy… I never knew anyone else have what seemed to me such attractive Christmases, and in the next generation I tried to reproduce them
exactly for my own children."


An Autobiography, 1913

December 13, 2011

"I don’t think partisanship should ever obscure the truth."

– September 14, 1881 letter to
Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt, Sr.

December 6, 2011

"It is not in the power of any human being to devise legislation or administration by which every man shall achieve success and have happiness; it not only is not in the power of any man to do that,
but if any man says that he can do it, distrust him as a quack."


– Dallas, Texas, April 5, 1905

November 29, 2011

"There are two kinds of historians: one, the delver, the bricklayer, the man who laboriously gathers together bare facts; and the other, the builder, the architect, who out of these facts makes the great edifice of history. Both are indispensable; but it is only the
latter who can be called an historian in the highest sense."


Bookman, June 1897

November 22, 2011

"It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed."

– Chicago, Illinois, April 10, 1899

November 15, 2011

"[O]nly a very few great reforms or great measures of any
kind can be carried through without concession."


Atlantic Monthly, August 1894

November 8, 2011

"There is no class of our citizens, big or small, who so emphatically deserve well of the country as the officers and the
enlisted men of the army and navy."


New York Times, November 22, 1914

November 1, 2011

"It is impossible for a democracy to endure if the political
lines are drawn to coincide with class lines."


Century, January 1900

October 25, 2011

"Character is far more important than intellect in making a man a
good citizen or successful at his calling—meaning by character
not only such qualities as honesty and truthfulness, but
courage, perseverance and self-reliance."


North American Review, August 1890

October 18, 2011

"I think we can say this much, Republicans have not
always done well, but it will be an evil day when
they do as badly as the Democrats."


– New York, October 28, 1882

October 11, 2011

"It often happens that the good conditions of the past can be regained, not by going back, but by going forward. We cannot recreate what is dead; we cannot stop the march of events;
but we can direct this march, and out of the new conditions
develop something better than the past knew."


The Outlook, August 27, 1910

October 4, 2011

"Never, never, you must never remind a man at work on a political job that he may be President. It almost always kills him politically.
He loses his nerve; he can’t do his work; he gives up the
very traits that are making him a possibility."


– To reporters at New York Police Headquarters, November 1896

September 27, 2011

"It is always better to be an original than an imitation."

Forum, April 1894

September 20, 2011

"No man ever permanently helped a reform by lying on behalf of the reform. Tell the truth about it; and then you can expect
to be believed when you tell further truths."


– Pacific Theological Seminary, Spring 1911

September 13, 2011

"[A] man knows little of our political, social and industrial needs as a nation who does not know that… politics… affect women precisely as much as they affect men; and he must be unfortunate in his life of acquaintances if he does not know women whose advice
and counsel are pre-eminently worth having in regard
to the matters affecting our welfare…"


– St. Johnsbury Vermont, August 30, 1912

September 6, 2011

"Labor organizations are like other organizations, like organizations of capitalists; sometimes they act very well and sometimes they act very badly. We should consistently favor them when they act
well, and as fearlessly oppose them when they act badly."


– Berkeley, California, March 23, 1911

August 30, 2011

"In a time of sudden and wide-spread disaster, caused by a flood, a blizzard, an earthquake, or an epidemic, there may be ample reason for the extension of charity on the largest scale to everyone who needs it. But these conditions are wholly exceptional, and the methods of relief employed to meet them must also be treated as wholly exceptional … The greatest possible good can be done by the extension of a helping hand at the right moment, but the attempt to carry any one permanently can end in nothing but harm."

– Essay on Civic Helpfulness
Published in the “Century,” October 1900

August 23, 2011

"We have no higher duty than to promote the efficiency
of the individual. There is no surer road
to the efficiency of the nation."


– Ohio Constitutional Convention
Columbus, Ohio, February 21, 1912

August 16, 2011

"Our country offers the most wonderful example of democratic government on a giant scale that the world has ever seen;
and the peoples of the world are watching
to see whether we succeed or fail."


– Saratoga, New York, September 27, 1910

August 9, 2011

"I would rather go out of politics feeling that I had done what was right than stay in with the approval of all men, knowing
in my heart that I had acted as I ought not to."


