Talk:Theodore Roosevelt

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This is the talk page for discussing improvements to the Theodore Roosevelt page.

Absence and death[edit]

One often attributed to Teddy Roosevelt is "Absence and death are the same - only that in death there is no suffering." Anything in it? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 11:30, 6 November 2005 (UTC)

Quote bolding[edit]

I have removed all quote bolding from this article because people were beginning to think that bolding quotes is a style practice, not a means to emphasize selected quotes or passages. Current Wikiquote practice is to selectively bold favorite quotes, with any details about how much, who chooses, and what happens if there are conflicting opinions left completely up to the readers of each article. Readers are invited to re-bold select quotes, but please do not use bolding to indicate all quotes. ~ Jeff Q (talk) 00:29, 8 October 2006 (UTC)[]

News item[edit]

This is in regard to the article section "I have always been fond of the West African proverb "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far."". An Associated Press article indicates that the letter in which this appears is now up for sale; the article includes details about the letter that includes the quote and its history. One place the news item can be found → --User:Ceyockey (talk to me) 02:44, 4 April 2007 (UTC)[]

Unsourced quotes[edit]

If you can provide proper sources for any of these, please do so.
  • A typical vice of American politics is the avoidance of saying anything real on real issues.
  • A vote is like a rifle: its usefulness depends upon the character of the user.
  • Absence and death are the same — only that in death there is no suffering.
  • Better a thousand times err on the side of over-readiness to fight, than to err on the side of tame submission to injury, or cold-blooded indifference to the misery of the oppressed.
  • Big jobs usually go to the men who prove their ability to outgrow small ones.
  • Character, in the long run, is the decisive factor in the life of an individual and of nations alike.
  • Courtesy is as much a mark of a gentleman as courage.
  • Every immigrant who comes here should be required within five years to learn English or leave the country.
  • For unflagging interest and enjoyment, a household of children, if things go reasonably well, certainly all other forms of success and achievement lose their importance by comparison.
  • Freedom from effort in the present merely means that there has been effort stored up in the past.
  • Get action. Seize the moment. Man was never intended to become an oyster.
  • Great thoughts speak only to the thoughtful mind, but great actions speak to all mankind.
  • I am only an average man but, by George, I work harder at it than the average man.
  • I believe in corporations. They are indispensable instruments of our modern civilization; but I believe that they should be so supervised and so regulated that they shall act for the interest of the community as a whole.
  • I care not what others think of what I do, but I care very much about what I think of what I do! That is character!
  • I don't pity any man who does hard work worth doing. I admire him. I pity the creature who does not work, at whichever end of the social scale he may regard himself as being.
  • I have a perfect horror of words that are not backed up by deeds.
  • 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.
  • I never would have become president if it had not been for my experiences in North Dakota.
  • I think there is only one quality worse than hardness of heart and that is softness of head.
  • I took the Canal Zone and let Congress debate; and while the debate goes on, the canal does also.
  • If there is not the war, you don't get the great general; if there is not a great occasion, you don't get a great statesman; if Lincoln had lived in a time of peace, no one would have known his name.
  • If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn't sit for a month.
  • In advocating any measure we must consider not only its justice but its practicability.
  • In the first place we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the man's becoming in very fact an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and this excludes the red flag, which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization, just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which we are hostile...We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language...and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.
  • It behooves every man to remember that the work of the critic is of altogether secondary importance, and that, in the end, progress is accomplished by the man who does things.
  • It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.
  • It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things. [Cannot find the original but as early as 1908, the quote was attributed to TR by Boston publisher, M. T. Sheahan in a commercial postcard, "The Law of Worthy Life", an image of which can be found in the Theodore Roosevelt Center archives, see: ]

  • Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.
  • Laws are essential emanations from the self-poised character of God; they radiate from the sun to the circling edge of creation. Verily, the mighty Lawgiver hath subjected himself unto laws.
  • Leave it as it is. The ages have been at work on it and man can only mar it.
  • Never throughout history has a man who lived a life of ease left a name worth remembering.
  • Nine-tenths of wisdom consists in being wise in time.
  • No great intellectual thing was ever done by great effort.
  • No man is worth his salt who is not ready at all times to risk his well-being, to risk his body, to risk his life, in a great cause.
  • Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.
  • Obedience of the law is demanded; not asked as a favor.
  • Old age is like everything else. To make a success of it, you've got to start young.
  • 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.
  • Order without liberty and liberty without order are equally destructive.
  • Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the President or any other public official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country.
  • Peace is generally good in itself, but it is never the highest good unless it comes as the handmaid of righteousness; and it becomes a very evil thing if it serves merely as a mask for cowardice and sloth, or as an instrument to further the ends of despotism or anarchy.
  • People ask the difference between a leader and a boss. The leader leads, and the boss drives.
  • Pray not for lighter burdens but for stronger backs.
  • 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; we must act big.
  • Some men can live up to their loftiest ideals without ever going higher than a basement.
  • The American people abhor a vacuum.
  • The American people are slow to wrath, but once that wrath is kindled, it burns like a consuming flame. [Teddy Roosevelt, 3 December 1901, First Annual Address to Congress]
  • The best executive is one who has sense enough to pick good people to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.
    • Earliest attribution I could find was to Thaddeus Hammond (not Roosevelt), as quoted in J. R. Sprague's "Big Business-itis", The Rotarian, Vol XXVII, No 3, Sepember 1925, p. 6: The best executive is one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it! [Italics added to show the difference between the quotes attributed to Hammond and Roosevelt below.] --Hughh (talk) 22:25, 27 April 2017 (UTC)[]
    • The earliest attribution to Roosevelt I could find was in Good Housekeeping, Vol 134, 1952, p. 4: The best executive is one who has sense enough to pick good men to do the work he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it. [Italics added to show the difference between the quotes attributed to Hammond above and this one.] --Hughh (talk) 22:25, 27 April 2017 (UTC)[]
  • The boy who is going to make a great man must not make up his mind merely to overcome a thousand obstacles, but to win in spite of a thousand repulses and defeats.
  • The government is us; we are the government, you and I.
  • The human body has two ends on it: one to create with and one to sit on. Sometimes people get their ends reversed. When this happens they need a kick in the seat of the pants.
  • The man who really counts in the 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.
  • The man who loves other countries as much as his own stands on a level with the man who loves other women as much as he loves his own wife.
  • "The man who loves other countries as much as he does his own is quite as noxious a member of society as the man who loves other women as much as he loves his wife."
    From "The Monroe Doctrine", chapter 3 of American Ideals, originally published in The Bachelor of Arts, Vol 2, Mar 1896. --Hughh (talk) 16:10, 30 September 2016 (UTC)[]
  • The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.
  • The most successful politician is he who says what everybody is thinking most often and in the loudest voice.
  • The one thing I want to leave my children is an honorable name.
  • The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything.
  • The only time you really live fully is from thirty to sixty. The young are slaves to dreams; the old servants of regrets. Only the middle-aged have all their five senses in the keeping of their wits.
  • The pacifist is as surely a traitor to his country and to humanity as is the most brutal wrongdoer.
  • The reactionary is always willing to take a progressive attitude on any issue that is dead.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • There can be no fifty-fifty Americanism in this country. There is room here for only 100 percent. Americanism, only for those who are Americans and nothing else.
  • There is but one answer to be made to the dynamite bomb, and that can best be made with the Winchester rifle.
  • There is not in all America a more dangerous trait than the deification of mere smartness unaccompanied by any sense of moral responsibility.
  • There is not one among us in whom a devil does not dwell; at some time, on some point, that devil masters each of us; he who has never failed has never been tempted; but the man who does in the end conquer, who does painfully retrace the steps of his slipping, why he shows that he has been tried in the fire and not found wanting. It is not having been in the Dark House, but having left it, that counts.
  • To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.
  • We need the iron qualities that go with true manhood. We need the positive virtues of resolution, of courage, of indomitable will, of power to do without shrinking the rough work that must always be done.
  • "When I hear of the destruction of a species, I feel just as if all the works of some great writer have perished": this quote is frequently attributed to Roosevelt, but it is not listed in this article, and I couldn't find sources for it. --Deselliers (talk) 16:13, 14 February 2017 (UTC)[]
  • When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer 'Present' or 'Not guilty.'
  • When you are asked if you can do a job, tell 'em, 'Certainly I can!' Then get busy and find out how to do it.
  • When you play, play hard; when you work, don't play at all.
  • With self-discipline most anything is possible.
  • The canal was by far the most important action I took in foreign affairs during the time I was President. When nobody could or would exercise efficient authority, I exercised it.
  • When compared with the suppression of anarchy every other question sinks into insignificance. The anarchist is the enemy of humanity, the enemy of all mankind, and his is a deeper degree of criminality than any other. No immigrant is allowed to come to our shores if he is an anarchist; and no paper published here or abroad should be permitted circulation in this country if it propagates anarchist opinions.
    • 1908
  • Americanism is a question of principle, of idealism, of character. It is not a matter of birthplace, or creed, or line of descent.
  • No man is justified in doing evil on the ground of expedience.
  • Appraisals are where you get together with your team leader and agree what an outstanding member of the team you are, how much your contribution has been valued, what massive potential you have and, in recognition of all this, would you mind having your salary halved. -- In: Michael Erbschloe [ Socially Responsible IT Management], Digital Press, 2003, p. 29
    • The given source for this quote is a book by someone else, who gives no source for it, and it does not sound at all like the way Roosevelt wrote or spoke. It "feels" almost post-war British. Furthermore, several of the idioms seem anachronistic. Google Ngrams (an imperfect tool, to be sure, but it's better than nothing) shows "Get together," "potential" used as a noun, and "appraisal" were all very uncommon during the period from 1890-1910 that forms the bulk of Roosevelt's public life. In particular, the use of the word "potential" as a noun basically didn't exist until after WWII. I'm putting the quote here and not deleting it altogether because, hey, I may be wrong. I doubt it, but it's possible. Johnny Wishbone (talk) 17:19, 9 November 2017 (UTC)[]


