Quotes Suitable for Framing: Theodore Roosevelt

Monday, April 29, AD 2013


The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at 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 or defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt

Born to a family of wealth, Theodore Roosevelt could have led a quiet life of indulgence and plenty.  Instead he devoted himself to service to the country, one of the few elected officials who actually deserved the title public servant.  He combined this with a belief that life is an adventure, sometimes a hard and dangerous one, but always an adventure.  Roosevelt always heard the trumpets of life and he led his life at a joyous charge.  As a country and a civilization we desperately need his energy, his optimism and his sheer joy.  May we know his like again at the head of our nation.

Death had to take him in his sleep, for if he was awake there’d have been a fight.

Remark of Charles Marshall, Vice President of the United States, upon hearing of the death of Theodore Roosevelt

7 Responses to Quotes Suitable for Framing: Theodore Roosevelt

  • “No man is justified in doing evil on the grounds of expediency.”
    -Theodore Roosevelt

  • Don, I, as a nobody lurker of TAC, a non-history/law/social studies affiliated-studies type of guy, I may have little scholastic ground upon which to stand on…however…I must comment…

    I agree with you on about 99% of everything you post. In light of that, and in light of everything I’ve read that indicates TR is a “father” of Progressivism (that which posits that, essentially, man is perfectible if we only would pass one more law), can you elucidate why TR is, as you say, suitable for quoting here whereas I would argue he is not suitable for quoting here:

    “Yet we fail to understand that such conduct is rational compared to the conduct of a nation which permits unlimited breeding from the worst stocks, physically and morally, while it encourages or connives at the cold selfishness or the twisted sentimentality as a result of which the men and women ought to marry, and if married have large families, remain celebates or have no children or only one or two. Some day we will realize that the prime duty the inescapable duty of the good citizen of the right type is to leave his or her blood behind him in the world; and that we have no business to permit the perpetuation of citizens of the wrong type.”

    “A perfectly stupid race can never rise to a very high plane; the negro, for instance, has been kept down as much by lack of intellectual development as by anything else; but the prime factor in the preservation of a race is its power to attain a high degree of social efficiency. Love of order, ability to fight well and breed well, capacity to subordinate the interests of the individual to the interests of the community, these and similar rather humdrum qualities go to make up the sum of social efficiency. The race that has them is sure to overturn the race whose members have brilliant intellects, but who are cold and selfish and timid, who do not breed well or fight well, and who are not capable of disinterested love of the community. In other words, character is far more important than intellect to the race as to the individual. We need intellect, and there is no reason why we should not have it together with character; but if we must choose between the two we choose character without a moment’s hesitation.”

    There was something else I’ve heard attributed to TR that was particularly ‘eugenicist’ but I can’t immediately find it. Ought this not temper any traditional Catholic examination of TR? Not to forbid extolling his virtues…but to avoid ignoring his vices?

  • Roosevelt had views on a wide range of topics that would draw cheers and jeers from all parts of our current political spectrum.

    Roosevelt’s views on many issues are hard to translate into simple terms. Often quotes by him that float around the internet are taken out of context from fairly lengthy articles he wrote. Eugenics is a prime example. Go to the link below to read an article entitled Twisted Eugenics that he wrote in 1914 in response to the idea that war lowers the racial stock of a nation:


    Roosevelt attacked that notion in the article. In that article he also makes statements in favor of eugenics, large families and against birth control. He notes that immigrants in New England will inherit, and should inherit, New England because the old Puritan stock were not having children. Roosevelt’s main concern in this area was that too many people were, as he would have phrased it, “shirking their duty” of having offspring.

    Roosevelt wrote more than any other president in our history, an endless stream of books and articles. To learn what he truly believed on any topic requires quite a bit of reading from his huge corpus of work.

  • No one’s free of flaws and I wouldn’t blame TR for what progressives have done since. One of my favorites is, ” it’s not having been in the dark house that matters but having come out”.

  • The quintessential anti-Catholic bigot and imperialist, Theodore Roosevelt.

  • Complete and total rubbish Kelso. Roosevelt was quite pro-Catholic and even kissed the ring of Pio Nono as a boy. Archbishop John Ireland and Cardinal James Gibbons were friends of his and he worked with them and other members of the heirarchy for the benefit of both the Church and the nation. As far as being an imperialist, Roosevelt was far less an imperialist than the Catholic rulers who held colonies at the time, since Roosevelt believed in representative rule in the American colonies with an eye to eventual independence.

  • Thanks for your response, Don. I’m still not entirely sold on TR, but I’ll keep your points in mind, especially about the breadth of his work. I would certainly agree that there are much worse figures in American history relative to the soft-collectivism presented by progressives.