– New York Assembly, 1884

August 2, 2011

"The long path leading upward toward the light cannot be traversed at once, or in a day, or in a year. But there are certain steps that can be taken… Having taken these first steps, we shall see more
clearly how to walk still further with a bolder stride."


– New York, October 30, 1912

July 26, 2011

"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."


– Letter to Henry Cabot Lodge, July 19, 1908

July 19, 2011

"From the days when civilized man first began to strive for
self-government and democracy, success in this effort
has depended primarily upon the ability
to steer clear of extremes."


The Metropolitan Magazine, December 1918

July 12, 2011

"We welcome leadership, but we wish our leaders to understand that they derive their strength from us, and that, although we look
to them for guidance, we expect this guidance to be in
accordance with our interests and our ideals."


The Outlook, July 9, 1910

July 5, 2011

"Americanism is a question of spirit, conviction, and purpose,
not of creed or birthplace."


Forum, April 1894

June 28, 2011

"To bear the name of American is to bear the most
honorable of titles."


Forum, April 1894

June 21, 2011

"My hat’s in the ring. The fight is on and I’m stripped to the buff."

– Press Conference, 1912

June 14, 2011

"The United States of America has not the option as to whether
it will or will not play a great part in the world.
It must play a great part."


The Outlook, April 1, 1911

June 7, 2011

"Honesty and common sense are the two
prime requisites for a legislator."


– Albany, New York, 1883

May 31, 2011

"The sons of all of us will pay in the future if we of the
present do not do justice in the present."


– Louisville, Kentucky, April 3, 1912

May 25, 2011

"No nation ever amounted to anything if it did not have
within its soul the power of fealty to a lofty ideal."


– Berkeley, California, 1913

May 17, 2011

"When any public man says that he ‘will never compromise under any conditions,’ he is certain to receive the applause of a few emotional people who do not think correctly, and the one fact about him that
can be instantly asserted as true beyond peradventure is that,
if he is a serious personage at all, he is deliberately lying."


The Outlook, July 28, 1900

May 10, 2011

"I should heartily despise the public servant who failed to do his
duty because it might jeopardize his own future."


– Letter of February 21, 1899

May 3, 2011

"I am an optimist, but I hope I am a reasonably intelligent one. I recognize that all the time there are numerous evil forces at
work, and that in places and at times they outweigh the
forces that tend for good. Hitherto, on the whole, the
good have come out ahead, and I think
that they will in the future."


- Letter to Owen Wister, February 27, 1895

April 26, 2011

"Success – the real success – does not depend upon the position
you hold, but upon how you carry yourself in that position."


- University of Cambridge, England, May 26, 1910

April 19, 2011

"When we come to dealing with our social and industrial needs, remedies, rights and wrongs, a ton of oratory is not worth
an ounce of hard-headed, kindly common sense."


- Chicago, Illinois, September 3, 1900

April 12, 2011

"A man must have in him a strong and earnest sense of duty and the desire to accomplish good for the commonwealth, without regard to the effect upon himself, to be useful in Congress."

- Harvard Graduates' Magazine, October 1892

April 5, 2011

"I am not trying to be subtle or original. I am trying to make the plain everyday citizen here in America stand for the things which
I regard as essential to good government."


- Ladies' Home Journal, October 1916

March 29, 2011

"The only proper rule is never fight at all if you can honorably avoid it, but never under any circumstances to fight in a half-hearted way."

- Foes of Our Own Household, 1917

March 22, 2011

"The steady aim of this nation, as of all enlightened nations, should be to strive to bring nearer the day when there shall prevail
throughout the world the peace of justice."


- Annual Address to Congress, December 6, 1904

March 15, 2011

"Conservation means development as much as it does protection. I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and
use the natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize
the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use,
the generations that come after us."


- Osawatomie, Kansas, August 31, 1910

March 8, 2011

"Let the watchwords of all our people be the old familiar watchwords of honesty, decency, fair-dealing, and common sense."

- Syracuse, New York, September 7, 1903

March 1, 2011

"Power undirected by high purpose spells calamity, and high purpose by itself is utterly useless if the power to put it into effect is lacking."