i believe that's a picture of Alice's mother, tr's first wife (also named Alice); but he is referring to his daughter in the quote. if there is a picture available of his daughter it should be put in place of the current one. 04:25, 20 October 2011 (UTC)[]

The disputed image referred to in this comment was changed, after these objections were raised. ~ Kalki·· 16:58, 11 February 2012 (UTC)[]


The following does not comply with WQ:SOURCE and -to avoid damage to the reputation of WQ- should be removed from the article:

A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education. As quoted in Stepping Stones : The Complete Bible Narratives (1941)

A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad. As quoted in Art of Communicating Ideas (1952) by William Joseph Grace, p. 389

In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing. As quoted by [John M. Kost] (25 July 1995) in S. 946, the Information Technology Management Reform Act of 1995: hearing before the Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management and the District of Columbia of the Committee on Governmental Affairs (1996) 09:45, 7 February 2012 (UTC)[]

deleted 11:48, 11 February 2012 (UTC)[]
I have just restored these into a "Disputed" section, such as exist for such disputes as arise as to authenticity. IF better sourcing or evidence for misattribution can be found they should be moved back into the main sections, or into a "Misattributed" section, such as exist where much strong evidence has been found to indicate that the quote is most likely a misattribution of some sort. ~ Kalki·· 16:54, 11 February 2012 (UTC) + tweaks[]
When no source can be found, but only untrustworthy quotations, that should be enough reason for deletion: no more "evidence for misattribution" is needed.
We read in a publication: "Theodore Roosevelt once said: 'A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education'. Stepping Stones : The Complete Bible Narratives (1941)
You wouldn't call that a source, one can take seriously, Kalki? Or As quoted in Art of Communicating Ideas (1952) by William Joseph Grace, p. 389? Or As quoted by John M. Kost (25 July 1995) in S. 946, the Information Technology Management Reform Act of 1995: hearing ... 18:43, 13 February 2012 (UTC)[]
Despite my general joviality in life and my increasingly evident willingness to seem "silly" and Absurd, I seriously tend to disagree. I do tend to assert that things without clear evidence of plausible sourcing should probably be retained at MOST in the "Disputed" sections, or preferably in the "Misattributed" if they seem strongly out of character, I tend to believe remarks that are LIKELY Misattributed remarks be removed entirely ONLY if there is very little indication they have been publicized anywhere of much significance, and NOT merely because the earliest sources yet found do not seem reliable. There was a recent occasion where Wikiquote was instrumental in dampening the widespread distributions of statements inadvertently interpreted as those of Martin Luther King which origninated in relatively obscure twitter and Facebook postings. Generally, I believe we should seek to provide a balance of reliable information against misattributions, and NOT simply remove them. ~ Kalki·· 19:52, 13 February 2012 (UTC) + tweaks[]
As of present, one of the references to support the sourcing of this "thorough knowledge" quote is given as "The Letters and Speeches of Theodore Roosevelt" by James Austin Wills (Billington and Sons, New York, 1937) on page 86. This work is cited by a few others, and presumably existed at one time, but does not show up in WorldCat or several other sources -- including the US Library of Congress Catalog. This seems to increase the degree of doubt to be associated. Abb3w (talk) 19:49, 4 May 2016 (UTC)[]
