Theodore Roosevelt Quotes

The man who really counts in this world is the doer, not the mere critic, the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done.

New York, Chapter 14. 1891.

Criticism is necessary and useful; it is often indispensable; but it can never take the place of action, or be even a poor substitute for it. The function of the mere critic is of very subordinate usefulness. It is the doer of deeds who actually counts in the battle for life, and not the man who looks on and says how the fight ought to be fought, without himself sharing the stress and the danger.

“The College Graduate and Public Life”, 1984

Every man among us is more fit to meet the duties and responsibilities of citizenship because of the perils over which, in the past, the nation has triumphed; because of the blood and sweat and tears, the labor and the anguish, through which, in the days that have gone, our forefathers moved on to triumph.

June 1897. Speech at Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island.

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.’’

October, 1987. Oyster Bay, New York speech.

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the tray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.

10th April, 1899. Speech at Hamilton Club, Chicago.

I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life.

10th April, 1899. Speech at Hamilton Club, Chicago

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rake rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows no victory nor defeat.

10th April, 1899. Speech at Hamilton Club, Chicago

I have always been fond of the West African proverb: ‘‘Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.’’

26th January, 1900. Letter to Henry L. Sprague.

Death is always and under all circumstances a tragedy, for if it is not, then it means that life itself has become one.

12th March, 1900. Letter to Cecil Spring-Rice.

I am as strong as a bull moose and you can use me to the limit.

17th June, 1900. Letter to Marcus Alonzo Hanna.

No man is justified in doing evil on the ground of expediency.

The Strenuous Life: Essays and Addresses. 1900.

In life, as in a football game, the principle to follow is: Hit the line hard.

The Strenuous Life: Essays and Addresses. 1900.

There is a homely adage which runs, “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.” If the American nation will speak softly and yet build and keep at a pitch of the highest training a thoroughly efficient navy, the Monroe Doctrine will go far.

2nd September, 1902. Speech at Minnesota State Fair.

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

11th November, 1902. Speech in New York City.

A man who is good enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards. More than that no man is entitled to, and less than that no man shall have.

4th July, 1903. Speech at Springfield, Illinois.

We must treat each man on his worth and merits as a man.We must see that each is given a square deal, because he is entitled to no more and should receive no less.

7th September, 1903. Speech at New York State Fair in Syracuse.

No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man’s permission when we require him to obey it. Obedience to the law is demanded as a right; not asked as a favor.

7th December, 1903. Third State of the Union Address.

Chronic wrongdoing, or an impotence which results in a general loosening of the ties of civilised society, may in America, as elsewhere, ultimately require intervention by some civilised nation, and in the Western Hemisphere the adherence of the United States to the Monroe Doctrine may force the United States, however reluctantly, in flagrant cases of such wrongdoing or impotence, to the exercise of an international police power.

6th December, 1904. State of the Union Address.

The men with the muckrakes are often indispensable to the well-being of society, but only if they know when to stop raking the muck, and to look upward to the celestial crown above them. … If they gradually grow to feel that the whole world is nothing but muck their power of usefulness is gone.

14th April, 1906. Speech on laying the cornerstone of the House Office Building in Washington, DC.

Let individuals contribute as they desire; but let us prohibit in effective fashion all corporations from making contributions for any political purpose, directly or indirectly.

3rd December, 1906. Sixth State of the Union Address.

Malefactors of great wealth.

20th August, 1907. Speech at Provincetown, Massachusetts.


September 1907. Everybody’s Magazine.

To wake, to destroy, our national resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed.

3rd December, 1907. State of the Union Address.

I have got such a bully pulpit!

27th February, 1909. Outlook! On the presidency.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

23rd April, 1910. Sorbonne, Paris.

My position as regards the monied interests can be put in a few words. In every civilised society property rights must be carefully safeguarded; ordinarily and in the great majority of cases, human rights and property rights are fundamentally and in the long run, identical; but when it clearly appears that there is a real conflict between them, human rights must have the upper hand; for property belongs to man and not man to property.

23rd April, 1910. Sorbonne, Paris.

It would be a master stroke if those great Powers honestly bent on peace would form a league of peace, not only to keep the peace among themselves, but to prevent, by force if necessary, its being broken by others. The man or statesman who should bring about such a condition would have earned his place in history for all time and his title to the gratitude of all mankind.

5th May, 1910. Noble Prize Lecture, Christiana, Norway.

The New Nationalism puts the national need before sectional or personal advantage.

31st August, 1910. “The New Nationalism” Speech, Osawatomie, Kansas.

The man who wrongly holds that every human right is secondary to his profit must now give way to the advocate of human welfare, who rightly maintains that every man holds his property subject to the general right of the community to regulate its use to whatever degree the public welfare may require it.

31st August, 1910. Speech in Osawatomie, Kansas.

I took the Isthmus, started the Canal, and then left Congress – not to debate the Canal, but to debate me. … While the debate goes on the Canal does too.

23rd March, 1911. Speech at UC Berkeley.

I took the canal zone and let Congress debate, and while the debate goes on the canal does also.

24th March, 1911. New York Times.

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

21st February, 1912. Newspaper interview.

We stand at Armageddon and we battle for the Lord.

17th June, 1912. Speech at Progressive Party Convention.

The lunatic fringe was fully in evidence, especially in the rooms devoted to the Cubists and Futurists, or Near-Impressionists.

29th March, 1913. Outlook. First known use of the phrase ‘lunatic fringe’.

Foolish fanatics… the men who form the lunatic fringe in all reform movements.

Autobiography (1913).

There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism. …. The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, of preventing all possibility of its continuing to be a nation at all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities.

12th October, 1915. Speech to the Knights of Columbus, New York City.

One of our defects as a nation is a tendency to use what have been called “weasel words.” When a weasel sucks eggs the meat is sucked out of the egg. If you use a “weasel word” after another there is nothing left of the other.

31st May, 1916. Speech in St. Louis.

Put out the light.

6th January, 1919. Last words.

I have only a second rate brain but I think I have a capacity for action.

In Owen Wister’s ‘Roosevelt, the Story of a Friendship’. 1930.

I could carve out of a banana a Justice with more backbone than that.

In Silas Bent’s ‘JUstice Oliver Wendell Holmes’, 1932.