- The Outlook, September 9, 1911

February 22, 2011

"The Americans who stand highest on the list of the world’s worthies are Washington, who fought to found the country which he
afterward governed, and Lincoln, who saved it through
the blood of the best and bravest of the land."


- Address at the Naval War College, June 1897

February 15, 2011

"Example is the most potent of all things."

- Oyster Bay, New York, August 16, 1903

February 8, 2011

"If an individual starts to play football, and expects not
to get bumped, he will be sadly disappointed."


- Address at Occidental College, March 22, 1911

February 1, 2011

"We believe in all our hearts in democracy; in the capacity of the people to govern themselves; and we are bound to succeed, for
our success means not only our own triumph, but the triumph
of the cause of the rights of the people throughout the
world, and the uplifting of the banner of hope
for all the nations of mankind."


- Saratoga, New York, September 27, 1910

January 25, 2011

"Stability of economic policy must always be the prime
economic need of this country."


- State of the Union, December 2, 1902

January 18, 2011

"Justice and generosity in a nation, as in an individual, count most when shown not by the weak but by the strong."

- Inaugural Address, March 4, 1905

January 11, 2011

"The best lesson that any people can learn is that there is no patent cure-all which will make the body politic perfect, and that any man who is able glibly to answer every question as to how to deal
with the evils of the body politic is at best a foolish
visionary and at worst an evil-minded quack."


- The Outlook, April 10, 1909

January 4, 2011

"A man who goes into politics should not expect to
reform everything right off, with a jump."


- Buffalo, NY, July 26, 1893

December 28, 2010

"Perhaps there is no more important component of
character than steadfast resolution."


- The Strenuous Life, 1900

December 21, 2010

"We always liked snow at Christmas time, and the sleigh-ride
down to the church on Christmas eve."


- An Autobiography, 1913

December 14, 2010

"The welfare of each of us is dependent fundamentally
upon the welfare of all of us."


- Address in Syracuse, NY, September 7, 1903

December 7, 2010

"Legislation to be permanently good for any class must also be good for the Nation as a whole, and legislation which does injustice
to any class is certain to work harm to the Nation."


- Address in Syracuse, NY, September 7, 1903

November 30, 2010

"A compromise which results in a half-step toward evil is all wrong, just as the opportunist who saves himself for the moment by
adopting a policy which is fraught with future disaster is all wrong."


- The Strenuous Life, 1901

November 23, 2010

"Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us; and that true homage comes from the
heart as well as from the lips and shows itself in deeds."


- Proclamation 466, Thanksgiving Day – November 2, 1901

November 16, 2010

"Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars, but remember to keep your feet on the ground."

- The Groton School, Groton, MA, May 24, 1904

November 9, 2010

"When we have the power, I most earnestly hope, and should
most earnestly advocate, that it be used with the
greatest wisdom and self-restraint."


- Address in Wheeling, WV, September 6, 1902

November 2, 2010

"A vote is like a rifle: its usefulness depends
upon the character of the user."


- An Autobiography, 1913

October 26, 2010

"If a labor union does wrong, we oppose it as firmly as we oppose a corporation which does wrong; and we stand equally stoutly for the rights of the man of wealth and for the rights of the wage worker."

- Special Message to Congress, January 31, 1908

October 19, 2010

"Under the American system, it is impossible for a man to accomplish anything by himself; he must associate himself with others,
and they must throw their weight together."


- American Ideals, and Other Essays, Social and Political, 1897

October 12, 2010

"We, the people, rule ourselves, and what we really want from our
representatives is that they shall manage the government
for us along the lines we lay down, and shall do
this with efficiency and good faith."


- St. Louis, MO, March 28, 1912

October 5, 2010

"Women should have free access to every field of labor which they care to enter, and when their work is as valuable as that of
a man it should be paid as highly."


- An Autobiography 1913

September 28, 2010

"Athletics are good; study is even better; and best of all is the development of the type of character for the lack of which,
in an individual as in a nation, no amount of brilliance
of mind or of strength of body will atone."