In fact, there is no evidence Roosevelt ever said or wrote this. As Abb3w alluded to, there is no evidence the Wills book even exists. I do have in my hand, "Letters and speeches," by Theodore Roosevelt, New York: Library of America, 2004. I find no mention of The Bible in that volume. It doesn't even appear in the index. I also have the 8-volume "Letters of Theodore Roosevelt," Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1951-54. The quote does not appear in any of those volumes. The Bible is hardly mentioned at all. He does say, however, “I BELIEVE IN ABSOLUTELY NON-SECTARIAN PUBLIC SCHOOLS. IT IS NOT OUR BUSINESS TO HAVE THE PROTESTANT BIBLE OR THE CATHOLIC VULGATE OR THE TALMUD READ IN THOSE SCHOOLS” (Vol. 8 pg. 893, Letter to Michael Schaap, New York, 22 February 1915). --Gerntrash (talk) 16:32, 13 July 2017 (UTC)[]

Add quote on "game preserve for squalid savages"[edit]

Not sure how adding quotes usually works but it seems like quite a lacuna that this rather nasty, absolutely attributable, quote by Roosevelt does not appear on this page:

Theodore Roosevelt, The Winning of the West, Vol. I. 1889

“The settler and pioneer have at bottom had justice on their side; this great continent could not have been kept as nothing but a game preserve for squalid savages. Moreover, to the most oppressed Indian nations the whites often acted as a protection, or, at least, they deferred instead of hastening their fate.”

Can anyone source these?[edit]

It's given here without context. [1] One book said 1903.

"Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance."

And another [2]

When Theodore Roosevelt took office in 1901, he already had a long legacy of animosity toward American Indians. “I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians are the dead Indians, but I believe nine out of every 10 are,” Roosevelt said during a January 1886 speech in New York. “And I shouldn’t like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth.”

What is the purpose of this wiki?[edit]

I see oodles and oodles of unsourced quotes listed. Is the primary purpose of Wikiquote to propagate inaccurate and/or out of context quotes? It seems like a disservice to the internet community. At least 90% of the quotes listed are disputed, and less than that are presented in their proper context. It would be better to simply not list disputed or unsourced quotes, and to provide full context for verified quotes. Either that, or do away with the whole wiki. 22:10, 16 June 2018 (UTC)[]

Quote about "whining"[edit]

This one has made the rounds, but I never see a legitimate source for it:

"Complaining about a problem without posing a solution is called whining."

Anyone have any insight? 04:41, 25 October 2018 (UTC)[]

looking for full quotes of these three[edit]

Roosevelt told Ambassador to France William C. Bullittthat “we must await an incident” and that he was “confident that the Germans would give us an incident,”
and he told Secretary of Treasury Henry Morgenthau that he was “waiting to be pushed into this situation”
(Hearden 1987, 196).

I noticed this at the bottom of page 53 of the 2014 thesis by Ron Moti Gurantz Crisis Bargaining and War Initiation Before a Domestic Audience

Page 182 explains this as:

Hearden, Patrick J. 1987.
Roosevelt Confronts Hitler: America’s Entry into World War II.
DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press has "no preview", I am wondering if anyone can confirm those quotes are found on page 196 and if they are quoted more extensively there. 01:37, 16 June 2019 (UTC)[]