- Address at Harvard University, February 23, 1907

September 21, 2010

"At this moment, we are passing through a period of great unrest – social, political and industrial unrest. It is of the utmost importance for our future that this should prove to be not the unrest of mere rebelliousness against life, of mere dissatisfaction with the inevitable inequality of conditions, but the unrest of a resolute and eager ambition to secure the betterment of the individual and the nation."

– Address at the Laying of the Cornerstone of the
Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC, April 14, 1906

September 14, 2010

"Order without liberty and liberty without order are
equally destructive."


- The Great Adventure, 1918

September 7, 2010

"A great free people owes it to itself and to all mankind not to sink into helplessness before the powers of evil."

- Fourth Annual Message to Congress, 1904

August 31, 2010

"Where such results flow from battles as flowed from Bannockburn and Yorktown, centuries must pass before the wound not only scars over but becomes completely forgotten, and the memory becomes a bond of union and not a cause of division. It is our business to shorten the time as much as possible."

- Letter to Sir George Otto Trevelyan, January 1, 1908

August 24, 2010

"Something can be done by good laws; more can be done by the honest administration of the laws; but most of all can be done by frowning resolutely upon the preachers of vague discontent…"

- Review of Reviews, January 1897

August 17, 2010

"If there is any one quality that is not admirable, whether in a
nation or in an individual, it is hysterics, either in
religion or in anything else."


- Boston, MA, August 25, 1902

August 10, 2010

"Men with the muckrake are often indispensable to the well-being of society, but only if they know when to stop raking the muck."

- Washington, DC, April 14, 1906

August 3, 2010

"I believe the majority of the plain people of the United States will, day in and day out, make fewer mistakes in governing themselves than any smaller class or body of men."

- Columbus, OH, February 21, 1912

July 27, 2010

"Expose crime and hunt down the criminal; but remember that, even in the case of crime, if it is attacked in sensational, lurid, and untruthful fashion, the attack may do more damage to
the public mind than the crime itself."


- Washington, DC, April 4, 1906

July 20, 2010

"Rhetoric is a poor substitute for action, and we have trusted
only to rhetoric.  If we are really to be a great Nation,
we must not merely talk big; we must act big."


- Metropolitan, September, 1917

July 13, 2010

"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 the wrong course."

- Atlantic Monthly, August, 1894

July 6, 2010

"Like all Americans, I like big things: big prairies, big forests and mountains, big wheat fields, railroads—and herds of cattle, too—big factories, steam boats, and everything else."

- Dickinson, Dakota Territory, July 4, 1886

June 29, 2010

"Nothing has been so strongly borne in on me concerning lawyers on the bench as that the nominal politics of the man has nothing to do with his actions on the bench. His real politics are all important."

- Letter to Henry Cabot Lodge, September 4, 1906

June 22, 2010

"What a place the Presidency is for learning to keep one's temper."

- Letter to his son Kermit, June 17, 1906

June 15, 2010

"There is a tendency to believe that a hundred small men can furnish leadership equal to that of one big man.  This is not so."

- Ladies' Homes Journal, May 1917

June 8, 2010

"No man ever really learned from books how to manage a governmental system....If he has never done anything but study books he will not be a statesman at all."

- Atlantic Monthly, August 1890

June 1, 2010

"Bodily vigor is good, and vigor of intellect is even better, but far above is character."

- The Outlook, March 31, 1900

May 25, 2010

"It is not what we have that will make us a great nation; it is the way in which we use it."

- Dickinson, Dakota Territory, July 4, 1886

May 18, 2010

"It is a dredful misfortune for a man to grow to feel that his whole livelihood and whole happiness depend upon his staying in office."

-San Francisco, California, May 14, 1903

May 11, 2010

 "Alone of human beings the good and wise mother stands on a plane of equal honor with the bravest soldier; for she has gladly gone down to the brink of the chasm of darkness to bring back the children in whose hands rest the future of the years."

- The Great Adventure, 1918

May 4, 2010

"Probably the best test of the true love of liberty in any country is the way in which minorities are treated in that country."

- Sorbonne, Paris, France, April 23, 1910

April 27, 2010

"I have mighty little use for ethics that are applied with such inefficiency that no good results come."

- Harvard University, December 14, 1910

April 20, 2010

"There is a certain tendency among excellent people to believe that everything can be accomplished by law; that when there is any wrong, it is due to what they call the state of society, and that there is immediate need for radical and sweeping changes in the social system."

- Kansas City, Missouri, May 1, 1903

April 13, 2010

"Diplomacy is utterly useless where there is no force behind it; the diplomat is the servant, not the master, of the soldier."

- Newport, Rhode Island, June 2, 1897

April 6, 2010

"I like to see Quentin practicing baseball. It gives me hope that one of my boys will not take after his father in this respect, and will prove able to play the national game."

- Source
1, 2.

March 30, 2010

"A man whose business is sedentary should get some kind of exercise if he wishes to keep himself in as good physical trim as his brethren who do manual labor."

- An Autobiography, 1913.

March 23, 2010

"War with evil; but show no spirit of malignity toward the man who may be responsible for the evil. Put it out of his power to do wrong."

-
Oyster Bay, New York - July 4, 1906.

March 16, 2010

"There is not in all America a more dangerous trait than the deification of mere smartness unaccompanied by any sense of moral responsibility."

- Abilene, Kansas, May 2, 1903.

March 9, 2010

"Whenever there is tyranny by the majority I shall certainly fight it."

- St. Louis, Missouri, March 28, 1912.

March 2, 2010

"More and more I have grown to have a horror of the reformer who is half charlatan and half fanatic, and ruins his own cause by overstatement."

-Oyster Bay, New York - July 20, 1901.

February 23, 2010

"Americans learn only from catastrophes and not from experience."

-An Autobiography, 1913.

February 16, 2010

"Lincoln is my hero. He was a man of the people who always felt with and for the people, but who had not the slightest touch of the demagogue in him."

-Letter to Sir George Otto Trevelyan, March 9, 1905.

February 9, 2010

"There are few moments more pleasant than the home-coming, when, in the gathering darkness, after crossing the last chain of ice-covered buttes, or after coming round the last turn in the wind-swept valley, we see, through the leafless trees, or across the frozen river, the red gleam of the firelight as it shines through the ranch windows and flickers over the trunks of the cottonwoods outside, warming a man's blood by the mere hint of the warmth awaiting him within."

-Ranch Life in the Hunting Trail, 1896

February 2, 2010

"To borrow a simile from the football field, we believe that men must play fair, but that there must be no shirking, and that the success can only come to the player who 'hits the line hard.' "
-Sagamore Hill, Oyster Bay, New York, October 1897

January 26, 2010

"The American people are slow to wrath, but when their wrath is once kindled, it burns like a consuming flame."
-First annual address to Congress, December 3, 1901

January 20, 2010

"It is more difficult to preserve the fruits of victory than to
 win the victory."

-McClure's Magazine, October 1901

January 12, 2010

"No man can lead a public career really worth leading, no man can act with rugged independence in serious crises, nor strike at great abuses, nor afford to make powerful and unscrupulous foes, if he is himself vulnerable in his private character."
-An Autobiography, 1913

January 5, 2010

"To play the demagogue for purposes of self-interest is a cardinal sin against the people in a democracy."
-An Autobiography, 1913

December 22, 2009

"I wonder whether there ever can come in life a thrill of greater exaltation and rapture than that which comes to one between the ages of say six and fourteen, when the library door is thrown open and you walk in to see all the gifts, like a materialized fairyland, arrayed on your special table?"

-Letter to Corinne Roosevelt Robinson, December 26, 1903

December 15, 2009

"No student of American history needs to be reminded that the Constitution itself is a bundle of compromises."

-Atlantic Monthly, August 1894

December 8, 2009

"If the business world loses its head, it loses what
legislation cannot supply."


-December 3, 1901, First Annual Message to Congress

December 1, 2009

"Do not get into a fight if you can possibly avoid it.  If you get in, see it through.  Don't hit if it is honorably possible to avoid hitting, but never hit soft.  Don't hit at all if you can help it; don't hit a man if you can possibly avoid it; but if you do hit him, put him to sleep."

-January 24, 1918 National Press Club, Washington, DC.

November 24, 2009

"I do not believe that any man can adequately appreciate the world of today unless he has some knowledge of -- a little more than a slight knowledge, some feeling for and of -- the history of the world
 of the past."

-Source

 
       
 

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